Two students walk outside library

August 2020: What's Happening at Shenango?

Shenango is gearing up for the start of a new academic year with new challenges.
Vol 2, Issue 10

Meet Matthew

A headshot of Matthew Dixon class of 2003

Name: Matthew Dixon

When did you graduate? 2003

What was your major? Business

What campus did you attend? Shenango

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? President of Adults Seeking Knowledge, President of Future Executive Society, and Founder of the Date Auction (proceeds went to THON).

What is your favorite Penn State memory? Going to the local watering holes and playing darts, pool and having drinks with classmates and friends after class.

Why did you choose Penn State? I chose Penn State due to my big brother Johnny who raised me to be a huge Penn State fan. To this day he, two other friends and I make it up to Penn State for a football weekend.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? One of my professors, Joy Prine, helped guide me through discussions that would affect my future. She gave me great advice at the time. Also, Charles Ewart - who owned a local business in Greenville - would mentor me through high school, Penn State, and afterwards.  I did my internship through Charles and we raised money for the Greenville Public Library. 

One surprising fact about yourself: One surprising fact about me is that my wife says I have a memory like an elephant. I remember dates, events and people incredibly well. Sometimes it doesn't work out so well for her. To this day, I tease my wife that I taught her what Sweetest Day was our first year dating.

Where are you now? I currently reside in North Fayette which is a suburb of Pittsburgh. I have been married since 2007 and have a daughter (nine) and son (six almost seven). 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? We have created multiple rental housing companies. We purchase and renovate houses. We also renovate apartments and rent them. 

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? Penn State will open up several doors. Even though I went to Penn State Shenango, I believe that it helped me get my first job in Pittsburgh. That employer informed me that the degree from Penn State caught her eye and she wanted to interview me right away. The name Penn State is well known and highly considered among employers. 

Any advice to current/future students? Enjoy your time in college. Time flies by! I will always remember the times that I had and will never forget. These are the best days of your lives and live everyday to the fullest. My advice is to be more street smart than book smart. It will always help you in the future whether it be in job or life. 

Meet Ugti

A headshot of Shenango Advisory Board Member Ugti Patel-Ribarevski

Name: Ugti Patel Ribarevski, DMD 

What is your role on the Shenango campus? I have been a member of the Penn State Shenango Advisory board for three years.

What is your role in the community? I have been working as a general dentist at Primary Health Network for 23 years. I am humbled and proud to be part of a community that is considered underserved. I see myself in many of my young patients. Besides treating them for their dental needs, I tell them the importance of education, and encourage them to work hard and do well in school.  I tell them my experience; I did not speak English or learn how to read until I was almost six. It was determination and the desire to succeed that got me where I am today. ‘It’s not where you come from it’s where you are going that is important’. 

Tell us about your education: I graduated from University of Pittsburgh Dental School in 1991 and I did my general practice residency at St Luke’s Hospital in Cleveland, OH. 

Why do you love the Shenango campus? My favorite thing about Penn State Shenango is the personal attention the students receive due to the small campus. I needed the extra help during my undergraduate studies so I truly consider the smaller classes to be extremely valuable. 

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? My father has made the most impact on me. He always encouraged me to take risks, work hard and never give up on my goals. He had the courage to move his family from one continent to another so that my siblings and I could live the American dream. I was born in Tanzania Africa, moved to England at the age of five, and then moved to Pittsburgh in seventh grade.  It wasn’t always easy, but this country has blessed me with the greatest opportunities. 

Why would you recommend Penn State Shenango to future students? I always recommend Penn State Shenango to those that are on the fence with their career field or for those that may be apprehensive to go far away from home. The 2+2 program is unique in that prerequisites can be completed in two years. Then if the students wants to venture out, they can go to a bigger campus for the final two years. Personally, I excelled in the smaller classroom setting. 

If you weren’t working in your current field, what would you be doing? If I had a second career, I would be a business/finance teacher in high school. I believe the earlier students learn about personal finance (loans, saving, retirement, good debt /bad debt, investing,) the better decisions they will make in the future.  

Meet Sam

A headshot of Sam Bakhtiar class of 1996

Name: Saman Bakhtiar

When did you graduate? 1996

What was your major? Life Sciences

What campuses did you attend? Shenango and University Park

What were you involved in on campus during your time at Penn State? I wasn't involved with any school programs. I worked, pursued bodybuilding, and studied.

What is your favorite Penn State memory? The football games - our season going undefeated.

Why did you choose Penn State? The academics, its reputation, and proximity.

Who has made an impact on your life? Why? There have been many people who have had an impact in my life, but I would say Anthony Robbins and Jim Rohn. They introduced me to personal development and opened my eyes to always work on myself harder than anything else. 

One surprising fact about yourself: I have lost it all, got it back and then some.

Where are you now? I live with my wife and three children in Chino Hills, CA. I have two girls, ages 11 and seven, and a baby boy who is one.

What is your proudest professional accomplishment? Getting my doctorate from Los Angeles College of Chiropractic.

Why would you recommend Penn State to future students? The Penn State academic program - in my opinion - is one of the best.

Any advice to current/future students? Self-education is a life-long process.