Alumni Association intern and newly minted alumna reflects on Penn State career

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Penn State has given me the best four years of my life.

That is a jarring understatement, but I have no other way to express this sentiment.

I would say that I owe Penn State my first-born child, but we all know that my kids are coming here, anyway. I don’t know how else to thank this University for all it has given to me, but throughout the rest of this column, I’ll try.

This past Saturday at graduation, I had to say goodbye to my time as a student, and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. I wasn’t looking forward to it — not one bit.

It’s a weird feeling knowing that some of the best moments of your life are the ones you’re currently living, and you can’t help but miss them, long for them, even as they’re happening to you. I know I should listen to people when they tell me that great things lie ahead, but I can’t help but wonder if it will ever feel like this again, if I’ll ever feel things so deeply ever again.

Sadly, I’ll see most of the people I’ve met and become such close friends with only a handful of times over the course of my life — not because we won’t try to stay in touch, but because we all have our own paths to carve, adventures to seek, and worlds to change.

I may never return to and get to sit on the burgundy couch of 602 — my apartment for the past three years — on a Sunday morning with my four best friends, procrastinating our homework by reminiscing and laughing about the antics of the night before.

Never again will I be in walking distance from almost every person I love, or sit on a balcony and watch the sunset behind Old Main’s bell tower on a purple and orange tie-dye sky, or stand for 46 hours THON Weekend with the greatest organization, FOTO, to show the world just how strong a child can be.

I may never live these exact feelings, these emotions, these experiences ever again, but I feel so, so fortunate to have experienced them at all.

This wouldn’t be a senior column without imparting some of the many things I’ve learned from my time at Penn State, so here are a few:

I’ve learned not to wait for the perfect moment to tell the people you love that you love them, because perfect moments are hard to come by, and moments themselves are fleeting.

I’ve learned to appreciate and celebrate the moment that you’re in — to find beauty in the here and now, and to not fear the things that haven’t happened yet.

I’ve learned to check the weather. Seriously, always check the weather.

I’ve learned that when you love something so deeply, four years just isn’t enough — but, then again, I’m not sure any amount of time would be.

I’ve learned that I am so fortunate to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard. I feel blessed to have something that I never want to let go of.

I’ve learned that who you are is far more important than how you dress, where you work, or the people you know. That you should take chances and chase opportunity, because this place has a lot to offer. That when you put kindness and goodness out into the world, you’ll see that kindness and goodness reciprocated back to you. That there are people out there who want to help you succeed, and that you should spend your life thanking them by helping someone else.

I’ve learned that life is hard and we’re all just trying to figure it out.

I’ve learned that there’s a lot to smile about, but that no one is above a good cry every now and then.

I’ve learned that you have to do your best to grab the moments as they’re flying at you, and find peace with the reality that you will never be able to grab them all.

And most importantly, I’ve learned that while Penn State is a place, it is also a feeling. And while I may be leaving it, it will never, ever leave me.

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(You can stop reading here, if you want, but there are some people I really want to thank.)

To the admissions counselors at the University of North Carolina who rejected me four years ago — thank you for saving me from lifelong regret. 

To my amazingly supportive people at the Alumni Association — thank you for taking a chance on me, for trusting me, and for allowing to me learn so much from you. You guys rock.

To my FOTO Family — thank you for choosing me back, for tolerating my jokes, and for showing me the very best life has to offer. I love you.

To my family (Pops, Kar, J, and Nugget) — thank you for instilling within me a voice that I promise to use to change the world one day. Also, thank you for being insane and unorthodox and brilliantly dysfunctional — you’ve given me a lot of material to write about, tweet about, and talk about. I love you.

To my home girls in 602 — thank you for joining me in living and breathing the mantra, “Win some, lose most.” You guys are the absolute worst. I love you more than life.

And to the University that did, in fact, mold me into who I am and who I want to be — thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I love you more than you will ever know.

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Last Updated May 09, 2017