Humanizing a Tech World

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Edited by Jodi H. Beyeler ’00

When you think of people in the tech industry, liberal arts majors may not be the first demographic that comes to mind. But Goshen College young alumni who work in the tech industry have found that their liberal arts backgrounds are serving them quite well indeed.

Fundamentally, technology is a tool for solving problems, like: How can we help teachers communicate better with their students’ parents? How can we help diabetics more easily monitor their glucose levels? How can we help people searching online more easily find exactly what they need?

From Washington D.C. to Silicon Valley, our alums are helping answer those questions — and so many more — at companies they founded, at some of the biggest names in the industry and everywhere in between. And as you can imagine for liberal arts alumni, while some learned their tech skills in college in one of our strong technology related majors — computer science, informatics or information technology — others were theater, physics, history, Bible and religion, and English majors. They give credit to their experience with The Record, Maple Scholars, mainstage plays, Study-Service Term and internship opportunities.

Because they learned in college how to be critical thinkers, how to write, how to create, how to solve problems, how to lead, how to care about social justice, they are now able to help bring a human touch to a binary world. (And as you’ll see, some of them have found that the best employees or co-workers are fellow Goshen College alumni because of this!)

Here are just a few of them that we want you to meet.


bryanfalcon_bw Bryan Falcon ’95
Tucson, Arizona  |  theater major

Vice president of product strategy for PowerSchool, an online portal for student information that serves over one-third of all North American K-12 students. Bryan helped found Haiku Learning in 2006, which was acquired this year by PowerSchool. Fellow alumni who work at PowerSchool now are: Allen Angell ’89, Reynard Hilman ’01, Rachel Beyeler ’02, Elizabeth Falcón ’02, Renee Springer ’03, Marcos Wright-Kuhns ’06, Annie Martens ’12, Anna Ruth ’12, Si Gustafson-Zook ’13 and Andrew Shenk ’13.

My job is to talk to teachers, administrators, students and parents to determine the root problems in education that we, as a technology company, can help solve.

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

“Goshen College imbued in me a strong appreciation for how education can level the socioeconomic playing field for those who otherwise would lack opportunity. There is no role more important to our society, and to our planet, than that of the educator.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to a Goshen College student who is interested in heading into your field?

“Embrace the arts and literature. Refine your critical thinking. Learn to write. If you can meld a creative spirit with strong communication and technical skills, then new horizons will open to you.” 


natepletcher1_bw Nate Pletcher ’00
Mountain View, California  |  physics major

Hardware engineer at Verily Life Sciences (formerly Google Life Sciences). Nate designs integrated circuit chips and electronics for medical devices, such as continuous glucose monitors for people with diabetes.

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

“I had the opportunity to be involved in research activity early on at Goshen College, which gave me a good start on my future engineering career. A liberal arts background has also been valuable in the multi-disciplinary field of medical devices.”

What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?

“I like working with new technology, and developing devices that can help people to better manage their health.”


gauravkhandelwal_bwGaurav Khandelwel ’01
Houston, Texas  |  computer science and business information systems double major

Founder and CEO of ChaiOne, a software development company that builds and designs mobile solutions for businesses. Guarav received Houston’s “40 under 40 Award” in 2009.

My executive team is putting in place processes and KPIs to scale the business to 10 times our current size. The market opportunities are huge and I split my time between strategy, client relationships, new business and operations.

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

“I took a class in my first year that was a business simulation where we had to build a business through ups and downs of an economic cycle. It wasn’t so much what that class taught me, but the environment that it created for me to find what I was really good at.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to a Goshen College student who is interested in heading into your field?

“Learn how to code. Take the Econ 101 class and understand supply and demand. Finally take an accounting class and understand the profit and loss statement. Take all this and run a business, any business, doesn’t matter how big or small. Practice makes you perfect.”


carlmeyer_bwCarl Meyer ’01
Rapid City, South Dakota  |  major was undecided

Software engineer at Instagram and co-owner of OddBird, a web application development consultancy, with Jonny Gerig Meyer ’08 and Miriam Suzanne ’05. OddBird also employs Sondra Eisenstat ’06 and David Glick ’07.

What is a piece of advice you would give to a Goshen College student who is interested in heading into your field?

“Get involved in open source software.”

What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?

“Learning new things every day and helping to build a product that so many people enjoy.”


alums_thycotic_bwBecca Stucky ’06
physics major  |  director of demand generation and programs
Jacob Stucky ’06
business information systems and computer science double major  |  director of software development
Ben Yoder ’07
computer science major  |  product manager
Arienne Johnson McShane ’10
history and Bible and religion double major  |  sales development representative
Washington, D.C.  |  Thycotic, a cybersecurity software company

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

Becca: “My Goshen degree was in physics. Surprisingly, it’s that background and my time on The Record, along with project management experience I picked up after Goshen, that allows me to be successful today.”

Jacob: “I got a dual degree in computer science and business. Both have really helped me all the way to this point. The computer science degree is obvious, but my business degree helped me to think critically about what businesses need, and be able to explain concepts in the terms of problems and solutions instead of technical code speak. The absolute most important part of my GC education though was my internship.”

What gives you the most satisfaction in your work?

Ben: “I’m happy any day I can help someone solve a tricky problem, or work with a customer to help them get the most out of our software.”

Arienne: “The most enjoyable aspect of this job for me is the amount of learning I am able to do here. The tech industry expands outward for seemingly forever, and I am a nerd for putting new pieces of that puzzle together.”


Version 2Ben Jacobs ’09
Aptos, California  |  English major  |  senior software engineer at Netflix

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

“One of the beauties of GC is that professors are willing to give students the time and attention they need to explore. As a self-taught software engineer, I rely on the research habits I learned at GC to master new skills.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to a Goshen College student who is interested in heading into your field?

“Move quickly and don’t stop pushing yourself. That sounds like a Silicon Valley cliché, but I’ve found it to be true. During my six years as a professional software developer, I’ve worked in three full-time jobs, done numerous contract jobs and contributed to some open source projects. All of these have taught me different elements about the business. Software development is daunting at first because there are so many opportunities and different technologies. Don’t be afraid to dive in and learn as you go.”


melissamacgregor2_bwMelissa MacGregor ’09
San Francisco, California  |  history and investigative skills major  | senior analyst at Yahoo, digging into behavioral analytics

My work ranges from calculating long-term value to giving guidance on what Tumblr GIF to promote on Valentine’s Day to providing insight on breaking news spikes. My work can swing from the very granular and the very technical to a 30,000 foot view at a moment’s notice — and I love it.

How did your Goshen College education prepare you for what you are doing?

“I credit my education at GC with cultivating strong critical thinking; an ability to synthesize and distill a point of view from messy, imperfect data sources; a deep curiosity in research methodologies; and the values to prioritize dignity and compassion in the work I do, with whom I collaborate with and to whom my research may impact.”

What is a piece of advice you would give to a Goshen College student who is interested in heading into your field?

“Learn to communicate clearly. Flex that muscle as much as you can in college. Technical chops are, of course, important — but clearly communicating will amplify your work and its impact.”