Excellence runs in Schupp family, twice chosen to Marshal

By Christine Palattella
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Kelsey Schupp (3)

Student Marshal Kelsey Schupp

On Friday night, Student Marshal Kelsey Schupp ’16 will lead her fellow Black School of Business commencement candidates into Erie Insurance Arena just as her sister, Brooke ʼ14, did two years ago.

Only five Student Marshals are chosen for a commencement ceremony, one representing each of Penn State Behrend’s four academic schools plus an Honors candidate to lead the college’s Schreyer Scholars. To recognize their outstanding academic achievements, Student Marshals are given the honor of carrying the banners that precede each of the five candidate groups onto the arena floor.

Kelsey will receive concurrent degrees in Accounting and Finance and soon will begin working as a proposal analyst associate at Lockheed Martin’s Missile and Fire Control division in Orlando. Brooke joined GE Transportation after graduating with a degree in Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies; this fall she completes her fourth and final rotation in GE’s Operations Management Leadership Program.

Was being named Marshal a goal for you, Kelsey?

I wouldn’t necessarily say being Marshal was a specific goal I made, but I knew there was a good chance of it happening because my personal goal was graduating with a cumulative 4.0 GPA.

Was Brooke an inspiration? Are you two competitive?

Brooke graduated with a 4.0 GPA too. I’ve always wanted to do my very best in school purely for my own satisfaction, but Brooke’s performance at Behrend pushed me to try even harder. She definitely left me some big shoes to fill.

In my junior year I started a game with myself –I decided to see how much more I could take on while maintaining my GPA. This is when I started working at internships during the school year and participating in academic competitions like the Chartered Financial Analyst Institute Research Challenge. I was captain of the team that reached the global semi-finals, ending as the 21st team out of over 1,000 competing.

I think Brooke and I are more competitive with ourselves than each other. But we do sometimes push each other, to make each other a better person, of course.

Looking back, Brooke, what did the Marshal experience mean to you?

Kelsey summarized it right when she said we are more competitive with ourselves than we are with each other. Being a Marshal allowed me to see that my parents had done an amazing job creating self-motivating adults capable of anything we put our minds to – even a 4.0 in college – a trait I hope I can someday pass on to those around me.

Brooke Schupp (2)

Brooke Schupp, Kelsey’s sister and a 2014 Marshal

How do you feel about Kelsey following in your footsteps?

In college I mainly focused on my coursework, working to prove to myself that a 4.0 wasn’t impossible. Kelsey took that to the next level by being extremely active in other groups and competitions, for example taking her team to Nationals for the CFA Institute Research Challenge competition! The dedication, time management, and leadership she was able to muster over her senior year is beyond incredible to me and proof that my little sister isn’t so little anymore.

Penn State Behrend’s 2016 spring commencement will be held on Friday, May 6, in Erie Insurance Arena, 809 French St. The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m. and will be streamed live at behrend.psu.edu.

Political Science Major Wins Two-Month Fellowship to Berlin

megan mcconnell

Megan McConnell

Megan McConnell, a sophomore majoring in Political Science at Penn State Behrend, has won a fully-funded Cultural Vista Fellowship to complete a two-month internship in Berlin this summer. The fellowship also covers an orientation in New York City, airfare, housing, internship placement, and transportation.

Cultural Vista Fellowships offer U.S. college students the opportunity to advance their career goals, develop global competencies, and experience life in another culture.

“Cultural Vista Fellowship is a classic example of engaged scholarship affording students with a hands-on international two-months internship experience, in this case in Berlin, Germany, immersing Megan in German language and culture, and giving her the opportunity to gain solid real world experience by interning with a German employer,” said Dr. Eva Kuttenberg, associate professor of German. “I am humbled by Megan’s drive and commitment.”

McConnell, who is minoring in German and History, is one of just four national recipients of the fellowship.

“I think my strong background in German language and ability to adapt to diverse situations played a big part in why I was selected,” McConnell said. “My comfort interacting with people from all walks of life also helped make me a viable candidate.”

McConnell will attend orientation in New York City at the end of May before departing for Berlin on June 1. While she is there, she’ll be working as an intern with a political organization.

“I’m looking forward to gaining invaluable insight into the German political system and ideologies,”McConnell said. “I plan on pursuing a career in politics and diplomacy, so this experience will help me interact with the country in a diplomatic sense later.”

McConnell is the third winner of a fully-funded fellowship from Penn State Behrend. Last year, History major Olivia Duryea won a Teaching Assistants fellowship and spent nine months in Bad Hofgastein, Austria, assisting with English classes. In 2009, Physics and Science major Nicole Gall won a Deutscher Akademischer Austauschdienst Research Internship in Science and Engineering Fellowship and spent three months working in a physics lab at the University of Tuebingen, Germany.

