How The Gilmores Gave Back

“Penn State is so near and dear to our hearts, we couldn’t think of a better place to have this scholarship at”

Deryk and Camille Gilmore are always eager to give back.

They don’t do it for special recognition or personal gain, though. It’s simply a byproduct of how they were raised.

Deryk, a Penn State football letterman (86-88), grew up most of his life in a single-parent home.

His father, Arthur T. Gilmore, an engineer and one of the first black men to serve in the U.S. Navy, died when Deryk was just four years old.

He looked to his mother for guidance and inspiration, as she instilled in him a deep sense of faith that he continues to carry today.

Camille lost her father, Dennis H.M. Chang, who once served as the personal bodyguard for the Jamaican prime minister, when she was a freshman in college. Her mother, a nurse, was tasked with raising and supporting Camille and her three siblings.

“I think one of the things we recognized is the blessings that we have now are because of those who came before us,” Camille, a 1991 Penn State graduate from the Smeal College of Business, said. “The best way to honor them was to give back. We knew how hard it was for our mothers to raise kids from New York by themselves, and we all ended up living pretty darn well.”

To further fulfill that mission of giving back, the Gilmores have recently donated scholarships to support students at three different universities across the country.

At Georgia Gwinnett College (GGC) in Lawrenceville, Georgia, where Camille served as a board of visitor’s member, the Gilmores provided funds for a scholarship to the school’s nursing program in honor of her mother, Pamela Chang.

The second scholarship created by the Gilmores went to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where Deryk and Camille both received their MBAs, and where Deryk was a football coach for the Fighting Illini. This scholarship was dedicated in honor of Deryk’s mother, Yvonne Gilmore.

For the third scholarship, the Gilmores wanted to accomplish two things: they wanted to give back to Penn State and they wanted to find a way to honor their fathers in the same mold as they honored their mothers.

“Penn State is so near and dear to our hearts, we couldn’t think of a better place to have this scholarship at,” Deryk, a 1990 Penn State agricultural business management grad, said.

When you talk further with the Gilmores, you learn quickly why Penn State will always remain a special place for them.

It is, after all, the place where the Gilmores met almost 29 years ago.

Visiting the McDonald’s on College Avenue to grab dinner one night, they each stepped up to their respective cash registers to place an order. 

“We were both at the counter ordering and we each asked for a coke with no ice and that was the start of it for us, I guess,” Camille said laughing. “I ended up going to a party of his later on.”

And just to prove how good of a businessman I am, even though I liked her, I still charged her five dollars to get into the house,” Deryk quickly responded in jest. “And we’ve now been together 29 years, married for 26. It’s always funny to look back on that.”

This past summer, the Gilmores committed $25,000 for a scholarship fund at Penn State, which will offer $5,000 in direct student support through the Penn State BLUEprint Peer Mentoring Program for each of the next five years.

It was the perfect way to honor their fathers, while simultaneously give aid to students at their alma mater.

“Our dads just worked so hard to help people and we wanted them to be recognized as the role models that they were in their own communities,” Deryk said. “They both worked in careers that were not common for men of color at the time. They worked and were deeply family men.”

The Gilmore/Chang Family Scholarship will be awarded to full-time undergraduate students who have demonstrated a financial need, meet the academic requirements, participate in the BLUEprint Peer Mentoring Program, and hold the values of mentorship, leadership and service.

Deryk said the ultimate goal of the scholarship is to try and make it easier for someone interested in Penn State to attend, particularly students of color. 

“Being black, we understand it’s hard for students of different backgrounds sometimes to be able to afford college,” Deryk said. “We want to help their path get a little easier. We didn’t want to make it all about grades but about upside. We want to help people who work hard to have a chance. Sometimes you just need that little bump. When students get into Penn State, it’s can be hard to stay there. If we can create avenues to help, let’s do it.”

During their time as undergrads, the Gilmores themselves were active student leaders and were particularly involved with several leadership programs for students of color.

In addition to her business degree, Camille was a member of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. She’s propelled her experiences at Penn State into more than 25 years of human resources leadership for various businesses.

She’s now the vice president of human resources and global chief diversity officer for Boston Scientific, a manufacturer of medical devices used in interventional medical specialties.

Photos courtesy of Deryk and Camille Gilmore

Having worked on promoting diversity in the workplace for most of her career, getting students from more diverse backgrounds to Penn State is important to Camille.

