Talbert family establishes Open Doors honors scholarship

July 31, 2018

Erin Talbert remembers how Penn State leadership rallied around her during one of the most difficult periods of her life. It’s one of the main reasons she and her husband, Tony, both Penn State graduates, created the Talbert Family Open Doors Honors Scholarship. Their gift of $30,000 will be matched 2:1 by the University and will support Schreyer Scholars who meet financial need requirements through the Complete Penn State program.

When Talbert came home for Christmas break during her first year as an undergraduate student at Penn State, her parents told her they were suffering extreme financial hardship and wouldn’t be able to pay her tuition. Distraught, she went to Interim Dean of the College of Communications Jeremy Cohen and asked for help. Cohen, University Scholars Program director James Rambeau, and Director of Student Aid Anna Griswold got together and came up with a plan – a student aid package plus loans – that would allow Talbert to stay in school.

“I look back at that pivotal moment where it would have been so easy to just not come back, knowing there was no way I could pay that bill,” she said. “People stepped forward and made it happen. That was no small thing.”

Erin and Tony – who met on her first day of college when he offered to help her move in – were both Schreyer Scholars. Erin, an advertising and public relations major, worked several part-time jobs on campus during her time as an undergraduate to supplement the aid package; Tony, an industrial engineering major, helped by paying for her textbooks. They believe their honors experiences helped them land their first jobs – Erin as a consultant at Accenture and Tony as a real estate investment banker at Chatham Financial.

“When we were interviewing for jobs, we both felt that was what set our resumes off in a different pile,” she said. “When it came time to determine where our money went, we actually looked back to what we thought was most transformative, it was our time in the honors college.”

The Talberts previously helped establish the first student scholarship for the Schreyer Scholar Alumni Society Board. Erin recently completed a six-year term on the Board. The Talberts understand the challenges Schreyer Scholars face even without having to worry about the financial responsibilities of college, and they wanted to step forward and help current and future students the way Penn State leaders had helped Erin.

“Penn State can feel so big. There is more need than we could ever hope to fill,” she said. “I know the impact that every little bit can have.”

The Open Doors Scholarship Program supports students who are enrolled in one of five programs the University has created to address the financial, academic and personal challenges that Penn State undergraduates may face while earning their degrees. The University is currently offering a 1:1 match to gifts of $50,000 or more to create new Open Doors Scholarships.

Open Doors Scholarships will advance "A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence," a focused campaign that seeks to elevate Penn State’s position as a leading public university in a world defined by rapid change and global connections. With the support of alumni and friends, “A Greater Penn State” seeks to fulfill the three key imperatives of a twenty-first-century public university: keeping the doors to higher education open to hardworking students regardless of financial well-being; creating transformative experiences that go beyond the classroom; and impacting the world by fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.


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Last Updated August 29, 2018