Love of writing defines O’Neill’s time at Behrend

Katherine O'Neill

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

As a child, Katie O’Neill always had a keen interest in writing and creative expression. This affinity continued when she got to grade school, and it was not long before others started to notice.

“I had a teacher when I was in first grade who told my mom to get me a journal,” O’Neill recalls.

That would seem to have been excellent advice. As O’Neill has grown up, her passion for writing has become a defining characteristic.

“I’ve always been a writer before anything else,” the Lake Winola, Pa., native says.

That passion is what brought her to Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. The college’s BFA in Creative Writing piqued her interest as the only such program in the Penn State system and one of only a few in the country.

“That was definitely the number one draw,” she says.

Through the inventive program, O’Neill, who graduated this past May, says she was able to focus intently on improving her inventive writing skills. She also improved her editing abilities serving on the staff of Lake Effect, an international literary journal published by the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend.

Along the way, O’Neill garnered accolades. This past year alone, her non-fiction story, “Achill Strikes Again,” won Behrend’s Farrell Nonfiction Award while her fiction piece “Juneau” was the college’s Smith Fiction Award winner. Her short fiction piece, “Tony and Rebecca” was also named an honorable mention in the Annual Creative Writing Awards, sponsored by Suffolk County Community College in Long Island, New York.

O’Neill says her inspiration comes from “the weirdest things,” but also a more traditional source. Thanks to the college’s Creative Writers Reading Series and professional conferences, O’Neill met and networked with numerous professional authors throughout her college career. With every interaction, she says she would pick up a tip or two that she put to good use.

During her time at Penn State Behrend, O’Neill was involved beyond creative writing activities. She was the captain of the college’s dance team, a member of the Behrend Choir and a writing tutor in the Learning Resource Center.

This past spring, O’Neill’s efforts were recognized with two awards: Behrend’s Eric A. and Josephine S. Walker Award and a university-wide Eclipse Award. The Walker Award recognizes a student whose character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship have been directed into student programs and services. The Eclipse Award recognizes Penn State students for service and volunteerism to their campus and local communities.

This fall, O’Neill will start pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing at Bowling Green State University in Bowling Green, Ohio. She reflects fondly on her time at Penn State Behrend and hopes new students will choose to follow a similar path.

“My advice is to get involved from the start. I’m so glad I got involved right away. It can be overwhelming, but it’s (worth it),” she says. “I’ve made some amazing friends. I’m going to miss everything about this place.”

Move over, Bill Nye. Penn State Behrend has its own ‘Science Guy’

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Joel Solomon (3)

Joel Solomon, a physics major, was the recipient of this year’s T. Reed Ferguson Award. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

For some kids, it’s Cartoon Network. For others, it’s Nickelodeon. For Joel Solomon, it was the Science channel?

“Growing up, I just always watched that channel,” says Solomon, who recently completed his junior year at Penn State Erie, The Behrend College. “I was fascinated by what humanity has been able to do over the years, and I knew that I wanted to be a part of that.”

Math and science resonated with Solomon, and that interest led the New Wilmington, Pa., native to Penn State Behrend. As he got older, he knew he wanted to pursue research in college, and he could think of no better destination than Behrend.

“Being able to get a great education at a small campus is great,” says Solomon, a physics major. “I was looking for a research-oriented institution, and Behrend is one of the few schools in the region that offers such opportunities. I know that with a degree from here, I can go anywhere that I choose.”

This past year, Solomon collaborated with Bruce Wittmershaus, associate professor of physics, on a research project titled, “Concentration Dependence of Coated Gold Nanoparticles for Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.” The project was recognized as the Best Poster Presentation this past April at the Sigma Xi Undergraduate Student Research and Creative Accomplishment Conference.

Undergraduate research has been a big part of his time at the college, but Solomon’s interests go beyond the academic realm. For the past three years, he’s been a goalie on the men’s soccer team. This past year, Solomon was inducted into Chi Alpha Sigma, a national society that honors collegiate student-athletes who excel in both the classroom and in athletic competition. The society recognizes student-athletes who received a varsity letter in their sport while maintaining a cumulative GPA of 3.4 or higher throughout their junior and/or senior years. Solomon is also a former AMCC All-Academic selection.

“I feel as if soccer complements my academics. Just being physically active helps me keep up with my coursework,” he says.

Solomon’s accomplishments on the field and in the classroom played a key role in his receiving the 2014-15 T. Reed Ferguson Award last April at the college’s 66th annual Honors and Awards Convocation. The award recognizes a junior who has demonstrated scholarship, leadership and citizenship through academic and out-of-class involvement and gives promise of further achievement in the senior year.

“I was very happy to receive the award, and it was nice to know my work is paying off,” Solomon says. “It just reassured me that I’m on the right path, but I know there’s more that I can do.”

