Here are some of Penn State’s most notable and accomplished alumni

When they say we have the best alumni network in the world, they aren’t kidding

Penn State is home to thousands of students who are enrolled at University Park, the 19 commonwealth campuses, the 2 law schools, the college of medicine and, let’s not forget, the online World campus. Needless to say, the Blue and White cover a lot of ground in Pennsylvania and beyond, and there’s no doubt that we have more than one notable alumnus.

Here’s a list compiling just a few of our most famous Nittany Lions–we really are everywhere.

Mark Parker

He is the former CEO of Nike, and now has been promoted to Company Chairman. However, before this great success and ranking #24 in Fortune’s Businessperson of the year award, Parker was one o the thousands here at Penn State. He graduated in 1977 with a bachelor’s degree in political science.

Guion Bluford

Bluford graduated from dear Old State in 1964 with a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering. However, this is far from the most notable achievement he has accomplished. Bluford was the first African-American in space. In 1997, he was inducted into the International Space Hall of fame, and in 2010, he was inducted into the United States Astronaut Hall of Fame.

Ty Burrell

Ty Burrell has been featured in numerous films such as, Dawn of the Dead and Finding Dory. Currently, he stars as the “cool dad,” Phil Dunphy, on the sitcom Modern Family. Burrell has won multiple awards including a Primetime Emmy award and a Screen Actors Guild award. Before his success, Burrell was a student at Penn State working towards his master’s of fine arts degree and a member of the Theatre 100 Company. While attending graduate school, he lived out of his van to save money–we feel you, Ty.

Keegan-Michael Key

Keegan-Michael Key is a famous comedian, actor, writer and producer. Key has been in numerous TV series throughout the years, such as Key & Peele, Fargo, and MADtv, and how could anyone forget Key’s “Anger Luther” character at the White House Correspondents Dinner in 2015. Keegan-Michael Key may be Penn State’s most frequent visitors to the campus since he graduated with his master’s of fine arts in 1996.

Jef Raskin

Raskin is notorious for conceiving and starting the “Macintosh Project” for Apple. He graduated from Penn State in 1967 with a master’s in computer science. His master’s thesis was actually his first computer program which was a music program.

Ali Krieger

Not only is Ali Krieger an athletically gifted member of the United States Women’s National Soccer Team, but she is also a FIFA Women’s World Cup champion. She currently plays for the Orlando Pride of the National Women’s Soccer League, which is the highest division of women’s soccer in the United States. Before the fame, Krieger was a Penn State Nittany Lion women’s soccer team member while she balanced the demands of being an advertising and public relations major.

Lara Spencer

She attended Penn State on an athletic scholarship for springboard and platform diving and actually went on to be a nationally ranked competitive diver. However, Spencer followed her major’s path of broadcast journalism and is now a co-anchor for on Good Morning America. 

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry is a famous photographer best known for his 1984 photograph, “Afghan Girl.” This photograph appeared in National Geographic magazine, and the buzz of this photo has never died down since. McCurry has received numerous awards, including Magazine Photographer of the Year and a Royal Photographic Society’s Centenary medal. McCurry graduated with a theater arts degree in 1974.

Betty James

Betty James came up with the name for the “Slinky.” Yes, you know the one– the fun little spring toy that we loved to toss down the stairs as a kid? It was invented by her husband. Betty James later went on to run James Industries by herself in the 1960s.


Here’s to hoping we all do something to make Penn State proud– just like all of them.

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