Sisters strengthen relationship through their IST education at Penn State

Emma Riglin
August 16, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Many siblings share a special bond of being Penn State alumni, but not many can say that they graduated from the same college. For the Pisarcik sisters, graduating from the College of Information Sciences and Technology strengthened both their relationship and their technical knowledge.

In 2010, Lauren Pisarcik was starting her first semester at Penn State. Originally a chemistry major, she said it just didn’t feel like the right fit, so she looked to her oldest sister, Jenn Stubbs, for advice. Stubbs, who worked in the College of IST as director of alumni relations at the time, set up a tour for her sister with an IST Diplomat, and Pisarcik switched colleges the next day. She said that she found her true calling at IST, both in and out of the classroom.

“I have such fond memories of IST,” she said. “I toured and I just thought, ‘Yes, this is what I want to do!’ Once I got in, I was in student government, I was an IST Diplomat, and I helped with Startup Week; I was really involved.”

A self-described "people person," Lauren Pisarcik loved the human side of technology that was emphasized at the college. While she said there are some students who don’t enjoy public speaking or working in groups, IST is perfect for anyone — no matter their personality type — due to the diverse nature of the college and its majors.

“There are so many options out there even with just one major,” she said. “IST is such a practical choice and it’s also fun.

“My favorite thing about IST was working with different kinds of people," she added. "Everyone was forward-thinking, innovative, kind and approachable.”

Pisarcik graduated in 2014 and now serves as a senior cybersecurity analyst at Advanced Publications, and credits the IST curriculum for her success in the field.

“I didn’t realize it until I entered the workforce, but IST was so ahead of the time,” she said. “What they teach in IST — the importance of group work, being a team player, communication skills and how to work with people — sets IST graduates ahead.”

Following in her sister’s footsteps

Pisarcik sisters

Left to right: Sisters Jennifer Stubbs; Lauren Pisarcik, class of 2014; and Alyson Pisarcik, class of 2019, all have a connection to the College of Information Sciences and Technology at Penn State.

IMAGE: Provided

Lauren Pisarcik said that choosing the College of IST was the best decision she made, not only for her benefit but also for her sister Alyson's.

Alyson Pisarcik started out much the same as her sister: She came to Penn State considering a major in political science or something more technical. Though she didn’t have a preexisting passion for tech, she said that her sister introduced her to the cybersecurity field when she started in IST, which sparked an interest in herself.

“Lauren would tell me about what she was doing in class and it sounded interesting, so I would read about it and do research on it,” Alyson Pisarcik said. “Lauren wanted me to choose a college rather than [remain undecided] but she didn’t push me into IST. She spoke so highly about the college; seeing her succeed in classes and the opportunities she had through her involvement made me want to go into the same college.”

Alyson Pisarcik also had the "aha" moment, like her sister. Once she enrolled in IST, she knew it was where she belonged. She said that while it was nice to already know professors and students in the college — in part because they recognized her last name — she didn’t want her sister’s experience to determine her own.

“I made my own path in IST because I wanted to have my own experience, but any time I needed help, Lauren was always there to steer me in the right direction."

—Alyson Pisarcik, class of 2019, College of IST

“I made my own path in IST because I wanted to have my own experience, but any time I needed help, Lauren was always there to steer me in the right direction,” she said.

An active member of the Women in IST student organization, Alyson Pisarcik met her best friends in the college. She loved that she could talk about business and career advice with her friends, after seeing the cutthroat nature of other fields, where one classmate’s success could mean another’s failure.

“The thing about IST is that yes, it’s competitive, but everyone wanted me to succeed even if we were applying for the same jobs, and I wanted them to succeed, too,” she said. “Instead of laughing it off or not caring if I got a bad grade, my friends in IST said, ‘let’s figure it out together.’ They wanted me to do well.”

Alyson Pisarcik graduated in May 2019 and was recently hired as a security analyst at Accenture. Along with many other important life and career lessons, IST taught her how to rely on friends and coworkers, which has put her ahead in her career.

“The most important thing I learned from IST is the importance of teamwork,” she said. “I’m so grateful for it now but I overlooked it until I graduated. My friends in other majors were so stressed when they had a group project, but I always had so many going on at once that I was just used to it.”

She added, “When you get to the work force, you realize the importance of knowing how to communicate, understand people and how to be a leader but first a follower; that’s what you learn in IST.”

Benefiting from IST’s response to industry demand

In the nine years since one sister started her degree and the other finished hers, the college curriculum has changed drastically in response to emerging fields and evolving industry demands. Both siblings applauded the college’s efforts to adapt coursework to mirror real-world scenarios.

“The coursework has evolved to fit the current technology climate; that’s incredible and so necessary,” said Lauren Pisarcik. “[IST is] making things more relevant to what’s going on today.”

Alyson Pisarcik added, “I appreciate that the college always revamps and changes with what’s going on in the real world. They make sure we have the skills to be successful.”

Both sisters said they love what they do and are grateful to the College of IST for preparing them for successful careers. The college also made a unique impact on them — strengthening their relationship with each other.

“I think it’s so funny that she [Alyson] ended up in IST,” Lauren Pisarcik said. “It improved our relationship; now we can talk about the nitty gritty details of our professional lives.”

She added that she is happy to see her sister succeed by following in her footsteps in the college and her career.

“I’m so grateful for everything that IST taught me,” Alyson Pisarcik said. “And I’m so grateful that I get to share this career with my sister. We couldn’t have done it without IST.”

“I would do it again tomorrow, I loved it so much there,” Lauren Pisarcik said. “The job market is tough, but IST sets you up to succeed in the field. It was a great choice for her — for both of us.”

Last Updated August 19, 2019