Standout Seniors: Meet Breanna McClain (Marketing)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Breanna McClain. 

Breanna mcClain

Major: Marketing

Minor: Communication Arts and Mass Media

Certificates:  Public Relations and Advertising

Hometown: Columbus, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Joseph Defrees Scholarship

On choosing Behrend: I knew coming to a smaller campus would increase the possibility of having a positive relationship with my professors. I wanted to be known by name, not just be one of a number of students in a program.

On choosing her major: I chose my major because marketing is the creative side of business. I’ve always been a creative person, and I wanted to use these gifts to help advertise products, services, or events.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: My proudest accomplishment has been my ability to increase my GPA every semester. I have continued to improve academically, and I am very proud of my dedication to continue to do better.

Campus involvement: I am the Vice President of Advertising in the American Marketing Association Club and am a Business Ambassador. I also was a part of the concert band whenever my schedule would allow it. I play the tenor saxophone.

A really “wild” internship: I did an internship at the Erie Zoo where I helped with social media and event planning. I loved helping the zoo staff get ready for events and watching visitors enjoy them.  I got to have some cool interactions with the animals, and a lot of them recognized me by the end of my internship, which made me feel pretty special. I have some great photos with the zoo’s male orangutan, “Joe,” who recently passed away. I was really upset to hear that news and am glad to have made some memories with him.

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Awards and recognitions: I recently received the Outstanding Marketing Student Award, and I made the Dean’s List every semester.

What makes her unique: I have an eye for design. I can take information and make a visual that will better represent and communicate what needs to be shared.

Her definition of the good life: My definition of living a good life is to treat everyone with kindness. If I can make someone else’s day a little brighter, I am satisfied that I am living the best possible life I can.

Her passion: One of my passions is photography. I enjoy capturing the small things people might otherwise overlook. It has helped me see at the world differently because I used to miss these things like everyone else. Now, I take time to notice and appreciate things around me and want to help others do the same.

Gazebo

Advice for first-year students: My advice would be not to get lost in the stress of the world. Life is easier if you can think of at least one good thing that happened in your day. If you can find that one good thing, it can completely change your outlook on life.

After graduation, Breanna plans to explore non-profit or for-profit organizational work in social media and event planning or pursue advertising work for a small marketing firm

Standout Seniors: Meet Laura Gil (BECON, IB, MIS)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Laura Gil. 

Gil Ortiz2

Majors: Business Economics, International Business and Management Information Systems

Hometown: Bogota, Colombia

Scholarships: Pathway to Success: Summer Start Scholarship, Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship, PNC Leadership Scholarship, Benjamin A. and Carolyn A. Lane Open Doors Scholarship, and Pam and Greg Slusher Open Doors Scholarship.

On choosing her majors: My journey to three majors started when I saw the economic crisis that was happening in Venezuela and decided to major in Business Economics. After doing some research, I learned that there are many factors, even very small ones, that can affect a country’s economy, so I added International Business. Finally, I realized that I needed to understand how to better comprehend and portray data for other people to understand issues that happen globally, so I added Management Information Systems.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Graduating with three majors in four years.

Campus involvement: Student Government Association, Multicultural Council, Global Boarders, and Global Ambassadors.

Awards and Recognitions: Behrend Excellence Award and the Ardeth and Norman Frisbey International Student Award, a Penn State award that recognizes undergraduate students who have contributed significantly to furthering international understanding.

What makes her unique: I am very organized and driven to learn more about what is happening around the globe.

Globe-hopping: I have traveled to more than ten countries already!

Top priority: Getting a doctoral degree.

Her passion: Learning about how we are all connected through data.

Advice for first-year students: Get involved and start networking early on!

On overcoming obstacles: As an international student, I have faced many challenges to get to where I am, but I never let any of those stop me from reaching my goals.

After graduation, Laura plans to attend graduate school and eventually earn a PhD.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Mike Binni (Marketing)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Mike Binni. 

