Keene State College senior practices kung fu and has a heart for his community

Morgan Markley

Equinox Staff


Kung fu and fraternities may not be your average mix at Keene State College, but one student flourishes in the Chinese style art and fraternity life.

Senior Frank Abbate, a biology and chemistry major at KSC, is more than just an average student.

He is the fundraiser and public relations chair of the fraternity, Phi Mu Delta (PMD). Abbate is also a double black belt in Shaolin Kempo and kung fu.

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Abbate’s position at PMD started this fall, the same time he joined the fraternity. Abbate said his job at PMD is to set up community service opportunities.

“We participated in Up Til’ Dawn we participated in the community service day a couple of weeks ago, that was pretty fun, we cleaned out part of the Ashuelot River.”

Abbate also said, “I am friends with one of the building inspectors in Keene and he has projects for us whenever we really want to do them.”

Abbate said he joined PMD because, “I had a friend who had joined a few years ago, and then I started hanging out with him at the house, and then everybody pretty much became my friend and I thought they were really awesome, then I wanted to pledge and became a brother.”

Junior Justin Jolliffe, the vice-president of finance for PMD, believes Abbate has made a huge impact at PMD.

“[Abbate] has done literally so much for the fraternity. He is right now the fundraiser and public relations chair, but public relations chair basically is increasing the awareness of what we do and how we interact with the community in a positive way.”

Jollife continued to explain that Abbate gained the fraternity.

“So much recognition with the town,” he said. In addition, “he has gotten us many opportunities to work with the town to make it better. We painted over the graffiti on two separate walls of two separate streets, we painted fences we did all kinds of work for the town.”

Jolliffe also said that Abbate is “one of our better brothers.”

Abbate’s work doesn’t stop at PMD; every Monday morning Abbate goes to Steve DeMasco’s Shaolin Studio in Keene to work on his skills.

Steve DeMasco, the owner of the studio and a tenth degree black belt and grandmaster, teaches the instructors.

DeMasco said, “I only take on about half a dozen personal private students and one of those students is [Abbate].”

DeMasco said he has noticed a difference in Abbate from when he first started at DeMasco’s studio, “[Abbate] has his self-confidence and his ability to communicate a lot better with people. He was pretty introvert when he came to us and now [Abbate] is in a frat and is in charge of public relations and organizing fundraisers and that’s just way out of character for Frank from when he first started with us…he has come out of his shell tremendously.”

DeMasco also said, “Chinese kung fu is a very intricate and physically demanding system and Frank really gravitated to that really well he’s very flexible, he’s very strong, and he’s gotten a lot stronger obviously since he’s been doing this.”

Jolliffe said, “Sometimes when we fool around with him, you know how guys are we play around and hit each other and stuff like that, but you can’t get a hit in on [Abbate] because he’ll always block it real quick, and then he’ll swing back at you but stop right before he actually hits you, it’s wicked funny.”

Jolliffe added, “People will try to throw a flurry of punches at him, like soft playful ones, he’ll block everyone, he knows the move for everything, it’s funny.”

Abbate said he originally got into the art of kung fu from his dad, “He was taking classes classes with his grand teacher [DeMasco], my current teacher now, and I came in and sat in on a few classes and I thought it was really interesting and I was pretty much hooked from there. I had my first class and here I am seven years later with two different black belts.”

Abbate said he works on his skills for about eight to 15 hours a week.

Abbate said the hardest part of becoming a black belt is, “Probably just the mental discipline; just stick with it until you get there and being able to have the mental discipline to go through the test, and not worry about what is currently going on with you at the time, like if you’re hurting you can’t let that bother you, if you’re tired you have to just keep going, if you want a water break you’re going to have to wait a little bit longer.”

Abbate also said the benefits he has gained from his work aren’t just physical, “It has really helped my mental strength.”

This mental strength gained has helped Abbate work hard at everything he does.

Jolliffe said, “[Abbate’s] a great guy…he’s pretty honest, true, a loyal guy, he’ll do anything for you regardless if he knows you well or not. He always gives his best effort, follows through, if you ask him to do something he actually does it, great quality about him, very smart–he tutors, works hard, great guy in general he’s got his stuff together.”


    Morgan Markley can be contacted at


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