Solomon will get the chance to fulfill that promise of further achievement this fall, continuing his undergraduate research as the recipient of a grant to explore the topic of “Enhancing the Photostability of Fluorophores Using Metal Enhanced Fluorescence.”

For the future, Solomon plans to attend graduate school and possibly work with optics. His ultimate goal, though, has its roots in the programs he watched on Science as a boy.

“My dream job is always going to be something with NASA. I have always been fascinated by all of NASA’s accomplishments,” he says, “so that’s the dream, and that’s what I’ll keep working toward.”

Turnbull Award winner relishes her time spent at Behrend

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By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

First impressions go a long way. Just ask Amyelia Payne.

Four years ago, while searching for colleges, the New Castle native toured Penn State Behrend. That’s all it took for her to make up her mind.

“We had this awesome tour guide, and right away, I knew Behrend was for me. I instantly fell in love with the campus,” the senior interdisciplinary business with engineering studies (IBE) and international business major recalls.

Payne’s experience that day would later influence her campus involvement as a student. When she looked into organizations to join, one club resonated with her.

“I loved Lion Ambassadors because a Lion Ambassador was the first person that I met when I came to campus,” Payne says. “I remember how that influenced me, and I wanted to have that same impact on students when they came to tour Behrend.”

Joining Lion Ambassadors was just the start of Payne’s influence and involvement. She joined Lambda Sigma and Beta Gamma Sigma, both national honor societies, and also became very active in Student Government Association (SGA). As a junior, she was SGA vice president before serving as president this past year.

Through SGA, Payne has left her mark. She’s helped spearhead discussions and preliminary plans to transform Erie Hall into a fitness and recreation center and Behrend’s SGA played a part in expanding Penn State’s smoking policy to include electronic and vapor cigarettes.

As SGA president, Payne also introduced an international seat on the organization’s board in response to the college’s growing international student population. This past fall, Penn State Behrend welcomed 186 international students, the largest such class ever at the college.

“We’ve seen such an influx of international students, and this was done to ensure that they had equal representation,” Payne says.

Payne’s involvement on campus was recognized in April at the 66th Honors and Awards Convocation where she was named the recipient of the Thomas H. Turnbull Award. The award recognizes a Penn State Behrend student who has contributed to the college community through outstanding qualities of character, scholarship, leadership and citizenship.

As it happens, when it came time for the naming of the Turnbull Award winner, Payne was already on stage handing out awards as part of her duties as SGA president.

“I had been standing up there for more than two hours smiling, and by the time they got to the final awards, my face hurt. I heard them say IBE and international business major and I thought, ‘Wait a minute; I’m the only one here with that double major,’” she recalls. “I was so shocked, but it was an incredible feeling to be recognized. I’ve given a lot to Behrend in four years, but I could never repay the experiences that it’s given to me.”

This week, Payne will graduate with her IBE degree and head to Cary, North Carolina, to intern with LORD Corporation this summer. She will study abroad in Barcelona this fall before graduating with her international business degree in December.

She says she will miss her time at Behrend, but she’s also hopeful and excited for the future.

“I’m not sad. There have been times over the past month when I’ve thought about it, but why be sad? It’s inevitable, so there’s no reason to dwell on it,” Payne says. “Everyone comes to college to get a degree and for their academics, but it’s what you do outside your degree that makes your experience unique. I’ve done all that I could, and I think I’m looking forward to that next stage of my life. ”

Paul Lukasik leaves imprint at Behrend through Servant Leadership Award

William staniszewski (2)

Bill Staniszewski (left) was the recipient of the Paul Lukasik Servant Leadership Award at this year’s Center for Service and Civic Leadership’s Service Awards.

By Steve Orbanek
Marketing Communications Specialist, Penn State Behrend

Paul Lukasik unassumingly walked to the podium, flashing an abashed smile at the crowd of more than 50 people in attendance at Penn State Behrend’s Center for Service and Civic Leadership’s Service Awards.

“Just so you know, my face gets red when I get nervous,” said Lukasik, displaying humility that’s fitting in light of the award he was about to present: The Paul Lukasik Servant Leadership Award.

The award, created and presented to Lukasik in 2014 and subsequently named in his honor, recognizes a Penn State Behrend junior who, through leadership in a student organization or class, encourages others to engage in service and civic engagement.

This year’s honoree was Bill Staniszewski, a junior mechanical engineering major who has completed numerous service projects with THON and Triangle Fraternity.

“Being honored with this award was the highlight of my semester. It really means a lot to me, especially as one of the leaders of Behrend Benefitting THON,” Staniszewski said. “When I heard that I was the recipient, it helped to reaffirm my commitment to leading by example.”

For Lukasik, having an award named in his honor has been a humbling experience.

“It’s hard to put words to it. Presenting the award hammered home to me that this is something that will stay even after I’m gone,” said Lukasik, a senior project and supply chain management major. “My hope, though, is that people will look beyond the name of the award and see its intention.”

