Goodbye, Dear Old State

I remember the first time I stepped on Penn State soil.

 

It was not earth shattering or monumental or anything like a movie. It was raining hard and I was stuck outside in it. We were all shoved into a tour group that breezed through a campus that was just buildings to me on a pretty piece of land with a bunch of random facts. It was a school, nothing more and nothing less. But I knew it was the place for me.

 

So I came back as a freshman and moved into a tiny dorm to start a life I never could have even imagined. I had no clue what “we are Penn State” meant at the time. But now, as a senior, I reflect on these past four years and I know that this place is not just a place on a map – it is a home, in my heart.

 

The shell of buildings and structures became filled with the friends I made, classes I took, Saturday football games, and weekend parties. I cried here harder than I have ever cried, I have laughed more than ever before, and I’ve been hurt and I’ve been healed. I’ve been lost, I’ve been found. I’ve been eighteen and twenty-one, but I have not grown in years but as a person too. Penn State gave me the kind of happiness you could never imagine and it was right beneath the surface on that rainy tour day back when I was just a kid. You don’t just learn in the classrooms here. I learned at 3:00 in the morning in a downtown apartment that I had made the best friendships I have ever had in my life.

 

It was on a Saturday at Beaver Stadium that I knew what it was to be a part of something that made me feel alive.

 

It was in the library, tears in my eyes, that I realized what I wanted to do with my life and that I was destined to be whatever I wanted to be.

 

You can talk for hours about the education and what you learned but Penn State taught me so much more than what I read in an overpriced textbook. It taught me that life is so worth it – and that I was too. When we take our last class and walk on campus for the last time and throw our graduation caps in the air we walk away as completely different people than we were when we experienced all our firsts here. We’ve spent years here and it’s become a home in all sorts of the word, it is the place we always came back to. But now it’s time to move on and leaving behind dear old state is bittersweet. We are not leaving a place, we are leaving a home. And like all goodbyes, it isn’t easy.

 

Thank you, Penn State. The countless memories and friendships and amazing moments I’ve had here have shaped me as a person and given me a life I never dreamt of. Despite everything, there is not one single thing I would change about my time here. The blue and white will always be in our blood as a foundational part of who we are and who we are destined to be. 1460 days we have been students here. 48 months. 35,040 hours. 2,102,400 minutes. And every last second of it has been worth it. Penn State isn’t just a place to me, it is a home. I may have to leave this school, but it will never leave my heart.