Giving Back: Penn State Alumni Opportunities

Posted by on September 10, 2014 in Alumni, Outreach & Service, World Class Engineering | 0 comments

by Alysia Diffendal (’03 ChE)

I recently had the opportunity to deliver a speech to graduating seniors of the Chemical Engineering department, just hours before they would don their cap and gown. I was proud and excited to stand in front of them, for it was eleven years ago that I found myself in their shoes; young, eager to face the world, yet nervous about starting my “real” career where I would no longer enjoy a summer break or tackle the brisk walk from east to west campus to arrive just in time for the start of class.

When I graduated in 2003, I didn’t want my relationship with Penn State to end. My experience at the university was phenomenal, and the founding education and coaching I received as a student prepared me so well to for my professional career. How could I deliver a brief message to these graduates that would help them truly appreciate the institution that would soon be written on their diploma, realizing that today was only a new chapter in their relationship with the university? I decided I needed them to realize they could continue to give back.

What does it mean to give back to Penn State? The greatest news is that it can mean so many things! The opportunities to continue your personal relationship with the university are endless.

  • You can offer your time in the form of a mentoring relationship, participation in an alumni group, as a student recruiter for your company, as a coach for an engineering competition
  • You can offer financial donations to a university organization of which you belonged, to THON, to your graduating department, toward a student scholarship
  • You can offer your professional skills as a guest speaker for an engineering course, as a collaborative partner with a professor, as a reviewer of student resumes

Personally, I have found it most rewarding to offer a little bit of all of the above. As a result, my relationship with the university may be stronger today than it was a decade ago and even though it’s in the distant past, I can still hear the leaves crunching underfoot on my walk from Fenske to Hammond building.

For more ideas on how to give back, visit


Alysia Diffendal, is the Global Formulations & Packaging Process Leader for Dow AgroSciences in Indianapolis, Indiana and is responsible to provide cross-functional direction across all geographies to identify, secure resourcing, and track progress of non-capital projects required to deliver supply capability to support the Dow AgroSciences 5-year business plan. She is responsible for key enablers including a defined sourcing work process and successful development of Regional Sourcing Strategies that align with business & regional needs.

Prior to joining Dow AgroSciences, Alysia was the Production Leader for Dow Energy Materials and Advanced Electrolyte Technologies where she led the startup of two new production assets in Michigan Operations. Key initiatives included building the manufacturing organization from scratch within a new business including hiring personnel, establishing policies, and developing/executing strategy as well as implementing systems and administration to accommodate a facility which operates assets for Dow in addition to a Joint Venture. Both startups were executed with zero safety incidents, below budget, and with a highly accelerated schedule. 

After earning her bachelor’s degrees in Chemical Engineering from Penn State in 2003, Alysia held various roles in Dow in Plaquemine, Louisiana and Midland, Michigan sites. Experiences include production engineering, process optimization, capital projects, personnel management, new business development and facility startup, contract manufacturing, and cross-cultural team leadership, specifically in Japan, China, and Taiwan.

Alysia serves as a member of the Penn State Chemical Engineering Alumni Group Leadership Team and is an avid Penn State football fan. Alysia and her husband Mike have a five-year old daughter Talia.


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