Standout Seniors: Meet Gina Demeo

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 Gina Demeo:

Gina DeMeo

Major: Industrial Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I received the PNC Leadership Scholarship

On choosing her major: Industrial engineering is about making things work efficiently, which is something I knew I was good at.

Campus involvement: I am president of the National Organization of Business and Engineering (NOBE) club, treasurer of the Materials and Manufacturing group, and an Engineering Ambassador. I’m also a member of the student chapter of the Institute of Industrial Systems Engineers and vice president of member development for Alpha Sigma Tau.

On taking charge: It is easy for me to take the lead on a project or planning an event. If no one seems to be stepping up to do so, I will happily put in 110 percent to get it off the ground.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: One of the best parts of my college experience has been being a member of a sorority. When you’re a woman in a male-dominated field, you need a strong girlfriend group. I found that within my sorority.

The good life, defined: To me, living a good life means being happy and kind to everyone. During my time at Behrend, I have been able to find a balance within myself to be able to do just that.

 

Following her graduation in May, Gina plans to find a job in the field of industrial engineering.

Standout Seniors: Meet Troy Valkusky

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 Troy Valkusky:

Troy valkusky

Major: Project and Supply Chain Management

Minor: Managing Information Systems

Hometown: Drifton, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: Behrend has many unique certifications that other schools do not offer. This allows me to differentiate myself from other graduates across the country. Also, while my first priority was academics, I wanted to continue playing water polo.

On choosing his major: After four semesters of exploratory classes, I took an interest in PSCM because it offers a wide variety of potential career paths and is a rapidly growing industry.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Being able to maintain Dean’s List for five semesters in a row while being a full-time student, an athlete, and working part time.

Campus involvement: I am the president of the Student Athlete Advisory Committee, captain of the men’s water polo team, a Lion Ambassador, and a member of the professional business fraternity, Delta Sigma Pi.

What makes him unique: I am very adaptable. I moved to Texas in the summer of 2017 for a global supply chain internship with Alcon, A Novartis Division, without knowing anyone. I knew this decision was a risk in itself, but that is what it’s all about, leaving the comfort zone and seeing new places that hold great opportunities. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: I try to skydive at least once every summer.

His definition of the good life: Traveling the world, meeting new people, and living in the moment.

Lifelong park hopper: I am very passionate about major league baseball. From an early age, I have traveled the country with my parents to different ballparks. My goal is to see a game played in each one.

Advice for new students: Don’t be overwhelmed by the number of different organizations you can join. Take the first semester to explore and find some that interest you. Then, commit to get involved with those organizations. Try to take on leadership roles within those groups because it will benefit you in the long run.

Following his graduation in May, Troy plans to look for work as a global supply chain coordinator.

Standout Seniors: Meet Samantha Stauffer

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 Samantha Stauffer:

samantha stauffer

Major: Nursing

Hometown: Bradford, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: It was the first college I visited and I simply fell in love and knew that I was meant to attend Behrend. The campus was gorgeous, everyone I met was helpful and friendly, and I was given a plethora of information about expectations for the first year. I also have many family members in Erie, so it was practical for me to attend Behrend.

On choosing nursing: My grandma was a nurse at our local hospital for forty-two years. I grew up hearing endless stories from her. She was extremely influential in my life so I wanted to be like her and dedicate my life to helping others.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Completing the nursing program! Earning a nursing degree is incredibly challenging and extremely time consuming, so it is definitely a huge accomplishment for me to finally finish.

Campus involvement: I was involved in Lion Ambassadors, the Joys of Nursing Club, the National Society of Leadership and Success, the Random Acts of Kindness club, and the Spring Concert Committee. I also served as a Welcome Week guide.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I love to golf. Most of my family has invested a lot of time in golfing so it was only natural for me to follow in their footsteps.

Advice for new students: Get organized! One of my biggest mistakes in college was being disorganized. Take time to prioritize your classes, clubs, and organizations and be prepared for upcoming events and assignments. Staying organized is key to success in college!

Samantha has accepted a position as an emergency room nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital in Erie.

Standout Seniors: Meet Will Aldridge

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 Will Aldridge:

Will Aldridge

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

On choosing Penn State Behrend: I chose Behrend because of its highly-rated mechanical engineering program and the ability to have one-on-one interactions with professors.

On choosing his major: Both of my parents are engineers so it’s really the only thing that I’ve ever known. I actually graduated from University Park as a petroleum engineer in 2014. I worked in the petroleum industry for two years as a field engineer with Halliburton Energy Services, one of the largest oilfield service companies. I traveled throughout Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio working on Marcellus and Utica shale gas wells for customers like Royal Dutch Shell, CONSOL Energy, and EQT. After two years, my facility in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, was closed as a result of downturn in oil prices that occurred between 2014 and 2016. I was given the opportunity to transfer to a facility in Ohio but decided to turn down the transfer to return to school to become a mechanical engineer in order to open up a broader range of career opportunities.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was a member of a team selected to work on a senior design project for NASA. I’m also proud to have been invited to compete in the 2018 Collegiate Innovation Showcase.

