Jeremy O’Mard ’13 is a lot of things. He’s a managing consultant and systems engineer for IBM. He’s a volunteer member of the Maryland Defense Force, a uniformed state military agency. He’s a life member of the Penn State Alumni Association. He’s treasurer of the Behrend Black Leadership Alumni Coalition (BBLAC) affiliation programming group. He’s a champion for diversity, inclusion, and equality.
But dig a little deeper and you’ll find the Why (see sidebar), the internal motivation that drives him to do what he does. O’Mard is a helper. He has a strong desire to give back, to use what he has to make life better for others.
“What really excites me is being able to make a difference in someone’s life, gaining new experiences, and solving problems,” O’Mard said. “I have learned over the years that I don’t like working on things that have little significance to me or benefit to others.”
He can trace his penchant for service to a day that changed many of us: September 11, 2001. O’Mard was an elementary school student in New York City on that fateful day. Bearing witness to the devastation of the terrorist attack— teachers crying, classmates being called to the office and told their parents had been killed, ash in his hair as he walked home—was beyond comprehension but made one thing very clear for O’Mard: “I wanted to do whatever I could to make the world a safer and better place.”
He’s found many ways to do that in his volunteer work and in his chosen field of managementinformation systems (MIS).
“MIS marries computer science with business and those are two fields that I was extremely interested in,” O’Mard said. “The quality of education at Behrend was a huge selling point to me. I’m an avid learner who likes to tinker with the latest and greatest gadgets and learn new skills.”
“One of the main reasons I enjoy being a technical consultant at IBM is because I’m able to help my clients achieve their goals using technology, innovation, collaboration, and research,” he said. “Every engagement is different even if the work we do for them is similar.”
O’Mard has traveled to the Philippines as a volunteer with IBM’s corporate Service Corps, a program designed to assist communities by providing IBM skills and citizen diplomacy. And, last year, he worked with nonprofit organizations in Pittsburgh to roll out a collaborative outreach program—IBM Reignite—that aims to stimulate the local workforces and economy through the deployment of IBM talent and skill platforms.
In addition to serving as treasurer of BBLAC, O’Mard is president of the University’s African American Alumni Organization of D.C. Alumni Interest Group, served as the programming committee chair for the Black Alumni Reunion in 2018, and is the current Black Alumni Reunion co-chair. This year, he was honored with a Penn State Alumni Achievement Award, which recognizes alumni 35 years of age and younger for outstanding professional accomplishments.