SSAO Bridges and Bytes – Spring 2015: Kristina Wylie, Mentoring the current Scott Scholars, and more…

In this issue:

Three Minutes with Kristina Wylie

kristinaWylieKristina Wylie became a Scott Scholar in 2006. She went to high school in Cozad, Nebraska but spent much of her childhood in Norway, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar. She finished UNO in 2010 with a B.S. in Bioinformatics and minors in Chemistry, Math, and Computer Science. She works for Syngenta Business Services in Greensboro, North Carolina.

I saw the Taj Mahal and the Egyptian pyramids before I saw Chimney Rock and Carhenge. My parents were teachers at the American Schools when I was young, so I got to experience a lot of the world very quickly. They were both from Holdrege. We spent summers at Johnson Lake in Nebraska. I returned to Cozad for high school to get to know my Nebraskan roots.

Our Away games were in places such as Egypt and Kuwait in Middle School. We had to travel pretty far to play other teams in soccer, softball, and volleyball. The tournaments we attended were with other American and British schools, and they weren’t necessarily a school bus ride away. A cool perk was that we got to see the Sphinx and the Roman Ruins of Alexandria after the games were done.

My mom was the teacher at a two-room country school outside of Elwood for my fifth grade class, with 24 kids K-6. It was like a miniature family. Martin Goodenberger’s dad was our vet as a child (Note: a quick update from Martin is available).

It was beautiful to go back to Norway for a 10-day cultural immersion group while at UNO. I was born in Norway, and lived in Stavanger until I was two years old. It was great to see the fjords, experience syttende mai (Norwegian Independence Day), and climb Preikestolen (Pulpit Rock).

Lack of direction has helped me have a lot of direction – it’s ok to take the wandering path. By not being so stressed that I needed to start my career on Day One, I opened opportunities for myself. After college, I worked in the UNO recruitment office and took the opportunity to promote the school, and see a lot of Nebraska. I learned so much during that time, I wouldn’t change. I talked to a lot of high school kids who tried to be very focused on a specific degree to get to a specific job, but there is so much more. My role at the university morphed to be more technical and led to me becoming a Business Systems Analyst for the University.

Daina Jones got me interested in Syngenta. She works for Syngenta in Omaha and let me know about my rotational program in the process of sharing it with the Scott Scholar Alumni. I had never been to North Carolina until the interview.

My current job changes every year to get exposure to the company. It’s called the Syngenta Business Services Graduate Program, and it’s a three-year rotational program. Currently, I’m a Client Engagement Manager but previously worked in R&D IS as a Scientific Analyst, supporting the scientists in requirements gathering. Previous to that, I was an Application Service Delivery Manager, coordinating with the technical team and relaying that on to the business.

Believe in yourself and apply the skills that you’ve learned. I’ve used the Computer Science knowledge in the office way more than my Science background. Majoring in bioinformatics, biology was always my focus, but I’m glad I kept all of those text books. I’ve pulled out my bioinformatics textbook related to a project last year in R&D.

Syngenta is an agribusiness, focusing on seeds and crop protection. I’d like to do more with the international side of the business. In November, I took a trip down to Brazil to one of the company’s sites in the Brazilian countryside. There were cornfields for miles, and I kept saying, “I feel like I’m back home. I like it.”

Speak techie and speak business, as it’s not just being technical but also being able to blend your skills. A lot of the work I do is being a translator between the extreme tech folks and the business folks. The Scott Scholarship helped me get personal skills where you can sit down and relate to people, both the technical and non-technical.

Scott Scholar Mentoring Program: Would you like to have a direct impact on the current Scott Scholars?

For several years now, many of us Scott Scholars have tossed around the idea of starting a mentoring program to connect Scott Scholar alumni with current Scott Scholars. Later this year, we hope this dream will actually become a reality. Last year, Eric Gitt and Kevin Walters of the Scott Scholar Alumni Organization and former scholar Sheila Karpf met with Leah Ellis from PKI’s Scholarship and Development Program to discuss this opportunity. Everyone agreed mentoring would be a valuable addition to the Scott Scholar program. Not only would it provide a way for alumni to give back, but also an opportunity for students to get advice from IT and engineering professionals who also walked in their shoes as Scott Scholars.

The idea is for the mentoring program to start in Aug. 2015, with incoming freshmen being paired with alumni in their field of interest. Ideally, mentors would be located in the Omaha area, but a few of you living on the east and west coasts have already expressed interest (8 alumni total, with 2 outside Omaha) so we are opening it up to everyone to solicit interest. With around 35 incoming students, ideally each student is paired with one alumnus. We’re planning a kickoff get-to-know one another event at the beginning of classes in Aug., in addition to at least 1 social or other professional development event (such as a UNO hockey game) each semester. For mentors living outside Omaha, you’d just be expected to check in with your student on the phone/Skype a few times each semester, discussing things such as changing majors, internship opportunities, etc. If you come back to Omaha to visit family or friends, we’d love for you to connect with your student at that time.

Please email Sheila (Korth) Karpf by March 15 if you’re interested in being a mentor. Please send the following information:  (1) your name, (2) city/state of residence, (3) email address, (4) phone number, and (5) current job position or area of expertise so we can match your interests with incoming scholars. Please ask your friends to sign up as well. Thanks in advance for your help!

Quick Bytes

  • The Distinguished Lecture Series is scheduled for April 2nd at PKI. This year’s speaker is Ms. Priscilla Guthrie, the former chief information officer of the Office of the Director for National Intelligence.
  • Caleb Schmid and Laura Heuermann (Bioinformatics Scott Scholar Alumni 2010) both started residency programs in Summer 2014
  • Martin Goodenberger has specialized his medical education in Radiology and is about to finish his residency program
  • Travis Deyle keeps things secret at Google[x] but prior to joining there co-founded

Have anything you’d like to contribute – thoughts, ideas, comments, content? Contact Kyle Hoback.

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