IST alumnus creates scholarship to honor family legacy

Jessica Hallman
July 02, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — As a member of the College of Information Sciences and Technology’s first graduating class and a long-time alumni volunteer, Steve Pipino, Penn State class of 2003, always knew that he wanted to support his alma mater.

However, at the midpoint of his career and as the father of three young kids, he didn’t think it was financially feasible. Now, thanks to the opportunity to make an annual commitment and with a matching gift from his employer, he has established the Pipino Family Annually Funded Scholarship in the College of IST to benefit first-generation students and students with demonstrated need.

“I was a first-generation student. My parents did not have the luxury to go to college, but they did all they could to make it a reality for me,” said Pipino. “It was important to me to help others be the first in their family to get a four-year degree and then go on beyond that and be successful.”

A principal solution engineer and security specialist at Salesforce, Pipino credits much of his career success to the education, and especially the interpersonal skills, he received at IST — things like teamwork, leadership development and problem-based learning. 

“Not being afraid of new technology, recognizing that it’s constantly evolving and being able to talk about things at a high level — but then also being able to get your hands dirty and go into the weeds — are skills that have translated into success for me in every step of my career,” he said.

IST’s direct and influential connection to his career development was a driving force in Pipino’s desire to create a scholarship for IST students.

“A lot of the success and the opportunities I’ve had have been because of my time at Penn State and IST,” he said. “And the people that I’ve helped hire from IST, which I’ve done often, have always gone on to have great success in their careers. So I think it’s mutually beneficial to stay connected and help others see the value in an IST education, and continue to grow the college.”

Andrew Sears, dean of the College of IST, said, “Steve’s commitment to the college started while he was a student in IST’s early years and has been demonstrated through his dedication as an alumnus in the two decades since. We are thankful for his desire to take his commitment to a new level by establishing this scholarship and for his serving as an example for other alumni and friends who are seeking their own ways to meaningfully contribute to making an IST education more accessible.”

Pipino stressed that giving back isn’t solely about financial resources. He initially re-engaged with IST by volunteering his time on the IST Alumni Society Board after he graduated, ultimately serving as the group’s president. He has also regularly attended IST career fairs, recruiting students for a number of companies he has worked for during his career. Modeling the 1-1-1 philanthropy model adopted by Salesforce, Pipino aims to contribute equal parts of his time, money and other resources to make a difference in his community and in the world.

“The spirit of philanthropy and giving back, whether it’s time, money or goods, not only helps others but helps you feel like you’re contributing to something greater than yourself.” 

— Steve Pipino, Penn State class of 2003, College of IST

“The spirit of philanthropy and giving back, whether it’s time, money or goods, not only helps others but helps you feel like you’re contributing to something greater than yourself,” he said.

He encourages other alumni to stay connected with and support the University in whatever capacity they can.

“At the end of the day, giving back helps create a community feeling,” he said. “Penn State is recognized for having one of the most involved alumni bases out there. It’s really a part of who we are.”

While Pipino created the scholarship to honor his own successes and experiences as a first-generation student, he named the scholarship after his family to honor his children and parents. His mom, Anna, retired from Penn State Brandywine after working in the financial aid office, and his dad, Albert, was a Penn Stater at heart, often visiting his son and his friends while they were in college. Albert passed away in April as Pipino was working to finalize the scholarship, making the drive to give back even more meaningful.

“In my eyes, my parents are honorary alumni and are really part of the Penn State family,” he said. “They’ve been completely supportive of everything I’ve done from a Penn State perspective. They are the reason I did what I did at the University and in my career, and the reason I am in the position I’m in today.”

Pipino’s support will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a 21st-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

Last Updated July 02, 2021