MATT BREZINA, turning a software startup company into Apple's chief rivalFinding success isn't just about determination and hard work; sometimes it's about serendipity too. Former Penn State graduate Matt Brezina '03 knows this firsthand, as his path to success started with a simple post on Craigslist.After graduating from Penn State's College of Engineering and relocating to the University of Maryland to work on his Ph.D, Matt was in the market for a new roommate. His pleading Craigslist ad was answered promptly by MIT graduate Adam Smith, and the two clicked immediately. Through a quick discovery of common entrepreneurial interests, they developed their first software startup company, Xobni, in March 2006. The name―"inbox" spelled backwards and pronounced zob-nee―and concept were created to meet the ever-growing demands of email use.In just a few short years, the two were hailed by INC magazine as up-and-coming entrepreneurs―and their recognition was well-deserved. Fresh out of college, the dynamic duo created user-friendly software, raised an impressive $14 million to promote and sell their product, and even grabbed the attention of Bill Gates, who demonstrated their product at a Microsoft developers' conference.But this was just the beginning. Matt then went on to develop a mobile photo-sharing application company, Sincerely. With the help of one of his Xobni teammates, Sincerely launched in the spring of 2011 with its first product, Postagram, debuting to the public shortly thereafter. The innovative yet simple idea allows people to send and share their Instagram photos as personalized greeting cards and postcards in the mail for just 99 cents. Since the debut of Postagram, the company has also developed a stream of successful apps, including PopBooth, Ink, and the Ship Library.The Los Angeles Times dubbed Brezina's 12-person start-up company as "Apple's chief rival." There is no doubt that he's trailblazing an inspiring path for others to follow, and leaving a changed and improved media and technology landscape in his wake.
Daphne is a junior Academy member and Schreyer Scholar majoring in Art in the College of Arts and Architecture. She is a recipient of a Bunton-Waller Scholarship, Richard A. Ash Scholarship, and the College of Arts and Architecture Trustee Scholarship. Currently she is an intern with Teach for America and involved with Silent Praise Mime Ministry as well as Writer's Organizing to Represent Diverse Stories (WORDS).
TJ Bard is a senior in the Presidential Leadership Academy and was president of UPUA during the 2011-12 academic year. During the Sandusky crisis TJ stepped up as a leader not just of students, but the university. He was interviewed on most major news programs and networks as well as ESPN. Even before arriving at Penn State he was pushing boundaries as the world's youngest real estate agent.
Sean Misko is a special advisor to the Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan (SRAP) at the U.S. Department of State, part of the team implementing a "diplomatic surge" to facilitate a political settlement of the Afghanistan war. He is responsible for shaping U.S. efforts to support Afghan reconciliation and coordinating negotiation of a strategic partnership to guide U.S.-Afghan relations following the withdrawal of combat forces.
Sean is the 18th Mark Luchinsky Memorial Lecture.
Each year the distinguished speakers inspire and challenge audiences to think, to question, and to learn beyond the classroom setting. In 1996, Senator Harris Wofford kicked off the lecture series followed by a Gold Medalist (Kurt Angle) and Astronaut (Dr. Jim Pawelczyk).
In later years, the Luchinsky Lecture showcased Distinguished Scholar Alumni who have excelled in their respective careers an opportunity to return and talk about their roles as leaders around the world, their areas of expertise and their professional achievements.
Scholar Alumni welcomed back to campus have included a Rock Star Nutritionist (Jill Jayne), the former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense (Mary Long), and for those who may have attended our last Memorial lecture, you would have heard Money Coach, Farnoosh Torabi.
Our 2012 Outstanding Scholar Alumnus Dr. Casimer DeCusatis is a 1986 Scholar Alumnus graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Science. He also holds an M.S. and Ph.D from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Electrical, Computer, and Systems Engineering.
Dr. Casimer DeCusatis is CTO for IBM System Networking, Strategic Alliances, and a Distinguished Engineer focused on networking and fiber optic communications. DeCusatis is a prolific inventor and holds over 110 patents, a number of which are ranked in the top five percent of contributions to IBM. Additionally, DeCusatis teaches networking as adjunct associate professor with both N.Y. City College of Technology and the State University of N.Y.
He is also the Founder/Director of Hudson Valley FIRST Lego League, which supports annual robotics competitions for 1,000 students, ages 6-14 who are interested in engineering, computer programming, and technology (nearly 60% of whom include young women and under-represented minority students).