The B&E Department Welcomes New Graduate Assistants for the 2017-2018 School Year!

The Business and Entrepreneurship Department is excited to introduce its new Graduate Assistants.  Their previous academic pursuits are broad, but all share a passion for learning business skills and applying them to future areas of employment.  There are five new assistants for the 2017-2018 school year.

Ashley Jones, MBA/MAFS

Ashley Jones is a member of the MBA/MA in Food Studies dual degree program, and after four years in Colorado, she is excited to be in Pittsburgh and explore the ever-growing food scene.  After completing her undergraduate degree in public relations and communications at West Virginia University, Ashley headed west to immerse herself in the food industry. She attended Auguste Escoffier School of Culinary Arts in Boulder, Colorado, tapping into her passion of farm to fork. After culinary school graduation, Ashley worked in many facets of the food industry including fine dining, food trucks, farmer’s markets, and catering.  The dual degree appeals to Ashley as it allows her to utilize her prior educational and professional experiences in examining food through a broader lens. She maintains that food is the common thread between all human beings and it is important for us to continue study on how our food and eating habits impacts our health, society, and environment.


Sydney Penn, MBA-Project Management


Sydney Penn is a Chatham alumna, having graduated just this past May with a degree in Interior Architecture.  She was born in Atlanta, Georgia, but raised in Pittsburgh. Sydney completed her undergraduate program in an accelerated format and graduated in three years. While going through undergraduate courses, she was intrigued by the business aspects of design, which led to her decision to attend Chatham’s MBA program and to concentrate in Project Management. Sydney is excited to see what her future endeavors will bring. Although business concepts are new to her, she believes Chatham will do everything to help her succeed. Sydney’s motto is: “Never say never and know that people are willing to help as long as you are willing to ask.”


Maura Rapkin, MBA/MAFS

Maura Rapkin is a first-year dual degree MBA/MAFS graduate student, with an interest in entrepreneurship and sustainable food production.  After graduating from University of Rochester in 2011 with a dual Bachelors in Environmental Studies and Film and Media Production, she decided to expand her repertoire of interests and venture into the food industry. She spent six years cooking in New York City catering companies, bakeries such as Breads Bakery, and fine dining restaurants including The Modern and Blue Hill at Stone Barns.  Maura is excited to look at everything she has learned through an academic lens.  She is grateful to join the innovative Chatham community, and be a part of the collective movement focused on growth and learning.


Eric Smith, MBA-Sustainability

Eric Smith grew up in Cranberry Township, just north of Pittsburgh. He finished his undergraduate degree in May 2017 at Washington & Jefferson College (W&J), located in Washington, Pennsylvania.  Eric earned a bachelor’s in Environmental Studies. His MBA concentration is sustainability and he plans to peruse a career in the energy sector. While an undergrad, he was also a student athlete on W&J’s baseball team.

Jessica Vallee-Vasquez, MBA/MSUS


Jessica Vallee-Vasquez is starting her first semester in the dual degree MBA/Masters of Sustainability program. She is originally from Clinton, New Jersey. She just recently graduated from Indiana University of Pennsylvania with a B.S. in Biology, concentrating in Ecology, Conservation, and Environmental Biology and minored in Sustainability Studies. Jessica was drawn to the uniqueness of the dual degree program and is excited to learn new ways to incorporate sustainability in everyday life.  She is most interested on how companies use sustainable practices to increase profit and still positively impact the environment.


We also welcome back Corey Doeing, Karen Sudkamp, and Astrid TorresYepez.  We are certain they will be great mentors to our new Graduate Assistants as they learn about Chatham and the B&E Department.  Stop by our offices in Falk and Coolidge Halls to say, “Hello!” as at least one Graduate Assistant is present every day.  Working in the B&E Department is an excellent opportunity to build skills and expand your professional network, while also providing a flexible schedule around your classes at Chatham.

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