Networking & Career Exploration Connect Networking & Career Day Sponsored by the David S. Rocchino Family Foundation in partnership with the Scholar Alumni Society

Connect Networking & Career Day brings more than 50 Scholar alumni to campus for a day of career-related panel discussions and networking. With expertise in a variety of fields, Scholar alumni are ready to share their knowledge and perspectives with current Scholars. Whether you are exploring majors, considering internships, preparing for graduate or professional school, or sending out resumes for employment, this event is for you.

Mar 23

Connect 2024

  • 1:00 - 5:00 PM
  • Forest Resources Building, University Park
Scholar RSVP
CONNECT Networking and Career Day logo

Event Schedule

Overview

12:00 - 1:00 PM Pre-Event Free Professional Headshots
12:30 - 1:30 PM Event Check-In
1:00 - 1:40 PM Event Start and Welcome Remarks
1:40 - 5:05 PM Panel Discussions, Networking, and Table Talks

1:40 - 2:25 PM Session 1

Legal Eagles: Navigating Exciting Paths in Law Room 102

Delve into the exciting journeys of legal professionals who have made their mark on the legal field. Gain insights into law school, the legal profession, and its opportunities.

Social Science Safari: Alumni Adventures in Education, Psychology, Sociology, and Social Work Room 105

Join us as we showcase alumni in psychology, sociology, social work, and education. Our alumni will share their experiences in helping individuals, communities, and the education sector. Discover how these social sciences and education can be a powerful force for positive change and community betterment.

Innovation and Passion Unite: How Alumni Dared to Follow Their Dreams Room 106

Explore inspiring stories of alumni who followed their passions into careers, started their own ventures, and took risks based on their values. Learn about unconventional career paths and how your major can lead you to unexpected opportunities.

Science and Engineering Innovations: Solving Today's Problems and Creating Tomorrow's Future Room 107

Explore how a STEM degree can propel you into a world of opportunities from engineering to industries like consulting, law, finance, sustainability, and more. Discover the practical applications of STEM degrees as our alumni share their experiences and insights on how they have applied STEM knowledge in diverse career paths.

2:25 - 2:45 PM Networking Session 1

Network with panelists from the first session. Scholars will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one or in small groups with the alumni present. Additionally, alumni will be located around the atrium to talk about topics including the job search process, resumes, cover letters, personal statements, elevator pitches, and networking and mentoring, among other subjects.

2:50 - 3:35 PM Session 2

The Art and Science of Sustainable Futures: Cross-Disciplinary Approaches to Environmental Stewardship Room 102

Join the conversation about environmental sustainability. Discover how alumni from diverse backgrounds come together to tackle environmental challenges, from engineering to policy development.

BizBuzz: Thriving in the Business World Room 106

This session will equip you with a comprehensive understanding of finance, marketing, management consulting, investment banking, and more job options. Discover how to stand out in the recruitment process and pursue a business career, regardless of your major.

The Data Revolution: Insights into Data Science and Analytics, Ethical and Legal Issues Room 107

Data literacy is essential in today's world. Explore how our alumni utilize data in various fields, from economics to statistics to data analytics. Discover the convergence of skills from computer science, mathematics, and business analytics while considering the ethical and legal implications of data usage.

Even More School? Graduate School (MBA, STEM, Arts & Humanities) Room 112

Are you considering extending your education for a few more years? Attend this panel to gain insights into the decision-making process behind graduate school. Discover the varied career options that await you after completing your advanced education.

3:35 - 3:55 PM Networking Session 2

Network with panelists from the second session. Scholars will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one or in small groups with the alumni present. Additionally, alumni will be located around the atrium to talk about topics including the job search process, resumes, cover letters, personal statements, elevator pitches, and networking and mentoring, among other subjects.

4:00 - 4:45 PM Session 3

Healthcare Horizons: Exploring Careers in Medicine and Beyond Room 102

Explore a wide range of healthcare career options beyond medical school. Learn about nursing, M.D. and D.O. pathways, biobehavioral science, communications science, and healthcare policy from Scholar alumni who have experienced these paths.

Diversity and Inclusion: Alumni Transforming Workplaces Room 105

Join us to discuss how alumni have been at the forefront of championing diversity and inclusion in their respective fields. Explore the compelling business case for diversity and equity, emphasizing their essential role in creating more inclusive workplaces and driving positive change in society.

Navigating the Public Sector: Shaping Policies for a Better Tomorrow Room 106

Join alumni who have pursued careers in government, NGOs, nonprofit organizations, and more, whether at the local, state, or federal levels. This panel will discuss the importance of public service, the various career paths available in these sectors, and the opportunities that drive positive change in communities and the nation as a whole.

Consulting Chronicles: Decoding the Consulting World Room 107

This panel is designed for Scholars from any academic background interested in the world of consulting, whether it is management consulting, economic consulting, CSR consulting, or more. Dive into the unique aspects of each consulting field and gain insights into the work associated with them. Discover how your academic background can be an asset in the consulting world.

4:45 - 5:00 PM Networking Session 3

Network with panelists from the third session. Scholars will have the opportunity to speak one-on-one or in small groups with the alumni present. Additionally, alumni will be located around the atrium to talk about topics including the job search process, resumes, cover letters, personal statements, elevator pitches, and networking and mentoring, among other subjects.

Table Talks

There may be times where you have less interest in the presented range of alumni panels, and please use these times to attend our scheduled table talks, where alumni will provide personalized advice and answer your questions in a small group setting about the following topics.

Job Search Process 3rd Floor

Job Search Process table talk focuses on the critical steps in locating, applying for, and interviewing for a job. Students bring questions about how to stand apart positively during applications, conversations with employers, and during interviews. Learn strategies for locating positions that include on-line applications, networking, and targeting specific industries and organizations.

