Student organization IST Diplomats celebrate 10 years

Emma Riglin
February 26, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The College of Information Sciences and Technology is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the founding of the IST Diplomats.

Serving as student ambassadors for the college, the diplomats work closely with all facets of IST and represent its many academic programs, career solutions and student engagement opportunities. The diplomats facilitate student panels, meet with prospective students, engage with alumni and donors and guide guest tours. Diplomats are nominated to their positions and undergo an application and interview process and eight-week training.

The group was founded in spring of 2011 and included 12 original founding members, including 2012 graduate Colleen Csech. Now the senior manager of cyber engineering at Capital One, Csech said being a part of the inaugural class of IST Diplomats was one of her most fond memories at Penn State.

“I joined the diplomats because I had a really rewarding experience in IST, and wanted to help other students realize the potential they had and help visualize themselves there,” said Csech.

Csech said her favorite thing about being a diplomat was inspiring prospective students, especially other women.

“Much like my own experience, the students [we met] weren’t exactly sure what IST was or if they wanted to go into that field,” said Csech. “Sharing my story of loving the course work and skills in the college — which led to a full-time career in tech — really seemed to resonate with them and I was happy I could help them in any small way with their decision.”

The IST Diplomats have given Csech lifelong friends and a more meaningful connection to others in the technology industry, including several other inaugural diplomats working at Capital One with her.

“My fellow diplomats were my friends [in college] and now are my colleagues,” said Csech.

One of those colleagues is another inaugural member, Patrick Lunney, who graduated in 2012 and is now a product owner for workforce authentication, also at Capital One.

“Being an original diplomat was nice; it was an infant program that could go in any direction we wanted to take it,” said Lunney. “We were the face of the College of IST, so when parents and prospective students came to visit, it was nice to share our experiences with them.”

IST’s assistant director of student engagement, Steve Babb, said the group plays a crucial role in student engagement, as well as other aspects of engagement in the college.

“The IST Diplomats were charged in 2011 to facilitate student-faculty relations and boost interest in IST among prospective students,” said Babb, who serves as the co-adviser of the organization. “In the 10 years since, the group has grown to become a broader student ambassador program that represents IST to prospective students, current Penn State students, alumni, employers and other guests to the IST community.”

That responsibility is exactly why Brandon Martin, a sophomore studying cybersecurity analytics and operations, joined the student organization.

“I joined the IST Diplomats because it was a unique and important way for me to represent the College of IST on many different levels,” said Martin. “I wanted to be able to share the positive experiences I have had as an IST student.”

Martin values his position as a diplomat, and said that the organization gives back to him what he puts into it.

“An IST Diplomat is a role model for all students,” Martin said. “Ultimately, my goal is to better serve the IST community and this student organization better enables me to do so.”

The opportunity Martin enjoys most, he said, is improving his leadership skills.

“I value being able to grow as a leader and develop my own definition of leadership and its application,” he said. “One of my favorite definitions of leadership came from a team building activity we completed as a cohort: ‘Leadership is not a position or title; it is action and example.’”

He concluded, “Our goal is to give back to the IST community what it has provided to each one of us.”

Last Updated February 26, 2021