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Former Lady Lion Monroe still dishing assists to Penn State Smeal

March 23, 2021

Meredith Monroe
Meredith Monroe, who played for the Penn State women's basketball team from 2006-2010, earned a degree in finance during her playing days, and returned to Smeal to earn an MBA, concentrating in marketing, human resource management and strategic leadership. She's giving back to Smeal in a variety of ways.
Penn State Smeal College of Business alumna and former Lady Lion basketball player Meredith Monroe knew that Penn State was the right school for her the moment she first stepped onto campus for a recruiting visit back in 2005, but it took time for her to really find her place here.

“When I first enrolled, I started down the engineering route through DUS and realized pretty quickly that it wasn’t right for me. I’m a very analytical person and love numbers and Excel spreadsheets, so it turned out that business was the perfect fit,” Monroe said.

She graduated with a degree in Finance in 2010.

Monroe spent three and a half years at Boeing in a rotational program that exposed her to procurement financial analysis, integrated scheduling and overhead accounting. At the same time, she got involved with recruiting and corporate initiatives designed to engage Boeing employees and build community.

That experience helped shape her career goals.

“Working more directly with people made me realize that I wanted to change my career. The best way I thought I could do that was to go back to school and get my MBA,” she said.

Once again, Monroe saw Penn State as a perfect fit.

She said she considered the various program options offered at Smeal and ultimately chose the residential MBA. However, rather than follow a prescribed curriculum, Monroe worked closely with Smeal’s student services team to customize her degree, becoming one of the first Smeal MBA students to do so.  

Stacey Dorang Peeler, the current managing director of the Penn State Online MBA, was one of Monroe’s initial contacts in admissions and worked closely with her through her decision to enroll at Penn State.

“She was very interested in human capital, so we worked with her to get classes outside of Smeal approved for her electives. I think it speaks to the ongoing culture at Smeal to put the students first and meet their needs whenever we can,” said Dorang Peeler.

Monroe called their willingness to work with her to meet her career goals invaluable.

Today, Monroe is a manager in the People Advisory Services practice of Ernst & Young LLP (EY US). She said that her work covers almost anything that has to do with people in organizations.

Her specialization is organizational change management. That involves supporting both the organization and its employees through change or transformation. She helps visualize the future, from identifying how people are going to be impacted by the change to helping to prepare, equip, and support each impacted individual. By the time the transformation is complete, her goal is for people feel that they were a part of the journey and had a positive experience.

“It’s incredibly rewarding to know that people have the tools they need to sustain that change and feel comfortable moving forward,” she said.

Since completing her graduate degree in 2016, Monroe has made it a priority to stay connected to Smeal and the Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs, where she held a graduate assistantship and was a Bunton-Waller Scholar.

Dorang Peeler said that Monroe has been incredibly supportive of the MBA program, most notably in recruitment efforts while enrolled in the program.

Monroe said she also wanted to find ways to support Penn State student-athletes and worked closely with the Lady Lion basketball program to help prepare the athletes for life after Division I sports.

“Being a Division I athlete is like having a full-time job while also going to school. There’s very little time provided for the extracurricular activities or internships that are critically important for a business student’s success,” Monroe said. “After experiencing this challenge first-hand, I wanted to be able to help student-athletes, especially other Lady Lions, feel prepared for life after college by providing them with the mentorship and expertise they’d need for things like interviews and career fairs.”

Knowing her work ethic and commitment to diversity initiatives, Jamie Campbell, assistant dean for Diversity Enhancement Programs, asked her to join Smeal’s newly formed Diversity Alumni Advisory Board in 2017. She is currently chair of the board — the first to hold the position.

“We’ve been focused on making sure our diversity students are feeling supported and that they have what they need to succeed in business, especially over the last year when many are dealing with such unusual circumstances,” she said. “But we are also supporting the office as it plans events with corporate sponsors and continues to get alumni engaged with our diversity students.”

In recognition of her commitment to diversity and inclusion, Monroe was recognized with Smeal’s Alumni Diversity Award in 2019.

“I don’t do this work to be recognized, so to know that people thought that my involvement warranted recognition was an amazing honor,” she said.

Last fall, Monroe also stepped forward philanthropically to champion Smeal’s Giving Tuesday campaign by offering a 1:1 match for gifts to support the college’s Diversity Enhancement Programs.

The campaign, which saw a record number of donors, raised more than $14,000.

“After the events of last summer, I felt that we had a pivotal opportunity to bring the conversation about social justice to light. Raising funds for an organization that is supporting racially and ethnically diverse students speaks volumes about Smeal’s position on the issue, and I was incredibly proud to play a small role in raising awareness and support for that;” she said.

“We’re always saying if we want students to leave Smeal with one idea, it’s this: Make an impact. I’d like to think I’ve helped to make some inroads at the college, but my work is just getting started.”

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