Class of 2016: Meet Michael Pacacha (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Michael Pacacha:

Pacacha1

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Hunker, Pennsylvania

On majoring in Mechanical Engineering: Growing up, I always enjoyed math and science, so I knew I wanted to pursue a career focused on those. Having participated in the Pennsylvania Envirothon since sixth grade, I was also interested in environmental science/engineering. I went with Mechanical Engineering because it gave me a broader group of industries I could work in.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved with Lion Ambassadors, Lion Scouts, THON, and Engineering Ambassadors.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I was homeschooled, so college was definitely a new and exciting experience for me. Sometimes people wonder if I socialized in high school. I did; I started working early and was always involved with several organizations.

Traveling engineer: I hope to find a job that offers me the opportunity to travel. I love exploring and going to places I’ve never been before, so finding a position that allows that outside of a professional environment is important to me.

Marathon dancin’ man: In February, I was blessed to represent Penn State Behrend at THON, the University’s 46-hour dace marathon that raises money to help kids with cancer.

Advice for current students: Always be responsible and accountable for your actions. Also, time management skills are extremely important in college!

Michael is planning to work as an engineer in the field of aerospace, defense, or energy following his graduation in May.

Class of 2016: Meet Dan Doleiden (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Dan Doleiden:

Dan Doleiden

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Allentown

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: It’s a major that offers endless opportunities to specialize. Mechanical engineers are employed in a vast array of exciting fields.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Presenting research at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meetings in both 2014 and 2015.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I’ve been learning the Turkish language over the past year. Also, I’m a registered beekeeper!

On undergraduate research: Assisting my adviser, Dr. Adam Hollinger, with his research on fuel cells really took my education experience to a higher level. (Read all about it the latest issue of Engineering News, Pg. 10-11).

Advice for current students: Get involved in research. It’s a great way to apply concepts you’re learning (in your major and outside of your major), and it’s a great way to network with faculty members and others in academia and industry.

Dan plans to attend graduate school following his graduation in May.

Class of 2016: Meet Olivia D’Annibale (Biology)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Olivia D’Annibale:

olivia d'annibale1

Major: Biology, Molecular & Biochemistry option

Minor: Sociology

Hometown: Erie

On choosing to major in Biology: I chose Biology because I wanted to go to medical school. In my sophomore year, I quickly realized that I had a major fear of blood, hospitals, and needles, so being a doctor wasn’t going to work for me. I stuck with Biology, though, because I took a genetics class and absolutely fell in love with it.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’ve been involved in undergraduate research since my freshman year. I received a Council of Fellows Undergraduate Student Research Award to work with Dr. Michael Campbell in his molecular lab doing research on potatoes and their reaction to a sprout suppressant. Dr. Campbell and I submitted a paper to the American Journal of Potato Research and I just got the news that the paper is officially published online. (Read it here.)

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m always carrying a Starbucks cup in my hand, but I actually hate coffee; it’s hot chocolate.

In service to others: I’ve always wanted a career that would allow me to help others, so I was pretty upset when I realized that I wasn’t going to be a doctor. I think that’s why I have enjoyed being involved with the Random Acts of Kindness club. We do things for people without wanting anything, even a thank you, in return. I’ve enjoyed being a resident assistant for the same reason.

On gaining confidence and wisdom: I’m not the same person I was when I came to Behrend four years ago. I was a very shy, timid, 18-year-old who thought she had it all figured out. Now, I’m a confident, 21-year-old who knows she doesn’t have it all figured out and that it’s perfectly OK. I’m not afraid to take life head on. I’ve grown so much here. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to try new things. I thought I was going to hate the sociology course I took in my first semester of college, and I ended up minoring in it! Some of my best experiences in college have been when I initially felt the most uncomfortable.

Olivia plans to attend graduate school following her graduation in May. In the future, she hopes to be a genetic counselor and help those dealing with genetic diseases and concerns.

Class of 2016: Meet Tara Kryzsiak (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Tara Krzysiak

Tara Krysiak1

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Cambridge Springs, Pennsylvania

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I have always loved math and science and I enjoy problem solving and figuring out how things work. Mechanical Engineering was a good fit for my interests.

Leader in training: I’m honored that I’ve been given the opportunity to not only get involved with so many clubs at Behrend, but to also take on leadership roles in them. I became the vice president of Lion Ambassadors and treasurer of Reality Check, and I have been a resident assistant for two years. All these positions have taught me so much about leadership and helped me grow as a person.

Just call me “Grandma”: I enjoy crocheting and making scarves and other items for my family and friends. I once crocheted a rug out of old t-shirts. My friends like to call me “Grandma.”

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I love fitness and just recently became a Les Mills Body Pump instructor.

Advice for current students: Get out of your room and get involved. Your college experiences is what you make of it. There are tons of clubs and organizations and leadership opportunities at Behrend. Take advantage of all that the campus has to offer. You can learn so much about yourself.

Tara has accepted a position as a project engineer at Armstrong World Industries following her graduation in May.

