Q&A: Alumni Association's Phoenix Chapter ready for 'huge opportunity'

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Nittany Nation is set to descend upon the Valley of the Sun later this month for the Fiesta Bowl, and both of the Arizona-based Alumni Association chapters are roaring to go. Click here to read a Q&A with the Tucson Chapter, and learn how the Phoenix Chapter is preparing for a big week in the Alumni Association’s Q&A below with chapter president Ron Caccese, a 2015 Penn State graduate. 

Penn State Alumni Association: What are your chapter’s plans for the Fiesta Bowl, and how important are these next few weeks, leading up to the game? 

Ron Caccese: Our chapter will be hosting a welcome party on Friday, Dec. 29, starting at 6 p.m., at The District in Old Town, Scottsdale. We hope that everyone is as excited as we are about the game, but if not, a night out in the Scottsdale entertainment district will certainly set the atmosphere. We will also be holding a chapter tailgate at McFadden’s in Westgate, which is a very short walk from the University of Phoenix Stadium. We’ve been working very hard to make sure the preparations for these events are executed perfectly because we want to set a good tone for the weekend.

Penn State Alumni Association: How much of an opportunity is the Fiesta Bowl for your chapter, and what will your messages be for alumni/Penn Staters you meet? 

Ron Caccese: The Fiesta Bowl is a huge opportunity to put our chapter on the map to hopefully be heavily considered for Fiesta Bowl games in the future. My message to the alumni/Penn Staters I’ll meet would be to just come out and enjoy yourselves for a weekend in the sun. We live a pretty laid back lifestyle in Arizona, but we definitely still care just as much about Penn State, even though we’re roughly 2,000 miles from State College.

Penn State Alumni Association: Following up, what’s your message when you meet Penn Staters who don’t have any experience or prior knowledge of your chapter? How do you get them excited/engaged with what you’re doing, and how important is it to get new members into the chapter?

Ron Caccese: My message to Penn Staters who live in Phoenix and don’t know much about our chapter would be to come out to a few of our events and see how it feels like a family after a while. This is extremely important in a city like Phoenix, where most people move here for work without much prior knowledge about the state of Arizona. I’ve only been out here for about two years now and I can tell that I’ve already made some lifelong friends. We try to hold as many different types of events as possible to connect Penn Staters with all our city has to offer and our chapter is always open to suggestions for new ideas as well, so please never hesitate to ask. Penn Staters from all different generations come to our events, so everyone feels welcome.

Penn State Alumni Association: On a personal level, how exciting is it that Penn State is playing in the Fiesta Bowl, and that Penn Staters from across the country will converge on your state? How do experiences like the Fiesta Bowl bring together Penn Staters of different generations? 

Ron Caccese: Personally, I don’t think I could’ve been more excited when I saw the live announcement that Penn State was going to the Fiesta Bowl. My father has been taking me to the home Penn State football games since I was born, so living this far away from State College has made me appreciate any opportunity to watch Penn State live. Phoenix is an amazing city, and I’m excited to meet Penn Staters who travel in from all over the country (I’m sure they won’t be complaining about our winter temperatures). As a chapter, we’ve been working hard this year to grow as much as possible, so the Fiesta Bowl is really going to bring everyone together. Based on the turnout last year in Los Angeles for the Rose Bowl, Penn Staters of all generations will be at our events because a bowl game brings everyone back to their college days at State, even just for a weekend.

Penn State Alumni Association: What led you to Penn State as a student, and how has Penn State prepared you for your personal and professional life? Are there any lessons you learned at Penn State that have stayed with you? 

Ron Caccese: I grew up in a “Penn State family” with my father and many of my uncles and cousins being Penn State alumni, so I actually only applied to Penn State. After graduating from a small high school, going to Penn State taught me how to work professionally with a large group of people and why it is important to be involved in activities outside of work. Penn State gave me the confidence to move across the country for a job right out of college, knowing I’d be prepared. One of my electrical engineering professors reminded us to always question what is presented to us, because when we start working in the industry, there isn’t an answer key in the back of the book anymore and we create the solution.

Penn State Alumni Association: What are some things you’re especially looking forward to at the Fiesta Bowl? Seeing the Blue Band, cheerleaders, and Nittany Lion? The game? Tailgating? 

Ron Caccese: I’ll definitely be looking forward to our welcome party and finally going into the game. After all of the hype and planning, it will feel like we’ve been working for months to finally see this game.

Media Contacts: 
Last Updated January 15, 2018