Mike Binni1

Major: Marketing

Hometown: Canonsburg, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: I wanted the Penn State degree and experience, but with smaller class sizes. I’ve been able to form great relationships with all of my professors, which I don’t think would’ve been possible at a larger school.

On the many paths of Marketing: I chose my major because it is a diverse degree that offers a lot of potential career paths, from data analysis to social media management to graphic design to sales.

MVP on the mat: My proudest accomplishment at Behrend was being a two-time MVP on the varsity wrestling team.

PSB wrestling at UMU 11-6-21
Penn State Behrend wrestling at UMU Invitational, Alliance, OH

He’s a people guy: I enjoy putting myself out there and talking to everyone.  I just love to hear about other peoples’ lives and experiences. I think my extroverted personality makes me a natural for a career in sales.

Highest priority in the coming years: First, I’d like to grow into an account managing role at Ansys Engineering Software Company, where I’ve accepted a sales position. Eventually, I want to move out of Pittsburgh for a couple of years, see the country, and learn more about who I am.

Priorities, part II: My definition of a good life would be retiring at a young age so that I can spend time with my family and friends, and do something I’m really passionate about, like helping others, teaching, or mentoring.

Advice for first-year students: Put yourself out there and go to events and join clubs. Stay an extra couple of minutes after class to connect with your professors. Also, enjoy your time in college; it goes much faster than you can imagine.

Mike has accepted a position as a sales development representative with Anysys Engineering Software Company in Canonsburg.

Standout seniors: Meet Emily Wargo (Marketing)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Emily Wargo.

Emily Wargo

Major: Marketing

Minors: Management Information Systems and Data Visualization

Hometown: Erie

Scholarships: Provost’s Award, Black Family Excellence and Opportunity Fund, and the Addison H. Gibson Foundation Grant.

On choosing her major: I was interested in Marketing because it offers a broad range of career opportunities. It’s a degree that pairs well with almost any minor or certificate. This allows you to customize your degree to specialize in whatever interests you.

On choosing her minors: I decided to add on a Management Information Systems minor after I took an MIS introductory class. I enjoyed the content and learned how technical skills can be used in the marketing field. I also took a Data Visualization course and learned that I enjoy working in Excel, especially creating graphs with data.

Campus involvement: I was involved in many open houses and other events hosted by the Black School of Business. I represented the Marketing and MIS majors as a Business Ambassador and served on the executive board for the American Marketing Association (Behrend’s marketing club).

Hands-on learning:  During my junior and senior years, I worked as a data visualization intern in the area of Corporate Strategy and External Engagement at Penn State Behrend. I worked to learn a visualization platform and create new processes for creating reports with research award data.

What makes her unique: I’m resourceful. Whether it’s with cooking, collecting craft materials, or concisely taking notes, I like to keep things as logically organized as possible, while also consciously thinking about the resources being used, and allocating them in the best way. This applies to my personal relationships, as well, because I have a caring concern for others and enjoy pleasing those in a way that best suits everyone involved.

Top priority: My highest priorities for the coming years are to pay off my student loans and travel.  While at Behrend, I have had the chance to explore many outdoor hobbies including hiking, kayaking, and car camping. I’m looking forward to using these newfound skills to explore new places in the coming years.

Emily has accepted a position as a Business Systems Analyst at TEKsystems contracted by PNC, following her graduation in May.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Taylor Love (Project and Supply Chain Management and Management Information Systems)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Taylor Love

Taylor Love (1)

Major: Dual Majoring in Project and Supply Chain Management (PSCM) and Management Information Systems (MIS)

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: My dad went to Behrend, so we scheduled a visit and I fell in love. I immediately knew that it was where I was supposed to be.

On choosing her major: I was drawn to PSCM because of the uncertainty involved. I liked the idea that every day is a new challenge. I then fell into my MIS major after doing some MIS research and realizing I could easily dual major. MIS just seemed like a natural fit for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I’ve done a lot in my four years at college, but I would have to say the privilege of tutoring other students is something I’m proud of having done. It’s one thing to be able to understand things on your own, but when you can translate that knowledge into helping others, it’s very fulfilling.

