Penn State Behrend alumni are making their mark on the world in a variety of ways. We caught up with several of them to learn what they’ve been up to since graduation.
Mei Gonzalez Adams
'14 Accounting and International Business
Lives in: Philadelphia
Job title: International Tax Manager at PricewaterhouseCoopers
What she does: Big picture, I work on a team that works with large sets of data to do international tax computation for multinational corporations. More specifically, I work on the team that develops and programs tax rules into technology that our team uses nationally. I’ve been extremely lucky to work on the development of what we hope will be the next generation of programs that we use.
What she loves about her job: I love working with my team and the opportunity to travel a lot.
Well-traveled: In the six years that I’ve been with my firm, I have lived in four states starting in Cleveland, then Atlanta, then New York City, and now COVID-19 has led me back to Pennsylvania this year when I moved to Philadelphia.
Advice for current students: Be prepared to keep learning. My degrees helped me get my job but learning to figure things out and
’06 Political Science and International Business
Lives in: Los Angeles
Job title: Director of Public Relations, Cashmere Agency
What she does: I manage national and global integrated marketing campaigns for clients across a broad spectrum of practice areas, including lifestyle, entertainment, consumer, corporate reputation, technology, and crisis communication. I also have led diversity, inclusion, and equity programs and initiatives to foster education and workplace and community equity.
On the rewards of crisis management: In the winter of 2019, in an extremely delicate and volatile crisis situation involving race relations at a major university, I was able to quickly step in and help produce content that spoke to the crisis and the students who were involved. While crisis management is par for the course in public relations, during this situation, I felt my spirit shift; it was that impactful for me.
What readers might be surprised to know: I wanted to be a politician, eventually the president of the United States.
Advice for current students: The path to success, however that is defined for you, will not always be a clear, bright light; be prepared for multiple detours and setbacks. There may be times you want to give up, but don’t, because those are the moments that will build your strength and make you resilient.
Lara M. (Hermann) Kauffman
M.D. from Penn State College of Medicine ’05
Family: Tate Kaufmann ’05; twin daughters, Sally and Maggie Lives in: Newville, Pennsylvania
What she does: Urgent Care Physician, Keystone Health, a federally qualified health-care system in Franklin County
What she loves about her job: Being able to care for a diverse population of patients. I enjoy the opportunity to improve the Spanish I learned in high school and being able to connect with Spanish-speaking patients.
Proudest career accomplishment: Living my life in a way that allows me flexibility in choosing where I want to work. I currently work for an organization that puts patients first and gives me the opportunity to be both a physician and a mom.
Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to change your mind.
Perspectives on the pandemic: I have been evaluating and treating patients for COVID-19 since March. Although it is a scary time with a lot of unknowns, it has been professionally rewarding. I am not “in the trenches,” but I am on the front line, and it has given me an interesting view of science and humanity. We all need to work together and really contemplate the ripple effects that our everyday decisions will have on our friends, family, and community.
Lives in: New York City
Job title: Manager of Marketing and Social Media, TEMPTU (Airbrush Beauty Authority)
What she does: I oversee all aspects of social media and marketing strategies, including creating and editing social media posts, blog posts, and sales materials to increase brand awareness, site traffic, and consumer following. I also manage the budget for social media marketing, analyze the effectiveness of campaigns, and negotiate influencer contracts. I’m involved in new product launches and site promotions. I help identify and assess market opportunities, competitive trends, and consumer needs; execute all corporate events planning; and compile information on consumeruse testing.
What she loves about her job: I am a social media marketing nerd. I love being able to create content and connect with people all over the globe. I love that it is an ever-changing and fast-paced industry. It keeps you on your toes and you have to learn on the fly.
Proudest career accomplishment: Implementing and executing successful influencer marketing campaigns for the brand and helping influencers grow their channels. The friendships and relationships I have with them are for life, and I am so lucky have them.
Advice for current students: Work hard and be kind. Always give 100 percent. There are no shortcuts and hard work always gets recognized.
Lives in: Newtown, Pennsylvania
Job title: Ranger, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources (DCNR), Tyler State Park, Newtown. Baughman describes the position as “basically a police officer with jurisdiction in the state park.”
What she does: I patrol and enforce state park rules and regulations, the Commonwealth Criminal Code and Vehicle Code. I investigate complaints made by park patrons, direct traffic, and provide security at events, and I also provide First Aid, if needed. In short, my job is to create an overall safe environment for patrons to enjoy the park.
On fresh air and variety: The best part about my job is being outside for most of my day. I have always enjoyed the outdoors, and this job pays me to be outside in nature. I also love the fact that every day is different. It’s never boring.
Credentials earned: I graduated from the Pennsylvania State Police Academy in 2015. It was tough, mentally and physically, and it is one of my proudest accomplishments.
Hobbies: I spend most of my free time with my three dogs, Cooper, Dakota, and Batman. I also recently started golfing, and I really enjoy it.
Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to take chances. Don’t become complacent just because it is the easier route to take. Accept challenges and do things that scare you.
