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Off Campus: ‘Dropping In’ at the Skate Park

Published on
May 29, 2020

Alyssa Ciampaglia, MS, clinical research coordinator in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at CHOP.

By Kate Knab

Editor’s Note: It’s time to restart our seasonal “Off Campus” series on Cornerstone. Last summer, we shared fun stories and photos about our colleagues and what they do to de-stress and reset. Get to know your colleagues — even if you’re working remotely! Learn who among us is an avid skier, tango dancer, bird watcher, baker, and more. These easy-to-read stories help us connect with each other in new ways and build community, particularly now during the coronavirus pandemic.

If you know of someone with an unusual hobby or interest in your department or lab, the Research Creative Services writers want to hear from you. Or nominate yourself! Send us an researchcomm [at] (email). Maybe you’ll be our next “Off Campus” celebrity.

People have been turning to hobbies for comfort and healthy distraction as they make the best of an unprecedented situation due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Alyssa Ciampaglia, MS, a clinical research coordinator in the Center for Fetal Diagnosis and Treatment at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, is using her time outside the office to return to a different kind of daily grind — one that takes place on the pavement.

When she’s able to be at work, Ciampaglia helps to coordinate a study for mothers who are expecting twins or triplets with a shared placenta. She works as the facilitator between consenting families and the principal investigators who run the study. Because of the complications that can arise from this rare condition, Ciampaglia has some intense days on the job. During the summer of 2019, Ciampaglia decided she was ready to “drop in” a new way to alleviate stress by swapping her clipboard for a skateboard.

“I’ve always wanted to learn how to skateboard,” Ciampaglia said. “I bought a skateboard to teach myself. I had pads on, a helmet, but it was very clear to myself and everyone walking by that I did not know what I was doing.”

Rather than let nerves keep her from fulfilling a childhood dream, Ciampaglia enrolled in classes at a family-friendly indoor skate park in West Philadelphia that offered adult skateboarding lessons. She skated with people in their early 20s to their late 50s, each at various beginner levels.

“Taking that chance of letting these new people, who I didn’t know well, see me in a vulnerable positon – not being an expert at something – was a good experience,” she said.

Ciampaglia became quick friends with her fellow skaters. They practiced their skills at different parks all around the city. She frequented McCreesh Playground and Skate Park where she mastered dropping in, the act of going from a flat platform into a steep transition, from the top of their biggest ramp.

“That was really cool,” Ciampaglia said of her new skill. “I’m very proud of that.”

Although she hasn’t added the ollie to her repertoire of skateboard tricks quite yet, she still finds time to get outside and practice on her own two to three times a week.

“If you know you’re not committed to something, you’re not going to land it. You really have to go all out…You have to go in thinking, ‘I’m going to do this…’ That’s the one thing I’ve learned about skateboarding,” Ciampaglia said. “It’s all about commitment.”