Campus involvement: I participated in undergraduate research with Dr. Babajide Osatuyi, assistant professor of MIS, served as a peer tutor, and was an academic mentor for the Black School of Business. I was also a Business Ambassador and president of PSCM Club.

Recognition: I was accepted into and presented my research work at two national conferences—Decision Sciences Institute and The Americas Conference on Information Systems.

She’s a people-person: I have an innate ability to connect with others. I love getting to know people and I think my personality is open and comforting.

What you’d be surprised to know: I struggle a lot with my mental health. I think it’s a very common misconception that people who are deemed successful or high functioning don’t have these issues, but that is not the case. I have generalized anxiety disorder and it’s a battle I fight with myself every day, yet people don’t see it when they look at me.

Her definition of the good life: To me, living a good life is about the journey. I try to live every day of my life as if the next one isn’t guaranteed. I’m big on listening to myself and doing what feels right. I do the things that make me feel fulfilled and I spend time with the people I love.

Top priority: To not stretch myself too thin. I am notorious for taking on too much. I want to make sure the things I’m putting my energy into are things that I’m really passionate about.

A student for life: I absolutely love to learn. I think that to live a well-rounded life, you have to constantly be learning. That doesn’t mean reading ten books a day, it can simply be introspection. I also love teaching others the things that I’ve learned. I think the true value of knowledge comes when you can share it with others.

What she wishes she had known as a first-year student: I wish I realized that everything would unfold exactly how it was supposed to. I had this fear of failure and a need to prove myself in this new environment. It caused me a lot of stress, and I wish that I had known it would all work out.

After graduation, Taylor will be working at American Eagle Outfitters in Pittsburgh as an Inventory Planning Teammate.

Standout Seniors: Meet Marcus Jacobs (Business Economics and International Business)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Marcus Jacobs: 

marcus jacobs

Major: Dual majoring in Business Economics and International Business

Hometown: Mount Washington in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Bayard D. and Ethel M. Kunkle Scholarship, Pathway to Success: Summer Start Scholarship, Behrend Faculty and Staff Scholarship, and the Lawrence and Elizabeth Held Scholarship.

Why he chose Behrend:  In a way, I didn’t. I originally went to a community college in Pittsburgh. There, I had the opportunity to tour several universities. Penn State’s University Park stood out to me, and I applied. Because I was a transfer student, I had to do a 2 + 2 program (two years at a Commonwealth campus and two years at University Park). I chose Behrend, but within three weeks of being here, I knew I wanted to stay.

Decision made, period: The faculty relationships I had made in just a month, the energy that I experienced at Behrend, and the plethora of opportunities available made up my mind. I am a decisive person so when I decided that I was staying, that was that.

On Business Econ: Unlike many other schools, Behrend houses the Economics program in its business school, so there is a particular focus on the business applications of economics, which was of most interest to me. I have been particularly interested in the field of Behavioral Economics, which studies decisions being made in real-world situations that might not line up with the expectations set forth by the traditional Economic view.

On International Business: I.B. is a concurrent major that must be taken in combination with another business major. This allows you to get two degrees with just a few extra courses.

Can talk and walk backwards:  I have been a Lion Ambassador since the fall semester of my first year. In that time, I have served as historian and treasurer. I got to call Midnight Bingo twice, and I have given countless tours around the campus. I am very good at walking backward around campus.

Virtual tour leads to research work: After spearheading a virtual tour of Behrend, I got involved with the college’s Virtual Augmented Reality (VAR) Lab, which is directed by Dr. Chris Shelton, assistant professor of clinical psychology. I’ve been working as a student researcher and project manager in the VAR Lab for the past year and a half.

Hike the gorge with Marcus: One of the projects I’m most proud of is a virtual hike through Wintergreen Gorge. I had the chance to work with all types of unique hardware and software while working on it, and my “office” was the great outdoors for several weeks in early summer. I even presented it at a Penn State Alumni Association WE ARE Weekend virtual event.  I’m currently working on a four-seasons tour of Wintergreen Gorge.