Resume 3rd Floor

The Resume table talk is focused on how to design and draft a resume that can help you stand apart positively in your employment search. Students, bring questions about your resume, bring a copy of your resume for review. Alumni will share their perspectives of what makes a positive impression when they make decisions regarding applicants' resumes. Questions about resume format, resume content, and strategies to connect your resume with your desired goals are encouraged during this table talk.

Elevator Pitch and Networking Best Practices 2nd Floor

The Elevator Pitch and Networking Table talk is focused on how to concisely communicate your interest, relevant experience and education, and to speak with the goal of attracting your audience's interest. Students, throughout your career you will be expected to present a concise summary of your work, current projects, and your goals for future opportunities. Take advantage of this table talk to learn how to present yourself clearly and concisely as you build and extend your network of professional contacts.

Writing for Your Next Step 1st Floor

The Writing for your Next Step table talk is focused on strategies for writing strong cover letters, personal statements, and other correspondence. Gain feedback on a draft of a cover letter or personal statement and other written correspondence.

Successful Scholar Alumni Alumni Bios

Learn more about the Scholar alumni attending this year's event.

Jennifer Ashman headshot

Jennifer Ashman Principal, CX Amplified

Jennifer Ashman is the president of CX Amplified, a boutique consulting firm that helps companies adopt a customer-focused approach to design and deliver best in class experiences. She has been a customer experience and marketing practitioner for over 20 years and her diverse background includes working at MRM//McCann, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Ford Motor Company. In addition to consulting, Jennifer is a Professor of Practice at Michigan State University, where she teaches Experience Design as part of the Masters degree program in Customer Experience Management. She is also a Certified Customer Experience Professional (CCXP), issued by the global Customer Experience Professionals Association. Jennifer earned a BS in Marketing with Honors in 1994 and a Masters degree in Marketing in 1996. She is currently a Board Member for the Scholar Alumni Society.
Alayna Auerbach headshot

Alayna Auerbach Manager of Workplace Mental Health, National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York City

Alayna Auerbach (she/her), NYCPS-P, is currently the Manager of Workplace Mental Health at the National Alliance on Mental Illness-New York City, where she supports the workplace mental health training and consulting division. In her role, she partners with employers looking to promote employee wellbeing and supportive mental health practices in the workplace, while reducing stigma towards mental illnesses. Prior, Alayna worked in mergers & acquisitions management consulting at PwC. During this time, she partnered with companies across industries to deliver enterprise-wide value in 30+ deal transactions, including being a trusted advisor and project leader for chief executives. Alayna earned BS in Finance with Honors and minors in Economics and Spanish. Please connect with Alayna at https://www.linkedin.com/in/alaynaauerbach/

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Aaron Blakney headshot

Aaron Blakney Epidemiologist, Food and Drug Administration

Aaron Blakney is an epidemiologist at Center for Tobacco Products within the US Food and Drug Administration where he conducts research on the effect of novel nicotine products like e-cigarettes and oral nicotine products. Before joining the Food and Drug Administration, Aaron worked in private sector health science consulting. He earned a BS in Environmental Resource Management with Honors from Penn State in 2018. He also earned his MPH in Environmental Epidemiology from Emory University in 2020 and is currently working on his PhD in Epidemiology from University of Maryland. Please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn here: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronblakney/.
Samuel Bonsall headshot

Samuel Bonsall Deloitte & Touche Teaching Excellence Professor of Accounting, Penn State - Smeal College of Business

Dr. Sam Bonsall is the Deloitte & Touche Teaching Excellence Professor of Accounting at Penn State's Smeal College of Business in University Park, Pennsylvania where he teaches Master of Accounting and doctoral students and conducts research related to the impact of information on capital markets. Before joining Penn State in 2017, he served on the faculty of the Ohio State University's Fisher College of Business in Columbus, Ohio and worked in economic litigation consulting at Bates White LLC in Washington, DC. He earned a B.S. in Economics with Honors from Penn State in 2004. He also earned a M.S. in Business Administration from Penn State in 2004 and a Ph.D. in Business Administration from Penn State in 2012. Please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn. Sam serves on both the Scholar Alumni Society Board and the College's Faculty Advisory Committee.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Alexandre Bourcier headshot

Alexandre Bourcier Medical Student, UCLA

Alexandre "Alex" Bourcier is a third year medical student and biodesign fellow at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California, Los Angeles. Alex obtained his BS in Biology with Honors from Penn State in 2019 and earned an MSc in Global Health from King's College London in 2021. Alex is interested in emergency medicine and access to medical care in resource-limited settings. During his time at Penn State, Alex founded Remote Area Medical to increase access to medical care in rural areas of the US. Since graduating from Penn State, Alex has led research projects on surgical care in low- and middle-income countries and is now devoting his time to investigating access to medical care in space. In his free time, Alex enjoys spending time with his wife, skiing, and learning to surf.
Alejandro Cuevas headshot

Alejandro Cuevas PhD Student in Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University;, Co-Founder, Redoux

Alejandro is a PhD Candidate in Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and a co-founder of Redoux (a NY-based fragrance company). At CMU, he works on measuring social influence and reputation in online platforms using computational social science methods. He's authored several papers on security and privacy, was awarded a Cylab Presidential Fellowship, and previously worked at Microsoft Research. At Redoux, he handles primarily operations and strategy. He earned his BS in Security and Risk Analysis with Honors from Penn State in 2018. Please feel free to connect with them on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/aledancuevas/).
Andrew D'Aversa headshot

