Class of 2017: Meet Gretchen “Berry” Haislip (Political Science)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Gretchen “Berry” Haislip:

Gretchen Haislip - first choice

Major: Political Science

Minor: Transnational Perspectives

Hometown: Smithfield, North Carolina

On choosing to Penn State Behrend: I have always known about Penn State and when it came time for me to apply to college, something told me to choose Behrend. It was the best decision of my life.

On choosing to major in Political Science: When I was in high school, I was on a path to go into forensic science, but then I took a political science class at my local college and it changed everything. I realized I had interest in politics and government.

Scholarships: I have received the Penn State Behrend Chancellor’s Scholarship, the Bunton-Waller Scholarship, and the Anonymous Friend Trustee Scholarship.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Surprisingly, this has nothing to do with academics, but rather how I found myself. I realized what I am capable of and what I can and want to do in my life. This ultimately led me to love who I am completely and gave me confidence to face the world head on.

Campus involvement: I’m a member of Alpha Sigma Tau where I serve as the director of philanthropy, asdirector of alumni relations, and as a judicial board representative. I’m a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, and Phi Sigma Alpha Political Science honor society; president of the Political Science Society, vice president of College Democrats, secretary of the Outdoors Club, and a member of Bread Circus and Order of Omega. I’m also a resident assistant.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m only 19. I went to a hybrid high school that placed me on a college campus in ninth grade, allowing me to earn a high school diploma and an associate degree at the same time. I have only been at Behrend for two years.

Back to school: My highest priority in the near future is returning to school for both my master’s degree and Juris Doctorate degree, which I hope to earn at Georgetown University.

Who inspires her: My grandparents inspire me. They raised me and even though we had very little when I was growing up, they did everything in their power to make sure I was happy and had what I needed. Knowing that they put their dreams on hold and spent their nights working and raising me, inspires me to always do my best, not just to make them proud but to ensure that their dedication and love to me continue to be the foundation of something great.

Advice for first-year students: Do not be afraid to fail, not know the answer, or be lost. We come to college to learn!

After her graduation in May, Gretchen plans to serve in AmeriCorps before attending graduate school.

Class of 2017: Meet Connor Combs (Project and Supply Chain Management)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Connor Combs:

Connor Combs - 2nd choice

Major: Project and Supply Chain Management

Minor: Management Information Systems

Hometown: Corry, Pa.

On choosing Behrend: I liked the smaller class sizes and there were lots of opportunities to earn minors and certificates in the School of Business.

On choosing to major in Project and Supply Chain Management: I want to work in executive management and I felt like PSCM would give me a great foundation of knowledge that could be applied to any industry.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Staying on the Dean’s List while also working and being involved in various club and activities on campus.

Campus involvement: I’m president of Delta Sigma Pi, a professional business fraternity. I work at the Academic and Career Planning Center as a student ambassador, and I have participated in many intramural sports, including basketball, Frisbee, soccer, and flag football.

He stands out: I’m 6’ 4” tall, so that makes me stand out, physically. I’m also a hard worker, highly goal-oriented, driven to succeed, and a proven leader, which I hope will make me stand out in the business world.

Advice for current students: Go to events on campus. There are tons of guest speakers and company representatives who come to Behrend to share their knowledge, and they can help you advance professionally and personally. Also, use the services available at the Academic and Career Planning Center. They want to help you find and get the job or internship experiences you are after.

After his graduation in May, Connor plans to find a job in operations. At press time, he was entertaining a few offers.

Class of 2017: Meet Jake Marfin (Environmental Science)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Jake Marfin:

Jacob Marfin

Major: Environmental Science

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Penn Hills, Pa.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I love the smaller size of the campus and the natural beauty of it; it reminds me of camp. Behrend feels like home to me.

On choosing to major in Environmental Science: I’m constantly in awe of the world around us. The earth is so beautiful and the environment is so full of diversity. I cannot think of one day that I didn’t appreciate how amazing our planet is.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’m most proud of being able to conduct my own research experiment under the guidance of Dr. Pam Silver, distinguished professor of biology. Doing my own research has strengthened my love for environmental science and learning.

Salty project: My research project was “The Effects of Biochar and Salt on Festuca arundinacea (Tall Fescue).” In laymen’s terms, I was conducting research to find out if biochar, which is a specific kind of charcoal, lessens the negative effects that road salt has on grass. I studied it during three different life stages of the grass.

On narrowing down a big field: My main interest is with plants, though ecology as a subject has been my favorite thing to study. Ecology and aquatic ecology have been the most engaging classes, and they have shaped my perspective about the environment today.