He’s an idea guy who can take the lead: I really enjoy brainstorming. I love to think of visual improvements that I would like to see in the world and look at them from many different angles, then loop in a lot of different individuals to ensure a well-rounded solution. That is why I decided to pursue a graduate degree in project management. I’ve learned that the most fulfilling work for me is moving a project along, pushing it as far as I can before passing it on to those who come after me.

Thrill seeker: I have been skydiving and white-water rafting. (Watch us on the water in 360 here.) Also, the first time I ever went tent camping, it was along a 10-mile section of the Appalachian Trail in the mountains between Tennessee and North Carolina…in January…with a couple of friends as inexperienced as I was. I’m proud to say that I planned that trip, and it included a second and third day with an additional 16 miles of hiking (optimistic in hindsight, I know). I maintain that I’d have finished that trip if my friends hadn’t chickened out after one night in 26 degrees. We high-tailed it out of there that morning and caught a shuttle back to the car.

His definition of the good life: Surrounded by nature with the self-sufficient infrastructure around me that is necessary for comfortable off-the-grid living. Alaska, here I come!

What he’s passionate about: My involvement in the VAR Lab at Behrend. I believe in our collective vision, and I believe that we provide value and fill a gap in the emerging immersive technologies space.

PSB-VAR-LAB_010

Advice for first-year students: Whenever I see this question asked of a senior or alumni, they say “get involved.” All can say is that I’ve been fairly involved since day one here, and I still feel like I ran out of time. So, yes, get involved, the sooner the better. And don’t be afraid to try something completely out of your wheelhouse. If I hadn’t, I might never have gotten involved in immersive experiences or mixed/extended reality (XR).

Marcus is not quite done at Penn State. After his graduation in May, he will pursue a Master of Project Management degree, which is administered by Penn State Behrend through World Campus.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Caroline Upham (IBE and Project and Supply Chain Management

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Caroline Upham:

Caroline Upham

Major: Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies (IBE) and Project and Supply Chain Management

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania

Scholarship: Provost Award

Why she chose Behrend: I really appreciate the value the college puts on the quality of education. Behrend adheres to Penn State standards while still maintaining an identity of its own. I love the strong community vibe here. I wanted a smaller school with a strong athletics program, and Behrend offered that, in addition to great academics.

Why she chose IBE: I’ve always considered myself a jack of all trades, so the IBE program which is a blend of business and engineering, was the perfect fit for me. It’s a broad and marketable major as it can apply to so many sectors of business and industry.

Campus involvement: I am a member of the women’s volleyball and track and field teams. I am also an officer for the Behrend Engineering Ambassadors and the National Organization for Business and Engineering (NOBE). I also serve as the Women’s Volleyball representative on the Student Athlete Advisory Committee (SAAC).

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I had one really tough semester where I was able to maintain a heavy course load, do an internship, and participate in long and intense athletics season. I completed my work experience, my team won our conference title and made it to Nationals, and I made the Dean’s List.

Awards and recognition: I have been on the Dean’s List multiple times and earned the AMCC Academic Peak Performer Award for volleyball and track. I have a couple of conference titles on my resume for both volleyball and track, as well.

Her definition of the good life: My concept of living a “good life” has changed during my time at Behrend. I used to believe the most important thing was to make enough money to enjoy my life outside of work. Now, I am more focused on finding a career that mirrors my values and goals. I want to be as passionate about going to work as I am about my personal hobbies. Money will come and go, but the time spent working is precious. I want to do something that matters to me.

Top priority: I want to move away from Erie, at least for a little bit. I want to learn to rock climb, to speak another language, and to travel to as many national parks as possible.

Alone time is vital:  Time with friends and family is great and important but spending time with yourself is an important part of your personal growth. I have learned so much about myself by spending time alone. Become your own best friend!