Campus involvement: I serve as the president for the student chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers and I will be competing in the Erie Collegiate Innovation Showcase. I’m also a member of Dr. Shraddha Sangelkar’s undergraduate research team and will be participating in the 2018 Capstone Design Conference in Rochester, New York.

A willing coach: I like helping people reach their goals by encouraging them to go outside of their comfort zone and by sharing my experiences.

What you’d be surprised to know about him: Britney Spears follows me on Twitter, I’m an avid windsurfer, and I’ve attended four different Penn State campuses.

What he’s passionate about: Music and photography. I can’t wait to buy a drone.

Advice for new students: Learn to prioritize your time and develop good study habits. Take advantage of the opportunities that you have being a Penn State student by attending the Behrend and University Park career fairs even when you are a first year student. Companies love getting their hands on young talent and developing your skills through multiple internships.

After his graduation in May, Will plans to pursue a career in engineering design, product development, or industrial design.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Jenessa Islas-Parker

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:  Jenessa Islas-Parker:

Jenessa Isla-Parker

Major: Psychology

Hometown: Palatine, Illinois

Scholarships: I received the Penn State Behrend Academic Excellence Award last year.

On choosing Behrend: I visited Penn State Behrend at the invitation of Joe Tristan, the head coach of the water polo team. After visiting the campus, I fell in love. I realized Behrend was the perfect school for me because of the small class sizes, an amazing psychology program, and the ability to play water polo at the collegiate level.

On choosing psychology: I was 15 years old when my older sister was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. She is the reason that I decided to study psychology. I became very interested in people, especially in how we function and why we struggle sometimes.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I was on one of the nine research teams that was selected to represent Penn State at the Undergraduate Research at the Capitol event in Harrisburg. My research team looked at the effects of gender on blame attributions in violent crime scenarios. We will be presenting our research at three conferences this semester.

On earning a degree in half the time: It was always my plan to graduate from Behrend in two years. I came to college with 47 credits from AP exams I took in high school. My plan still required taking more than the average amount of credits in order to reach my goal. I took six or seven classes each semester and took two courses over the summer to reach the required number of credits necessary for my degree.

On playing water polo, too: At one point, I was taking 20 credits while in water polo season. This meant I had two- to three-hour practices each day and was traveling each weekend to compete in tournaments. I often did projects on the airplane or went back to a computer lab after a late practice to finish a paper. It was certainly challenging, but it was also very rewarding.

jenessa

Campus involvement: I am a member of the Behrend S.A.V.E. club, which tries to bring awareness to domestic or relational violence. I was also a mentor at the Autism Society of Northwestern Pennsylvania where I was able to spend time with the young clients, while helping them build interpersonal skills.

Tri-lingual: I am fluent in Spanish and intermediate in French. I learned Spanish growing up in a Mexican household and picked up French in school. I have a passion for languages, which I must get from my family because we all speak Spanish and my mother and sister speak German, too.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I will be the first person in my family to graduate from college. My parents worked very hard to give me opportunities that were not available to them. I am very grateful to have hard-working, motivating parents who did everything in their power to get me through college.

Who inspires her: My family is my biggest inspiration. My dad came from Mexico when he was 18 years old with nothing but the clothes on his back. He made a living as a seasonal worker, and now he is supporting my dream of going to college. My mom began working at 18 years old, and now she runs a very successful company. My sister has battled depression and anxiety for the past five years, but still continues to be successful in her work and social life. My family is the sole reason I am at college and graduating this year.

Advice for new students: Take advantage of the resources available to Penn State students! Resources such as the Academic and Career Planning Center and faculty members are here to help you. Also, be aware of the classes and course sequences required in your major. I almost had to stay an extra semester because of the sequencing.

After her graduation in May, Jenessa hopes to secure an entry-level job at the Federal Bureau of Investigations where she has been doing an internship for the past year. She plans to work toward being a Special Agent.

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Kris Knorr

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: Kristopher Knorr.

kris Knorr

Major: Concurrent majors in Finance and International Business

Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Northumberland, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship, PNC Leadership Scholarship, and the A&M Loechner Endowed Scholarship.

On choosing Behrend: It is the only Penn State campus where I could major in International Business, which is a huge passion of mine. I also chose Behrend because of the potential for personal growth. It is a place that offers many opportunities to really find out who you are and what you like.

On choosing his career path: I wanted to become a Certified Financial Planner because I have a love for helping others and I am a very organized and analytical individual. I also love to travel and working in a different country and obtaining dual citizenship is something I have always desired.