Andrew D'Aversa Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey

Andrew is an Assistant United States Attorney at the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey. Andrew is a member of the Office’s Criminal Division and handles federal criminal investigations and cases. Prior to joining the Office, Andrew was an Associate at Ballard Spahr LLP. While there, he handled white collar defense and commercial litigation matters and provided advice on cryptocurrency issues. Andrew also served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Noel L. Hillman, United States District Judge for the District of New Jersey, and the Honorable Anthony J. Scirica, United States Circuit Judge for the Third Circuit Court of Appeals. Andrew graduated from Penn State with a BS in Management, a BA in History, with Honors, and a minor in Economics. Andrew received his JD from the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School in 2017.
Samantha D'Aversa headshot

Samantha D'Aversa Assistant United States Attorney, United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey

Samantha D'Aversa is an Assistant United States Attorney with the United States Attorney's Office for the District of New Jersey in Camden, New Jersey where she litigates civil matters on behalf of the federal government. Before joining the U.S. Attorney's Office in 2021, Samantha previously served as a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Mitchell S. Goldberg in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and worked as an associate at Reed Smith LLP in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Samantha earned a BA in Comparative Literature with Honors from Penn State in 2013. Samantha also earned a JD from Temple University James E. Beasley School of Law.
Henry Deteskey headshot

Henry Deteskey Law Student, Fordham University

Henry is a third year law student at Fordham University School of Law. This past summer Henry was a Summer Associate at Seward & Kissel LLP, and he will be returning to the firm after graduation as an Associate. Henry earned a BS in Biobehavioral Health and Honors in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State in 2021. Please feel free to connect with Henry on Linkedin (https://www.linkedin.com/in/henry-deteskey-8b654b19b/) or email (hdeteskey@fordham.edu).

Learn more about me before the event by watching my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Tyler Dischinger headshot

Tyler Dischinger Shareholder, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Tyler Dischinger earned B.A. in Political Science with Honors, B.A. in Economics in ‘09 (Pennsylvania State University); and J.D. ‘12 from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. He is currently a practicing lawyer with Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, a full-service corporate law firm with 400+ lawyers: Associate (2012 - 2020); Counsel (2021 - present). In the past, Tyler has coordinated his firm's summer associate program, and he has been active in interviewing and recruiting efforts at his firm for years.
Lori Feathers headshot

Lori Feathers Co-Owner and Book Buyer, Interabang Books (Dallas, TX)

Lori Feathers is the co-owner and books buyer of Interabang Books in Dallas, Texas. She writes about books for various publications as a freelance book critic and sits on the jury for a number of US literary prizes. Before opening the bookstore in 2017, Lori worked for twenty-four years as an international oil and gas lawyer for Atlantic Richfield Company, Pioneer Natural Resources, the law firm of Haynes and Boone, and the United States International Trade Administration. Lori earned her BA in Russian with Honors from Penn State in 1990. She also earned a JD degree and an MA in international relations, both from American University in Washington, D.C. Lori can be reached @lorifeathers and lori@interabangbooks.com. Lori currently serves on the Scholar Alumni Society Board.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Brandon Follick headshot

Brandon Follick Project Manager, Kallyope

Brandon Follick is a project manager at Kallyope in New York, NY where he designs and manages studies at a biotech focused on gut-brain biology. He is also a comedian and writer for humor sites such as The Onion, The New Yorker, and Reductress. He recently contributed essays to Reductress's latest book “How to Stay Productive When the World Is Ending.” He earned a B.S. in Biology with Honors from Penn State in 2015.
Olivia Francois headshot

Olivia Francois Exam Developer, The National Restaurant Association

Olivia Francois is an Exam Developer at the National Restauration Association in Washington, DC where she develop resources for professional certification exams in the food and restaurant industry. Before joining the National Restaurant Association in 2023, she previously worked in k-12 assessment at Cambium Assessment as well as in fundraising for cancer research at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center. Olivia earned a BS in Toxicology with Honors in BioBehavioral Health and a minor in Global Health. Please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn. Olivia currently serves on the Scholar Alumni Society Board.
Kevin Frick headshot

Kevin Frick Professor, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School

Kevin Frick (they/he) is a Professor at the Johns Hopkins Carey Business School (with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health) in Baltimore, Maryland, where they teach (health economics, introduction to the US healthcare system, and business ethics), do research, and are heavily engaged in activities related to diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging in the school and at the university level. He earned his BS in Health Policy and Administration with Honors from Penn State in 1991. He also earned an MA (1994) in economics and a PhD (1996) in economics and health services research from the University of Michigan. Please feel free to contact them on LInkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kevinfrickphd/) or by email (kdfrick@aol.com).
Eric Gibney headshot

Eric Gibney Program Director, Piedmont Transplant Institute (Atlanta, GA); Transplant Nephrologist, Piedmont Healthcare

Dr. Eric GIbney is a transplant physician and Program Director of the Piedmont Transplant Institute in Atlanta GA. In his clinical role, he supervises the medical care of kidney and pancreas transplant patients. As program director, he leads a diverse group of surgeons and physicians at one of the nation's largest abdominal transplant programs, getting involved in recruitment, strategic planning, contracting and hospital administration. Dr. Gibney graduated with a BS in Biology from Penn State with Honors in Nutrition in 1994, followed by an MD at Emory, a residency and chief residency in internal medicine at NYU, and a nephrology and transplant fellowship at the University of Colorado in Denver. He is currently nrolled in Executive MBA program at the University of Georgia, with an expected graduation May 2025 He can be reached at eric.gibney@piedmont.org.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Sean Goheen headshot

Sean Goheen Coordinator of Constituent Relations & Annual Giving, Schreyer Honors College, Penn State

Sean, a Scholar alumnus, returned to the College as a staff member in January 2018, working with the Scholar Alumni Society, volunteer programs & engagement events, and coordinating annual giving efforts to support Scholars through philanthropic support from alumni, parents, and friends.

Sean also hosts and produces Following the Gong, a podcast for Schreyer Scholars featuring conversations with Scholar alumni providing mentoring on demand. You can learn more about him by listening to his interview on episode 48.

