Young alumnus endows scholarship for IST majors at Penn State New Kensington

William A. Woodard Jr.
October 28, 2015

UPPER BURRELL, Pa. — An increasing number of Penn State’s young alumni are establishing scholarships at University Park and Commonwealth campuses. These early- to mid-2000s graduates launched successful careers and are ready to support the next group of students preparing to make their mark in the workforce.

Penn State New Kensington has such an alumnus in Ray Mastre, who graduated from the campus in 2004 with a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology (IST). Mastre, director of SAP Security/GRC Consulting at PwC, endowed the $50,000 Raymond Mastre Professional Advancement Trustee Scholarship in 2014. The impetus behind the endowment was Mastre’s sense of “paying it forward.” His college tuition was covered by the four Druckenmiller Foundation scholarships, which he earned while caddying at Oakmont Country Club.

“Mr. (Stanley) Druckenmiller asked that I do what I can to help others in the same situation when the time is right,” said Mastre, a native of Plum Borough. “Since that conversation, I’ve had a long-term goal to establish a scholarship that will help build future leaders. It’s my hope that funds coming from this scholarship will impact students the same way the Druckenmiller Foundation impacted me.”

Since the initial endowment, Mastre’s scholarship has grown to more than $100,000 through matching gifts from the PwC Charitable Foundation and donations by friends, family, colleagues and the campus advisory board, which elected Mastre president in 2013. This year, the endowment generated more than $14,000 for talented students in the IST program.

Junior and senior IST majors are given first preference for the scholarship. The major gives students a background in the core technical areas of networking, databases, programming, and system integration. Graduates are trained in key business areas, such as project management and organization theory.

The recipients
Four seniors — Joseph Laurina, of Penn Hills (Penn Hills High School); Amanda Butler, of DuBois (DuBois Area); Adam Cooper, of Lower Burrell (Burrell); and Jordan Miller, of North Apollo (Lenape Technical) — earned Mastre scholarships for the 2015-16 academic year. A common denominator for the upcoming graduates is dean’s list honors. Membership on the dean’s list is reserved for students who achieve a GPA of 3.5 or higher.

“Penn State New Kensington’s IST program continues to build leaders who are at the top of their class and heavily recruited throughout the business world,” Mastre said. “As IST graduates mature in their careers, it’s my hope that they will return to the campus and assist in the development of the program, either with their time or financial resources.”

Besides their high GPAs, the students share another trait: a desire for a world-class education from first-rate faculty in a top-notch program at a campus close to home. The New Kensington campus met all the conditions.

“Penn State New Kensington has a great IST program with great faculty and staff,” Laurina said. “The campus offered me the best opportunity to earn a career in IST. Everyone I encountered has been willing to help students with any situation and do their best to help students succeed.”

Complementing Laurina’s class work is an internship at HealPros, a company that helps prevent blindness by addressing the needs of diabetes management programs and diagnostic services. Laurina provides software quality assurance and technical support for a mobile retinal imaging company. He also assists with database management, IT administration, and software design.

A bachelor’s degree with a minor in security and risk analysis was an inducement for Butler enrolling at the campus. A resident of DuBois, Butler attends Penn State DuBois, which offers the two-year IST associate degree but not the four-year degree. Butler, along with six other students, takes her bachelor’s coursework at the New Kensington campus via PolyCom, a telecommunications system that allows collaboration among geographically dispersed groups, such as students at other campuses, via video and voice distribution.

“The PolyCom option allows me to live at home with my family and husband, while still getting the best IST education I can,” said Butler, who expects to graduate next semester. “So I joined the Penn State New Kensington family. Without this option, I may not have moved forward with obtaining a bachelor's degree in IST.”

The technological skills Butler acquired are on display at her internship and her small computer business. She interns for Jason Long, IST program coordinator at the DuBois campus. Her responsibilities include building and managing network domain users. She also is a part owner of Tech Mages IT Consulting and Computer Repair, which provides computer repair, virus removals, restores, Web design and other services to local businesses and individuals.

Cooper is a second-time winner of the Mastre scholarship. He expects to graduate in May and start a career in database administration or information systems security. He cites the value of his IST education as an additional reason for choosing the campus for his studies.

“The experience that I have gained while earning my degree at Penn State New Kensington far outweighs the cost of tuition,” Cooper said.

Like Butler, Cooper is using classroom knowledge in the workforce. Cooper is a part-time technician for Club Prophet Systems, which designs fully integrated golf management software systems for the golf industry. His duties include installations and updates for websites of 1500 golf courses.

Breaking with family tradition, Miller will earn a bachelor’s degree at the campus. Two uncles, Terry Miller and Marshall Quade, and a cousin, Sam Miller, attended New Kensington for two years before completing their engineering degrees at University Park.

Echoing his fellow scholarship recipients, Miller saw other intrinsic factors in selecting the New Kensington campus as his educational home. Among them was the physical plant, which received upgrades to improve the safety and accessibility. In addition, Chancellor Kevin Snider instituted a “beautification” program for the planting of trees, plants and flowers.

“Penn State New Kensington is a beautiful campus and a valuable asset in the community,” Miller said. “I have had the great privilege and opportunity to work with some of the most kind and knowledgeable faculty and staff. When you decide to attend the New Kensington campus you become a part of the family in the sense that the staff is there to see that you do well and that you are successful in your pursuits.”

The donor
The caliber of his scholarship recipients is the driving force of Mastre’s efforts to continue to grow the fund. He envisions an endowment that can support a full year’s tuition for an IST student.

“Ray is driven by the appreciation of the opportunities provided to him,” Snider said. “With each growing accomplishment, he becomes committed to making sure that he can provide similar opportunities for future Penn Staters.”

Mastre not only supports the campus and University with his money, he supports it with his time. He returns to the campus regularly to recruit and mentor students, as well as to educate and engage students through guest lecturing and mock interviewing.

In March, the Penn State Alumni Association honored him with an Alumni Achievement Award. The award recognizes Penn State alumni, 35 years of age and younger, for their extraordinary professional accomplishments. Mastre met and talked with information sciences and technology students on the night before the event at the Hintz Family Alumni Center. He also participated in a panel discussion, “Our Stories: the Secret to our Success,” with fellow award recipients.

“The achievement award honor enhances Ray’s ability to further the goals of the campus by leading our alumni and community in helping to achieve the successful implementation of our strategic plan, which complements President Barron’s six imperatives and Provost Jones’ five principles,” Snider said. “He is a consummate ambassador for the campus, and the award status will provide him opportunities to convince other alumni to get involved in strengthening educational experiences, expanding student opportunities, partnering with local communities, keeping accessibility to higher education, engaging students, and embracing diversity.”

To give to the Mastre scholarship or another campus scholarship, contact Kary Coleman, director of development at Penn State New Kensington, at 724-334-6057 or kxc22@psu.edu

For more on scholarships at the campus, visit http://www.nk.psu.edu/Giving/endowments.htm

(Media Contacts)

Bill Woodard

Work Phone: 
724-334-6049
Home Phone: 
724-335-0473
Cell Phone: 
724-594-8421
Last Updated October 29, 2015