December 2012 Archives

December 27, 2012

A Civic Project story


Indiana University of Pennsylvania senior Isaac J. Samay waits outside the Indiana Schwinn Cycling and Fitness Center before the first Indiana Critical Mass bicycle ride on Sept. 28, 2012. Photo by Natalie Hotaling.


By Natalie Hotaling


INDIANA -- Snow lightly circles through the air on a chilly morning in mid-November. As a harsh wind picks up, Isaac J. Samay pulls his knit cap lower on his forehead. He steps his beat-up sneakers into the straps on his bicycle pedals and takes a deep breath.

His daily commute to campus begins.


Samay, 23, of Johnstown, is a political science major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. The senior has been biking as his sole means of transportation since enrolling at IUP in 2009.


For Samay, the snow is not a deterrent to his commuting. The campus, on the other hand, is.

December 21, 2012

A Civic Project story


John A. "Hot Dog John" Minda at work in front of the county courthouse on Philadelphia Street, Nov. 14. Photo by Abbey Zelko.


By Abbey Zelko and Aleda Johnson


INDIANA -- On a summer evening in July 2004, John A. Minda visited his sick wife at Latrobe Hospital to show her his newly minted transient vendor license from the Indiana borough.


She took the license into her hand and smiled, Minda said.  A short time later, she fell asleep and never woke up.


After his wife's death, Minda, 66, of Saltsburg, told himself that he wasn't going back to work as an investigator for the Department of Aging offices in Westmoreland and Butler counties. He planned to start working as a hot dog vendor in downtown Indiana.


Minda, now known as "Hot Dog John," said in an Oct. 24 interview at a Philadelphia Street eatery that he has become an icon downtown.  He said he supports reading programs at the library in which he gives free hot dogs to the kids.  Minda also adds personal touches, like writing kids' names on their hot dogs in ketchup after they come out of the library.


December 20, 2012

A Civic Project story

LA Taco.jpg

Food vendor Walter F. Aguirre, right, sells tacos to customer Derek Grove, of Indiana, Pa., in a parking lot behind the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity house at 220 S. Seventh Street, Indiana, Nov. 9, 2012. Photo by Colleen O'Laughlin.


By Colleen O'Laughlin


INDIANA    Late one night early in the spring semester of 2012, Walter F. Aguirre, 28, a senior marketing major at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, was hanging out with his Phi Kappa Psi fraternity brothers when he got a craving for tacos. 

He didn't want pizza. He didn't want convenience-store carry-out. He wanted the food he grew up eating in the Hispanic neighborhoods of Los Angeles, where street vendors are plentiful and popular.


His friends didn't understand his specific hunger. At first.


"None of them really understood what I meant by that," said Aguirre in a November interview. "Then one night, I made some at home for my wife and kids.  This idea just kept coming back to me."

December 7, 2012

A Civic Project story

Alarcon and Peterson.jpg

Whitmyre Hall's head community assistant, Ignacio J. "Nacho" Alarcon, talks with community assistant Paige A. Peterson at an Honors College social event on Nov. 29. Photo by Emily Weber.


By Emily Weber


INDIANA -- In the middle of a class discussion about socioeconomic status, Ignacio J. "Nacho" Alarcón, 20, a philosophy major in Indiana University of Pennsylvania's  Robert E. Cook Honors College, found himself a minority in more ways than one. When the professor asked the 20 students seated around the long table in Whitmyre Hall's ornate Painting Room to evaluate the diversity of their peers, many turned to look at Alarcón.


"I was one of a few men," Alarcón said in a Nov. 2 interview in Whitmyre. "And the only person who wasn't white."

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