Sean started at Penn State Berks before earning his bachelor's degrees in both political science with honors and history from the College of the Liberal Arts at UP in 2011. His honors thesis focused on state legislators' educational backgrounds and the effects they have on funding for public higher education. After interning at Penn State Berks in campus life, he earned his Master of Education in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 2014 and went on to work in student programming at the University of Kentucky for several years.

Sean earned his MBA from the Penn State Smeal College of Business in 2023.

Sean lives in State College with his wife, Elizabeth, their two future Nittany Lions, and Rosie, their rescue mutt. His favorite season is college football season, while his wife's is college basketball season.

Sean can be reached at spg5096@psu.edu.

Antoinette Gomez headshot

Antoinette Gomez Civilian Clinician in Clinic and LCSW, Buckley Space Force Clinic

Dr. Antoinette M. Gomez earned her Doctorate from Arogsy University. She holds a Doctorate in Marriage and Family Therapy and is a Registered Play Therapist- S (Supervisor). She holds licensure of LMFT and LCSW in PA and Colorado. She has worked with children since 2003. Her belief is “restore happiness in the soul.” Dr. Gomez is also a mediator and Child Family InvesOgator. She has experience working with high-conflict families. She is familiar with evidenced models and has received training in FuncOonal Family Therapy and Familias Unidas models. She earned her Master of Social Work (MSW) at The University of Denver and holds a Master of Arts from Clark Atlanta University (Atlanta, GA) and a Bachelor of Science with Honors from Penn State University. During the course of her 14-year career, Antoinette has provided counseling, case management, and psychotherapy to children, adolescents, couples, families, and individuals.
Asia Grant headshot

Asia Grant Founder and Creative Director, Redoux

Asia is the founder of the vegan skincare line, Redoux. She founded the company in 2019 while living in New York, where she previously worked as a user experience research consultant at IBM and Capco. She earned a BS in Marketing with Honors from Penn State in 2017, and served as president of the Scholar Alumni Society Board President. Currently, she is based out of the Philadelphia area. Feel free to connect with her via Linkedin if you don't mind waiting, or email if you're looking for a quicker response.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Tamara Hambrick headshot

Tamara Hambrick Enterprise Strategy and Operations Deputy Functional Chief, Boeing

Tamara Hambrick ’05 Eng is the Boeing Enterprise Strategy and Operations Deputy Functional Chief Engineer for Systems Engineering implementing technical excellence for the workforce with focus on leading Model-Based Systems Engineering within the functions of engineering and across the functions of Boeing for Digital Thread enablement for their business. Previously, she was the Boeing Defense, Space, and Security (BDS) Business Unit's Systems Engineering Director for the Systems Engineering, Integration, and Test (SEIT) Capability leader. She led the Wisk/Boeing/Aurora Model Based Engineering (MBE) strategy and support to BDS programs for Digital Engineering proposals. She instituted governance and standardization of tools, processes, and practices with accelerated adoption of Digital Engineering concepts. Prior to joining the company in 2021, Tamara was the leader in driving technical innovation, influencing change and developing the next generation of thought leaders, advocates and practitioners in model-based systems engineering. Over her 16 years with Northrop Grumman Corporation (NGC), she served as integrated product team leader, functional director, manager, chief engineer, and chief architect across electronics, mission systems, aeronautics, space, strategic deterrent, and enterprise programs for model-based engineering. Tamara earned her bachelors of science engineering science with honors from Penn State’s College of Engineering in 2005. She has also earned a master’s certificate in systems engineering from Johns Hopkins University, and a graduate certificate in architecture and systems engineering from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Please feel free to connect: https://www.linkedin.com/in/tamara-h-5370865/

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Brian Harkless headshot

Brian Harkless Command Property Officer - Division Director, NAVAIR (US Navy)

Mr. Harkless became a Navy civilian in 2010 and currently serves as NAVAIR Command Property Officer, Sustainment Group, Property Management Department at Patuxent River, MD. In this role, he is responsible for the physical accountability of all NAVAIR owned material as well as policy, oversight and guidance for all Property Management functions at the Command. Mr. Harkless previously served as Branch Head for NAVAIR 6.8.3.3 Sponsor Owned Material branch in the Total Asset Visibility Division at Patuxent River, MD. In this role, he managed Interim Supply Support warehouses for all pre-Material Support Date NAVAIR Spares and maintained the Special Tooling/Special Test Equipment boneyard at Granite City, IL. Prior to joining Logistics full time, Mr. Harkless completed a year-long NAVAIR Leadership Development Program (NLDP) special project rotation where he developed the processes and procedures for NAVAIR material conversion to Navy Enterprise Resource Planning (Navy ERP). His primary engineering work at NAVAIR was serving as a composite material Subject Matter Expert in the NAVAIR Airframe Technology Branch where he developed new composite repair and evaluation techniques and led cross-organizational teams to implement advanced technologies with other Department of Defense agencies and foreign partners. Before NAVAIR, Mr. Harkless worked in the private sector for 15 years primarily in military aircraft structural repair, ultimately acting as Chief Engineer and Program Manager for CSC’s Bonded Repair Division. Mr. Harkless holds degrees in Aerospace Engineering with Honors from Penn State (BS) and the University of Maryland (MS) where he focused on aircraft structures, composite materials and smart structures as well as an MBA from Texas Christian University. Mr. Harkless is a 2016 graduate of the NAVAIR Leadership Development Program and a 2018 graduate of the Department of the Navy Bridging the Gap Program. Brian currently serves as the Vice President of the Scholar Alumni Society, and is a 2020 Outstanding Scholar Alumni Award Recipient.
Therese Jones headshot

Therese Jones Senior Policy Advisor, Office of Science and Technology, Policy, and Strategy, NASA

