- Leila Farzam
- Daniel Aslanian
- Michael Schneider
- Eric Brought
- Frank Amabile
- Mark Banks
- Mikayla Plants
- Jacob Byers
Leila Farzam’s high school dream was to move to Nashville for a singing career. Today, that budding artist helps businesses navigate organizational growth and change.
It started with an unscheduled stop at Penn State Altoona. Leila had just visited University Park and, while impressed by the business program, did not feel the large campus was right for her, at least to start. She stopped by the Altoona campus on her way home. “The second I stepped on campus I fell in love. And that was that.” Leila graduated from Penn State Altoona in 2014.
Leila’s original plan was to complete her degree at Smeal College of Business at University Park; her classroom experiences and involvement with the Sheetz Fellows and the Enactus program changed all that. “Penn State Altoona emphasizes entrepreneurship, and that helped shaped me as a leader in my field. The entrepreneurship focus really sets you apart from those who went to a traditional business college.”
Currently a consultant on organizational change and development and a Ph.D. candidate at University Park, Leila adds that the opportunities at Penn State Altoona were far more rewarding than what she would have had at University Park. One of those opportunities led to her first job with journalist Connie Lawn, a White House correspondent with her own media firm. It was an interesting position for a business major, but one which offered an opportunity to observe the U.S. government—one of the most complex organizations in the country—and an experience that led to her master’s in business administration and her current and doctoral programs in organizational change.
Leila also benefits from the largest alumni network in the world. She began by volunteering for the Penn State Altoona Alumni Association, serving as its president, and has continued her service by making wider connections through University Park. “So much that comes out of the alumni association. The more you get involved; your Penn State family becomes so much larger.”
Remembering that day she first experienced Penn State Altoona, Leila states confidently “If I went to University Park, it would have been a much different journey. That is what I tell prospective students.”
“The Penn State Altoona Business program made me who I am today.”
Daniel Aslanian earned his Bachelor of Science from Penn State Altoona, majoring in business management and marketing. In his internship with Canadian National Railway (CN) at their U.S. headquarters in Homewood, Illinois, he helped complete the “GIS MapGuide Project.” The guide provides digital accessibility of the designations of liability in operating regions, rail lines, rail yards, switch devices, interlockings, and other assets belonging to or shared by CN within the United States. Daniel gained a perspective on the processes that influence an economically efficient and industry leader in freight rail operations and shadowed rail yard managers and region superintendents to observe effective leadership styles.
At Penn State Altoona, Daniel was active in the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA) Student Chapter which he says is important to a successful career in transportation management for a freight railroad company. Daniel is currently working in the Canadian Pacific Railway’s Leadership Management Trainee-Operations program. This is a career progression role designed to provide him with railroad field experience in the form of railroad conductor certification and leadership classes leading to promotion to the front-line leadership role of Assistant Trainmaster.
Michael earned bachelor's degrees in IST and Accounting through Penn State and currently works for Abercrombie and Fitch as an IT consultant for their Stores Engineering Team. He says Penn State Altoona's business program provides a first-rate education and also prepares students for the real world. Professors teach critical thinking skills that propel graduates further than most with the knowledge of your chosen field, role models to look up to, and goals and aspirations to reach. “When you graduate from the Penn State Altoona's business program you will not leave with just a degree, you will leave having been given the tools to your own success.”
Eric studied business and accounting and was active as a Penn State Altoona student as a member of Enactus, a men’s tennis representative on the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, aa member of Sigma Beta Delta (the International Honor Society for Business, Management, and Administration), and a member of Chi Alpha Sigma (the National College Athlete Honor Society). He says the opportunity to experience a variety of business topics in and out of class was valuable to gain the knowledge and skills he needed to excel in the accounting field and achieve his goal of becoming an auditor. After graduation, he was hired as an Accounts Payable Specialist for Hersha Hospitality Management, a hotel management company in Harrisburg, PA, and returned to Penn State University Park to attend the one-year Master of Accounting (MAcc) program. An internship with the accounting firm Ernst & Young, LLP led to an offer to join the firm as an auditor. He is now an Assurance Senior. “I will forever cherish the memories and friendships I made and the invaluable experience I gained at Penn State Altoona."
Frank Amabile graduated with a bachelor’s degree, majoring in business with a minor in entrepreneurship and says his time at Penn State Altoona played a crucial role in his growth and development as a person and as a professional. He took full advantage of the small campus, especially the personalized attention from professors and the wealth of opportunities within organizations and clubs, especially Sheetz Fellows and Enactus. The Sheetz Fellows and Enactus, he says, provided “and unforgettable experience at local and global levels, teaching me the importance of serving others before you can lead.” Those organizations opened up many networking, scholarship, internship, and employment opportunities with some of the world's largest companies including the Grocery Manufacturers Association, Johnson and Johnson, Unilever, Lockheed Martin, and Sheetz. He is currently an Associate Marketing Manager for Walmart.
After graduation from Penn State Altoona. Mark moved to Harrisburg, PA, to work as a staff auditor for PricewaterhouseCoopers, a Big 4 accounting firm. He earned his Certified Public Accountant (CPA) license, traveled the United States for work, as well as valuable experience. After three years, he joined regional CPA firm Boyer & Ritter, LLC, as a Senior Associate, overseeing benefit plan audits throughout the summer and joining the forensic group during the winter months. “I absolutely love my job,” he reports, “and can attribute my short career thus far to have received a Penn State education. I am truly excited to see where my career takes me as there are limitless opportunities within the Business field." After earning a Bachelor of Science from Penn State Altoona majoring in business, Mark went on to earn a Master of Accountancy (MAcc) from University Park.
Makayla graduated from Penn State Altoona with a Bachelor of Science, majoring in business with a concentration in marketing and management. She was also a Sheetz Fellow and a member of Enactus. Makayla was the project manager for a team exploring the possibility of opening a coffee shop in Bolivia to benefit a rural orphanage. Her team researched Bolivian culture and norms and prepared a SWOT analysis evaluating target market segments and competition. Their marketing and business plan outlined the marketing mix, researched the price for equipment and furniture, and even included a floor plan! Team members also traveled to Bolivia to do on-the-ground research and discovered that Bolivians don't drink much coffee! Plans were adjusted and the coffee shop became a café instead of serving fruit smoothies, empanadas, cold drinks, quiche, other pastries, and some coffee. The orphanage was thrilled with the results. She hopes to continue her work with the orphanage by developing a feasibility analysis on the land surrounding the orphanage.
Jacob was a Sheetz Fellow and a member of Enactus, the business club. He credits these experiences and case studies from class for helping teach analytics, research, problem-solving, and team management and providing an advantage with his current position with PepsiCo. Eight months after entering management with PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay division, he was leading a sales team of 15 for a multi-million-dollar territory. The next step is managing sales finances for a city and leading ten managers. This was possible, he says, “With the education and leadership training through Penn State Altoona.”