Annual IST summit celebrates diversity and authenticity in tech

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) hosted its third annual Be You in Tech Summit on February 7 at the Eric J. Barron Innovation Hub in State College. The event, supported by a grant from the RSM US Foundation, welcomed students, corporate partners alumni to celebrate the diversity in the technology industry. 

This year’s theme, Changing Your Narrative: Overcoming Imposter Syndrome, aimed to empower students — especially undergraduate and graduate students with an interest in technology careers — to conquer self-doubt and find their voice as they pursue their goals. 

Keynote speaker Korey Wallace, a technical applications consultant for DuPont’s Global IT and Processes, shared his story and the strategies he used to triumph over imposter syndrome. Wallace earned a bachelor’s degree in IST from Penn State in 2009. He earned an MBA from The University of Texas at Austin in 2020. 

Wallace was joined by a panel of IST alumni who described their personal journeys of overcoming doubts, connecting with mentors, and achieving success in tech. The panel included Kevin Afoakwah, who graduated in with a bachelor’s degree in IST in 2020 and is now a software engineer with Lockheed Martin’s Engineering Leadership Development Program; John Esteves, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in IST in 2018 and is now the manager of the strategic integration and execution team at FreeWheel; and Shalini Tiwari, who graduated with a bachelor’s degree in IST in 2016 and is now the vice president of wealth management digital marketing at Morgan Stanley. Sudhir Kondisetty, consulting principal at RSM, was also a panelist. 

“All of the Summit speakers spoke from the heart, and I felt truly inspired,” said Anhjay Brown, a second-year student majoring in data sciences in the College of IST. “Hearing their stories gave my heart a feeling of hope and acceptance as someone of color going into technology. I saw myself represented like never before in a community that I hope to be a part of in the future.” 

Be You in Tech is a series of events and programs that aim to inform, inspire and empower students in the College of IST. Every initiative in the series is designed to help participants understand the role of diversity and inclusion in their personal and professional lives through knowledge-sharing, reflection and community building. The series is managed by IST’s Office of Enrollment, Engagement and Belonging, which houses the college’s Office of Inclusion and Diversity, Office of Student Engagement and Office of Undergraduate Recruiting. 

>>>See photos from the Be You in Tech Summit 

By Mary Fetzer 

Photo credit: Jena Soult/Penn State