Leaving home: A graduate’s story

Christine Kilbride
May 05, 2016

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Tomorrow night, along with the 13,000 other members of the Class of 2016, I will graduate from Penn State.

And to be honest, I’m not too happy about it.

I’ve found that this rollercoaster of emotions called “senior year” is akin to the seven stages of grief:

1. Shock/disbelief: This stage set in early, when I returned to State College in August for my last band camp with the Blue Band.

2. Denial: Throughout most of the fall, I could ease my worries away by thinking, “I have a whole semester left! Graduation is ages away.”

3. Anger: Cue the dreaded job hunt.

4. Bargaining: Staying for one more semester couldn’t hurt, right? I’ve always wanted a minor in Arabic.

5. Guilt: But what would I do with that new “Penn State Alum” bumper sticker my parents got me?

6. Depression: I haven’t quite conquered this one yet. My current coping methods include junk food and Season 7 of Gilmore Girls.

7. Acceptance: Give me a few more days. Maybe weeks.

It may seem silly, to dread such a happy occasion.

But I bet amongst my fellow classmates, I am not alone.

I’m grieving because I love this place.

When I arrived in State College four years ago, it was a whole new world. There were new people to meet, classes to take, restaurants to try and places to explore.

And I have to say I was never bored.

I played piccolo in the Penn State Blue Band. I joined the business staff at the Daily Collegian. I took classes in the College of Communications, political science and Spanish. I met Coach Franklin and President Barron. I tried every pizza place downtown. I saw Billy Joel perform at the Bryce Jordan Center, and John Mulaney at the Eisenhower Auditorium.

I had a long bucket list, and I’m down to my last check mark.

The last item on my list was to thank each person that made my Penn State experience special.

To the members of the Blue Band, thanks for being the best friends a girl could ask for. I wouldn’t have wanted to wake up at 6 a.m. on a Saturday with anyone else.

To the College of Communications faculty, you taught me in more ways than I can count. I’m grateful for your lessons, tough critiques and real-world guidance.

To the Alumni Association staff, thank you for believing in me. You have been my biggest cheerleaders, no matter what challenge I have taken on.

To my wonderful parents, you are, and always will be, my greatest support system. From preschool to college, you never missed a recital, concert or award ceremony. So I hope you know that this degree is not just for me. It’s a testament to the home you built for me, the lessons you taught me, and the love you’ve shown me every day of my life.

And my final thank you goes to Penn State. Thank you for giving me a home away from home. Thank you for introducing me to amazing people. Thank you for giving me memories I’ll never forget.

It may be corny, but the saying is true. The best things in life can’t last forever.

So here I am. Days away from stepping into the “real world.” And to be honest, I don’t know exactly what the future has in store.

But I do know that I’ll always have Penn State, and my Nittany Lion family to turn to.

After all — home is where the heart is. 

  • Christine Kilbride

    From playing piccolo in the Blue Band to seeing rock stars and world-class comedians on campus, Penn State graduate and Alumni Association intern Christine Kilbride reflects on four years well spent on the University Park campus in her farewell column. 

    IMAGE: Christine Kilbride

(Media Contacts)

Last Updated May 05, 2016