“The [BLUEprint] scholarship offers a level of inclusion to say, ‘Hey, we want you at Penn State. We believe in you and who you are. And we’re going to find a way to keep you here,’” she said. “To me, I hope Penn State can use this as a pull strategy to attract the best, diverse talent to Penn State. If this scholarship helps us to get the best and brightest from diverse backgrounds, that’s exactly what we want.”

Deryk started Incoming Black Athletes At Penn State (IBAAPS) — the first mentor education program for student athletes — and was a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc.

He was also a defensive tackle on the 1986-87 Penn State football team that took down the favored Miami Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl to capture the program’s second national championship.

The Gilmore’s younger son, Deion followed in his father’s footsteps, and now plays at defensive tackle for Manchester University (Indiana), while their eldest son, Dantae’, is a theatre major at the University of Alabama.

“For me, my experience playing football was all about the friendships I created and the different skills I used to help me in life,” Deryk said. “You know, you learn time management skills balancing football and school. You must learn how to work with expectations, for yourself and for your group. It’s what helped make me so successful in business.”

As many of Joe Paterno’s former players are asked, Deryk gets questions all the time about what it was like playing under the legendary coach.

“You know, it was hard but rewarding playing for him. He definitely challenged me to be a better player and a better person,” Deryk said.

The biggest thing that’s always stuck with Deryk about Paterno is how much he cared for his players beyond how many sacks they recorded or touchdowns they scored.

He recalls the period when he had just graduated from Penn State and was in the process of looking for a place to start in his career.

Any time he interviewed or applied for a position, he said Paterno would call the employer and tell them that Deryk was the man to hire.

“He really helped me get my foot in the door, so to speak,” Deryk said. “He was always more worried about us as a person and the type of man we would become than he was about how great we were as an athlete.”

Deryk turned his experiences in business and football in to becoming the founder and owner of Day 1 Sports and Entertainment, whose clients include Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Mike Evans — who Deryk helped negotiate a five-year, $82.5 million contract extension in March of 2018, the second-highest deal for a wide receiver in NFL history at the time.

Other Day 1 clients include La’El Collins of the Dallas Cowboys, Shaq Mason of the New England Patriots and Mitchell Schwartz of the Kansas City Chiefs — all of whom have recently negotiated new contracts or contract extensions.

“You know, I’d say one of the reasons I got into the agent industry was to impact these young men’s lives,” Deryk said. “We want to connect them to wealth and teach them the importance of ownership and being involved in their businesses. We don’t want them to turn it over to someone that can take advantage of them and lose the money. I always try to show players that they can be more than the employee. They can be the owner.”

As they each continue to excel in their careers, the connection to Penn State is as strong as ever for Deryk and Camille.

They believe in the impact of Penn State, Penn State students and Penn State alumni.

“I saw there was an incident earlier this season where someone had written an awful letter to a football player of ours (Jonathan Sutherland), and just seeing how well he responded to it and how we as a Penn State community rallied,” Deryk said. “We had each other’s backs. I think that culture is what makes us, Penn Stater’s, great. And that carries well beyond the student-athletes.”

And above all else, “We’re proud Penn Staters’, we bleed blue and white,” Camille said. “That’s for sure. That’ll never change.”

Central Iowa Chapter Eager to Welcome Penn Staters To Its Neck Of The Woods

What the Central Iowa Chapter of the Alumni Association might lack in numbers, it makes up for in Penn State pride. 

Herb Meier a 1973 Penn State graduate, has been with the chapter since its beginning.  

Meier came out to Iowa for work, having taken a job with the IRS. He held the role as the chapter’s treasurer for a number of years before finally taking over the presidency. 

Based in Des Moines, the chapter covers all of Central Iowa, making it a bit difficult to get all Penn Staters living in that area together often for events. 

That hasn’t stopped the chapter’s activity levels, though. Meier said the chapter has about 25 paid members, all of whom are extremely dedicated. 

The group hosts Penn State football watch parties, and also looks to attend sporting events when other Penn State teams are in the area.

Back in August, members of the group made the trip to Ames, Iowa, to watch the women’s volleyball team take on the Iowa State Cyclones for the Cyclone Invitational —  a 3-0 win for the Nittany Lions.

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

“It was a real treat for us, because we don’t get to see them too often,” Meier said laughing.

Other events include an annual ice cream social, a summer picnic, and a winter party that’s held at the local botanical center.  

