Ashley Rippey has been working at Penn State since 2012 and within Smeal since 2014. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Ad/PR from Penn State in 2007 as well as a Master of Science in School Counseling from the University of Scranton in 2010. Her work history includes experience in local government communications, marketing and event planning, corporate marketing, university admissions, and real estate. She is also a licensed realtor!
As Executive Director of the Business Career Center, her role is to oversee overarching policy and resources to ensure that the BCC staff can meet their mission of helping students meet their career goals. Her favorite part of her job at the BCC is working with the amazing Smeal students to help them reach their career goals.
In her spare time, Ashley enjoys cheering on Penn State and the Steelers, watching a LOT of baseball, completing home improvement projects, and spending time with her husband, son, and two dogs. Ashley’s favorite things about Penn State are the community and the traditions. She says, “There are Penn Staters everywhere and once you meet one, you feel like you’ve met a family member!”
Director of Professional Development & Programming
Sherry Rice has been working at Penn State for 6 years and joined the BCC team in March of 2017. She graduated from Penn State with a B.S. in Psychology in 2007 and obtained her M.Ed. in Counselor Education with her certification in Secondary School Counseling from Lehigh University in 2009. After earning her Master’s degree, Sherry spent 3 years as a high school and middle school counselor before transitioning to higher education. As a school counselor, Sherry provided career, academic, and personal/social counseling to all students to help them be prepared for their post-secondary plans. Before coming to the Smeal Business Career Center, Sherry worked at Penn State Career Services as the Career Fair Coordinator. In that role, she managed numerous career fairs and career development programs for students. She also assisted with drop-in career appointments and presented workshops on various career-related topics.
As Director for Professional Development & Programming, Sherry is responsible for creating, delivering, and assessing an expanded professional development curriculum in collaboration with internal and external units, faculty, and corporate partners. These programs and workshops help enhance students’ knowledge, skills, and abilities to be career ready, including leadership development, job and internship search strategies and the job and internship search process. In addition, Sherry provides career coaching to the Smeal undergraduate student body and assists with Sapphire Leadership Training. Her favorite thing about working at the BCC is getting to work with amazing Penn State Smeal students and helping them pursue meaningful internship and job opportunities. She also loves how collaborative and forward thinking the BCC office is!
In her spare time, Sherry likes traveling, hiking, live music and concerts, and watching all of the Marvel movies. Her favorite thing about Penn State is the community, traditions, and pride that is overwhelmingly present within Penn State. She loves that you can find Penn Staters everywhere!
Director of Employer Relations
Thompson Harner joined Penn State (Smeal) in July 2018. However, had been working with the office in an external capacity for several years. Thompson graduated from the Smeal College of Business with an Accounting and International Business degree. He received a second Bachelor’s from the College of Liberal Arts where he obtained a French Language degree. He worked at EY (Ernst & Young LLP) as a Certified Public Accountant for several years in both the audit and advisory practices. After leaving EY for some other accounting and consulting roles, he later returned to become a campus recruiter and help hire college students to the firm. Before becoming the Director of Employer Relations for the BCC, Thompson held the position of Assistant Director of Employer Relations.
As Director of Employer Relations in the Business Career Center, Thompson helps college students get their first internship and full-job. Working with the outstanding companies that come to recruit here at Smeal, he enables them to seek the talent and candidates they are looking for. He is always looking for ways to help them hire more Penn Staters! Thompson’s favorite part of working at the BCC is the buzz of career fairs outside the office while they are taking place.
In his spare time, he likes to travel to Florida and Hawaii, garden, and grill on his BBQ. Thompson’s favorite thing about Penn State is that it is a family and a brand. He says, “It is recognized worldwide. We help each other out when in need and are humble about the great experiences that we had during our education and in our professional and personal lives”.
Assistant Director of Student Engagement
Doug McAcy has been within Smeal at Penn State since November of 2015. He received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Creighton University in 2012, as well as a Master of Education in Student Development Administration from Seattle University in 2014.
