Standout Seniors: Meet Nicole Kuhn

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Nicole Kuhn:

Nicole Kuhn cropped

Major: Marketing

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: I actually transferred to Behrend in my sophomore year from a small college in Pittsburgh. At my previous school, I was on the women’s volleyball team, which consumed most of my time. I was looking for a medium-sized school with a lot of opportunities that was not in a city and was a couple of hours from home. When I visited Behrend, I was able to check off all of those boxes.

On choosing her major: I began as a biology major, but soon realized that I couldn’t see myself working in a hospital as I’d planned. I chose marketing because it is an exciting and ever-changing field. I kept biology as a minor because I think it is important to differentiate yourself and having a STEM background will do that.

Career outlook: Short term, I think digital marketing is an area where I see a lot of growth and excitement. Long term, I hope to transition into a branding position that will enable me to combine all ofmy marketing experiences.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved in several clubs and through them I’ve found some of my best friends and created lifelong memories. I have been a member of Behrend Benefiting THON for three years. I was the executive director my junior year, and this year I was the fundraising chair. I also had the honor of representing Behrend as one of the 700 dancers in THON 2018 to raise money for pediatric cancer and the Four Diamonds Fund.

I’ve also been involved with Lion Ambassadors for three years. This year, I was one of the membership chairs and was responsible for interviewing, inducting, and training all of the new members into the family.

The most recent club I have been involved with is Reality Check. I had the amazing opportunity to go with this club to Houston, Texas, to participate in Alternative Spring break this year. Nearly thirty of us worked to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

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Nicole helping at an animal shelter in Beaumont, Texas, during Alternative Spring Break in March.

Learning to serve others: One thing I’ve solidified throughout my college career is my underlying love of community service and helping others. Every club I’ve been involved with is service-based. Whether it is organizing events to raise money for THON, helping pack and move thousands of books to a local high school, participating in TOPS soccer, or helping flood victims in Houston, service projects have significantly impacted my overall character.

Advice for new students: Don’t feel like you need to have everything figured out in this moment. Don’t stress over the things you can’t control, and live in today. Enjoy the late-night study sessions in the library, early morning coffees with your roommate, Saturday afternoon tailgates, and everything in between.

After her graduation in May, Nicole hopes to secure a marketing position with an established firm.

 

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Brianna Riley

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Brianna Riley:

Brianna Riley

Brianna working on a job site at this year’s Alternative Spring Break in Beaumont, Texas.

Major(s): Concurrent majors in Accounting and Management Information Systems

Minor: Finance

Hometown: Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received the Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship and the Stan Latta Dedication Scholarship.

On choosing her majors: I chose Accounting because I like to have a clear definition of what is right, what is wrong, and what my next step is. I chose Management Information Systems because information technology has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. It turns out that the Accounting and MIS pair well together. I ended up finding a full-time job that will utilize both of them.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Participating in an Alternative Spring Break trip to San Francisco in 2017. When I went on the trip, I knew just one person, but I came back with twenty-seven new friends. This is an accomplishment to me, because before that, I was afraid to step out of my comfort zone and friend circle. Soon after the trip, I ran for treasurer of the club (Reality Check) that sponsors ASB. Now I am heavily involved with Reality Check and the planning of this year’s trip. It is truly a blessing to have friends with similar passions, with ours being service.

Campus involvement: I have held executive board positions in the Accounting Club, Reality Check, Circle K, the Entrepreneur Club, and the National Society of Leadership and Success. I am also involved with the Management Information Systems Club. I am a part of Beta Gamma Sigma and ATHENA Connections. I have participated in two Innovation Through Collaboration (ITC) projects that are sponsored by the Black School of Business. One focused on the accounting systems of a local winery and the other focused on bitcoin in accounting.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I love photography. I aspire to be like one of my high school teachers who continued her passion for photography alongside her career.

Passionate about service: I love to help others and make their day better, whether that means donating clothes, making cards for Meals on Wheels, or traveling across the United States for a week of manual labor to help with disaster relief.

Who inspires her: My mother is my inspiration. She is an astonishing woman. She has four children and a full-time job, but that is not what makes her so remarkable. It is how she comes home every day from her nine-hour workday with a smile on her face. She is selfless, compassionate, and an inspiration to everyone she meets.

Advice for new students: Get involved early. Maybe in high school it was not cool to be involved with clubs, but college is different. Getting involved with clubs, whether they are directly related to your major or not, gives you the chance to take on leadership roles, learn from your peers, and get some valuable hands-on experience. Also, clubs can help you meet some of the best friends you will ever have.

Brianna has accepted a position as an IT auditor with Deloitte Advisory in Pittsburgh following her graduation in May.

