By Farnoosh Torabi ’02 FIN

The drive to my parents’ hotel following my Smeal graduation ceremony was a slow, bumper-to-bumper ride through campus. I remember thinking about the many possibilities my future in New York offered, while desperately holding onto whatever remained of my college experience.

As we turned corners and slowed at traffic signs, I took mental snapshots from the passenger seat of my dad’s Camry: the grandeur of Beaver stadium, Creamery ice cream dripping down hands, a student reading the Daily Collegian and a fearless State College squirrel taking residence on someone’s shoe.

That summer day, I bid farewell to a school that prepared me well for a big, adventurous life. Little did I know that our relationship had only begun. While I was no longer attending class at the Willard Building, performing on stage, or working on my senior thesis, my Penn State memories remained with me as I journeyed through graduate school, a career in media, and even marriage (my husband is a Smeal grad, too!).

Over the years, my connection to Penn State deepened, thanks to frequent visits and engagements. I had the privilege of returning wearing many hats, always happily in service of students and faculty: presenting financial seminars for seniors, providing the Smeal Commencement speech in 2017, and celebrating Homecoming as the grand marshal in 2019.

Today, I’m also proud to serve on the Board of Visitors for the Smeal College of Business. It’s an incredibly rewarding role where I and fellow alumni offer the dean our insights and feedback for continuing to build a world-class school. My committee recently collaborated on the school’s rebranding, an opportunity to lend my insights and experiences working in media and finance.

I have great pride in being a visible alumna, giving back authentically as a brand ambassador for Smeal College as well as its students (current and prospective) and the greater Penn State. I hope that I’m an example of how it’s possible, and encouraged, to stay involved and connected to a school that means so much to you. The impact is immeasurable. Studies show that commitment by alumni to network, mentor, and open doors for Smeal graduates is one of the reasons prospective students choose Smeal.

It is the type of future relationship with the school that students don’t often imagine, but should. I wish I had known all those years ago, after accepting my diploma, that my connection with the school would only evolve and grow richer. Leaving Penn State 18 years ago, I wouldn’t have seen that moment as closure or a departure from a life I knew…but, rather, the beginning of a new and rich chapter as a Smeal grad.

Farnoosh Torabi is a nationally respected journalist, television personality, and personal finance expert. She graduated from Penn State Smeal in 2002 with a degree in finance and international business and later earned a master’s degree in journalism from Columbia University. A contributing editor to Oprah Magazine and Next Advisor, Farnoosh hosts a primetime series for CNBC and is the creator of the Webby-nominated podcast So Money. She resides in Montclair, N.J., with her husband and two children.

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