In his role as Assistant Director for Student Engagement, Doug helps to facilitate the growth and development of students through experiential and cocurricular learning opportunities. He serves as a career coach, facilitates Smeal participation in domestic and international case competitions, and oversees the 40+ Smeal student organizations for students looking to make the most of their collegiate career. His favorite part of working at the Business Career Center is being part of a team that aims to propel students to a lifetime of success through career development and co-curricular involvement.
In his spare time, Doug likes to travel, follow college football, and watch the latest Oscar-worthy film. His favorite thing about Penn State is the incredible opportunities students have to be involved both inside and outside the classroom. Penn State has a great deal of resources and connections that all serve the students in their collegiate career and beyond.
Maria Aguilar Walls
Change of Campus Program Coordinator
Maria Aguilar Walls has been within Smeal at Penn State since July 2019. She received a Bachelor of Science in Rehabilitation and Human Services from Penn State in 2017 and a Master of Education in Higher Education from Penn State in 2019. Before working in Smeal, she was the graduate assistant for the Penn State Parents Program.
As Change of Campus Program Coordinator, Maria works with Smeal-tracking freshman and sophomore students at the 19 different Penn State campuses. She focuses on connecting with these students before and through their transition, which includes campus visits, online programming, and tailored resources. She helps ensure these students are equipped and empowered to take advantage of their career resources and recommended action steps for maximizing their time as a Smeal student regardless of where they start the degree program.
Before becoming the Change of Campus Program Coordinator, Maria held the role of Career Coach at the BCC. In this position, she focused on helping students understand how to articulate their skills and personal brand in a polished and professional manner. Her goal is to help students feel confident portraying their true selves when working with career professionals outside of the university.
Maria’s favorite part about working in the BCC is collaborating with an enthusiastic team and helping students to make the most out of their Penn State experience.
In her spare time, Maria enjoys playing with dogs, traveling, hiking, eating dessert, listening to music, and watching TV shows/movies (especially the Lord of the Rings). Her favorite thing about Penn State is the breadth of educational and co-curricular opportunities that are available to students, faculty, and staff. She also loves the Nittany Lion!
Specialty Programs & International Career Coach
Dr. Jana Jaffa has been working full-time at Penn State since 2014 and within Smeal since 2016. Her background includes a B.A. in Spanish, an M.Ed. in Higher Education, and recently a dual- title D.Ed. in Higher Education and Comparative and International Education. She has seven years of professional experience in Academic Affairs and Student Affairs. Jana has traveled to over 13 countries and has been invited to present internationally in Spain, Ireland, Canada, and Greece and participated in a staff exchange to South Korea. She has enjoyed co-leading international trips (Dominican Republic and Panama) and is actively involved in several international committees, including the NAFSA Teaching, Learning & Scholarship Research Committee and the NACADA International Advisory Board. Her research interests include: student engagement, organizational culture, academic integrity, and internationalization of higher education.
As the Specialty Programs and International Career Coach of the Smeal Business Career Center, she works closely with the one-year residential master’s students and international students to provide specialized career coaching support. She enjoys working with students to identify ways to build their professional and academic portfolio as part of their life-long journey!
In her free time, she volunteers at Centre County PAWS and with the ClearWater Conservancy. Jana runs half marathons, participates in triathlons, and enjoys hiking. Jana is also a semi-professional piano player and is a member of the State College Choral Society. She has performed at Carnegie Hall in Pittsburgh, PA, recorded a CD with the Raleigh Ringers in North Carolina and plays in local church musical ensembles. Jana’s favorite thing about Penn State is the wonderful opportunity to get involved on campus and in the community – there’s always something to do (and many times they are free or almost free)!
Alex has been working with Smeal since August 2020. He holds a BS in Outdoor Recreation and Education as well as an MS in Recreation Studies from Ohio University in Athens, Ohio. Prior to joining the Smeal team, he was working in the University Recreation department at Louisiana State University. Alex has worked in training and development in the collegiate setting for the last 4 years and has trained and developed people of all ages to work within the outdoors and in challenge course settings since 2010.
In his role as Career Coach, Alex works with students one-on-one with resume reviews, mock interviews, and other career advice. Alex is the main Career Coach for the BA297: Career Planning and Strategies course offered by Smeal each semester.
