IST student marshal strengthens tech interests through cybersecurity program

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — From the start of her college career, Christina McMahon was determined to excel in her academics. In her four years at Penn State, McMahon has been recognized as both Freshman and Sophomore of the Year for the College of Information Sciences and Technology, and earned four Presidential Awards offered through the University. She also earned the Evan Pugh Scholar Senior Award, which means that she is in the top 0.5 percent of her University-wide class at Penn State.

For her achievements, McMahon has been selected to be the student marshal for the College of IST commencement ceremony on May 4. She will be escorted by faculty marshal Don Shemanski, professor of practice.

“It is both an honor and a privilege to represent the College of IST as its student marshal,” McMahon said. “During my time in IST, I have met some of the brightest students that Penn State has to offer. I am more than grateful to stand as a representative for this caliber of students and for the friends that have made such lasting impressions on my life.”

Christina McMahon, College of Information Sciences and Technology student marshal for spring 2019. Credit: Jordan Ford / Penn StateCreative Commons

McMahon’s journey to Penn State started early in her life, when she was inspired by a family member to visit campus. Her brother-in-law, Christopher Fibbi, graduated from Penn State in 2011 with a degree in computer engineering, and encouraged her to consider the University as she was exploring colleges at the end of her high school career.

“I knew that I had a passion for information technology, but not many schools had unique programs to offer outside of computer science and computer engineering,” McMahon said. “Chris knew of my interests, and suggested the security and risk analysis program [at Penn State]. I had never seen a college that offered cybersecurity, and the program immediately caught my interest.”

When she visited the College of IST during her junior year of high school, McMahon immediately fell in love with the program and everything the college had to offer. When she returned as a Penn State student, she was excited for her academic pursuits, as well as the numerous opportunities to get involved with extracurricular activities. She knew that she had to manage her time, though, to be able to do it all in four years.

“Time management is truly an art; however, my motto is that if you are passionate about something, you will find the time to make it happen,” McMahon said. “I have been able to manage my extracurriculars and my academics because I truly love my field of study and I am passionate about what I do outside of the college.”

During her time at Penn State, McMahon was a member of Tapestry Dance Company, and served as a volunteer THON Technology Captain, an IST Diplomat, and a Learning Assistant for seven semesters. She also was able to complete three internships in preparation for a full-time career.

“My first and second internships were with General Electric’s transportation sector as a digital technology leadership intern,” McMahon said. “For my first internship, I worked on the global services team managing two projects as a global services staff application analyst. In this position, I was given the opportunity to engage with the hierarchy at GE Transportation by testing scripts and presenting my results to my assignment leader, Monica Caldas, who was and currently is the CIO. At my second internship, I worked with GE Transportation’s supply chain department and was able to write a predictive model, based on data from shop floor workstations, to predict whether or not lines on the shop floor would hit their weekly goals.”

McMahon’s most recent internship was with the MITRE Corp. as a data analytics intern in the Naval Sea Systems Department, managing two projects.

“All three of my internships have molded me into a well-rounded professional and scholar,” McMahon said. “I have learned what it takes to be a woman in technology, and how to navigate these waters in a male-dominated field. I have been able to learn from some of the top leading women in information technology, and their stories inspire me to this day.”

After graduation, McMahon will work for Vanguard as a member of its Technology Leadership Program in the Security and Fraud Track. She, along with 24 others, will participate in the company’s Technology Leadership Program, focusing their work on providing solutions and insights within Vanguard’s security division.

“The Technology Leadership Program will provide me with a number of unique professional experiences that will help me to grow as a young professional and leader,” McMahon said. “When I start my career with Vanguard, I am most looking forward to engaging with a group of successful graduates who have similar goals as myself.”

Last Updated April 25, 2019