Going 'All In': IST student leads diversity initiative

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — When Bertha Castaneda Guzman arrived at Penn State in 2012, she knew she wanted to make the most of her undergraduate education. “I wanted to give it my all,” she said.

True to her word, she’s graduating this December with a double major in Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and Agricultural Business Management. Her education has been a blend of learning about emerging technologies and how the food industry operates. “A problem I’ve noticed, is tech people aren’t always able to work well with business people. It helps that I have experience on both sides,” she said.

The IST focus allows her to act as a translator — understanding the technology necessary for modern food production, while being able to translate those advancements to a business’ bottom line. Castaneda Guzman said, “Instead of hiring two people for that, they can hire me.”

One day, she’s hoping to use these skills to open a bakery. “It’s a perfect combination for me, a business focused on food. Hopefully, I can have the best technology helping me as well,” she said.

But Castaneda Guzman’s ambition doesn’t stop in the classroom. In addition to being on Penn State’s 2016 Homecoming Court, she created the IST Diversity Luncheon, a monthly meeting for students with diverse backgrounds. "I wanted to make it easier for underrepresented students within the College to network and create a strong support system," she said.

Her passion for diversity hits close to home. “As a first generation college student with parents from El Salvador, I always remind myself of why I’m here — my mom’s hard work," she said. "That’s what pushes me. Coming into technology, there’s not a lot of women. But that shouldn’t discourage anyone. There’s a need for us.”

To further the spirit of inclusiveness at IST, she started WIRED IN (Women International Racial Ethics Diversity Intercultural Network,) which brings women from underrepresented communities together to network and develop professional skills. These resources lend further support to the University’s “All In at Penn State” initiative.

“All the things I’ve done at Penn State have been about diversity and inclusion, that’s what I’m passionate about,” she said. She hoped that WIRED IN would have 10 members before she graduated. But she’s already surpassed her goal with 22 members, and is helping to craft the organization’s constitution and build partnerships within the University.

Through these organizations, Castaneda Guzman is eager to leave a strong legacy behind. She said, “It excites me to see the potential this group can have. If I can even have a small impact, it’s worth it.”

Media Contacts: 

Erin Cassidy Hendrick

Marketing Communications Specialist, College of Information Sciences and Technology

Last Updated December 20, 2016