IST celebrates 2014 graduating class

Melissa Sirera, the 2014 student marshal for Penn State’s College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST), said that her enrollment in the college was motivated by a desire to learn about security issues through real-world problem solving and teamwork. As she prepares to graduate and enter the field of global security, she says she has no regrets about her decision.

“The College of IST has aligned with my goals of having a successful career in the field of global security by teaching critical thinking and team collaboration through problem-based learning,” said Sirera, a Security and Risk Analysis (SRA) major. “Many SRA courses require students to work in teams to complete analytic tasks that are designed to represent real-world scenarios.  These types of projects provide invaluable experience, and I truly believe this aspect of the college has prepared me for my future endeavors.”

The Spring 2014 commencement ceremony for the College of IST will be held at 3 p.m. Saturday, May 10, at Eisenhower Auditorium on the University Park campus. The event marks the final commencement at which Dean David Hall will act in a presiding role. Hall will step down as dean at the end of the Spring 2014 semester and will return to the College of IST in Fall 2015 as a faculty member.

“I have very much enjoyed the role of dean, especially in interactions with our outstanding students and alums,” Hall said.  “One of my favorite parts is attending graduation and seeing proud families share the wonderful feelings of accomplishment for the graduates. I hope that my tenure at IST has resulted in an even stronger and dynamic college with greatly expanded online undergraduate and graduate programs, a new minor in entrepreneurship, our wonderful Start-up Week, and new faculty and staff.” 

Sirera, who is from Wexford, Pa., is one of the many IST students who have benefited from the innovations and advancements made during Hall’s tenure as dean.

“I decided to enroll in the College of IST because the SRA curriculum was unlike any other major I had considered,” she said. “”I was really drawn to the wide variety of interesting courses, such as ‘Threat of Terrorism and Crime’ and ‘Deception and Counterdeception,’ and excited at the opportunity to learn from professors who have real-world experience in the field.”

In addition to her academic success, Sirera said, she connected with the College of IST on a more personal level. The Office of Career Solutions, she said, is invaluable in that it offers students guidance in career development and provides them multiple opportunities to network with potential employers. In addition, the numerous student organizations “offer exciting extracurricular activities, as well as a chance for students to build relationships with their peers outside of the classroom.”

“It is easy to feel overwhelmed at a campus of over 40,000 students, but with the College of IST, students have the opportunity to interact as members of a much smaller community,” Sirera said. “I am very grateful to the faculty, students, and staff members who have helped me achieve success over the past four years, and I greatly appreciate all of the opportunities I have had as an IST student.”

The featured speaker for the Spring 2014 commencement is Paul D. Bell, operating partner at Lead Edge Capital, a growth equity firm investing in software and web services companies. Prior to joining Lead Edge, Bell was president of Dell’s Public and Large Enterprise organization which provided technology solutions to corporations and public sector clients around the world. He served on the Corporate Campaign Committee of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students from 2009 to 2014, was selected as a 2012 Alumni Fellow of Penn State, and currently serves on the boards of the Andy Roddick Foundation, Team Red White & Blue and the Data Quality Campaign. Bell holds a bachelor of arts in arts and architecture and a bachelor of science in business, both from Penn State, and a master of business administration degree from Yale.

During the commencement ceremony, there will be a welcome into the Penn State Alumni Association by Mark Poblete (IST ’07). The ceremony will be available via live streaming/video recording at:

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Last Updated May 07, 2014