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From The Balance Beam To The Boardroom: Jennifer Crispell’s Penn State Journey

As a student, Jennifer Crispell spent her time at Penn State on the balance beam as part of the women’s gymnastics team. Thirteen years later, she does her work on campus in a much more conventional office — the Business Building.

Crispell (née Orlando) now works as the director of alumni relations for the Smeal College of Business, where she helps connect Smeal alumni back to the college through events, initiatives, and programs. She joined Smeal in June 2010, originally working as a special events assistant for the alumni relations office.

A Northern Virginia native, Crispell started gymnastics at age three and knew she wanted to continue her career in college, but wasn’t sure what school would be the best fit for her. After visiting Penn State in 2001, she knew this was the place she would call home for the next four years.

“I came on a visit here to Penn State and just kind of fell in love with it,” Crispell said. “From the moment I stepped foot on campus, I thought it was just a really great place.”

During her time on the gymnastics team, she competed mostly on the floor exercise and vault. She was an all-around specialist in her junior and senior seasons.

Crispell earned her bachelor’s degree in advertising/public relations in 2006. After graduation, she worked as an intern for the State College Spikes in its inaugural season before assuming the role of director of promotions and community relations in 2007.

Crispell said what she misses most about gymnastics is the thrill of competing in Rec Hall and the excitement of being with her teammates. One of the highlights of her career was the women’s team qualifying for the NCAA Championship in 2005, the first time during her tenure.

She says there isn’t much of a difference between being at Penn State as a student and as an employee, other than the fact that she’s now living in State College and raising a family.

“As a student-athlete, I felt responsible for representing Penn State well, especially while competing,” Crispell said. “Now, I want to represent it well by working hard and doing my job to the best of my ability. By doing my job well and engaging alumni back to Smeal and Penn State, I can help give students a positive college experience like I had.”

While being a student-athlete is no easy task, Crispell said her experience has taught her how to balance her responsibilities and important life lessons, both now and back then.

“Even though I am balancing very different responsibilities now, I feel like it helped prepare me for the challenges of being a working mother,” she said. “I also learned some very important lessons about teamwork, friendship, and respect for others.”

Crispell stays involved with the women’s gymnastics program through the Varsity ‘S’ Club as a volunteer, working with the Nittany Lion Club staff to encourage other alumni to partake in the program through reunions, fundraising, and interacting with the current team.

“My teammates and coaches were like my family,” Crispell said. “Looking back, the experiences we shared together, both in and out of the gym, were unforgettable and had a profound impact on my journey after graduation.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Sadly, Mackenzie graduated from Penn State in 2022. She majored in English and served as one of Onward State's associate editors. You can keep up with her life and send compliments to @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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