On politics and science: When it comes to politics, things are constantly changing. The good thing is that at least people are talking about certain issues right now. Dr. Silver taught us this: As scientists, we have to think about issues using valid, factual information. We have to think clearly, without bias. Opinions can be misleading and sources can be unreliable, so it is important to only form an opinion when you are as scientifically informed as you can be.

Campus involvement: I was one of two lead stewards for Penn State Behrend’s Weed Warriors program. We worked to remove invasive species from Wintergreen Gorge and other areas on campus. I’ve also been in the volleyball club since my first year.

Outside the lab: In my free time, I like to play volleyball, compose and produce music, and play video games. I’ve been skiing since I was a toddler.

Where you’ll find him on a nice day: My favorite place to enjoy nature on campus is definitely Wintergreen Gorge. It is immersive.

Who inspires him: I’m inspired by Lady Gaga. She’s intelligent, talented and full of love. She motivates me to be compassionate and embrace everyone’s differences. The world needs that kind of unconditional, accepting love today.

Advice for first-year students: If you feel confused or lost, you’re not alone. Nobody knows what they are doing in their first year. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and reach out for help.

After his graduation in May, Jake hopes to find a job in wildlife conservation, restoration, or research.

Class of 2017: Meet Alex Laffey (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Alex Laffey

Alex Laffey - first choice

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Home Sweet Second Home: I know it sounds cliché, but the moment I stepped onto campus at Behrend, I knew it was the only place that would feel like home to me.

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I loved math and science in high school, so I figured engineering would be a great fit for me.

Campus involvement: I am currently serving as president of Reality Check. I am also involved in Gamma Sigma Sigma and THON. I’m a Lion Scout and I played on the varsity tennis team my first three years of college.

On helping others: I’m passionate about helping others. I love to volunteer in my free time. I try to be the kind of person who people can lean on if they need help.

Off to Africa: I’m leaving in July to serve for two years in the Peace Corps as a secondary math education teacher in Sierra Leone, Africa!

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Being selected to dance in THON 2015 was one of my happiest moments. It was an honor to stand for 46 hours for people who can’t. The event is a cherished memory I’ll hold with me forever.

Scholarships and Awards: I received the Irvin Kochel Lion Ambassador Award and the Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship.

A voracious bookworm: I have the ability to ignore anything and everything when I’m reading a good book. During summer break, I usually read at least twenty books.

And an adventurous eater: I love food. I love trying new foods and I’m willing to try anything that’s edible. When I visited India this summer, everyone was surprised at how quickly I became comfortable with all the different foods there.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m afraid to go into a car wash. When I was five, I was in the car with my grandpa when he got stuck in one and I haven’t been back in one since!

Wicked racket skills: I won the AMCC Athlete of the year for tennis my first year at Penn State Behrend.

Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. There are so many opportunities for you at Behrend! You don’t have to join all the same clubs and do all the same activities you did in high school. Try many things until you find the right fit for you. You’re going to change a lot in college, and that’s a good thing!

After her graduation in May, Alex is joining the Peace Corps and going to Sierra Leone, Africa, to serve as a secondary math education teacher for two years.

Class of 2017: Meet Rick Greatbatch (Psychology)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Rick Greatbatch:

Rick Greatbatch - first choice - snow edited out

Major: Psychology, Human Factors option

Hometown: Buffalo

On choosing to major in Psychology: Initially I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and work directly with people, but after taking a class in human factors, I realized I could merge my passion for cars and psychology in a career that would be perfect for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: When I found out that I was accepted into two different Ph. D. programs, Behrend and the faculty members here truly gave me the experiences and knowledge I needed to take the next step in my career.

Campus involvement: I was active in the Psychology Club where I served as both vice president and president. I am also a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology.

Breaking the mold: I’m a tall, large-framed individual with tattoos and people are often surprised when I say that I’m going to graduate school and hope to earn a Ph. D. I don’t fit the mold most people have in their mind of a person pursuing advanced degrees.

Who inspires him: I’m most inspired by both of my grandfathers, but for different reasons. One of my grandfathers was a jack of all trades. He could do everything and anything with his hands, from carpentry to masonry to plumbing to engine repair. I learned so much from him. My other grandfather invented the cardiac implantable pacemaker and always urged his grandchildren to get an education. It took me a few years and a few learning experiences to finally heed his advice, but I’m glad I finally did. I’m inspired by both of their strengths. I not only want to have the mechanical abilities, but the knowledge behind what I am doing as well.

Advice for first-year students: I started college at the age of 23. If I could go back and give my 18-year-old self a little advice, it would be to always move forward. Regardless of what you are doing and even if you’re unsure or if you fail at something, just keep moving forward. Eventually, you’ll find out what you are good at and the pieces will all fall into place for you.