Angela (Deangelo) Kupchella
’18 Plastics Engineering Technology
Family: Husband, Nathen Kupchella ’18 Lives in: Northville, Michigan
Job title: Customer Success Manager, Clarience Technologies
Building on success: After two years as a product engineer, I was asked to help build our Customer Success department. I serve as the primary technical resource for Road Ready business initiatives and lead customer business reviews and communications with sales and marketing, product engineering, user-interface development, and research and development teams to ensure customer success.
What she does: I partner with customers to develop strategies that ensure best use of technology and achievement of maximum value from services. In addition, I am a member of the pilot initiative team that works to launch new customer programs. I also work with our team to see that sensors are properly installed on trailers and are communicating with all of the necessary interfaces.
What she loves about her job: It’s challenging! Working with different fleets across different industries keeps you on your toes. Road Ready is also a “startup” company within an established organization (Truck-Lite), which gives me the opportunity to wear multiple hats and get involved in many aspects of the organization. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with engineering, quality, sales, and marketing departments during my time at Clarience Technologies.
Hobbies: I enjoy working out and creating custom wooden American flags.
Advice for current students: Get out of your comfort zone and never stop learning. If an opportunity presents itself, always say “yes,” even if you are nervous or don’t feel ready for it. Those experiences are invaluable to your personal and professional growth.
Broader horizons: Since graduation, I have learned that an engineering degree does not confine you to working behind a computer. It gives you a broad brush to use your technical, problem-solving skills to fill needs across an organization.
’07 Marketing and International Business
Lives in: Philadelphia
Family: Partner Dr. Dara Cohn
Job title: Senior Associate Marketing Manager of Cooking Innovation, Campbell Soup Company
What he does: I lead teams of cross-functional experts in identifying opportunities for new product development across the Campbell Condensed Soup and Swanson Broth and Stock portfolios and then drive commercialization of those products.
What he loves about his job: Every day is a challenge, and I get to tackle it with a team of super competent, super smart, and caring people. Campbell Soup’s brand partly stands for warmth and caring, and the people I work with are both.
Hobbies galore: I love reading, playing instruments and singing, hiking, running, cycling, writing poetry, traveling, cooking and eating, golfing, and practicing Spanish—and the list goes on. I am passionate about each of my hobbies, though, which makes time management fun.
Advice for current students: Your career is an adventure. Don’t compare yourself to your peers who might make more money or have a better office. Compare yourself to your own personal ideal. I spent a large portion of my career trying to work at Campbell’s and I am finally there. It took a lot of deliberate moves that sometimes meant making less money, but I am happy that I took a strategic approach and that it worked.
Reach out: My “door” is always open to current students or alums for advice or to network. Connect at [email protected].
’05 Electrical Engineering Technology, Minor in Management Information Systems
Lives in: Acworth, Georgia
Family: Ashleigh (Jackowski) Spain ’05; three children ages 8, 6, and 4.
Job title: Supply Chain Manager, Norfolk Southern What he does: I am responsible for supplying raw materials like coal and coke to some of the largest steel-producing companies in the United States and globally, too. This includes managing the end-to-end logistics from when the raw materials are mined to when they are loaded into export vessels.
On job satisfaction: There is a sense of purpose in knowing that the service I’m providing is directly tied to countless end products in the construction and automotive markets. Also, the nature of my position allows me to interact with a lot of people on various levels of the supply chain. The relationships and perspective I gain from those with different backgrounds, corporate status, and experiences is what makes my job truly enjoyable.
What you’d be surprised to know: I have lived in four states since graduating from Behrend and have learned to love the outdoors. I’ve done more camping in the last couple of years than ever.
Smooth talker: To keep my public speaking skills sharp, I attend regular meetings with my local Toastmasters chapter. I actually won first place at the district level last year in two different categories: “Best Table Topics Speech” and “Best Humorous Speech.”
Advice for current students: It’s important to identify with your purpose for being in college. Some people look to establish a legacy; others look to extend a tradition. Whatever it is, keep close to your heart and allow it to be the driving compass of each decision you make.
On the life-changing magic of Behrend: My time at Behrend allowed me to make a generational change for my family. I am from the lower east side of Erie, where I grew up in a single-parent home and attended city schools. I was the first person in my family to go to college. I was never the smartest kid in the classroom, but I always gave maximum effort. At Behrend, I was blessed with several mentors among the faculty and staff who inspired me and helped me be my best. Their impact was enormous as I was dealing with a lot of health issues many people weren’t aware of. It’s all under control now, but it wasn’t easy to attend college in the midst of it all. The truth is, though, it gave me grit and I learned to not accept failure. Today, I’m married with three kids and living in Atlanta. Sometimes I have to pinch myself because I can’t believe this is my life.
Lives in: Erie
Job title: Owner, Erie Apparel
Creative outlet: I founded Erie Apparel in 2014 as a side project to highlight great things about the tri-state area and to work the creative muscles that I wasn’t getting to use at my job in advertising. We opened our first brick-and-mortar location in 2017, and a second inside Erie’s Millcreek Mall in 2019. That said, 50-60 percent of our sales and orders are online from customers all over the country.
