Smeal spring 2020 finance marshal excels even with student-athlete demands

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — On its own, earning a degree in finance is a demanding pursuit. But when you couple that with the 20-hour-a-week commitment to a Penn State varsity sport, it creates a seemingly impossible scenario.

And yet, that’s the challenge that Orefield, Pennsylvania, native Siena Salvaggio chose to accept when she committed to Penn State as a swimmer.

Siena Salvaggio balanced the demanding curriculum of the finance major with the 20-hour-a-week commitment to the Penn State swimming and diving team. Credit: ProvidedAll Rights Reserved.

Salvaggio, who will graduate Saturday with a 4.0 GPA in finance and a minor in economics, has been named Smeal’s spring 2020 finance student marshal.

“I am honored to be able to represent the Smeal College of Business. The Smeal community embodies the best qualities of Penn State, providing opportunities for growth, community, and leadership,” she said.

“As a student-athlete, time management was crucial to my academic success. Balancing both a 20-hour-a-week athletic demand and an honors course load is a challenging task. However, Penn State Athletics has incredible resources and support systems that helped me be successful.”

Salvaggio’s list of accolades is impressive, made more so by the demands on her time. They include:

  • Schreyer Scholar
  • Big Ten Distinguished Scholar
  • Ellen Perry Academic Achievement Award
  • Evan Pugh Scholar Award
  • President Sparks Award
  • President’s Freshman Award

“One of the things that sticks in my mind, beginning on the first day that I had her in class, is how curious Siena is — with a mind like a steel trap,” said Brian Davis, clinical associate professor of finance.

“During class her junior year, I could see the wheels turning in her head. And after nearly every class Siena would come up and ask the most insightful questions," said Davis. "It is students like Siena that give old grizzled professors like me the teaching buzz that never gets old.”

Salvaggio cited Davis and Bob Novack, associate professor of supply chain management, as major influences in her academic career.

“Within the finance field, Dr. Davis has been an amazing professor and mentor throughout my experience at Smeal. I’ve taken two classes with him and I asked him to escort me at graduation as finance faculty marshal,” she said.

“Additionally, Dr. Novack was my thesis supervisor. We worked closely together over the last two years. He was a huge influence. He gave me great support, guidance, and office hours cookies throughout my time at Smeal," she said.

The title of Salvaggio’s Schreyer honors thesis — “A Financial and Logistical Analysis of the Merger Between Knight Transportation and Swift Transport” — hints at the influence of Davis and Novack and their areas of expertise.

“This student who would always apologize for asking ‘so many questions’ or for not being sure if ‘finance is my bag,’ just completed a 50-page sophisticated research thesis. You gotta love it!” Davis said.

“I know that supply chain kept tempting her, but thankfully finance was able to call her its own," he added. "It has been a sincere pleasure to be able to work with her these past two years.”

Salvaggio’s long hours of work in the classroom and in the pool have paid off. Following graduation, she will accept work at KPGM as a financial management advisory associate.

“My time at Smeal has been an incredible experience. Smeal is a large tradition in my family as both my parents are Smeal alums,” she said. “The ability to be a part of an amazing community has opened doors for my future and I am forever grateful for the meaningful relationships that I have developed over my last four years.”

Last Updated May 08, 2020