'Good Morning' Penn State: Alumni Association chapter connects with Lara Spencer

Editor's Note: This story originally appeared in AlumnInsider, the Penn State Alumni Association's monthly member e-newsletter. You can click here for information on becoming a member, and you can follow the Alumni Association on Facebook and Twitter for more stories and updates on events.

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Lynn Hendrickson, president of the Penn State Alumni Association’s New York City Chapter, says the Big Apple alumni group usually stays busy, participating in a variety of activities and regularly hearing from businesses and entertainment companies about potential events.

But one email she received last month was anything but typical.

“For the first 10 minutes, I thought it was spam,” Hendrickson said, laughing a little.

Actually, the message was the exact opposite. Instead, Hendrickson and her fellow Penn Staters were offered a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and it was real.

Journalist and network personality Lara Spencer, class of 1991, wanted to hang out with them on national television.

“It was really exciting,” Hendrickson said.

In early January, about a dozen members of the Alumni Association’s New York City Chapter were part of a “Good Morning America” segment that featured Spencer preparing a plate of Nittany Nachos, her tailgating go-to food made in honor of her days at Penn State. Additionally, members of Penn State's Kappa Delta sorority joined the chapter on set; Spencer is a sister, belonging to the sorority while a student. 

The segment was part of a weeklong series in which the show’s anchors and hosts each prepared a tailgating favorite that was inspired by their alma mater. You can click here to watch a video clip of Spencer making her Nittany Nachos with the chapter members on set.

“I was so proud to have my fellow alumni with me in the studio to celebrate our Penn State pride,” Spencer said. “I may be biased, but I don’t think there is a school out there with greater spirit than Penn State. We have overcome a lot and nothing gets us down. We are resilient. We are loyal. We Are.”

Everything happened quickly.

After the initial surprise subsided, Hendrickson conferred with the group’s board of directors and responded to the email, sent by one of the show’s production assistants asking — per Spencer’s request — if the group could round up some members and appear on the show the following day.

There was a flurry of activity, Hendrickson said, and the group posted the opportunity to its Facebook page, asking who was interested. Eleven members responded within 15 minutes, and they showed up at the studio the following day, about an hour ahead of time.

“Everyone was dressed in Penn State gear,” Hendrickson said. “We had brought a bunch of shakers, and it was festive.”

Chapter members saw some celebrities and watched the show while waiting for their cue, and they weren’t disappointed when they got their chance to appear on national television.  

Spencer chatted with the chapter members during a commercial break, posing for a photo and even wearing a chapter T-shirt on air as the show wrapped up.

“I was really impressed by Lara’s Penn State pride,” Hendrickson said. “She definitely is a Penn Stater through and through, and she got us started in a bunch of ‘We Are’ chants.”

“It was great when she came over and talked to us, and you could tell we were making real connections. She was asking chapter members where their favorite place to study was (when they were a student), and she is a true Penn Stater. We really appreciated her reaching out to us.”

In addition to co-anchoring “Good Morning America,” Spencer authored, “I Brake For Yard Sales,” a New York Times bestseller about interior design. Her love of design also led her to create and produce the series “Flea Market Flip” for HGTV, which is currently in its fifth season.

While at Penn State, Spencer studied broadcast journalism and was a nationally ranked diver. More recently, she served as the Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal in 2014.

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Last Updated February 12, 2016