Advice for first-year students: Sign up for as many clubs as you can, go to a bunch of meetings, and narrow down what you like or don’t like from there. Go to campus events, get free food, meet new people. Even if nothing appeals to you, you’ll start to see the same people over and over, and it’ll be easier to make friends. Get out and walk the gorge! And don’t spend your whole meal plan on ice cream and coffee like I did.

After graduation, Caroline plans to look for work in the fashion or sports industries.

Standout Seniors: Meet Larissa Hedderick (Marketing and Finance)

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2022 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 several weeks, 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 Larissa Hedderick:

Larissa Hedderick2

Major: Marketing and Finance with a certificate in Financial Planning

Hometown: Erie, Pennsylvania

On choosing Behrend: The ability to do a dual major was huge for me, as was obtaining the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Certificate. I also found the smaller campus size valuable for the connections you can easily make with your professors and staff members in the Academic and Career Planning Center (ACPC).

On choosing her major: Both Finance and Marketing have concrete principles, but there is a lot of flexibility with both majors. I knew a career in either field would constantly evolve and keep me on my toes. The further I got in my studies and internships, the more I realized the disciplines pair well together. Skills I have learned in classes for each of my majors have proven beneficial all around.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Making  the Dean’s List consecutively each semester has been a huge accomplishment for me.

Campus involvement: I have been president of the Financial Planning Association Club, a peer tutor, publicity and social chair of the National Society of Leadership and Success, a member of the American Marketing Association chapter at Behrend, a Welcome Week volunteer, and an intern at ACPC.

Top priority: I am really looking forward to developing my professional career upon graduation. In my time here, I have been able to lay the foundation through classwork, internships, conferences, and clubs, and now it’s time to apply the knowledge and skills I have acquired.

A balanced approach: I think living a balanced life is super-important. While I took my studies seriously, I also enjoyed my time in college. Prioritizing yourself and finding things you enjoy such as reading, yoga, and traveling are crucial for stress release and cultivating an identity outside of the classroom.

Advice for first-year students: Never be afraid to ask for help in any capacity. Older students, professors, staff, and industry professionals are willing to help, and now is the time to absorb and learn as much as you can without pressure to earn a paycheck.

Larissa has accepted a position in the Retail Business Banking Development Program with PNC Bank in Charlotte, North Carolina, after her graduation from Behrend.

Marketing students prepare plans for Hagen History Center

In January 2019, Dr. Mary Beth Pinto, professor of marketing at Penn State Behrend, tasked forty-four students in Marketing 444 Buyer Behavior and Applied Research with writing a marketing plan for the Erie County Historical Society (ECHS) to help the museum attract visitors under the age of 30. This is a demographic the museum staff knows it is not reaching.

The students worked in small groups through the semester and generated detailed marketing plans for ECHS. One of the recommendations was to use the name Hagen History Center for all marketing efforts. (Thomas B. Hagen ’55 is the chairman of the board of ERIE Insurance and a benefactor of the ECHS). Another recommendation was to use the slogan Make History With Us. Both were adopted by the ECHS staff in 2019.

Other recommendations included enhancements to the society’s website, increased utilization of social media, and the creation of events aimed at audiences under age 30. Many of these recommendations were implemented and continue to be expanded upon.

In 2020, the Black School of Business asked ECHS’s advancement director, Geri Cicchetti, to serve as adjunct professor for the Marketing 444 classes. With an MBA and a concentration in Marketing, Cicchetti has more than twenty years of experience teaching in an adjunct capacity at the college level.

This year’s Marketing 444 students, forty-three juniors and seniors, were hard at work on their marketing plans for ECHS when they left for spring break in March. But that’s where the lesson diverged for this semester’s students because the COVID-19 crisis forced Penn State to implement remote learning for the remainder of the term.

“For students working together in teams, it is difficult not to be able to meet physically,” Cicchetti said. “In addition, once they returned home, many students were living in different time zones. Some were international students; one was from California, and many others were also out-of-state. Some students lived in rural areas and needed to drive to other locations to get Wi-Fi. And these were just some of the challenges that students faced.”