Therese Jones serves as a Senior Policy Advisor in the Office of Science and Technology, Policy, and Strategy at NASA Headquarters, working on strategic planning across NASA missions.  From 2018-2023, she served as the Senior Director of Policy at the Satellite Industry Association, where she supported work on regulatory, legislative, defense, space sustainability, cybersecurity, export control and trade issues of critical importance to the Association’s 60+ member companies. Previously, Therese was an assistant policy researcher at the RAND Corporation, where she focused on space policy, and prior to that worked as an astrophysics researcher focusing on galaxy formation and evolution. Therese holds a master's in Policy Analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School, a master’s in astrophysics from the University of California, Berkeley, and bachelor’s degrees in astronomy and astrophysics, physics, German, and international studies from The Pennsylvania State University.  In her spare time, she works on numerous initiatives supporting students and young professionals entering the space industry, including co-founding the Zed Factor Fellowship, founding the AIAA Diversity Scholarship, serving on the Board of Advisors of the Students for the Exploration and Development of Space, and serving as a founding partner of spaceinterns.org.
Natalie Keller headshot

Natalie Keller Senior Research Scientist, Campbell Soup & Pepperidge Farm Co.

Natalie is a Senior Research Scientist at Campbell's in the Philadelphia area. As a product developer, she works on new flavor innovations and product improvements in Campbell's snack portfolio including Pepperidge Farm, Milano, and Lance sandwich crackers. Prior to joining Campbell's in 2023, she worked as the lead product developer at La Colombe Coffee and at Mondelez International, working on brands including Nutter Butter and Chips Ahoy!. She earned a BS in Food Science with Honors from Penn State in 2017. Outside of her career, she volunteers as the current President of the Scholar Alumni Society, a Council member at Penn State Alumni Association, and with the animal rescue Philly Bully Team. Feel free to connect with Natalie on LinkedIn.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Joseph Kernen headshot

Joseph Kernen Retired Partner, DLA Piper US LLP

Joe Kernen recently retired after practicing law for 35 years, the last 32 at DLA Piper, a global business law firm with more than 4,000 lawyers across Europe, Asia and the Americas. Joe represented corporate clients in complex commercial and class action litigation, and counseled and defended companies in employment matters. Joe was the Philadelphia Office Managing Partner for six years, served as Chair of Philadelphia Litigation, and for 15 years was the office Hiring Partner. He served three terms on the firm’s US Policy Committee. Joe earned his BA in Pre-Law, with Honors, from Penn State in 1986 and his JD from NYU School of Law in 1989. Joe serves on the Advisory Board for Penn State Brandywine, where he is Co-Chair of the Career and Professional Development Committee. Joe is also on the Board of Directors of Habitat for Humanity of Montgomery and Delaware Counties, where he serves on the HR Committee. 
Eleni Kornblatt headshot

Eleni Kornblatt Vice President, Commercial Strategy and Marketing, Dynavax Technologies

Eleni is currently the Vice President of Commercial Strategy and Marketing for Dynavax Technologies, and prior to this role she served as the Global Marketing Leader for HPV Vaccines at Merck/MSD. She has over 20 years in numerous roles of increasing responsibility across the US and Global Commercial and Marketing Organizations, Business Development, Strategy, Sales, New Products and Manufacturing. She has dual B.S. degrees from Penn State and Universidad de Alicante, SPAIN, in Supply Chain Operations and Global Marketing with Honors, and an MBA in Marketing from Villanova University. She is currently a Board Member for the Scholar Alumni Society. Eleni and her family live in Berwyn, Pennsylvania.
Emily Kowey Roth headshot

Emily Kowey Roth Associate General Counsel, Aramark

Emily Kowey Roth is Assistant General Counsel at Aramark in Philadelphia, PA, where she handles employment and litigation matters, as well as government affairs. Before joining Aramark in 2021, Emily previously worked at Duane Morris, LLP and Fox Rothschild, LLP as a trial associate in their respective litigation departments. Emily earned her BA in International Politics and Spanish with Honors from Penn State in 2012. She also earned her juris doctorate from Temple University Beasley School of Law in 2015. Please feel free to connect with Emily at Emily Kowey Roth | LinkedIn.
Robert Latoche headshot

Robert Latoche CEO, Robert Latoche Consultancy Services

Robert Latoche is engaged as an independent consultant in Advisory and Interim CxO Services for Private-Equity-Owned Mid Market Companies. From 2019 through 2022 Mr. Latoche, acting as CFO and subsequently CEO, led the successful growth and exit of Private-Equity backed SP Industries of Warminster, PA. Other adventures include CFO and COO of privately owned NPC, Inc, and VP of Finance at Siemens. Mr. Latoche started his career as a CPA with Deloitte after graduating from Penn State in 1983.
Katie Legenski headshot

Katie Legenski Head Kombucha Brewer, Moody Culture and Antifragile Brewing

Katie Legenski ’16 Eng is head kombucha brewer for Moody Culture in downtown State College, PA. The Moody Culture brewery is housed in the Antifragile Brewing Company taproom and brewery at 324 E Calder Way, State College. Brewing kombucha consists of choosing a brewing tea, inoculating with starter culture, maintaining the appropriate temperature for fermentation, flavoring with fruits or herbs, and carbonating the resulting beverage. Katie has been head brewer since March 2023 and has since introduced new flavors to Moody's line up including passionfruit, black currant, and the first decaf flavor: orange blossom tulsi. She's also quite proud of developing hard kombucha featuring alcohol fermented with the kombucha instead of spiking non-alcoholic kombucha with seltzer or grain ethanol which is industry standard. She earned a BS in chemical engineering in 2016 from Penn State. Prior to brewing for Moody Culture, she completed a southbound thru hike of the Appalachian Trail and worked in early drug discovery at both Glaxo Smith Kline and Johnson and Johnson. She's been fostering a love for fermentation for over a decade and is always happy to discuss all things fermentable. Other interests include social dance, rock climbing, fiber arts, and piano. She can be reached on LinkedIn and on Instagram at @kitkatlegenski.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Valerie Lehman headshot

