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Student Spotlight: Serena Brandt of Syracuse

Serena Brandt

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The heart of the Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation's work is its student scholarship program. With college enrollment declining and education costs rising nationwide, the need to entice top-notch talent to our industry is paramount to its survival and prosperity.

By providing scholarships to dedicated student leaders, the Foundation has strengthened the college's Paper and Bioprocess Engineering faculty and increased enrollment of top students from around the nation and the world.

As expressed in its bylaws, the Foundation goals are:

  • To encourage students in the study of paper science and engineering;

  • To provide financial assistance in the form of scholarships, grants, and loans, including loans without interest or other charges, for students who enroll in paper science and engineering;

  • To provide an opportunity for alumni and interested leaders of the pulp and paper and allied industries to strengthen the paper science and engineering curriculum;

  • To further fundamental and applied research of importance to the pulp, paper, and allied industries through special grants and fellowships;

  • To provide a means of liaison and communication between paper science and engineering academic personnel and the pulp, paper, and allied industries

Paperitalo Publications interviewed senior Serena Brandt and we asked her about her experiences at Syracuse.

Were you looking into pulp and paper when you were in high school?

I don't think many people actually know about our program, especially high schoolers. I was more interested in other types of engineering or jobs that would allow me to be a part of building something from the ground up. I always liked the mill/factory/plant atmosphere.

What attracted you to the PBE Program?

I came to ESF on a tour to look into their construction management program but found my way to the PBE pilot plant tour instead. They showed us the two paper machines they have and told us about the program. This included facts like their 100% placement and their starting salary of 70K five years ago, along with getting to work in an industrial setting, they made paper sound like fun. The Syracuse Pulp and Paper Foundation also will pay for most of the tuition. If you ask just about any student in the program why they chose it, they will say for the money. Being realistic, making paper isn't exactly anyone's dream job as a child, we all chose it after hearing what this program could do for us.

Tell us about the internships/co-ops you had.

Like most students, I have done two co-ops. One was in the Syracuse area which allowed me to take a class during it, and another further east in NY. These co-ops helped me to decide if the mill life was really for me and if making paper was really what I wanted to do. They also helped to prepare me for my future in a mill, by giving me projects and taking me along for machine trials.

What does this program mean to you?

This program is my future, it's the people who have taught me what I need to know to succeed in the industry, and it's the students that have made all the work worth it.

Where do you see yourself in 5 and 10 years?

If life goes as planned, I will have worked in NY for a couple of years to get my bearings in the industry. Then hopefully I will be able to use the international company I've been working towards to see mills in other countries and move to another part of the world. In ten years, I will most likely be moving back and looking for a job in research and development. There are plenty of different opportunities within this industry to work with what you want and where you want.

What would you recommend to anyone who might be interested in getting into pulp and paper?

To me it seemed like a no-brainer, who doesn't want a guaranteed job at a great salary right out of college with little to no student debt. Yes, the program isn't the easy way out by any means, but if you are willing to put in the work, you can be set for life.

What year in the program, hometown, free time?

Fifth year, New Paltz NY, watch movies with my friends and walk my dogs.



 


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