Following his graduation in May, Rick will be attending graduate school. He hopes someday to find work in the automotive industry as a human factors psychologist.

Class of 2017: Ariana Gloeckner (International Business and Accounting)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Ariana Gloeckner:

Ariana Gloecker - first choice

Majors: Accounting and International Business

Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Cranberry Township, Pa.

On choosing her major: I have always loved working with numbers, so becoming an accountant just made sense. I double majored in International Business so that if I am given the opportunity, I can work abroad.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved with the Accounting Club, served as president of the International Business Club, and was the student leadership chair of the business clubs. I was also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Pi honor societies, a peer mentor, and a student adviser on the International Business Advisory Board, and I’m currently the lead accountant on the CFA Investment Research Challenge Team.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’ve been married for almost four years. My husband is a full-time student at Behrend, too. He is an Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology junior with plans to pursue a Master’s in Manufacturing Management.

Why they chose Behrend: One of the reasons my husband and I chose Behrend was because it had such strong business and engineering programs. We’re both very active in our respective schools. I have been employed in the School of Business office as an assistant and the business newsletter coordinator for two years. My husband is in charge of the unmanned aerial vehicle drone research at Behrend and is a prototype product developer at Innovation Commons, the college’s high-tech maker space in Burke Center.

Postgraduate education: I will be returning to Behrend in the fall to work on my Master’s in Professional Accounting degree. My goal is to obtain my CPA license by the time I graduate from the master’s program.

Leading the line: I am honored to have been chosen as the student marshal for spring commencement. I will carry the School of Business banner and lead the school’s graduates into the ceremony.

Hidden talents: In my spare time, I love to paint. My specialty is painting realistic photos of landscapes or pets. My newest hobby is crocheting.

Scholarships: I received the Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship and the Prischak Family Trustee Scholarship.

Advice for current students: Get involved. I’m very shy and planned to just quietly earn my degree at Behrend until one of my accounting professors reached out to me and recommended me for a position as the newsletter coordinator for the Black School of Business. Before I knew it, I was getting involved in everything and making many contacts. It was the best thing that happened to me. I’ve had so many opportunities because I put myself out there.

After her graduation in May, Ariana will be returning to Behrend to obtain her Master of Professional Accounting degree. After that, she’d like to find work as a controller or an internal auditor. She dreams of opening a business with her husband someday.

 

Class of 2017: Meet Mark Massimino (Communications)

By Heather Cass
Publications Manager, Office of Strategic Communications,  Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 is ready to make its mark on the world!  We’re proud of our students and the things they’ve accomplished and learned while here at Behrend. Over the next couple months, we’ll be introducing you to a few of our remarkable seniors who have overcome challenges, pioneered new technology, participated in important research projects, and left an impression at Penn State Behrend.

Today, we’d like you to meet Mark Massimino:

mark massimino - first choice

Major: Communication

Certificates: Public Relations and Advertising

Hometown: Hunker, Pa.

On choosing Behrend: I only had to visit once to know Behrend was a perfect fit for me. The Communication department staff made me feel so welcome, answered every question I had, and made me excited for my future.

A born storyteller: I took several honors classes when I was in high school and got an early feel for what I did and didn’t like. I have always gravitated to communication. At the heart of it, I’m a storyteller, and utilizing media to share stories is exciting to me.

Campus involvement: I am the production leader of Wintergreen Media, Penn State Behrend’s student-run production company. I also am a show host for BVZ Radio, and I have been published in The Beacon.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Leading a team of fellow students in producing videos for area non-profit organizations was, by far, my proudest accomplishment. Balancing clients and classes was challenging, but it was good experience. Every organization posed a different challenge, and we aimed to tackle them and surpass their expectations.

Sports production or bust: I want to work in professional sports video production. I know it’s a difficult field to break into, but working with production crews at the Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park in Erie have given me a great starting point. I am taking the right steps to make my dream a reality, and I’m not going to stop until I achieve it.

Passionate about innovation: Every time I get behind a video camera, or the computer screen when I’m editing, I am always trying to innovate and offer a new perspective or a way for people to experience things. I take pride in my work and will never put my name on anything that isn’t the best I can do with the time and resources I have.

Definition of a good life: A good life is spending every day using whatever talents you have to make the world around you a better place. A mentor recently told me: ‘You are in charge of your own destiny.’ I know that I can achieve anything as long as I make a plan and put in the work.

Advice for current students: You get out of college what you put in. Get involved and make use of the tools available to you. Don’t waste those resources!

After his graduation in May, Mark plans to look for work in professional video production, preferably in sports video production.