Faces of Philanthropy: Taylor Machuga
For Taylor Machuga, graduating with a degree from Penn State was a childhood dream. But in her senior year, unexpected personal hardships and financial need suddenly put a degree out of reach.
By participating in the Complete Penn State program, and with the support of the David J. and Jeanne A. Feight Open Doors Scholarship, Taylor graduated in 2019 from the Smeal College of Business with a degree in Sports Marketing. Today, as a new alumna and account executive at Sky Blue FC, Taylor reflects on her time at the University and the parts of Penn State she carries with her today.
What initially sparked your interest in Penn State?
Growing up, I had a cousin who majored in Broadcast Journalism at Penn State. She’d tell me how amazing Penn State was and about the friends she made and the exciting things she was learning. Her passion really stuck with me. Even as a kid, I knew I wanted an experience like that for myself.
When did you decide that Penn State was the right fit for you?
I attended my first football game at Beaver Stadium when I was 15, and I was blown away. The students and fans energized the stadium like nothing I’d ever seen before. Seeing the crowd united as one community, I realized that this was the feeling my cousin had described. Penn State became the only option for me.
Tell us about a standout memory from your time as a student.
I had awesome experiences during my internships in marketing and promotions with Intercollegiate Athletics. From developing marketing plans and game day promotions to interacting with the fans directly, I got real-world experience in an area I love. I always said that I’d rather work on game day than hang out with my friends!
How did Complete Penn State change your college experience?
There came a point when I wasn’t sure if I could afford to continue taking classes. The donors who established my scholarship made a huge difference in my life during a really difficult time. Without their support, I would have fallen one semester short of graduation. Today I have a career in an industry that I love. I take every opportunity to thank University donors and share just how important this program was to me. I can’t put into words how grateful I am, but I’m going to keep trying for a very long time.
If you could create your own endowment, what would you fund?
I would choose to support something like Complete Penn State so I could be there for students at a point where they feel lost and don’t know what the future is going to hold. And now, through all of the challenges of COVID-19, this program is going to matter more than ever.
You earned your degree last December and participated in the University’s virtual commencement ceremony in May. How did you feel on graduation day?
It felt surreal. I wish I could have been there in person, but my Penn State experience taught me how to be flexible and adapt to unexpected circumstances. Being able to say that I have a degree from the University is my dream come true. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.