Scholarship honoring popular recent alumnus moves toward endowment threshold

June 22, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A scholarship honoring a passionate and popular Penn State alumnus — someone who brought energy to every assignment he tackled and every room he entered, according to his many friends in the Donald P. Bellisario College of Communications community — has quickly moved toward its endowment threshold, which would allow the fund to support students for years to come.

Such response and support seems appropriate when it comes to Matt Trabold.

Trabold, who earned his journalism degree in 2013, worked as a videographer for WHAM-TV in his hometown of Rochester, New York, until mid-March. His presence at every game he covered was noticed by competitors, fans and colleagues. His energy, enthusiasm, passion and ever-present shorts were hard to miss.

He died unexpectedly April 1, though, just days after individual conversations with some of his Penn State classmates who always enjoyed hearing from him and consistently praised his impact on them.

“Matt had the unique ability to bring out your best when you were in his company,” wrote Tyler Feldman, who works as a sports anchor and reporter at WITN-TV and earned his journalism degree in 2016, in an online tribute.

Darian Somers, also a 2016 graduate, met Trabold as an undergraduate at a hockey game and interacted with him regularly through CommRadio and other student organizations, building what he thought would be a much longer-lasting relationship with celebratory touchpoints for years to come. He offered a tribute that praised Trabold’s passion for people. “Those moments are what Matt loved, and I loved that most about him. The light and the energy he brought.”

Numerous similar online conversations and tributes spurred the idea for a scholarship in Trabold’s honor.

“It was something Tyler suggested in an online post, maybe a scholarship at Penn State, and we asked him if it would be OK if we leveraged his idea,” said Julie Trabold, Matt’s mother. “He said he had no ownership and anything we could do to honor Matt would be great. So, we moved forward. It has not been easy, but it’s been a positive amidst all of this.”

Matt was the oldest of Julie and Michael Trabold’s two children. They loved their son and his passion for sports, especially college basketball, and they have been humbled in the weeks since his death by how much other people loved their son as well.

“We knew he had really close friends from Penn State, and we knew he had a great reputation in the Rochester area for his commitment to and excellence in covering the local sports community, but we didn’t know the extent until he passed away,” Julie said. “He had such loyal friends.

“It’s such a tough industry. If we can make future young journalists’ lives easier with a scholarship, that’ll make it successful," she added.

Trabold was part of three Emmy Award-winning teams for the “In the Game” show while he was a student in the Bellisario College. He also participated in PSN-TV and completed summer internships for a radio station in State College, as well as the TV station where he eventually worked.

Contributions to the Matt Trabold Scholarship in Sports Journalism 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 21st-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 serving communities and fueling discovery, innovation and entrepreneurship. To learn more about “A Greater Penn State for 21st Century Excellence,” visit greaterpennstate.psu.edu.

  • Matt Trabold headshot

    The response to the scholarship in his memory provides a testament to the impact and popularity of Matt Trabold, pictured here.

    IMAGE: Provided by the Trabold Family
Last Updated June 23, 2021