Standout Seniors: Nicole Overby

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

Penn State Behrend’s seniors are ready to make their 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 Nicole Overby:
 Nicole Overby

Major: Accounting

Minor: Management Information Systems

Graduation date: December 2017

Hometown: Nazareth, Pennsylvania

Scholarship: I received the National Bank of North East Leadership Scholarship, the Lawrence and Elizabeth Held Scholarship, the Behrend Faculty and Staff Scholarship, and the Edward P. and Barbara F. Junker Scholarship.

On choosing her major: I was drawn to numbers in high school, and I knew early on that I wanted a business degree. After I took some accounting classes, I realized it was a perfect fit for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was the student marshal at commencement. It meant so much to me and my family that I was selected by faculty members to represent the Black School of Business.

Campus involvement: I was involved in Circle K, Business Analytics Team, Accounting Club, Athena, Phi Kappa Phi, and the Behrend Beacon, and I helped produce and write the Black School of Business program newsletters.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I have a twin sister

What she’s passionate about: Spreading goodness. This is a broad statement, but that is why I love it. Whether it is doing community service or simply smiling and saying hello to strangers, I think it is important to spread joy every day. I am a stronger believer in positivity. Not only will it make you feel better, but it will have a positive impact on everyone you come in contact with.

Advice for new students: Set goals, but be flexible. If you are too set on one path, you might miss another one that is best for you.

Nicole graduated from Penn State Behrend in December of 2017. She will return to the college in August to begin earning a Master of Professional Accounting degree. She plans to work in public accounting.

 

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Angelia Clear

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Angelia Clear:

Angelia Clear.jpg

Majors: Concurrent major in Marketing and International Business

Hometown: Lower Burrell, Pennsylvania

On choosing her majors: I love the international aspect of business, but marketing is so versatile and interesting to me, so I decided to dual major.

Scholarships: I received the Presidential Scholarship, the Addison Gibson Foundation Grant, and the John K. Henne Scholarship for International Study.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend? Receiving and accepting an invitation to join Beta Gamma Sigma, an academic honor society, while balancing a heavy course load and working full time.

Campus involvement: I have attended the School of Business spring business trips and I am a Black School of Business Ambassador. I am very involved in the Marketing Club and also enjoy playing intramural soccer when I can. I’ve studied abroad and I am a member of Beta Gamma Sigma.

Multitasking master: I am someone who has to have a lot of things going on all the time. I enjoy managing my time and being busy!

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I am a very observant person who can be shy at first, but I honestly enjoy learning about different people and cultures and immersing myself in new experiences.

Advice for new students: Time management is huge in college. Students need to get organized from the beginning because it is easy to fall behind. Also, get involved and do things that you really enjoy. College is not just about academics; it is about you. You get out of it what you put into it.

Following her graduation in May, Angelia plans to start her career in business.

 

 

 

Class of 2018: Meet Cathy Brooks

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2018 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 Cathy Brooks:

Cathy Brooks (2 of 3)

Majors: Dual major in Accounting and Finance

Hometown: Bethel Park, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I have always wanted to attend Penn State, but University Park was overwhelming to me. Behrend was big enough to provide great opportunities, but not so large that I felt lost in the crowd.

On choosing her majors: During my freshman engineering seminar (I entered Behrend as an engineering major), I took a personality test that said accounting was a 100 percent match for my skills and interests. After taking Physics 211, I had a feeling engineering was not the right path for me, so I decided to switch majors.

On double majoring: After taking a few business courses and seeing how similar finance and accounting were, I decided to add the Finance major in order to put me closer to the 150 credits I need to sit for the CPA exam and get value out of those credits.

Campus involvement: I am a member of Delta Sigma Pi, the professional business fraternity on campus. For the past year, I’ve been the group’s vice president of alumni relations. Before joining the fraternity, I could be quiet and shy. The group has been great for building my confidence, and being involved with them has made the last two years of college fly by.

On motherhood: I have a two-year-old at home and she has motivated me to succeed. I do everything for her because I want the best for her. Having a family, a job, a role in the fraternity, and going to college full time has forced me to overcome a lot of obstacles. But I have learned that stressful days are just temporary and organization is everything when you have a lot on your plate.

On taking chances: The best advice I can give to anyone is that you will never know until you try. If you try and fail, you’re in the same spot as if you’d never tried at all, so what do you really have to lose?

What you would be surprised to know about her: I love to sing and play trumpet. I haven’t had much time in my life for it since I started college, but I hope to join a community band when I move to D.C. this summer.

Advice for first-year students: Get involved! It’s one thing to get good grades in class, but to show that you also helped other students, the school, or the community will really set you apart from other candidates interviewing for the same job that you are.

After her graduation in May, Cathy will be working as a federal auditor in Washington, D.C., on KPMG’s Army Engagement Team.

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Finance students rub elbows with 3,000 professionals at industry conference

By Heather Cass

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend Finance majors Paige Espenshade and Jared Orr recently attended TD Ameritrade Institutional’s National LINC conference in Orlando, Florida, where they were able to get an insider’s view of their chosen field of study.