Meier and other chapter members also participate in volunteer activities a few times each year. 

“We’ve gone to a local wildlife sanctuary, it’s called the Neal Smith Wildlife Reserve,” Meier said. “We’ve gone down there and done some work packaging meals and they send them all across the country and all across the world to help feed people.” 

This weekend, Meier and the rest of the Central Iowa Chapter will host the Friday Night Mixer at the Backpocket Brewery and Tap Room ahead of the Penn State football game at Iowa 

Meier is excited for the chapter to connect with Penn Staters traveling into the state for the game. 

“It’s pretty special. We get to make a lot of connections and meet some other people from different chapters,” Meier said. “It’s good to connect with the Alumni Association and the representatives there. We email back and forth with them, but it’s always nice to see and talk with them face to face. We get to see the Blue Band, the Nittany Lion and the cheerleaders. It’s great. It’s special for us.”

It’s also a good opportunity to raise some funds to keep the chapter running and to support the chapter’s scholarship fund. 

“We’ve been really trying to grow (our scholarship fund),” Meier said. “It’s difficult because we don’t have a large base, but this will really help with that.” 

The Football Letter/Steve Manuel

Most Penn State fans probably don’t see Penn State vs. Iowa as too big of a rivalry, but because they live in “enemy territory,” members of the Central Iowa Chapter do see matchups between the Nittany Lions and Hawkeyes as a bit of a rivalry. 

“The 2017 game, you talk about a wild game (Penn State won on a last-second touchdown),” Meier said. 

“They’ve had some pretty good games over the years. I know people back east don’t consider it a rivalry, but us out here, we kind of see it somewhat as a rivalry. We’ve had some really good games and they’ve beat us in an upset a couple of times. To us, it’s a special game.”

To learn more about the Central Iowa Chapter, visit their website, email them psuiowa@gmail.com, or follow them on Facebook

The Central Iowa Chapter is one of nearly 300 Penn State Alumni Association affiliate groups worldwide. Visit alumni.psu.edu/groups to connect with Penn Staters in your area.

Get To Know The Metro D.C. Chapter of the Alumni Association

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

Andrew Schlegel ’12 had landed a dream job.

Growing up in rural Pennsylvania, he had grown up around agriculture, attending local farm shows every January and experiencing the Governor’s School for Agricultural Sciences program one summer at Penn State. 

He graduated from Penn State in 2012 with a degree in food science and a minor in international agriculture, which helped him join the USDA Foreign Agricultural Service in Washington, D.C. 

The only problem with the move to the nation’s capital? He didn’t really know anyone at first.

“I knew that there were Penn Staters in the area,” Schlegel said. “So I kind of took it upon myself to go out and see what was out there. I found the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter of the Alumni Association, went to one or two of their events, and they were really welcoming.” 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

He couldn’t think of a better way to adjust to his new surroundings than using his Penn State connection in the area. He started attending the chapter’s football game watch parties, then joined their softball team to get to know some members a bit more. 

After a few years, he took on the role as membership chair for the chapter, and then became social chair for a year-and-a-half.

Schlegel moved up to vice president. He’s now been chapter president for just over a year, and he’s wasting no time in trying to help expand the chapter’s footprint in the Washington, D.C. area. 

“One of the big things I’ve tried to focus on is just having more events in general. We’ve always had a very social aspect to the chapter, but getting involved in the community service, professional development and scholarship fundraising, has been important,” Schlegel said. “I want us to use different ways to reach alumni.” 

The chapter’s usual student scholarship donation totals of $15,000 per year, as impressive as that number was, increased this past year to $20,000.

The Metro D.C. Chapter has also recently teamed up with other Big Ten alumni groups in the area for different events throughout the year, namely a “Big Ten Day of Service,” which saw the various chapters come together to clean up a local park. 

Not surprisingly, one of the more popular events the chapter hosts remains its football viewing parties. 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

“We currently have five football viewing sites,” Schlegel said. “One in Northern Virginia, in Arlington. One in Bethesda, Maryland, and three more spread out in the D.C. area along the metro lines. Each of them offer their own unique perspective.” 

In addition to providing that unrivaled Penn State gameday atmosphere, Schlegel said the chapter uses the watch parties for much more than just the football games. 

Each site offers something different, whether that’s a white out party at the Arlington location whenever the football team hosts a Penn State White Out game, or various raffles and food and drink specials during each watch party. 