Valerie Lehman Program Officer, Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute

Val Lehman is a Program Officer for Dissemination & Implementation at the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) in Washington, DC. In this role, Val oversees a portfolio of PCORI-funded projects that promote the uptake of evidence from research into use in real-world healthcare settings. Val also serves as the project manager for PCORI’s Health Systems Implementation Initiative, working directly with health systems across the country to promote the rapid adoption of evidence into health care. Prior to joining PCORI, Val worked in health administration roles at a regional health system based in Maryland, as well as health policy positions on Capitol Hill and with the National Academy of Medicine. She graduated from The George Washington University with a Master of Health Administration degree in 2016 and The Pennsylvania State University's Schreyer Honors College with a BA in International Politics in 2009.
Hanna Leonard headshot

Hanna Leonard Senior Law and Policy Analyst, University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS)

Hanna Leonard is a Senior Law and Policy Anayst at the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security (CHHS) in Baltimore, Maryland where she works to create and enact policies that positively impact public health issues throughout the state. Before joining CHHS in 2021, Hanna was a law student at the University of Maryland Carey School of Law. She graduated in 2021 with her Juris Doctor with a concentration in Health Law and a certification in Mediation. She earned a BA in Communication Arts and Sciences and a BA in International Politics with Honors from Penn State in 2018. Please feel free to connect with her through LinkedIn or through email.
Alice Lin headshot

Alice Lin Medical Student, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Alice Lin is a third-year medical student at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine in Pittsburgh, PA. Before starting medical school, she worked as an English Language and Culture Assistant for the Council on International Educational Exchange in Madrid, Spain. She earned a BS in Biochemistry & Molecular Biology with Honors and a BA in French & Francophone Studies from Penn State in 2020.
Shirley Liu headshot

Shirley Liu Associate Director of Content Strategy, SiriusXM

Shirley is an Associate Director of Content Strategy for podcasting at SiriusXM. Before joining the podcast industry in 2018 she was a creative strategist at Atlantic Media/Quartz. She earned a BS in marketing with honors from Penn State in 2015.
Shannon Mincemoyer headshot

Shannon Mincemoyer Senior Legal Counsel, Broadridge Financial Solutions

Shannon recently joined Broadridge as Senior Legal Counsel for its Retirement and Workplace business. She was previously a Senior Associate at Reed Smith where she counseled clients regarding employee benefits and executive compensation matters. She earned her BS in Finance with Honors from Penn State in 2011. She earned a JD from Northwestern Law in 2016 after working for PNC for two years as a corporate underwriter in Chicago. Please feel free to connect with her on LinkedIn.
Tyler Mincemoyer headshot

Tyler Mincemoyer Cloud Account Executive, Google

Tyler Mincemoyer is a Cloud Account Executive in Pittsburgh PA where he helps healthcare customers transform their businesses with Google Cloud. Before joining Google in 2021, he previously worked in various consulting and venture roles. Tyler earned a BS in IST with Honors from Penn State in 2011. Please feel free to connect with him on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/tmincemoyer10/).
Uma Moriarity headshot

Uma Moriarity Senior Investment Strategist & Global Head of ESG, CenterSquare Investment Management

Uma Moriarity is the Senior Investment Strategist and Global ESG Lead for CenterSquare Investment Management. She focuses on investment strategy and leads thought leadership across the Firm’s public and private real estate platforms. She is part of the listed real estate investment team and serves on CenterSquare’s Private Real Estate Debt Investment Committee. Uma leads the Firm’s Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) strategy to incorporate ESG into the decision-making and management of listed and private real estate investments to create long-term value, reduce risk, and generate superior risk-adjusted investment returns. Prior to joining CenterSquare, she spent three years in corporate strategy and planning at ExxonMobil in Houston. Uma graduated from The Pennsylvania State University with Interdisciplinary Honors and High Distinction and holds a B.S. in Finance with a minor in International Business, B.S. in Accounting, and Master of Accountancy. She is a CFA charterholder and member of the CFA Institute, a LEED Green Associate, and a member of the ULI San Francisco Sustainability Committee. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for Green Building United, the Penn State Smeal Sustainability Advisory Board, and the FTSE EPRA Nareit Americas Regional Advisory Committee. Please feel free to connect with Uma via LinkedIn.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

McQuillin Murphy headshot

McQuillin Murphy Program Administrator, Penn State Development & Alumni Relations

Quill Murphy is the Program Administrator in the Office of the Vice President for Development & Alumni Relations at Penn State University. In this capacity, he oversees a number of strategic initiatives for Penn State's advancement team, including its comprehensive summer internship program. Prior to (and since) working at Penn State, Quill's career has been themed around connecting young people with careers in development and community-based grantmaking. In 2017, Quill graduated with honors and earned a B.A. International Politics and a B.A. Geography, as well as a minor in Chinese. Feel free to connect with Quill at mcquillin.murphy@gmail.com.
Michael O'Connor headshot

Michael O'Connor Senior Counsel, Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange

Michael O'Connor oversees all global litigation and disputes for Kraken Cryptocurrency Exchange. Before joining Kraken in 2019, he was in private practice in Washington, DC. He earned dual BS degrees with Interdisciplinary Honors in Computer Science and Biology from Penn State in 2005. He subsequently received his law degree from the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Please feel free to connect with him by LinkedIn.
William Okrafo-Smart headshot

