Class of 2017: Meet Alex Laffey (Mechanical Engineering)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Alex Laffey

Alex Laffey - first choice

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Pittsburgh

Home Sweet Second Home: I know it sounds cliché, but the moment I stepped onto campus at Behrend, I knew it was the only place that would feel like home to me.

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I loved math and science in high school, so I figured engineering would be a great fit for me.

Campus involvement: I am currently serving as president of Reality Check. I am also involved in Gamma Sigma Sigma and THON. I’m a Lion Scout and I played on the varsity tennis team my first three years of college.

On helping others: I’m passionate about helping others. I love to volunteer in my free time. I try to be the kind of person who people can lean on if they need help.

Off to Africa: I’m leaving in July to serve for two years in the Peace Corps as a secondary math education teacher in Sierra Leone, Africa!

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Being selected to dance in THON 2015 was one of my happiest moments. It was an honor to stand for 46 hours for people who can’t. The event is a cherished memory I’ll hold with me forever.

Scholarships and Awards: I received the Irvin Kochel Lion Ambassador Award and the Council of Fellows Leadership Scholarship.

A voracious bookworm: I have the ability to ignore anything and everything when I’m reading a good book. During summer break, I usually read at least twenty books.

And an adventurous eater: I love food. I love trying new foods and I’m willing to try anything that’s edible. When I visited India this summer, everyone was surprised at how quickly I became comfortable with all the different foods there.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’m afraid to go into a car wash. When I was five, I was in the car with my grandpa when he got stuck in one and I haven’t been back in one since!

Wicked racket skills: I won the AMCC Athlete of the year for tennis my first year at Penn State Behrend.

Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to get out of your comfort zone. There are so many opportunities for you at Behrend! You don’t have to join all the same clubs and do all the same activities you did in high school. Try many things until you find the right fit for you. You’re going to change a lot in college, and that’s a good thing!

After her graduation in May, Alex is joining the Peace Corps and going to Sierra Leone, Africa, to serve as a secondary math education teacher for two years.

Class of 2017: Meet Rick Greatbatch (Psychology)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Rick Greatbatch:

Rick Greatbatch - first choice - snow edited out

Major: Psychology, Human Factors option

Hometown: Buffalo

On choosing to major in Psychology: Initially I wanted to be a clinical psychologist and work directly with people, but after taking a class in human factors, I realized I could merge my passion for cars and psychology in a career that would be perfect for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: When I found out that I was accepted into two different Ph. D. programs, Behrend and the faculty members here truly gave me the experiences and knowledge I needed to take the next step in my career.

Campus involvement: I was active in the Psychology Club where I served as both vice president and president. I am also a member of Psi Chi, the National Honor Society for psychology.

Breaking the mold: I’m a tall, large-framed individual with tattoos and people are often surprised when I say that I’m going to graduate school and hope to earn a Ph. D. I don’t fit the mold most people have in their mind of a person pursuing advanced degrees.

Who inspires him: I’m most inspired by both of my grandfathers, but for different reasons. One of my grandfathers was a jack of all trades. He could do everything and anything with his hands, from carpentry to masonry to plumbing to engine repair. I learned so much from him. My other grandfather invented the cardiac implantable pacemaker and always urged his grandchildren to get an education. It took me a few years and a few learning experiences to finally heed his advice, but I’m glad I finally did. I’m inspired by both of their strengths. I not only want to have the mechanical abilities, but the knowledge behind what I am doing as well.

Advice for first-year students: I started college at the age of 23. If I could go back and give my 18-year-old self a little advice, it would be to always move forward. Regardless of what you are doing and even if you’re unsure or if you fail at something, just keep moving forward. Eventually, you’ll find out what you are good at and the pieces will all fall into place for you.

Following his graduation in May, Rick will be attending graduate school. He hopes someday to find work in the automotive industry as a human factors psychologist.

Class of 2017: Ariana Gloeckner (International Business and Accounting)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Ariana Gloeckner:

Ariana Gloecker - first choice

Majors: Accounting and International Business

Minor: Spanish

Hometown: Cranberry Township, Pa.

On choosing her major: I have always loved working with numbers, so becoming an accountant just made sense. I double majored in International Business so that if I am given the opportunity, I can work abroad.

Campus involvement: I’ve been involved with the Accounting Club, served as president of the International Business Club, and was the student leadership chair of the business clubs. I was also a member of Beta Gamma Sigma and Alpha Sigma Pi honor societies, a peer mentor, and a student adviser on the International Business Advisory Board, and I’m currently the lead accountant on the CFA Investment Research Challenge Team.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I’ve been married for almost four years. My husband is a full-time student at Behrend, too. He is an Electrical and Computer Engineering Technology junior with plans to pursue a Master’s in Manufacturing Management.