Campus involvement: I have been in thirteen clubs and organizations and held seventeen executive board and leadership roles over my four years. Some of the positions I enjoyed most include president of Tone-Acious, an acapella group; vice president of Reality Check, a service organization; chairperson of the Lion Ambassadors’ Founder’s Day; secretary of the Financial Planning Association, and a chair on the Student Activity Fee committee. I have also been a Resident Assistant for two years.

What makes him unique: I’m a Finance major with a passion for writing, composing, and performing music of all kinds. I also love fashion and I dress well every single day.

Striking a pose: I have a real love for photography and modeling, whether I am in front of or behind the camera.

The good life defined: To me, a good life is one in which you are truly and genuinely happy. To be content and have a positive mindset is ideal in achieving that.

Pile of passions: I am passionate about many things, but especially about giving back to others through community service, mentoring, and pushing people to be the best that they can be. I also enjoy traveling, exploring, and trying new things. Finally, I have been passionate about music of all kinds since I was very young.

Who inspires him: Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Oprah Winfrey. The reason these women inspire me is because they have overcome tremendous life circumstances and have proven to have resilient and successful careers regardless of those events in their past.

Advice for new students: Be ambitious and do it all! Take advantage of opportunities as they come your way and constantly seek ways to grow your own brand and network throughout your four years at Behrend.

After his graduation in May, Kris plans to take the Certified Financial Planning exam. He would like to work as an international financial consultant in the United Kingdom, Spain, or Ireland.

 

 

Standout Seniors: Meet Ashlyn Kelly

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 Ashlyn Kelly:

Ashlyn Kelly (2)

Major: Chemistry

Minor: Biology

Hometown: Bradford, Pennsylvania

Scholarships: I have received the John K. Henne Scholarship for International Study, the Louis W. and Evelyn H. Balmer Trustee Scholarship, and the Mary G. Chisholm Undergraduate Research Award. I am also a two-year recipient of the Janet Wood Reno Memorial Scholarship for my leadership and service, a 2017 Undergraduate Summer Research Fellowship, and a 2017-18 Undergraduate Research Grant.

On choosing Penn State Behrend: The campus reminded me of home. I grew up on a hill in the middle of the woods, and we got a lot of snow in the winter. I like the colder weather, so Behrend was a perfect fit for me. But the main reason that I chose Behrend was because of the chemistry labs. I wanted to work with the most up-to-date technology, and Behrend’s labs are everything I could ever want. We have many instruments that most students don’t get to work with until graduate school.

On choosing her major: I really liked science in middle school and high school. Comparing the different science disciplines, chemistry stood out because of its versatility. You can go into nearly any industry with a chemistry degree.

On research opportunities: In March, I presented my research work at the National American Chemical Society Conference in New Orleans! I also had the chance to do research for my biology minor in Costa Rica last spring as a part of a study abroad program.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend? Creating the Random Acts of Kindness (RAK) stairwell where people can leave positive notes for one another. When I became president of the club last year, I wanted the organization to have a bigger presence and impact on campus, so I came up with the idea of a motivational wall.

At first, we hung up a piece of paper in Reed where students could leave one another motivational messages to read. As time progressed, we decided to expand it and we eventually took over an entire stairwell in Reed. We placed sticky notes with positive messages on them and stuck them all over the walls. We also hung blank notes for students to write their own. The theme of the project is “take what you need, give what you can.”

One day when we were adding new notes, one of our members wrote the phone number for the suicide hotline on some of them. A few days later, they were all gone. That inspired us to create a permanent poster with a variety of hotline numbers on it such as the sexual assault, addiction, eating disorders, and domestic violence hotlines. Knowing that I have been a part of something that has helped others and possibly saved lives is rewarding.

Campus involvement: I am a Lion Ambassador, and I have been president of RAK for the past two years. I was also a part of Lambda Sigma Honor Society. I have served as president and treasurer of both the Nittany Catholic Club and Chem Club. I am also a part of the Lion Service Council and the liturgical minister coordinator for Catholic Campus Ministries. Last semester, I taught a chemistry lab and I have worked as a Lion Scout for the past three years. I have participated in many community service projects, such as ServErie and MLK Day of Service. This spring, I participated in an Alternative Spring Break trip to Beaumont, Texas, to help with Hurricane Harvey disaster relief efforts.

Why she gives back: I went through a lot during my first two years in college, including the death of my grandmother, and some serious family health scares and roommate issues. At that time, I was at my all-time low. That’s when I was joined RAK. Helping others has helped me in so many ways. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like I did.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I have never dyed my hair.

Advice for new students: Say yes! Behrend offers so many opportunities, so take them. Try something new. Get out of your comfort zone.

Ashlyn has accepted a job at Plastics Services Network (PSN) in Erie after her graduation in May.

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