Brady Seigfried sits on a plush blue couch in the Student Community Center

Schuylkill Speaks: A Conversation with Brady Seigfried

Brady Seigfried is the first in his family to earn a college degree, and he's using his education to support the community where he grew up. Not quite a graduate yet, Brady has already secured himself a job in his field.

By: Samantha L. Bower

Brady Seigfried is a community-minded student. On May 4, he will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in Information Sciences and Technology (IST), and he has been using his education to support his community and the people in it.

When he was a sophomore, Brady and two of his peers leveraged their expertise and love for video game design to create a mobile game prototype. But this wasn’t just any video game – the group intended for it to help people identify signs of elder abuse. Their efforts earned them an award from the Schuylkill Elder Abuse Prevention Alliance.

On May 20, Brady will take his freshly-minted degree and begin his IT career at Cleo, a data integration firm with offices all over the world, including Pottsville, Pennsylvania. Brady’s academic career proves that he is a community-minded and civically-engaged Penn Stater, and we look forward to seeing what he does next.

Before he leaves, we sat down and asked Brady a few questions about his journey and his future.
 

Where are you from?

I’m from Orwigsburg, PA.
 

What was your early school career like? Like, did you always enjoy school or did you need to find something that sparked your passion so you actually enjoyed learning?

I’ve always really enjoyed school, so for me it was more about finding what specific field I was passionate about.
 

Did you always want to follow a career in IST, or did you entertain other career paths? If so, which careers did you consider and why?

I originally was planning to major in English, which is something I would love to pursue in the future. I really enjoy writing, and I have a fondness for foreign languages.  I liked the idea of teaching English, but ultimately decided there were more job opportunities in the IST field.
 

What made you want to earn a degree in IST?

Dr. Elinor Madigan, a recently retired professor, taught my very first IST course. She is passionate about the field, and she always tried to be learning. It was inspiring to see someone be so committed to learning something new every day.
 

Why did you choose Penn State Schuylkill to earn your degree in IST?

My original plan was to complete my general education credits at Schuylkill and move on to a college that was outside of the area. After my first IST course, I switched gears and decided to pursue the complete program here. Many upperclassmen were involved in some very interesting projects, and combined with Dr. Madigan’s commitment to real world experience, I knew I would excel at this campus.
 

What people, places, and things at Schuylkill have made earning your IST degree an awesome experience?

I am part of the Honors Program, and it is a great excuse to work closely with faculty. I think that is the biggest strength of the campus. Faculty are very willing to work with students on a more personal level. I’ve done projects with many different faculty in many different fields, and that experience has helped me widen my areas of knowledge and make me a more valuable potential hire for companies.
 

Have you had a favorite class, or is there a specific focus within IST you really enjoy?

For me, Project Management has always been the most interesting focus area in IST. I love creating a plan that makes a project efficient. Managing resources is like a complex puzzle that you need to solve in order to ensure goals are met. Another area I’ve really excelled at is web design. I’ve done a few projects creating websites for faculty and community members and those projects have done pretty well.
 

Did you complete any internships?

I had the great opportunity to intern at Schuylkill Haven School District. Dr. Susan Schneider-Morgan offered this internship to her networking class, and I was very excited to work alongside their staff. We completed a security camera project to install new cameras into their middle and elementary buildings. I learned a lot from my time there!
 

What are your post-grad plans?

I have accepted a job with Cleo, in Pottsville. They are a data integration company. They mostly do work with application, cloud, and big data integration solutions. I will be one of their Support Technicians, which focus on a specific application they offer. I will assist their clients with the Clarify program, which transforms data within spreadsheets into standardized forms.
I would love to go on and eventually earn a doctorate degree, but am looking forward to developing some experience within the industry.
 

How did you find out that Cleo was hiring?

There was a graduate from the IST program who went on to work there. He and I stayed in contact since he graduated, and he let me know they were going to be looking for someone to fill a new position. I submitted my resume and was quickly selected for a series of interviews.
 

Did anyone help you build your resume or cover letter?

Tina Rose was instrumental in helping me build my resume. I trust her opinion, as it has led me to some great opportunities including my internship and current job offer. She knows what she is doing, and is a great resource for the campus and its students. I highly recommend having her at least look over your resume if nothing else. She offers some great events on campus that help with leadership, interviews, and even creating profiles for Indeed or Glassdoor. Definitely send her an email, future graduates!
 

What did you learn in Schuylkill’s IST program that helped you get hired?

Many of the projects I did in the program were real-world projects. That means our emphasis in class was more practical than theoretical. My various projects were some of the direct reasons I was considered for the position.
 

How did your family react when you told them you got in your field before you even graduated?

I am the first of my family to graduate from college. My family was extremely excited when they heard I was doing interviews with a local business. They were very proud when I received my offer with Cleo. They have been very supportive of my interests and are definitely glad my education is paying off!
 

Who are your favorite faculty members in the IST program?

Dr. Madigan was probably the biggest and most important influence of my academic career. She has offered me invaluable guidance and knowledge with an indomitable spirit that is both inspiring and inscrutable. She encouraged passions and talents in fields I didn’t even know existed, and without her I would have struggled to reach the position of success I’m in today. She may have retired as a professor, but she remains a guide and teacher to her grandchildren, and to those of us whom continue to learn through her practical and dedicated method.

I’d also like to give a special shout out to Mr. Brian Gardner, who took over the program this semester. I’ve peeked in on some of his classes, and was part of his interview process. I helped faculty members who wanted a student opinion, and so I’ve gotten to see him teach even without having his class. I think he is doing an excellent job, and has been stepping up to the challenge of filling Dr. Madigan’s shoes. His love of tinkering and desire to learn have shown me that same passion that inspired me and my classmates, and I think he will be an awesome addition to the campus faculty. The program is definitely in good hands!
 

Now that you’ve earned your degree, do you have any advice for your fellow students?

My biggest advice that I think any student should know: your professors are people, too. I know it seems a bit silly, but sometimes we forget that they are not just there to give us a grade. They are experts in their fields. Ask questions, talk to them outside of class, and do not be afraid to inquire about opportunities to assist with research. Schuylkill campus gives you a great opportunity to really get to know the faculty, and you can discover a lot about your field, make great connections, and explore internship and job offers all while getting to do practical work in your field. Even for a professor you may only have for your general education classes, just remember that they are human, too. They want you to succeed and sometimes a simple question you ask can make the difference between getting a grade you are happy with and one you are not.