Espenshade and Orr, who were accompanied by Eric Robbins, lecturer in finance, were two of fifty-six financial planning students from twenty-eight colleges and universities who attended the annual conference in late January.

While there, they had the opportunity to explore job opportunities and connect with more than 3,000 financial advisors and other financial services industry professionals and experts from across the nation.

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Finance students Jared Orr and Paige Espenshade are flanked by TD Ameritrade Institutional President Tom Nally, left, and Kate Kealy, managing director of TD Ameritrade’s Generation Next Program. LILA PHOTO for TD Ameritrade Institutional.

TD Ameritrade is a leading provider of brokerage custody, technology and practice management services for more than 6,000 independent registered investment advisors (RIAs). Since 2007, the firm has been inviting undergraduate financial planning students and their program directors from schools across the U.S. to attend its annual conference, covering travel and hotel expenses for them to do so.

Being Penn State students, Espenshade and Orr garnered special attention from some alumni in the finance industry.

“I was very honored to be actively sought out by alumni and advisors looking to talk specifically with Penn State students,” Espenshade said. “I spoke to an alumnus with an alternative investment firm as well as one with a firm in North Carolina. Altogether, I exchanged contact information with about ten advisors and five vendors.”

At this year’s conference, students attended feature sessions by Ian Bremmer, president, Eurasia Group; Viola Davis, award-winning actress of film, television and theater; Marc Goodman, New York Times best-selling author of Future Crimes;  April Rinne, advisor, Pathfinder, and member of the World Economic Forum; and Jeremy Siegel, the “Wizard of Wharton” Wharton School finance professor.

They also heard about the convergence of financial services and technology from a keynote panel on innovation that included Adena Friedman, president of CEO, Nasdaq; Tim Hockey, president and CEO, TD Ameritrade; Ric Edelman, executive chairman, Edelman Financial Services; and Lex Sokolin, director of fintech strategy, Autonomous.

“Throughout the week I was able to learn about the role of wholesalers, which is a division of the industry that I had never been exposed to,” Orr said. “I now understand the importance of this niche and have a greater understanding of the financial services industry as a whole.”

The students also participated in smaller breakout sessions and panel discussions on investing and evolving as a financial advisor, and attended networking events with advisors and leaders of our firm, including Tom Nally, president of TD Ameritrade Institutional, and Kate Healy, TD Ameritrade’s managing director, Generation Next.

Both Espenshade and Orr say the trip exceeded their expectations.

“It was an amazing event that has had a positive impact on my both my professional network and my awareness of the financial services industry as a whole,” Espenshade said.

“It was a transformative experience,” Orr said. “I now have a better understanding of the different roles within the Registered Investment Advisor (RIA) industry,” Orr said. “The conference exposed me to several aspects of the industry, and because of this, I was able to see what a great community RIAs across the country have created. I hope to attend the conference one day as an RIA so that I, too, can give back to the students as the advisors did for me this year.”

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Secret Lives of Faculty — Dr. Chris Harben, musical/stage star

By Heather Cass

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

There’s much more to Penn State Behrend’s faculty and staff members than what you see on campus. In this occasional series, we’ll take a look at some of the interesting, unconventional, and inspiring things that members of our Behrend community do in their free time.

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Photo courtesy of Erie Playhouse (Credit: Julie Lokahi/ DV8 Photography)

Lecturing can be viewed as form of performance art. Faculty members take center stage, staring in their own daily productions to keep students engaged in the subject matter.

“Performing is what I do in front of the classroom all the time,” said Dr. Chris Harben, assistant teaching professor of management.

It’s also what he does in his free time.

Shortly after accepting a teaching position at Behrend this summer, Harben landed a lead role in the Erie Playhouse’s production of Annie: Harben plays Daddy Warbucks, orphan Annie’s wealthy savior, in the show which is onstage at the playhouse this month.

Harben as Daddy Warbucks

Photo courtesy of Erie Playhouse (Credit: Julie Lokahi/ DV8 Photography)

“During the interview process at Behrend, I learned that Dr. Greg Filbeck (director of the Black School of Business) was a board member at the Erie Playhouse,” Harben said. “I looked at the playhouse’s website and saw they were going to be doing Annie. This was around June when I was currently in rehearsals as Daddy Warbucks at a theater in Upper Sandusky, Ohio, so I thought it was fortuitous!”

Harben, who was a faculty member at Bowling Green State University, nailed both of his “auditions,” and was offered a position at the Black School of Business and a starring role at the Erie Playhouse.

We caught up with Harben to learn more about his love of musicals, his role as Daddy Warbucks, his unusual part-time job, and why he’s been making it a priority to start hitting the gym again.

Why did you choose Behrend?