William Okrafo-Smart Recruitment Director, Teach for America

William Okrafo-Smart is a Recruitment Director at Teach For America. He leads Teach For America's talent, leadership, and campus partnerships team at various schools in the Northeastern United States including his Alma Mater, Penn State, where he seeks to recruit as many of our nation's most promising future leaders to grow and strengthen the movement for educational equity and excellence. Before joining Teach for America’s National Recruitment Team in 2021, he served as a Teach for America Corps Member in his hometown, Philadelphia, PA, where he taught High School Chemistry and Math. He earned his BS in Psychology and BS in Global and International Studies with Honors from Penn State in 2019. He was also selected as the 2019 Student Marshal for the Global and International Studies Department. Please feel free to connect with him via email (will.smart@teachforamerica.org) or via LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/william-okrafo-smart/).
Carol Packard headshot

Carol Packard Associate Vice President, Colleges and Units, Cornell University Alumni Affairs and Development

Carol Packard is the Associate Vice President, Colleges and Units at Cornell University. She previously worked at Penn State and other non-profits in the State College area in development roles. She earned a BA in English Literature with Honors from Penn State in 1999. She also earned a MEd in Higher Education Administration from Penn State in 2018.
Maria Poluch headshot

Maria Poluch Medical Student, Thomas Jefferson University

Maria Poluch is a fourth-year medical student at Sidney Kimmel Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, PA. She graduated with a BS in Chemical Engineering with Honors from Penn State in 2015. and worked as an engineer at Dow Chemical and GlaxoSmithKline prior to attending medical school. She will be pursuing a residency in Internal Medicine this summer. Please feel free to connect with them at Twitter/LinkedIn/Email.
Matthew Popek headshot

Matthew Popek Transportation Planning Assistant Manager, Montgomery County Planning Commission

Matthew Popek, AICP is the Transportation Planning Assistant Manager at the Montgomery County Planning Commission in Norristown, PA. He has worked at the MCPC for nearly 9 years and has been involved with right-of-way acquisition and construction oversight for multiple County-led projects, as well as Philadelphia regional transportation efforts including financial decisions and long-range planning. Matthew has a Master of Science degree in Community and Regional Planning from Temple University and a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Geography from Penn State (Class of 2009). Matthew can be reached on X (formerly Twitter) at @mpopek as well as LinkedIn.
Zoe Roane-Hopkins headshot

Zoe Roane-Hopkins Landscape Designer, EnviroCollab and Graham Projects

Zoe Roane-Hopkins is a landscape designer at EnviroCollab, a Baltimore-based landscape architecture and social design firm. She works alongside a fantastic creative team, designing equitable and environmentally resilient public spaces through community engagement. Additionally, Zoe is a collaborator with Graham Projects, a public art and placemaking firm, where she helps to design and install traffic-calming pavement murals. Recently, she finished the Pathways to Equity fellowship hosted by Open Architecture Collaborative. Zoe graduated with a Bachelor of Landscape Architecture with Honors from Penn State. After undergrad, she went on to Savannah College of Art and Design to earn a Master of Arts in Industrial Design. She has won several design competitions with her cross-disciplinary creative experience, including the Baltimore Design for Distancing competition in 2020 and the New Orleans Water Collaborative Floating Planter Box Challenge in 2022. Please feel free to connect with her on Instagram, LinkedIn, and email.
David Rocchino headshot

David Rocchino Managing Partner, RockCorp LLC

Bio forthcoming
Aroostine Sheston headshot

Aroostine Sheston Teacher and Retired Federal Employee, Stafford County (VA) Schools

Aroostine McDowell Sheston currently teaches world history Brook Point High School in Stafford County, Virginia. She is a retired CIA Case Officer/Instructor who has visited 34 countries, (and counting). She graduated from Penn State in 1989 in Foreign Service and International Politics with her Honors Thesis on Catholicism in Poland under Communist Rule.
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Steve Swart Corporate Counsel, rand* Corporation

Steve is the Corporate Counsel at rand* Construction Corporation in Alexandria, Virginia where he manages company risk and oversees the legal function. Before joining rand* in October 2023, Steve worked as a construction and litigation attorney for Williams Mullen and Venable LLP. Steve earned BAs in Jounalism (with Honors) and Political Science from Penn State in 2005, and a JD from George Mason University in 2009.
Jamie Sweeney headshot

Jamie Sweeney Project Leader, Boston Consulting Group

Jamie Sweeney is a Project Leader at Boston Consulting Group in Philadelphia, PA where she leads strategic large-scale transformations in the consumer space. Before joining BCG in 2020, Jamie previously worked at Siemens AG as part of the Operations Leadership Development Program and Siemens Heathineers as a Manufacturing Engineer. She earned a Masters from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Supply Chain Management in 2020 and a Bachelor's in Industrial Engineering with Honors from Penn State in 2015. Please feel free to connect with her via Linkedin.
Catherine Vrentas headshot

Catherine Vrentas Principal Scientist & Manager, ThermoFisher Scientific

Cathy Vrentas is a Principal Scientist and Manager of a team of scientists at ThermoFisher Scientific in Richmond, VA. She previously has been a principal investigator for the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a public outreach specialist for the University of Wisconsin, and an assistant professor at Frostburg State University, as well as a researcher at the National Institutes of Health. She received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology in 2003. She also received a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Molecular Biology and an MBA from Longwood University, and will receive her MPH in public health practice from Des Moines University this spring. Feel free to connect on LinkedIn.
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Ethan Wendle Co-founder/Chairman of the Board, DiamondBack Truck Covers