It’s OK to Love Erie (and Erie Apparel): I like hearing about how a simple T-shirt or sticker brought joy to a customer or family member or friend they gave it to. I also enjoy the sense of community that our brand is helping to bring back to Erie.
Proudest career accomplishment: It’s cool to think how something that I thought up in my basement has created careers for others—our team is currently eighteen staff members. And seeing our products being worn around the city and in other states is an awesome feeling.
What you’d be surprised to know: I’m naturally introverted, which is not the typical entrepreneurial mold. Selling myself is difficult for me.
When he’s not working: I’m a sports addict. I love golfing, soccer, basketball, running, and anything that gets me moving and my mind off work. I got a puppy last month, so she keeps me on my toes, too!
Advice for current students: Practice your social skills—creating relationships, talking to mentors, interviewing, etc. Grades only matter until you graduate. It’s more important to create positive interactions with people than it is to ace every class.
Formula for success: Be a good person and treat others how you would like to be treated.
Lynzie (Collard) Nebel
’08 Plastics Engineering Technology
Lives in: Erie
Family: Daniel Nebel ’09; children, Henry, 2, and Samuel, 1
Job title: Engineer, Tech Tank, a custom injection-molding company
What she does: Tech Tank is small, so my responsibilities can be anything from quoting to ordering material, reporting to the customer, processing the new molds, and setting the production schedule.
The perks of working for a small company: I love being involved and seeing Tech Tank grow. There are often times when we panic and think, “How do we make this work?” But we get together, set processes, figure it out, and take on the next big milestone. It’s a lot of on-the-fly learning, and it’s exhilarating.
Engaging engineers: I am on the board of directors of the Society of Plastics Engineers (SPE), where I serve as Vice President of Membership Engagement. In addition to handling operational board duties, my efforts are spent working on the society members’ experiences at events and in their day-to-day experience being an SPE member.
Side gig: I am a cofounder of the PlastChicks podcast, where I get to interview cool people in the plastics industry with my co-host, Mercedes Landazuri. It draws the attention of a lot of non-traditional “plastics people,” and we get to joke around with many people in our industry who are way more important than we are. I love it.
In her free time: Like a good introverted engineer, I like to spend my downtime with my husband and children. We go for long walks together, and I love just sitting around with a good beer.
Advice for current students: Get involved with professional societies in your industry as soon as you can. Meeting and connecting with people is everything!
’19 Computer Engineering
Lives in: Seattle
Job title: Safety Data Analyst, Boeing Rotation Program
What she does: I create tools that facilitate data-driven decisions on our commercial business in-service safety issues. The particular skillset required for this role is to be proficient in data visualization, big data management, Python programming, etc.
What she loves about her job: The work I do serves a purpose beyond myself and contributes to the safety standards in aviation.
Proudest career accomplishment: Getting into graduate school! I’m pursuing a Master of Science in Applied Biomedical Engineering from Johns Hopkins University as a part-time student.
What you’d be surprised to know: I made my own snowboard while taking a composite materials class, something way out of my field of study.
Advice for current students: Don’t be afraid to explore different fields. College is actually the best time to do that!
Lives in: Erie
Family: Wife, Rebecca “Becca” Frank; two children, Emma, 4, and Tyler, 2
Job title: Owner, RFrank Media
What his company offers: It is a full-service media, photography, and livestreaming company.
Best part of his job: Everyday interaction with different clients. Juggling a hectic but exciting schedule.
Proudest career accomplishment: Working on national ad campaigns.
What you’d be surprised to know: I’ve never ice skated or roller skated.
Hobbies: I really enjoy woodworking and building. My COVID-19 project was a playhouse for the kids.
Advice for current students: Get involved in everything! Find out what you love, what you like and what you tolerate. Prioritize things you love. Don’t be scared to change directions; that’s what college is for.
’12 Political Science, Minors in English and International Studies
Lives in: Lansing, Michigan
Job title: Election law specialist
What he does: I oversee the Bureau of Elections legal affairs and legal policy. I review and edit legislation, conduct compliance and enforcement actions against candidates, and generally provide legal support to the bureau in the administration of Michigan’s elections. I essentially act as in-house counsel for the bureau.
What he likes about his job: I work with a fantastic staff and am responsible for legal policy. Something new comes up every day and what I do has a real-world impact in ensuring Michigan residents have the ability to vote.
Proudest career accomplishment: I defended the State of Michigan at the Attorney General’s Office prior to my current role. I represented the state in a Voting Rights Act case that went to the United States Supreme Court. I filed briefs in the Supreme Court at age 27.
Back to school: I am an adjunct professor at Michigan State University College of Law, where I teach election law and campaign finance.
Advice for current students: Get involved. Your undergraduate years are the best years of your life. Get involved in clubs and organizations so you can meet other students, faculty, and staff. The experience you get from that will translate after graduation into a skill set you can apply at work.