IST students take on leadership roles for Penn State’s 100th Homecoming

Jessica Hallman
October 01, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As Penn State celebrates its 100th Homecoming this week, three College of Information Sciences and Technology students are filling leadership roles.

Isabella Webster, senior in security and risk analysis; Aaron Mckenzie, senior in information sciences and technology; and Austin Webster, senior in cybersecurity analytics and operations, are serving in the roles of executive director, talent relations director, and technology director, respectively.

“Having not just one but three students hold major leadership roles in one of the largest affiliate organizations on campus, and the largest student-run Homecoming celebrations in the country, speaks volumes about the quality of education the College of IST provides for its students,” said Isabella Webster.

“I draw on my College of IST education in all that I do as Homecoming executive director," she added. "The college has provided me with unparalleled experience working in teams, collaborating to achieve common goals and communicating effectively, concisely and factually.”

While Isabella Webster is responsible for overseeing the vision of Homecoming and facilitating the professional and personal growth of her fellow directors, Austin Webster and his technology committee are responsible for the development and maintenance of the official Homecoming website and for overall improvements to Homecoming through the use of technology.

“Everything I do is based on my IST education,” he said. “I do programming, some minor policy work, and work with cybersecurity.”

Even though his position is focused on technology, Austin Webster said that the most rewarding part of Homecoming for him is the people and the tradition.

“Homecoming is all about giving back, giving the community events to enjoy, recognizing those who are bettering Penn State, and celebrating the alumni that came before us,” he said. “The whole premise of Homecoming is to put on a celebration of fun.”

Part of that fun is the responsibility of Aaron Mckenzie. In his role as talent relations director, he works with a committee to maintain relationships with Homecoming performing groups and produce the annual Homecoming Dance Competition and For the Glory Talent Show.

“This role requires utilizing project management skills such as working with various stakeholders to ensure the events run as smoothly as possible,” he said. “This experience has helped me develop my organization skills that I directly apply to my IST education when working on group projects in class.”

While Mckenzie’s role this year is focused on talent, he said that his most rewarding part of his Homecoming participation came in 2018, when he served as technology director.

“We launched the new Homecoming website that you see now,” he said. “I was leading a team of four captains, each with varying levels of technical experience, and we were able to complete the project in less than a semester. That experience helped my captains grow as leaders and gave Homecoming a new platform to continue to push our mission.”

While each of the directors have specific roles and responsibilities, they all cite their involvement with Homecoming as helping them strengthen critical, non-technical skills, and they encourage fellow IST students to follow in their footsteps and join campus organizations.

“Homecoming has given me so many opportunities for growth, both personally and professionally,” said Isabella Webster. “I wholeheartedly believe that I am the person I am today because of this organization, and I can confidently say that students in the other incredible organizations on this campus feel similarly.

“Getting involved outside of the classroom has been one of the most amazing gifts Penn State has provided me," she concluded.

Last Updated October 18, 2019