In his spare time, Alex enjoys rock climbing, mountain biking, spending time with his spouse and pets, cooking and eating, and learning new skills and information of all types. His favorite thing about Penn State is being able to help connect students to all of the different opportunities on campus, as well as within the Penn State community at large.
Krista White has worked within Smeal at Penn State since 2011, and has worked at the university since 2000. Since coming to Penn State, she has worked in various recruiting roles at Bank of America Career Services, the School of Hospitality, and Smeal. She enjoys helping employers and students connect through the recruiting process.
As Recruiting Manager, Krista manages the Smeal College of Business job positions and the on campus interviewing for the Business Career Center. Her favorite part about working at the BCC is everything and everyone! Krista says that “the BCC is a great team that is always willing to try new things and work towards having great customer service”.
In her spare time, Krista likes to spend time with her husband and two boys. They are always doing something with their kids’ school, sport groups, and church. She enjoys shopping for good deals and is always watching for her next one- whether it is groceries, clothes, or just any household item. Her favorite thing about Penn State is the strong connections! She loves talking with alumni that come back for recruiting that are so excited to be involved with Penn State again.
Events and Special Projects Manager
Christine Lockard has been within Smeal at Penn State since January 2020 and had worked previously with the university from 2010 to 2015. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Hospitality Management from Penn State in 2015. Before working at Smeal, she was a Catering Coordinator for Panera Bread. While at Penn State, Christine worked in the Berkey Creamery on campus. After graduation, Christine worked at Enterprise Holding until 2016.
In her role as the Events and Special Projects Manager, Christine provides event management and scheduling assistance for corporate activities and events throughout the year. She serves as the initial point of contact for companies interested in hosting recruiting events with Smeal undergraduate students. She also oversees some of the larger scale events held by the Business Career Center including the Corporate Partner Career Fair and MegaFair. She is also involved in research and special projects to improve processes and efficiency in the Business Career Center.
Christine’s favorite part about working in the BCC is getting to work with recruiters to coordinate their events and create a great experience for students. She enjoys getting to see all the behind the scenes that go into putting on a campus event. She also enjoys getting to work as a team with a great group of people in the BCC office.
In her spare time, Christine loves to travel (one of the items on her bucket list is to visit all 50 states)! Christine also enjoys to bake and read in her spare time. She also loves spending time with friends at campfires, movie nights, and tailgates.
Christine’s favorite thing about Penn State is the sense of community and getting to meet a wide range of individuals. She also loves being at her alma mater, We Are… Penn State!
Marketing Communications Specialist
Emily has been working within Smeal at Penn State since August 2018. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Recreation, Park, and Tourism Management as well as a Business Fundamentals Certificate from Penn State. Before working at Smeal, she was part of an Operations Management Team for a production company that provides labor to the live entertainment industry in Nashville, TN. While at Penn State, she served as Rentals Manager at The State Theatre in downtown State College. Before becoming the Marketing Communications Specialist for the BCC, Emily held the position of Events and Special Projects Manager where she provided event management and scheduling assistance for corporate activities and events throughout the year.
In her role as Marketing Communications Specialist, Emily oversees the marketing strategy for the Business Career Center. She facilitates student and corporate communications through several different channels, including print, digital, email, and social media.
In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, listening to live music, and attending the occasional yard sale. Her favorite thing about Penn State is being back in her hometown and at her alma mater- back with her Penn State family!
Casey Dubbs has been working at Penn State since July of 2018 and within Smeal since March of 2019. Prior to becoming a Penn State employee, Casey worked in the veterinary industry for 20 years. She worked in various roles throughout the industry which include client service specialist, business management and veterinary practice sales and appraisals.
As the Office Manager, Casey is responsible for the management of administrative functions within the Business Career Center some of which include budgeting, financial support, and oversight of the student staff in addition to other duties. Her favorite part about working at the BCC is being part of a team that is extremely passionate about helping students work towards achieving their goals and dreams.
In her spare time, Casey enjoys spending time with her husband, three children, four dogs and 1 cat. She enjoys watching her children play sports and loves to socialize with friends and family. Her favorite thing about Penn State is the vast opportunities that the University offers not only to students but also to University employees.