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David Sylvester, Traveling at the Speed of Life

October 16, 2012

5:00 PM

Northen Auditorium, Leyburn Library

Sharon Kirk

David Sylvester (author, filmmaker) tried to make sense of the senseless moment that was September 11, 2001, by bicycling the deserts, mountains, highways and dirt roads of North America, Africa and Asia. Ten years, 33 states, 22 countries and many hugs and high-fives later, he returned with an inspirational story to tell.

Hosted by the Philosophy Department and the African American Studies Program. Professor Melina Bell, also a professional bodybuilder, first met David when she was in her first month of her PhD program at the University of Pennsylvania. "He was working as a personal trainer in the university gym. Penn has a bodybuilding contest, Mr./Ms. Penn, every fall to raise funds for the women’s track team. That was the first bodybuilding competition I participated in, and David is the coach who gave me the confidence to take it on. He not only coached the event, but trained with the competitors, because he performed an exhibition routine as part of the show. When we met, I had been resistance training, primarily using machine circuits, for only about two years as part of my general fitness regimen. David, who was a bodybuilder, taught me serious lifting – lifting like a bodybuilder – as well as how to pose and prepare for a bodybuilding show. After winning my first two Ms. Penn contests, I went on to coach competitors in Mr./Ms. Penn myself, and started competing in sanctioned contests in the Northeast. David and I frequently trained together and competed in some of the same contests. Bodybuilding is still an important part of my life, and David was the one who brought me into it and taught me most of what I know about it. David’s friendship has also been important to me outside the gym. A PhD program, particularly writing the dissertation, can be very stressful, and David was very supportive and helped me keep everything in perspective."