Naming an award after a current student is an unconventional practice, but according to Carrie Egnosak, an academic adviser and a member of the Service Awards Committee that created the award, Lukasik is especially deserving of the honor.

“Paul has just been so involved with service from the very first moment he stepped onto campus,” Egnosak said. “He’s one of the few students who has participated in every Alternative Spring Break trip since he’s been here, and he tends to take on a leadership role with any club or organization that he becomes involved with. Everybody who knows him loves him because he would do anything for anyone.”

Since arriving at Behrend, Lukasik has performed services projects through Reality Check, Behrend’s community service-oriented club; Omicron Delta Kappa, the national leadership honor society; Relay for Life; and Alternative Spring Break; and has served as a resident assistant.

Lukasik said his commitment to service dates back to childhood, helping out at Fair Haven’s Church, founded in North Tonawanda, N.Y., by his grandparents.

He contends his commitment to service won’t be changing anytime soon. After graduation, he plans to do volunteer work through GE Transportation, where he has accepted a position in the Commercial Leadership Program, and also hopes to make a service trip to David’s Home, an orphanage founded in Haiti by Fair Haven’s Church.

Lukasik said he is grateful for all of the opportunities he’s received at Behrend, and he hopes new students will continue to pursue service work.

“Behrend as a whole has given me so many opportunities. I’ve had internships, gone on service trips and had leadership positions,” he said. “The service work just draws you in. It’s mutually beneficial and so rewarding. No matter how busy you are, there’s always something you can do, and I think it’s our civic duty to give back.”

Alumnus, MIS Professional earns Maryland State Guard Association’s Soldier of the Year Award

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Jeremy O'Mard

Jeremy O’Mard ’13 was just ten years old when the planes flew into the twin towers in his hometown of New York City on 9/11. Like millions of other Americans, the event altered the course of his life.

“It really hit home because my brother was a police officer, and we were attacked on our home soil,” O’Mard said. “I knew then that I wanted to find a way to help others and give back to my country when I got older.”

He participated in JROTC and Civil Air Patrol while in high school, but after graduation he chose to go to college instead of entering the military.

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do with my life and, honestly, I’d gotten used to the comforts of civilian life.”

A fortuitous misunderstanding

He ended up at Penn State Behrend by accident.

“I was accepted at University Park, but was confused by how the campuses were set up, so I chose Erie, thinking it was an area of U.P.,” he said with a laugh. “When I visited Behrend, I fell in love with the campus and decided to stay.”

O’Mard majored in Management Information Systems, because the blend of technology and business appealed to him.

“I liked computers and technology, but I’d always had a business mindset, so MIS really captivated me,” he said.

Mixing business and service

Today, O’Mard, who also earned a minor in Operations and Supply Chain Management, works full time as an Oracle business intelligence developer at IBM in Washington, D.C.

He has also found a way to give back.

Since his freshman year in college, O’Mard has been a volunteer in the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF), a uniformed military agency established by the state of Maryland to provide professional, technical, and military support to the state’s National Guard and Emergency Management Agency.

“When I returned home to Maryland after my first year at Behrend, I was looking around online to see if I could find anything I might do that summer to supplement my MIS major and I stumbled upon the MDDF’s Information Technology unit and saw they needed volunteers,” he said.

After initial training, he began helping the MDDF by providing tech support, troubleshooting hardware and software problems, and working on ad hoc problems.

Quick climb up the ranks

His role in the MDDF steadily increased. He was a visible member of the MDDF Information Technology team, participated in training sessions and headquarter drills, and served on the honor guard for military funerals.

In just four years, O’Mard rose to the rank of 2nd Lieutenant and is now the Commanding General’s aide-de-camp (personal assistant to a person of high rank). He estimates he volunteers about twenty hours a month.

His peers and superiors speak highly of him, complimenting his leadership skills, positivity, professionalism, and dedication to the MDDF.

Soldier of the Year

In December, they backed up those words with an official award. O’Mard was chosen to receive the Maryland State Guard Association’s Soldier of the Year award for his “exceptional leadership, motivation, military bearing, dependability, and loyalty to the mission of the MDDF, the Maryland Military Department, and citizens of the State of Maryland.”

O’Mard, who was surprised by the honor, said it was both humbling and inspiring.

“I know I do a lot for the MDDF, but I know many others who do, too, so I was very humbled to be chosen,” he said. “It definitely puts things in perspective and makes me want to have an even stronger year this year.”

Best of both worlds

If O’Mard likes the military life, why not make it his career?

He said he enjoys his job at IBM, which offers him myriad opportunities to challenge himself, learn, and advance at the company.

“I feel like this is perfect for me,” he said. “I can maintain the civilian life I want and still be in the military. It’s the best of both worlds.”

jeremy o'mard award