Ethan Wendle is the Chairman of the Board of DiamondBack Truck Covers, a company he co-founded in May 2003, with Matt Chverchko, while a student in college at Penn State University. He served as the company's CEO from 2003-2018 before transitioning out of day to day to operations in 2019. During his tenure, Ethan led the company from startup to success, landing the company on the Inc 5000 fastest growing companies from 2013-2023. DiamondBack Truck Covers today employs over 130 people in Philipsburg PA. Ethan graduated with a BA in Civil Engineering from PSU in 2013. Following his transition out of DiamondBack operations, Ethan pursued several mission opportunities including serving as the director of the G42 Leadership Academy in Mijas, Spain, and co-founding Crisis Relief and Recovery, a disaster relief NGO he serves with today as the Director of Strategy. Ethan lives in State College, PA, with his wife Kristen and five children. He is passionate about both business, leadership, social entrepreneurship, and encouraging young adults to build something that lasts.
Jason Wendle headshot

Jason Wendle Director, Global Development Incubator

Jason is a portfolio director at the Global Development Incubator (GDI), an international non-profit with its US office in Washington, DC. Jason leads multi-disciplinary teams to discover, design, and build "transformational social impact ventures," i.e., startup initiatives and organizations dedicated to solving critical global problems. His portfolio is focused on low- and middle-income countries and has included agricultural finance, anti-trafficking, youth employment, education in conflict, and migration-for-opportunity initiatives. Before joining GDI in 2015, he helped build the Nairobi office of Dalberg Advisors, guiding large foundations, companies, governments, donor institutions, and NGOs to achieve greater impact in areas like poverty reduction, impact investment, and economic growth. His early entrepreneurship began with a number of small businesses and a campus church. Jason earned a BA in English with Honors from Penn State in 2001. He also earned a Masters in Public Administration in International Development at Harvard's Kennedy School in 2008. LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jason-wendle-aa79b96/, X: @jgdubya
Amanda Wetzel headshot

Amanda Wetzel International Trade and Litigation Associate, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC

Amanda Lee Wetzel is a litigation associate at Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC, where she is based in the Philadelphia office. She specializes in international trade matters and related white collar criminal defense as well as commercial litigation. Amanda brings particular expertise to matters with transatlantic elements. She has worked as a litigation associate at law firms in New York and Paris and has handled commercial and criminal litigation matters in the U.S. and French courts. She also has experience litigating before the European Court of Human Rights and other international human rights forums. Amanda clerked on the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, was the Dean Acheson Legal Stage at the European Court of Justice and served as a legal fellow on the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, where she worked on treaties. Amanda is a member of the Pennsylvania and New York bars. She is fluent in French and practiced French law as a member of the Paris bar from 2014 through 2016. Amanda holds a J.D. from Columbia Law School, a Master 1 in French law and a Master 2 in international commercial law from University of Paris I, Pantheon-Sorbonne, and a LL.M. in human rights law from the Queen’s University of Belfast School of Law in Northern Ireland. Amanda completed her undergraduate education in international politics at Penn State University’s Schreyer Honors College.
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Jack Yoskowitz Litigation Law Firm Partner, Seward & Kissel LLP

Jack Yoskowitz is a Litigation Partner at Seward & Kissel LLP where he specializes in complex commercial and corporate litigation and regulatory matters predominantly for financial services institutions and individuals. Jack regularly represents clients in securities regulatory matters and private litigation, including proceedings brought by the Securities Exchange Commission (SEC), state securities regulators and self-regulatory organizations. Jack has tried cases in Federal and State courts as well as before various arbitration organizations. According to The Legal 500 US, Jack is “particularly impressive for [his] strong analysis and strategy” and “highly regarded for regulatory enforcement matters.” Jack earned his degree in Psychology with honors from Penn State in 1989. Feel free to connect with Jack on LinkedIn or by email.

Learn more about me before the event by watching my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Suzanne Zakaria headshot

Suzanne Zakaria Litigation Associate, Debevoise & Plimpton LLP

Suzanne Zakaria is a Litigation Associate at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP in Washington, D.C. She served as a law clerk to the Honorable Andre Mathis on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and to the Honorable Amy Berman Jackson on the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Suzanne graduated from Georgetown University Law Center in 2019, and from the Pennsylvania State University in 2014.
Brad Zanette headshot

Brad Zanette Principal Solution Engineer, Oracle

Brad, now on the forefront of digital transformations for modern and best business solutions and processes, has experience in both project management and professional services within the architecture, engineering, and construction (“AEC”) industry. He has advised on and managed over ten billion dollars of capital assets within thirteen industries for over thirty companies. Brad has been involved in the planning, design, construction, and maintenance of over twenty billion square feet of capital improvements--servicing industries such as AEC, corporate real estate, financial services, healthcare, higher education, hospitality, gaming, industrial and light manufacturing, oil and gas, renewable energy, residential and mixed-use development, technology, public sector, waste management, utilities, and e-commerce. Brad graduated from the College of Engineering with a Masters and Bachelors of Architectural Engineering with Honors in 2018.
Kathryn Zeltwanger headshot

Kathryn Zeltwanger Deputy General Counsel, Armstrong Group

Kathryn Zeltwanger is Deputy General Counsel for the Armstrong Group, headquartered in Butler, Pennsylvania. She serves as the primary counsel for three of the Armstrong Group’s seven operating divisions, including its largest division providing cable, internet, and telephony services over six states. Kat also has primary responsibility for legal operations, employment matters, and litigation for all of the Armstrong Group divisions. Prior to joining Armstrong Group in 2009, Kat clerked for the Court of Common Pleas in Uniontown and worked as an associate attorney at Fox Rothschild’s Pittsburgh office. Kat is a graduate of Penn State with a BA in Letters, Arts, and Sciences with Honors and the University of Pittsburgh School of Law.

Learn more about me before the event by listening to my episode of the Following the Gong podcast.

Schreyer Scholar Lisa Gardner

I chose Schreyer because I wanted access to world-class educational opportunities and international experiences, but I also wanted to be a part of a smaller community. Schreyer has served as my home base as I have navigated all the amazing things that Penn State has to offer.

Lisa Gardner ' 19 Mechanical Engineering