They needed to be especially creative in completing this project, and Cicchetti said they rose to the occasion.

“They met via Zoom,” she said. “They worked independently and then shared their work with their teammates via email or Google Docs. Because of their perseverance and diligence, The Hagen History Center will again benefit from ten creative, insightful and detailed marketing plans.”

With the changes recommended and implemented from the 2019 class, what additional recommendations would the 2020 class have?

“As the museum has no marketing director, the 2019 class started from scratch and they had many opportunities to recommend basic marketing enhancements,” Cicchetti said. “But, with several of these recommendations implemented from the 2019 marketing plans, the 2020 class had a different starting point. They needed to bring the museum’s marketing to the next level.”

Cicchetti is confident they will do so and said she looks forward to sharing their plans in May with the board and staff of the Hagen History Center.

 

 

Crossing Disciplines Pays Off

First-year business student and senior engineering major win short story contest

Short-Edition-4CCLs-story-dispensers_0

By Heather Cass

Publications Manager, Penn State Behrend

Look, $100 is $100, OK? So when Senior Mechanical Engineering student Sam Cabot saw the opportunity to earn some cold hard cash (er, Visa card) by whipping up a little story about brunch for Penn State’s University Libraries Short Edition short story dispensers, he was on it like, well, syrup on French toast, if we’re going to stick with the brunch theme here.

It was that delicious hybrid morning meal that students, faculty, and staff were invited to write about for a chance to win money, bragging rights, and a spot in the Libraries’ short story dispensers. There are ten of them spread out among seven University locations, including Behrend’s Lilley Library. With the press of a button, the dispenser prints out a short story that users can take with them to enjoy when they have one to five minutes to spare.

Four “Brunchin’ Around” contest winners were chosen recently by the Short Stories all-student editorial team and two of the authors—Cabot and Isaac Barringer—are Penn State Behrend students.

Barringer, a first-year Finance and Accounting dual major, wrote “The Daffodil House,” about a couple found in their yellow house covered in flies and bellied up to what turned out to be their last meal—brunch, of course, “for the Connors were of a practical stock and believed that breakfast was more efficient if it included lunch as well.”

Cabot, who writes under the pen name Johann Lecker for no particular reason other than the fact that he likes the name (“Lecker” means delicious in German), wrote “To Brunch?” in which the main character finds himself on a mountain in Brasher State Forest in upstate New York trying to make it to Sunday brunch at his grandmother’s house.

“Basically, it’s about someone who tries to remedy an uncomfortable situation, then abandons it altogether, for better or worse,” Cabot said.

sam cabot

Sam Cabot

Cabot said he entered the contest not only for the potential prize money but for fun and the chance to challenge himself.

“From what I have noticed, engineering students enjoy creative activities as much as any other students, but internships and course load limit the amount of time they can devote to other things,” Cabot said. “Most of the writing that engineers must make time to do is formal and impersonal, so that may be why there’s a stereotype that they are not creative writers.”

Like most authors, Cabot didn’t have a story outlined in his head. Rather, he had a few ideas to start with and the story emerged from there. It’s purely fictional. Cabot has never been anywhere near Brasher State Park, and his grandma didn’t host monthly family brunches.

Asked if it’s unusual that a business major and an engineering major would win a writing contest, Cabot cites the value and of cross-disciplinary learning, which can be beneficial to students in any major.

“It’s easy to grow absorbed in disciplines, like engineering, that are extremely career-focused and require huge amounts of time spent on very specific tasks,” he said. “Adding courses in history or psychology or any of the humanities can provide a healthy balance. The knowledge gained from an occasional hour spent studying the humanities can be as relevant in the real world as the knowledge gained during any of the last eight or ten hours spent sizing a planetary gear train or debugging a C++ program. They both have value.”

But, Cabot said, the ultimate reward for him in exploring the humanities is finding something new and interesting to scratch his creative itch and expand his skills beyond the lab.

You can find links to Cabot and Barringer’s stories as well as the other winners and honorable mention entries here.