It was really because it had a small school feel with all the benefits of a big state school, such as research opportunities.

How long have you been acting or singing on stage?

I was in a couple of shows in high school, but then didn’t do any stage work until I completed my doctorate a few years ago. I met an actor who had played Valjean from Les Misérables on Broadway and was inspired to get back into it. My first show as an adult was three years ago.

Do you prefer musicals?

Yes. I don’t consider myself a great actor, so I prefer to audition for roles that require a lot of singing.

What has your experience been like so far at the Erie Playhouse?

The playhouse is an incredible Erie asset. I have never performed any place like it. It is closer to professional theater than it is to a community theater. The experience of rehearsing and getting ready has been fairly typical with ups and downs—especially “tech week,” which is always the hardest week as all the technical aspects and bugs are worked out. But, to work on such a great stage with wonderful sets, a full experienced crew, a full-time professional costumer (who is also in the show, starring as Rooster), a director as professional as Kate Neubert-Lechner, and an incredibly talented orchestra, is an amazing thing that makes me smile every time I walk into the theatre.

There are a couple of Penn State Behrend students in Annie, too?

Yes. Anthony Ventura, a senior Political Science major, has multiple roles but I interact with him the most in his role as “Drake” my butler. Jacqueline Dumont, a junior Communication major, is also in the cast and plays several roles as part of the ensemble.

What do you enjoy most about musicals/stage performance?

I love being able to transform into someone else. Many of my roles have been similar in terms of their character, though, so I’d like to try something different soon, perhaps a comedic role. But the very best part of participating in stage shows are the relationships I’ve been able to build with other cast members. I can honestly say that I keep in touch with people from every show I’ve ever been in. Theater really is a small world.

What’s the most challenging aspect of theatre?

Well, there is drama in drama. Also, things happen that force actors out of our comfort zones. For Annie, we didn’t have the rehearsal time we might have liked because the playhouse’s stage was undergoing renovations, which threw the schedule off a bit. But you just have to roll with it. It is part of being in theater. Stuff happens. Sometimes it happens live on stage.

There are real dogs in Annie?

Yes. Two shelters dogs. One is a sweet, docile pitbull from the Northwestern PA Humane Society and the other, Romeo, is a younger mixed breed dog from the A.N.N.A. Shelter. Romeo is a little hyper, but that’s probably to be expected with all the commotion, lights, audience, and cast members on stage.

What’s your favorite musical?

The Phantom of the Opera! It was the first musical I learned to sing. I’d love to play the Phantom some day.

What has been your favorite show/role, so far?

Daddy Warbucks has been my favorite role and Annie my favorite show, but playing Javert in Les Misérables is a very close second.

What’s your dream role?

I already mentioned the Phantom, but on a more realistic note, I’d love to play Dr. Jekyll in Jekyll and Hyde. I have sung “The Confrontation” from that show at a cabaret in Ohio. It is an incredible song in which both Jekyll and Hyde are singing, and it’s the same actor!

What’s next for you on stage?

I’ll be playing King Triton in The LIttle Mermaid at the Academy Theatre in Meadville. We start rehearsing in February and open in April. The director asked me how comfortable I was going shirtless for that role. So, suffice to say, I’m working on getting in shape for that role now.

Switching topics, let’s talk about your work as an Emergency Medical Technician?

Yes. I’ve been an EMT for five years now. I was a volunteer EMT in Ohio while I was working on my doctorate. I’m still trying to get my certification in Pennsylvania, but I hope to do some volunteer work here, too.

Being an EMT is quite a change from the corporate world. What appeals to you about it?

I became an EMT for a couple of reasons. First, my family is full of medical professionals. My dad was an EMT when I was very young. My mom is a nurse. My sister is a cardiovascular perfusionist, and my brother is a physical therapy assistant/athletic trainer. So I grew up around the language and culture of medicine. But, for me, becoming an EMT was more about giving back. I tried joining service clubs like Optimist and the Rotary Club, but I never felt the impact I feel when I show up at someone’s house who really needs help.

It’s also a summer job for you, right?

It is. For the past few years, I’ve been working as an EMT at Cedar Point, which is a large amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio. One of the benefits of that job is that I’ve developed a great relationship with the leadership team there. I actually just had the park’s vice president and general manager come to Behrend to speak to one of my classes. I do hope to work there this summer, too. It’s only a couple of hours away from Erie.

Any other hidden talents?

I can play the drums, trumpet, and French horn. I also love photography and owned a photography business for several years. All the art in my office in Burke are photos that I’ve taken.

What words do you live by?

When I was finishing my doctorate, I had the Chinese symbol for perseverance tattooed on my arm. That is a word that I live by.

Annie is on stage at the Erie Playhouse, 13 W. 10th St., through December 31, 2017. Visit erieplayhouse.org for show dates and ticket information.