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Jason Laura '97

Jason Laura '97

Jason grew up in Irwin, Pennsylvania, and transferred to IUP upon completion of his first semester at Westmoreland Community College. He graduated in 1997 with a major in the Eberly College of Business and Information Technology and has held a number of HR-related positions since that time.

The Eberly College of Business’s positive reputation helped Jason land his first job out of college with Cigna Group Insurance, for which he performed benefits analysis and also did training and development. Jason then migrated to UPMC Health System, where he continued working as a trainer.

Jason became head of HR for Cellomics, a Pittsburgh-based biotech and instrumentation company, in 2001, and stayed with the company for six years until it was acquired by Thermo-Fisher Scientific. He has held his current position as head of HR for Confluence, a Pittsburgh-based financial services software development firm, for just over three years.

Jason lives in Pittsburgh with his girlfriend, Amy, and stays active with IUP through his seat on the Pittsburgh Alumni Committee and his work in planning and promoting Eberly’s annual IUP Business Golf Classic.

What led you to attend IUP?

Well, probably like a lot of people, I didn’t know what I wanted to be when I “grew up” or what I wanted to study in college. So, I actually started out in community college. But I had some friends attending IUP, and I went to visit them for a long weekend. I liked the small-town feel of Indiana and how the university was integrated into the community. I walked around that Monday and talked to people on campus about the university. Then I went home and did some more research. I was impressed with the teacher-to-student ratio and other positive things I read, so I decided to transfer.

Tell me a little bit about your time at IUP as a student. How involved were you in and out of class?

Much of my involvement was centered in the College of Business. It was an excellent experience, because it involved so much more than just class work. Business Day is a good example of this. I helped out with it for two years and then took over when my roommate, who had been running it, graduated.

Working on Business Day, I learned all about the intricacies of planning big events, practiced teamwork putting the event together with other students and professors, and gained marketing experience through promoting it. Not to mention that it was a great networking experience, both in planning and during execution, meeting face-to-face with the business owners who were involved. I attribute a lot of my current success to the well-rounded and practical education that I got from Eberly.

How often do you return to IUP? Have things changed much? And is there anything you miss, or tend to revisit when you’re back in town?

Amy and I try to get back twice a year. We go annually for Homecoming and then try to make a spontaneous trip later in the year, usually to attend an event. We always hit a football game, take a tour to see the changes around campus, and head uptown for the food and nightlife I knew as a student.

As far as changes go, all I can say is “Wow!” There isn’t enough paper to describe them all. IUP was impressive enough during the ’90s, when I was attending. And I really feel that it offers a Harvard-level education at a state-school price. Everything they’ve done since I left has only compounded that excellence.

You’re the cochair for Eberly’s annual IUP Business Golf Classic. What do you do in that capacity?

The Golf Classic is an event that is on the radar of all the business alumni. It’s held each July, and I start getting questions about it in January. It has a threefold purpose, in that it’s a reunion for alumni, a fundraiser to provide scholarships for the school of business, and a chance for current students, if they attend, to network with potential employers.

My role, as cochair, involves getting the word out to alumni about the event. I also gather a lot of the sports memorabilia that we sell during our silent auction. And I help to MC the event itself.

And you’re also involved with First Thursdays in Pittsburgh?

Yes. I’m on the First Thursdays planning committee for Pittsburgh’s Regional Network. That involves planning and promotion of monthly happy hour events around the city. We usually choose a different location each month. When I started helping out two-and-a-half years ago, the attendance fluctuated between ten and twenty alumni attending each month. Now we get closer to thirty-five, and it’s not the same people at every event.

And how much time do you spend giving back to IUP?

I’d estimate six to eight hours a month. It varies: I’m fairly busy now, organizing the Golf Classic. And I like to keep my schedule open for other opportunities. For example, IUP recently launched a Professional Development Series here in Pittsburgh. The first one discussed how to find a job in a difficult economy. I sat on the speaker panel for that event.

What would you want other alumni to know about your experiences in these positions, or about giving back to IUP in general?

People often comment how it’s important to help others and to show your passion and appreciation for IUP. And that’s true, of course. But what rarely gets mentioned is that the more involved you are, the better off you are. Supporting the university is a great opportunity for networking, for putting yourself out there. You never know where your next opportunity is going to come from, and this is one way to stay connected, so that you don’t miss it.

Do you have a favorite moment or memory related to your service in these positions?

The Golf Classic was a big deal even back when I was a student. So, it was truly an honor to be asked to help out with it by Dr. Camp, who has remained a friend and mentor since my time at IUP. After the success of the 2009 outing, I was doubly honored to be asked to stay on as event cochair for the near future.

Profile published on 4/21/10

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