Entering Temple University with dreams to become a famous actress and leaving with a spot at Harvard Law School was not the journey that Lorielle Pankey, KLN '00, had anticipated. But one of the skills she learned at Klein College of Media and Communication was how to adapt. Now, she serves as an associate general counsel and the designated agency ethics official for the United States Federal Trade Commission. Without the space for self-discovery provided to her at Temple University, she may be trekking a different path.
Pankey grew up nearby in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C., not knowing much about Philadelphia. But when her academic scholarships allowed her to receive an education at Temple, she decided to give the city a try. Her desire to be a successful actress drove her to Temple's theatre program, while her practicality also led her to study physical therapy and join the Honors Program. It took a suggestion from someone at the school to convince her to speak with Associate Professor Karen Turner in the Department of Journalism about finding the right fit for her. After speaking with her, Pankey realized that she wanted to pursue broadcast journalism for the rest of her undergraduate studies.
"It was good that Temple allowed me to explore," Pankey says. "It seemed like a safe place to branch out on my own but not go too far."
Turner believes that students who have several options like Pankey tend to feel at home in the Journalism Department, as it provides "a firm liberal arts education as well as the focus on journalism."
"We really pride ourselves in feeling that we are training the next generation of citizens — engaged citizens, hopefully," Turner says.
To help give herself some clarity, Pankey decided to take on activities that merged her interests. She was a part of Temple University Television, which strengthened her production and on-camera skills. During her junior year, she participated in Klein College's Los Angeles study away program. She was able to put herself in front of people in the entertainment industry — even working on the set of the documentary television show E! True Hollywood Story — but also increasingly found herself with professional offers in journalism.
While in Los Angeles, Pankey interned with CNN, where her exceptionalism was noticed by CNN's assignment editors and she received a job offer. But the proposition gave her the clarity she needed: maybe journalism, despite all of its excitement, was not what she wanted to do after all. Pankey returned to Temple for her senior year and decided to apply to Harvard Law School, even though she was uncertain about attending. When she got in and was debating whether or not to go, Turner encouraged her to follow through. It turned out to be the right decision.
"I liked that Temple had so many strengths," Pankey says. "There were so many strong departments. There were other things that I never explored that I could have if my interests went there. So I think all-in-all, I just felt like if you went there you would be OK, you would do well and you had the opportunity to succeed in a variety of different fields."
In her current role as an attorney and ethics officer, this is true. Pankey thrives while working on her many responsibilities, including advising employees who litigate cases and guiding them to make ethical decisions. She also leads live training sessions and contributes to newsletters, all of which utilize the communication and leadership skills she learned at Klein College.
Pankey is also continuing the Temple tradition of paying it forward for others. While completing a detail as ethics counsel in former U.S. vice president Joe Biden's office, she invited Turner to tour the west wing of the White House. She also set up group tours of the east wing of the White House and the Capitol Building for Temple's Honors Program. In 2018, Pankey was a panelist for Temple Women Network's "Shattering Glass Ceilings" event, where panelists discussed maneuvering through their careers as "outliers" in their professions. Turner recognizes that many people in Pankey's position would not give back like she does, but that's because very few had to take the road that she did.
"Maybe every decade there are a couple of really special students who I interact with," Turner says. "[Pankey] is at the top of the list. She's special."