Like mother, like daughters: A family connects through technology degrees

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nancy Lee passed more than a last name and a love of Penn State sports down to her twin daughters, Jennifer and Kelly. With a degree in computer science from the College of Engineering, she also instilled a love of technology in her daughters, inspiring them to pursue degrees from the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) and join Nancy as Penn State alumnae working in technology.

Nancy, a 1985 alumna, was delighted when both daughters chose to pursue degrees and careers in technology. Having started her career at RCA Missile and Defense Systems, later earning experience at Microsoft, and now serving as director and interim chief information officer at Alvarez & Marsal, she knew that a career in technology could offer long-term opportunities for Jennifer and Kelly. All three women agree that they benefit from the unique perspective and level of expertise each can offer.

“Getting different perspectives in technology is really important. It’s how innovation occurs,” said Nancy. “If you think of some of the most innovative advancements throughout technology, they originated with young people with a fresh perspective. I value my daughters’ ideas, inputs and perspectives.”

She credits her daughters’ perspective to the opportunities and knowledge they received while earning their degrees in the college, which did not admit its first class of students until 1999. Nancy recognized how the college produced graduates who were prepared to be productive in the workplace through well-rounded, real-life experiences.

“At least once a week I share a new innovative idea with my mom and discuss ways on how we can leverage this. She usually provides great feedback and shares a perspective on whether the idea could be successful or not,” said Jennifer, who said that all three women share ideas on a regular basis. “I also ask my mom for advice on how to set my long- and short-terms goals and priorities for my career. However, I will note it has been increasingly harder to get her time now that I don’t have access to (Berkey) Creamery ice cream!”

Since graduating in 2015, Jennifer and Kelly have both relocated to New York City. Jennifer, who pursued degrees in security and risk analysis (SRA) and IST, currently works as a cyber defense senior analyst for Accenture, focusing primarily on network and cloud security. Kelly, who earned her degree in IST, is a technology advisory staff consultant for Ernst & Young (EY), where she has the chance to explore financial services modalities as she helps clients improve their business processes with technology.

All three Lee women are not only enthusiastic about their career choices, but also about the future of technology, which is a common conversation around the dinner table when the family gets together. “What is most exciting about IST is that the future is endless. I can’t wait to see what will be out there in 20 years,” said Kelly. “Will I own the first smart home? Will we have technology solutions in offices to help with the minor medical problems many face from sitting at a computer all day? Who knows?” For Jennifer, the future of cybersecurity is what most excites her as she looks forward.

As might be expected, the Lees have much more in common than their career choices. When they aren’t discussing the future of technology, they can be found watching or attending various sporting events, together whenever possible. The Lees share a love of Penn State football and hockey, as well as family travel, Philadelphia sports, and of course, Creamery ice cream.

Last Updated February 28, 2017