Spotlight on Female PRISM Alumni this Women's History Month


As the world is celebrating women and their successes, PRISM is putting the spotlight on some of our women alumnae who are on their way to making history.


Briana Augenreich (Capital One, Senior Software Engineer - Richmond, VA)


Graduated from VT in 2015 with a Computer Science Degree

What Does National Women's History Month Mean To You?

“I believe in the power of diverse perspectives. When you value differences in age, gender, race, experiences and invite everyone an equal opportunity to sit and participate at the table great things happen. I love any opportunity to share the history, story and success of other women. We can achieve so much when we learn, support, and lift up one another.”

Your Favorite Female Role Model?

“Sallie Krawcheck - she is not only a successful woman who has accomplished a lot in her field, but she continues to use her influence and experience to elevate other women. She is the founder of Ellevest, a company whose sole mission is to close the gender money gap for women. She is a strong advocate for women and continues to help them ‘slay at work, be the boss of their money, and own their future.’ In order for women to continue to break barriers and reach an equal status we not only need great examples of how to overcome obstacles, we need those who continue to achieve success  to leave the ladder down and elevate those around them.”

“Seek out many mentors to guide you and inspire you. And as you continue on your own journey remember share your story and insights with those who are following in your footsteps.”



Laura Jensen (Initiative, Advertising Executive - Los Angeles, California)


Graduated from VT in 2012 with a Communications Major and Marketing and Professional Writing Minors

How Did You Get to Where You Are Today?

“Hard work and persistence. Going above and beyond may be typical advice, but it's what's necessary to succeed. I've also gotten to where I am today with the help of networking; who you know and keeping close relationships is extremely important for any type of career growth.”

Your Favorite Female Role Model?

“My grandmother is in her 90s, still extremely sharp, and can speak 3 languages. She went to college in the 1930s and 1940s and graduated with her Masters from NYU! It's impressive to me that she was so driven, independent, and went so far in school at an age where many women were not formally educated.”

“Do not be complacent. Stand up for yourself, know your worth, be brave, and use your voice.”



Tara Petrucci (Candyspace Media Ltd, Product Designer - New York City)


Graduated from VT in 2012 with a Marketing Degree; Graduated from VT in 2012 with a Studio Art Degree

How Did You Get to Where You Are Today?

“I started early with a summer internship at Reader's Digest. I had interviewed the then VP of Digital for a class project, and two years later, he reached out via LinkedIn asking if I wanted to work for a new company he had just founded. I worked remotely while still at Virginia Tech and continued full-time with the company in NYC after I graduated. The exposure from this mobile ad tech startup led me to discover my passion for user experience design to my position now as a product designer, creating user-centric experiences across various digital landscapes.”

What are Some Obstacles You Have Faced in the Professional World as a Woman?

“I was once told by a man that I needed to dress down for a meeting with a certain group of people because he thought my typical work attire was too girly and put together(yes, my lipstick usually matches my outfit!). At the time, I politely swallowed his comment and wore jeans, flat shoes and a basic button down to the meeting; but looking back on it, I wish I had worn my favorite pink blazer and bright pink lipstick because that's who I am. The pressure to dress a certain way, always feel the need to look presentable, and not wear our emotions on our sleeves is something that men don't think twice about. It's another layer of stress that challenges the opportunity of bringing the best version of yourself to work each day.”

“I read an article yesterday about Elizabeth Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google. Within the article, she mentioned this quote that I wish my younger self heard years ago: "I am no longer accepting the things that I cannot change. I am changing the things I cannot accept.", spoken by Angela Davis, professor at UC Santa Cruz.  Not only would it have helped me navigate my career, but also provide guidance in my personal life.”


Jordan Jacobson (Altria, Senior Assistant Brand Manager - Richmond, VA)

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Graduated from VT in 2014 with a Marketing Major and Psychology Minor

What are Some Obstacles You Have Faced in the Professional World as a Woman? 

“Most of the obstacles I have faced in the professional world have been in the department of what a lot of folks like to call ‘soft skills’. When I first joined the workforce, my default mode was to ignore and focus on proving myself. Looking back I really regret that because, honestly, I don't think any of the people who did these things knew how they made me feel or how it looked to the world outside of their own heads. Also, I didn't need to prove myself to anyone except myself because the standard I hold myself to is much higher than what others hold me to - which I think is true of most of the strong women I know. Today, I say how I feel. It doesn't always turn into a huge feedback session but it can be a simple comment that makes it clear that whatever was said isn't okay. Most of the time that feedback is appreciated.”

Favorite Female Role Model? 

First - my mom. Sandy Jacobson is a one of a kind woman. Throughout my life she built a career where she is extremely valued at her firm and respected in her industry. She taught me the value of working hard and making sure you have a solid foundation to be able to build a life upon. Second - Donna Wertalik. My first professional advocate, my first mentor and always an amazing friend. She embodies the passion and curiosity that I try to imitate today. If you know her, you know about her infectious personality. If you don't know her, schedule time to meet her - that's what I did as a freshman and we have had a wonderful relationship ever since.

“Embrace the opportunities you have to pursue your passions, beliefs, thoughts, opinions and curiosities. In 2018, we are still fighting for equality but we have also never been as far as we are today. Dream, make a plan, and do it.”


Keep it up ladies! Continue to support each other in our successes and work together to gain ultimate equality. "Strong them, know them, grow them." -- Donna Wertalik