 

Class of 2016: Meet Lexie Pelchen (Communication)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Lexie Pelchen:

Lexie Pelchen (2)

Major: Communication

Minor: English

Certificates: Public Relations, Social Media

Hometown: Latrobe, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: When I was looking at colleges, I decided I would not visit any campus until I got an acceptance letter. I had a fear of going to visit a school and loving it and then finding out I did not get in. The first acceptance letter I received was from Behrend, so it was the first – and turned out to be the only – school I toured. When I visited, I felt so comfortable at Behrend; it felt like home. It was a very easy decision for me to make.

On finding the perfect major (for her): I started as a Creative Writing major, but quickly realized it wasn’t for me. My roommate was a Communication major and I always thought her homework and projects were interesting and fun. I met with Dr. Rod Troester, associate professor of speech communication, and ended up switching to Communication. My time in the writing program actually paid off as I was able to earn an English minor with just a couple more classes. It all turned out well and I’m happy with the decisions I made.

Proudest accomplishment: Chartering our Her Campus chapter. I’m so proud that I was able to start a club at Behrend, especially one that I’m so passionate about. I’m happy to know that when I graduate, I will be able to leave a part of myself at Behrend.

Campus involvement: I am a sister in Alpha Sigma Alpha and once served as the president of the Panhellenic Council. I’m currently the social media director for the Behrend Beacon, a member of Lambda Pi Eta honor society, and president of Her Campus.

Social media maven: I think I have a knack for social media communication. I joke that I’m getting my major in Instagram and my minor in Twitter, but it’s more than a hobby for me. I’ve devoted a lot of time into figuring out how social media works and how I can use it to reach mass audiences.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: For most of my life I was a pretty big homebody. My mindset now is the polar opposite!

Have degree, will travel I have a six-year plan that involves living in a new place every two years. First, I plan to move to New York City, then Boston, then Los Angeles. I don’t see myself settling in any town for a long time.

Advice for current students: Don’t sell yourself short in any aspect of your life; you’re capable of more than you could ever imagine. Also, it’s OK to not know what you want and to figure that out by ruling out the things you don’t want.

With gratitude: I have changed so much during my four short years here at Behrend. I’m so grateful for the opportunities that I have had here and happy with the direction my life is taking now.

After graduation, Lexie plans to move to New York City and find work at a fashion magazine or media company.

Class of 2016: Meet John Galla (Mechanical Engineering)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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  John Galla:

John Galla

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Erie

On choosing Behrend: I started college as an economics major at Pitt, but wanted a smaller campus. I also wanted to switch to engineering, and haven’t regretted the decision. I have great relationships with most of my professors because Behrend is a personal school.

Engineering as seen on TV: I had a fantastic summer internship at FMC Technologies in Houston. One R&D project required my mentor and me to build a dipping machine that would consistently coat specimens. But we didn’t have any budget to build it, so we improvised and built a working machine from parts that were lying around, including a television stand and coffee stirrers. It was a real example of MacGyver-ing.

Student as teacher: I teach the computer lab, which is part of Introduction to Engineering Design. I show first-year engineering students how to use Autodesk Inventor, Excel, and Mathcad. I’m pretty good at teaching and explaining things to other students and have been tutoring and teaching almost constantly since high school. It’s been a great opportunity to give back to the school that has given me an excellent education.

What you would be surprised to know about him: I’m a good public speaker and presenter. I am a shy and introverted person, yet I never really get nervous speaking in front of a crowd.

Advice for current students: Sweat the small stuff and be persistent. Building good habits early makes it much easier when the answers aren’t in the back of the book. Also, don’t be afraid to ask questions. It’s the easiest way to get to know your professors and coworkers. A relationship with your professors and coworkers is one of the best reasons to stay motivated and do good work. You don’t want to disappoint a professor you like, or embarrass yourself.

John has accepted a position at Cummins a product validation engineer at the company’s Jamestown Engine Plant.  

 

Class of 2016: Meet Lola Soniregun (Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies)

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2016 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.  We sat down to talk to some remarkable seniors before they left school and we’d like to a few of our students 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 Lola Soniregun

Lola Soniregun1

Degree: Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies

Hometown: Silver Spring, Maryland

On choosing to major in IBE: During high school, I participated in Project Lead the Way and The National Academy of Finance, which are programs created to introduce students to engineering and business. After having that initial introduction and enjoying both fields of study, I decided to pursue the mix of the two disciplines through the IBE program.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: The internships and experiences that I’ve been able to acquire.

Campus involvement: Over the years, I’ve been involved with several campus organizations, including Lambda Sigma, the Multi-Cultural Council, the Penn State Behrend Dance Team, and the National Society of Black Engineers.

Dance, dance, dance: I joined the Dance Team during my first year at Behrend. It taught me a lot about commitment, character, and confidence. The team gave me a home away from home and I learned as much about dancing as I did about life during my three years on the team. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Let your light shine: Every student here has a function, a purpose, something that you can contribute to the college that will make you feel feel valued and important and motivate you to achieve great things.

Advice for current students: You are blessed to be at Penn State Behrend and you have a lot of resources at your disposal. Take time to explore those resources and take advantage of them because you will never again have so many opportunities available to you all at once. You are now a member of one of the most powerful universities in the world!