Alumni Reflections: Glenn Brunette

There are many factors to consider when choosing a college and area of study. The options are many and the choice is never an easy one to make. Your task is complicated by the fact that there are many great schools and programs, each having their own strengths and benefits. It is essential therefore that you take the time to discover what each school has to offer and how each can help you realize your dreams.

Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Glenn Brunette, and I am an alumnus of Saint Joseph’s University (B.S. Computer Science, 1993 and M.S. Computer Science, 1999). Nearly seventeen years ago, I was facing the same questions and challenges that stand in front of you today. I wanted to attend a good school, study an interesting and challenging subject, meet new friends, and enjoy my college experience. Certainly, I wanted to be able to apply what I had learned, upon graduation, to secure a well-paying position at a good company. Looking back, I can without hesitation say that Saint Joseph’s University exceeded all of my expectations by enabling me to realize my dreams.

Today, I am a Distinguished Engineer working for Sun Microsystems, Inc. as its Chief Information Security Architect and Director of its Security Office. I have had the pleasure of working with Sun’s customers from around the globe on their information security challenges helping to protect sensitive information, critical infrastructure and intellectual capital. I have published papers and tools that have become Sun and industry best practices and have spoken with universities, corporations and even governments from around the world on how best to protect their information assets.

Reflecting on my life and career, I can safely say that the kernels of this success were planted and cultivated during my years at St. Joe’s. Please allow me to take just a few moments to share with you some of my college experiences and thoughts in the hopes that you may better understand the impact that St. Joseph’s University has had on me.

One of the first things that struck me about St. Joe’s was their classroom environment. Being a liberal arts college, one expected the core curriculum to expose you to a well-rounded set of ideas from a variety of disciplines. Certainly, St. Joe’s did not disappoint. These courses consistently provided a friendly and open environment for the thoughtful debate and exchange of all kinds of ideas. Back then, I never could have guessed how many of these ideas I would apply later in life both professionally and personally.

What is great about St. Joe’s is that this kind of academic culture is encouraged through the appointment of knowledgeable, friendly and dedicated faculty, who provide instruction and facilitate discussion across small classes of students where every student can receive the attention that he or she deserves. The small class sizes also afford faculty members the opportunity to better understand their students, including their particular strengths and needs. Similarly, students are more easily able to participate with and learn from one another in a friendly environment.

Throughout my academic and professional career, my focus has solely been in the area of information technology. While in pursuit of my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at St. Joe’s, I studied Computer Science where I learned concepts, theories and methods that I use even to this day. It never ceases to amaze me how much of what I learned during my tenure at St. Joe’s I have applied since graduation. Throughout my professional career, I have worked in a variety of areas such as research and development, software engineering, systems and network administration, and even IT sales and consulting. Regardless of the role I was in at the time, I always have found that St. Joseph’s University had given be the educational foundation and tools that I needed to succeed. To give you just two quick examples:

  1. Courses in algorithms and data structures were applied immediately upon graduation when I worked as a software engineer in an Artificial Intelligence Laboratory for a major defense contractor. There, I applied lessons I had learned at St. Joseph’s University to defense related command and control and combat identification problems.
  2. Courses in operating systems and systems programming have enabled me to better understand how operating are designed and operate. It is with this understanding that, since joining Sun, I have been able to contribute code to our products, help set software engineering direction and policy, and even participate as a community leader in Sun’s OpenSolaris community.

It does not matter whether you want to be an educator, a researcher, a software or hardware engineer, an IT consultant or something else entirely, a degree in computer science can give you the foundation and tools you will need to accomplish your own dreams. Computer science is helping to shape the ways in which people communicate, collaborate, do business and interact with their governments. It is at the forefront of medicine, space exploration, national defense, banking, and much more. Whether you want to work on the smallest forms of nanotechnology or the largest supercomputing grids, computer scientists are there. Not only that, the IT industry continues to rapidly mature and evolve. In doing so, each and every year, new opportunities for computer scientists are born.

One of the great aspects of St. Joseph’s Universities is that the opportunities did not end in the classroom. Whether you wanted to participate in independent study or apply your knowledge to jobs around campus, there possibilities were many. While at St. Joe’s, I worked in the Academic Computing organization initially doing basic hardware and software installation and later systems and network administrator for large parts of the campus. During this time, I was able to solidify my coding and IT management skills that would become so very useful later in my career. In fact, many of my classmates participated around campus in similar ways both as a means to make some additional spending money while at the same time working to apply their classroom knowledge to real-world situations.

Looking back, I have only the fondest memories of my time at St. Joe’s. The lessons that I had learned there prepared me for my future and gave me the tools that I needed to succeed in the marketplace. More than just the academics, the life lessons I learned while at St. Joe’s, have and continue to shape my future. Without reservation, I would strongly encourage you to consider St. Joseph’s University and its Computer Science program.

Glenn Brunette B.S. ’93, M.S. ’99
Senior Director, Cybersecurity, Oracle Public Sector at Oracle Corporation