Why they chose Behrend: One of the reasons my husband and I chose Behrend was because it had such strong business and engineering programs. We’re both very active in our respective schools. I have been employed in the School of Business office as an assistant and the business newsletter coordinator for two years. My husband is in charge of the unmanned aerial vehicle drone research at Behrend and is a prototype product developer at Innovation Commons, the college’s high-tech maker space in Burke Center.

Postgraduate education: I will be returning to Behrend in the fall to work on my Master’s in Professional Accounting degree. My goal is to obtain my CPA license by the time I graduate from the master’s program.

Leading the line: I am honored to have been chosen as the student marshal for spring commencement. I will carry the School of Business banner and lead the school’s graduates into the ceremony.

Hidden talents: In my spare time, I love to paint. My specialty is painting realistic photos of landscapes or pets. My newest hobby is crocheting.

Scholarships: I received the Erie Insurance Group Leadership Scholarship and the Prischak Family Trustee Scholarship.

Advice for current students: Get involved. I’m very shy and planned to just quietly earn my degree at Behrend until one of my accounting professors reached out to me and recommended me for a position as the newsletter coordinator for the Black School of Business. Before I knew it, I was getting involved in everything and making many contacts. It was the best thing that happened to me. I’ve had so many opportunities because I put myself out there.

After her graduation in May, Ariana will be returning to Behrend to obtain her Master of Professional Accounting degree. After that, she’d like to find work as a controller or an internal auditor. She dreams of opening a business with her husband someday.

 

Class of 2017: Meet Mark Massimino (Communications)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Mark Massimino:

mark massimino - first choice

Major: Communication

Certificates: Public Relations and Advertising

Hometown: Hunker, Pa.

On choosing Behrend: I only had to visit once to know Behrend was a perfect fit for me. The Communication department staff made me feel so welcome, answered every question I had, and made me excited for my future.

A born storyteller: I took several honors classes when I was in high school and got an early feel for what I did and didn’t like. I have always gravitated to communication. At the heart of it, I’m a storyteller, and utilizing media to share stories is exciting to me.

Campus involvement: I am the production leader of Wintergreen Media, Penn State Behrend’s student-run production company. I also am a show host for BVZ Radio, and I have been published in The Beacon.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: Leading a team of fellow students in producing videos for area non-profit organizations was, by far, my proudest accomplishment. Balancing clients and classes was challenging, but it was good experience. Every organization posed a different challenge, and we aimed to tackle them and surpass their expectations.

Sports production or bust: I want to work in professional sports video production. I know it’s a difficult field to break into, but working with production crews at the Erie Insurance Arena and UPMC Park in Erie have given me a great starting point. I am taking the right steps to make my dream a reality, and I’m not going to stop until I achieve it.

Passionate about innovation: Every time I get behind a video camera, or the computer screen when I’m editing, I am always trying to innovate and offer a new perspective or a way for people to experience things. I take pride in my work and will never put my name on anything that isn’t the best I can do with the time and resources I have.

Definition of a good life: A good life is spending every day using whatever talents you have to make the world around you a better place. A mentor recently told me: ‘You are in charge of your own destiny.’ I know that I can achieve anything as long as I make a plan and put in the work.

Advice for current students: You get out of college what you put in. Get involved and make use of the tools available to you. Don’t waste those resources!

After his graduation in May, Mark plans to look for work in professional video production, preferably in sports video production.

Class of 2017: Meet Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang (English)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang:

 

Arthur Wang

Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang is the definition of a standout student, and he has the accolades to prove it, including the T. Reed Ferguson Award and the Irvin H. Kochel Award. He is also a two-time winner of the Rose Cologne Keystone Citizen Award and, in 2016, received the LaMarr Kopp International Achievement Award, a University-wide honor recognizing students who have contributed significantly to the advancement of the international mission of Penn State.

Yuanheng “Arthur” Wang

Major: English

Hometown: Kunming, Yunnan Province, China

On the value of strong faculty and staff mentors: Many faculty members at Behrend are not only wise mentors, but also thoughtful friends. During the past four years, many of my professors in the School of Humanities and Social Sciences, especially those in the English program, have gone above and beyond to help me polish my education, support my intellectual and personal growth, and become a better person. Their guidance has been invaluable.