“We like to utilize the viewing sites as a way for people to give back to the chapter, like donating to our scholarship fund,” Schlegel. “People love Penn State football and they want to watch with other Penn State fans and alumni. It’s a great way to get those people together and showcase for them that the chapter is there. Let them know what we have to offer. Talk to them and let them know there’s this wider network of Penn Staters in the area.”

Schlegel and the rest of the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter will have a heavy presence when the football team, fans and alumni travel to College Park this Friday for the Nittany Lions’ matchup with the Maryland Terrapins.

The chapter teamed up with the Washington Nationals to provide tickets for its members and other Penn Staters for the Nationals’ game against the Philadelphia Phillies on Thursday afternoon, before hosting the Thursday Night Mixer at the Mission Navy Yard.

Before the game itself on Friday, the chapter is teaming up with the Penn State Alumni Association for the Penn State Tailgate, to be held at the Samuel Riggs IV Alumni Center just across the Terrapins’ stadium. 

Each Penn State Tailgate features the Nittany Lion, Pep Band, and Penn State Cheerleaders, along with an opportunity to hear from special guests and share in Penn State camaraderie.

The Chapter was able to secure some tickets to the game for members, tickets that became a hot commodity with the Terrapins’ strong start to the 2019 season, and a rejuvenated interest from their fanbase for the game against Penn State. 

Photo Courtesy of Andrew Schlegel/Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter

It promises to be a few days of fun for Schlegel and the chapter, who said he’s said he and other members are always excited when a Penn State Athletics team comes to the Washington, D.C. area. 

“Now that Maryland is in the Big Ten, there are a few more opportunities. Anytime a team comes to play here we always try our best to make sure we’re posting about it, that we get some alumni out to the games to support the athletes,” Schlegel said.

“Football is obviously the big one. The stadium is probably going to be sold out for this year’s game. Parking is pretty much sold out. It’s a big deal for our alumni in the D.C. area, and Baltimore, Annapolis, and even Virginia. We’re really excited.”

To learn more about the Metro Washington, D.C. Chapter, visit www.psuwashdc.org or email Andrew at president@psuwashdc.org

The Metro D.C. Chapter is one of 300-plus Penn State Alumni Association affiliate groups worldwide. Visit alumni.psu.edu/groups to connect with Penn Staters in your area.

The Legacy Continues

Like any father of a high school senior, Leonard Humphries knew he had to let his son make the college choice that was best for him—regardless of Humphries’ connection to his own alma mater.

“I wanted him to approach the process with an open mind, look at everything that’s out there and make a determination,” Humphries says. “He might not like the same things I like. What was good for me 30 years ago, I didn’t know if it was going to be good for him.”

And so, the senior Humphries insists, there was was no pressure. But there was hope. “I just hoped that he understood what I know about Penn State, and what a great university it is.”

Leonard’s hope was officially rewarded on Wednesday, Continue reading

FBL Podcast: Iowa Week

 

We get ready for Big Ten play and catch up with one of the famed Penn State Collins brothers as the Nittany Lions hit the road for a big game in Iowa City.

Hailing from Cinnaminson, N.J., Jason Collins ’97 was a standout on the undefeated 1994 squad, Continue reading

FBL Podcast: Georgia State Week

 

It’s Panthers on both sides on this week’s podcast, as we look back at a satisfying victory over old rival Pitt, and look ahead to this week’s visit from Georgia State.

We’ve got a great conversation with Anwar Phillips ’05, a standout in the secondary on the Nittany Lions’ mid-2000s teams, including that memorable run to the 2005 Big Ten championship, Continue reading

Mike Stella’s Rare Strength

As a member of Penn State’s 2018 recruiting class and one of the best high school tight ends in the country, Pat Freiermuth (above, left) knows his audience. So when he tweeted recently encouraging his followers to check out a short documentary film, he made sure to mention that the film’s subject, Mike Stella, is a Penn Stater.

Stella ’05 (right) is a strength and conditioning coach who works with young athletes in the greater Boston area. That’s how he linked up with Freiermuth, but it turns out the blue-and-white connections here run even deeper than the bond between one alum and one soon-to-be Lion.

Stella didn’t suit up for the Nittany Lions, but as a former student manager for the team, he’s an integral part of the Penn State football family. That’s all the more true considering what he had to overcome to get there. Continue reading