The Class of 2019 at the School of Information Studies (iSchool) has announced the selection of Mary Spio ’98 as the speaker for the School’s convocation ceremonies in May.

Spio is the founder and CEO of CEEK VR, a developer of premium social virtual and augmented reality experiences that simulate communal experiences, such as attending a live concert, being in a classroom, or attending a sporting event.

She is a graduate of Syracuse University’s College of Engineering and Computer Science where she majored in Electrical Engineering. 

“Mary is truly an inspiration to all, as her success in every industry that she immerses herself in is rooted in one core interest: information technology,” said iSchool senior Shanyah Saunders, a member of the committee that selected Spio as speaker. 

“Her passion for technology is very apparent in not only her career, but her life as well, and she is great role model for women, people of color, immigrants, and especially, iSchool students because her body of work highlights the intersection of technology within other industries,” Saunders noted. “As iSchool students, we are taught to apply a holistic approach to technology because technology is a part of every industry, and Mary shows us that a technical degree is both interdisciplinary and applicable to almost every industry, she is a powerful public speaker and most of all, she bleeds Orange!”

Spio was born in Syracuse, moved to Ghana at a young age, and returned to the United States when she was 16 years old. Prior to attending Syracuse, she enlisted in the Air Force as a wideband/satellite communications technician. After Syracuse, she pursued a master’s degree in Electrical Engineering & Computer Science from Georgia Tech.

Her transition from the Air Force to engineering was sparked by a colleague who noticed her technical abilities. “It was when I was in the Air Force that an engineer pulled me aside and told me I was really great at fixing electronics; and that I should look into becoming an engineer. I did and it was the best thing I’ve ever done,” Spio told the Miami Herald in an interview.

After college, Spio began working at satellite communications firms, where she had the opportunity to design and launch satellites into deep space on a NASA project. Spio’s work with NASA, led her to become the Head of Satellite Communication Systems for Boeing where her technology influenced major motion picture distributions through satellite technology.

Spio has been recognized with many accolades, such as NBC News 100 History Makers in the Making, Boeing’s Outstanding Achievement in Electrical Engineering Award, IEEE Design and Yueh-Ying Hu Memorial National Award for Innovation, and the 2017 Arents Award from Syracuse University.

“The iSchool Senior class is so excited to have Mary as our convocation speaker because of her life devotion to new and emerging technologies, her experiences in professional storytelling, her entrepreneurship, her inspiration to women and first-generation Americans, and her connections to Syracuse University,” said Saunders.

The iSchool’s Convocation ceremonies are scheduled for Saturday, May 11, 2019. More information about all Commencement Weekend ceremonies, including the University-wide Commencement on Sunday, May 12, is available on the Commencement Weekend website.

Spio will also speak at the convocation ceremony held by the College of Engineering and Computer Science.