On choosing to major in English: It is the most versatile major in a liberal arts education. It can give me a solid and comprehensive foundation for whatever I do later in life, such as research, teaching, and mentoring. Moreover, the English program at Behrend features rigorous courses that combine both theory and practice. These courses helped me develop my critical thinking and communication skills, which will be useful in any field I later enter.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: The most personally rewarding one has been working with hundreds of international and multilingual students as an ESL (English as a Second Language) teaching assistant and tutor. Mentoring these students and interacting with them really enhanced my teaching and communication skills. It also helped me form an appreciation for multilingualism and broadened my horizons as the students I worked with came from all over the world.

Campus involvement: I was the regional vice president of the Student Penn State Education Association, the co-membership chair of the Lambda Sigma Honor Society and on the executive board of the International Student Organization. For three years, I have been an orientation leader during the International Student Orientation Week program, which is organized by the Office of Educational Equity and Diversity. (Editor’s note: Last year, Arthur even shepherded a group of Behrend-bound international students for 24-hours when their flight to Erie was canceled: Read his first-hand account of the travel nightmare turned bonding experience here.)

What you’d be surprised to know about him: Many people, particularly native English speakers, are surprised when I explain to them the seven different sentence structures of the English Language, which some of them don’t know.

Advice for current students: Try to spend at least one semester living with a roommate who comes from a different country, embodies different cultural values, and speaks a different language from your own. Trust me: You will learn a lot from that person and about yourself!

After his graduation in May, Arthur will attend graduate school at Columbia University in the Applied Linguistics program.

 

Class of 2017: Meet Rachel Sheridan (Mechanical Engineering)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Rachel Sheridan:

Rachel Sheridan - first choice

Major: Mechanical Engineering

Hometown: Rillton, Pa.

On choosing to major in Mechanical Engineering: I’ve always had a knack for problem solving and my best subjects in school were math and physics. My favorite part of physics was mechanics and when you pair that with my interest in problem solving, Mechanical Engineering is the perfect major for me.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: I am most proud of developing a good balance between my involvement on campus and academics. I’ll be graduating with a Grade Point Average of about 3.5.

Campus involvement: I was vice president of Lambda Sigma National Honor Society and Theta Phi Alpha Fraternity, where I held a few other positions, too. I’m a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and the Tau Beta Pi National Engineering Honor Society.

Scholarships: I received the William F. Roberge and Shirley Roberge Trustee Scholarship multiple times.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I own and have worked to restore a 1965 Ford Mustang.

Rachel Sheridan's car1

Driven to excel: I am passionate about exceeding people’s expectations of me. I strive to excel at everything I do and surprise those who may overlook my abilities.

Advice for first-year students: Try to get an internship in your major early on. Seeing what you will do in your chosen field may change your perspective and affect the direction you want to go in.

Rachel has accepted a position as an engineer at BCI Engineering in Pittsburgh, following her graduation in May.

Class of 2017: Meet Emily Brown (Biology)

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

Penn State Behrend’s class of 2017 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 Emily M. Brown:

Emily Brown - first choice

Major: Biology

Hometown: Bellefonte, Pa.

On choosing to attend Penn State Behrend: The campus is extraordinarily beautiful and there is a friendly, down-to-earth atmosphere at Behrend that you don’t get at most larger colleges.

On choosing to major in Biology: I wanted a major that would challenge me. I decided on Biology after taking BIO 110 Biology: Basic Concepts and Biodiversity. That class opened my eyes to the variety of avenues to be taken in the field of biology. Plus, I loved learning about how organisms function and interact with one other and their environment.

Proudest accomplishment at Behrend: My proudest accomplishment is making Relay for Life an official club on campus and working to get other clubs and organizations involved with the event. It’s really rewarding to see it all come together each spring.

Campus involvement: I helped make Relay for Life an official club in 2015 and have served as the president and event chair for it since. I’m also a member of TriBeta, the Biology Honor Society, and Greener Behrend.

Scientists are creative by nature: I love to draw, paint, and embroider. In high school, I was really involved with the drama club and I plan to get involved in community theatre wherever I settle: acting, singing, and set design.

What you’d be surprised to know about her: I started out as a film major. After two semesters, I dropped out of school to work and figure out what I wanted to do with my life. It only took eight months working in retail to know I wanted to go back to school and earn a degree.

What she’s passionate about: I’m passionate about nature and appreciating the beauty and serenity that can be felt just by breathing in fresh air and feeling the sun on your face. I want to work to protect that. I’m also passionate about learning, creativity, and equality. We all have our differences and that’s what makes this world so interesting.

Advice for first-year students: Make to-do lists to keep track of assignments, and remember to look at the big picture. Don’t stress too much, get a proper night’s sleep, and never underestimate the power of a good cup of hot tea.

After her graduation in December, Emily hopes to work as a researcher in wildlife rehabilitation and conservation.