UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Mark Poblete has donned many Penn State hats. He was a residential undergraduate student and an online graduate student. He participated in an array of Penn State organizations and now, as an alumnus, serves as a leader, volunteer, and financial supporter of the University. In a recent conversation, Poblete reflected on his lengthy and ongoing Penn State experience and why it matters to give back to his alma mater.
Poblete earned his bachelor’s degree from the College of Information Sciences and Technology (IST) in 2007 and a master of professional studies in information sciences – cybersecurity and information assurance in 2020. He received a graduate certificate in enterprise architecture in 2022, and he currently serves as a senior risk manager and technology risk adviser at Capital One in McLean, Virginia.
Poblete talked about why the College of IST and, later, Penn State World Campus were right for him.
“Back when I was about to start college, the concept of a degree program that blended technical concepts with the skills necessary to translate those concepts to something accessible and actionable for business leaders was still quite innovative,” Poblete said. “My initial visit to Penn State included an introduction by Jim Thomas, founding dean of what was then the School of IST. Dean Thomas’s focus on providing students with practical experience using problem-based learning and guided by industry leaders and advisers was all I needed to hear. I was hooked.”
Poblete lived on the University Park campus for all four years of his undergraduate studies. After graduating, he said, he was fortunate to work for an employer who emphasized and advocated for ongoing development through its educational assistance program. Poblete was inspired and motivated to pursue a graduate degree, opting to do so via Penn State World Campus.
“I had already experienced the Penn State difference as an undergraduate student and served in a number of leadership roles as an alumnus since then,” Poblete said. “I knew that continuing my education through World Campus would provide me with the flexibility I needed to pursue my degree on my terms and at my pace, while offering the rigor and excellence that Penn State is known for irrespective of campus or location.”
While working full-time at Capital One, Poblete attended World Campus classes from his home in northern Virginia. He said his career and graduate education enhanced each other.
“I had the opportunity not only to learn from tenured subject matter experts and fellow professionals but also to contribute to the dialogue with my own experiences and perspectives on course work — ranging from network security to risk management,” he said. “Through Penn State and the World Campus, I learned more about emerging risk concepts, technology trends, and the methodologies that leading-edge organizations are using to manage them, all of which continue to benefit me.”
And distance did not prevent Poblete from being active in the Penn State community.
“When I enrolled at World Campus, I was already serving on the Alumni Council — the governing body of the Alumni Association,” he said. “I joined the World Campus Chapter of the Blue & White Society because I knew it was an integral part of providing students with connections to our global alumni network and setting them up for success not only during their time as students but as lifelong members of the Penn State community.”
Poblete is the current president of the World Campus Alumni Society board of directors and remains active in the Alumni Blue Band Association. He is a long-time alumni admissions volunteer for the Penn State Office of Undergraduate Admissions.
In 2022, the Penn State Alumni Association presented Poblete with the Philip Philip Mitchell Alumni Service Award, which recognizes an individual who has significantly contributed to the area of public service by sharing or volunteering their talent, time, and resources on behalf of the University. In appreciation, Mark and his wife, Carol, endowed the Mark and Carol Poblete Award for Alumni Leadership Development, intended to celebrate excellence in alumni volunteer mentorship. Carol earned her undergraduate degree from the Penn State College of Arts and Architecture in 2008. The couple had previously established an undergraduate scholarship as part of the Penn State Renaissance Scholarship program, which was matched by the Alumni Association as part of its 150th anniversary celebration in 2020.
During Penn State’s ninth annual GivingTuesday celebration last November, the Pobletes provided matching funds to gifts made in support of the Smart Track to Success scholarship program. They did so twice: when all 17 members of the World Campus Alumni Society Board donated and again when the number of donors reached 60.
Poblete said he encourages IST and World Campus alumni to get involved with local geographic chapters and global affinity groups of the Alumni Association to take advantage of everything the membership offers.
“As members of our Alumni Association, students will benefit from continuing to foster connections with other IST and World Campus alumni wherever their degree takes them,” he said.
Donors like Mark and Carol Poblete advance the University’s historic land-grant mission to serve and lead. Through philanthropy, alumni and friends are helping students to join the Penn State family and prepare for lifelong success; driving research, outreach, and economic development that grow our shared strength and readiness for the future; and increasing the University’s impact on families, patients, and communities across the commonwealth and around the world. Learn more by visiting the Giving to Penn State site.