What “WE ARE PENN STATE” really means

When I was just dewey-eyed Junior in High-School, I came to visit my now alma mater, Penn State, in the tiny town of State College, Pennsylvania. I didn’t know much about what I wanted out of my college experience at the time, but I thought I knew that this football-crazed University was just not for me.

My dad eventually talked me into a last-minute visit on our way back from an edgy arts college in the middle of downtown Baltimore. When I arrived at Penn State I was immediately in awe of everything around me. In one of the larger tour groups for that day, tons of students yelled “WE ARE” at us as we passed the library, the HUB, and one of the many on-campus “beaches,” where students spend time between classes or just hanging out on the lawn outside of some old collegiate-esque buildings. I fell in love at first sight. Penn State captured my heart from the first time someone shouted “WE ARE …” at me. I was astounded by the school spirit, overcome by the possibilities, and dying to be a part of this amazing Penn State culture. I already thought I knew what “WE ARE PENN STATE” really meant.

Here’s what I thought …

Football

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and endless academic opportunities

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… and it is those things. However, as I reflect on my time at Penn State I have come to realize it is so much more than that. I never could have imagined the ways that this University has changed my life. It’s even crazier to think how different my life would be if I had chosen that small downtown arts college.

Now, when I say “WE ARE PENN STATE” it means so much more.

“WE ARE PENN STATE” means starting out small, and thanking God that he sent you somewhere else first …

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… because if he didn’t, you’re life never would have been the same.

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It’s the first time you’ll live away from home …Image… and the first person you’ll live with besides mom and dad …

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… and the girls on your floor who–if you’re lucky–become your best friends.

ImageBut, don’t worry, you’ll never let go of those friends at home …

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It means your first apartment …

ImageIt’s not much, but when its filled with the right people, it’s just enough.

ImageIt’s all the shenanigans you’ll get into …

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… and the PSU students who invented things to assist you in said schenaigans.

ImageIt’s that place where roommates become sisters.

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ImageIt’s a time of big changes at home too. It’s how your family keeps growing …

Image… and growing.

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The place where you’ll make SO many incredible friends.

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ImageIt’s happily ever after in the making …

Image… with someone you can laugh with …

Image…and grows you …

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… and inspires you …

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… and loves you just as much as you love him.

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He might just become part of your family …

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… both of your families …

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… and you part of his.

ImageHe’ll probably help you meet some of your new best friends …

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Image… but you’ll still keep the old.

ImageMostly, because they’re just as weird as you …

Image… really, really weird …

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… and you’ll take them with you wherever you go.

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ImageIt’s the place where you’re roommates change, and friends come and go …

Image… but you’ll always know in your heart who’s true.

ImageSo, you see Penn State isn’t just a late night CATA bus ride …

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… or a football game in the student section.

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Those things are just a bonus. The real Penn State is in the incredible journey that each past, present, and future Penn Stater takes. It’s a journey to find those girls you’ll never forget …

Image… that group of people who inspire you …

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… and where your dreams become a reality.

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” WE ARE PENN STATE” means knowing that lives can change in only 46 hours …

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… and pride in knowing that we are, always have been, and always will be.

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Its sitting on the Old Main lawn, studying and thinking about your future …

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… or the times you talk about your dreams and your future with that person you fell in love with a couple years back …

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… or just saying “screw that” and head to Cafe.

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Because life is too perfect in State College, where the real world doesn’t seem to exist and everyday feels like vacation. “WE ARE PENN STATE” means knowing that this place really is the Happiest Valley in the world.

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“WE ARE PENN STATE” is an acknowledgement of one big place, in one small town, leaving a permanent mark on everything you are.

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But most of all, “WE ARE PENN STATE” is in the people. It’s the people who made your experience everything it was supposed to be. The people who brought you to right here, and right now. It’s the people who were there in the beginning …

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Image… that stayed until the end.Image

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“WE ARE PENN STATE” isn’t just a battle cry during a football game, or something Penn Staters say to brag or boast. “WE ARE PENN STATE” is something we say out of pride. Being proud of Penn State means being proud of yourself. Because Penn Staters all know, deep down, that this University has made us who we are. Not just through the football, the culture, the textbooks and lectures. No, being a Penn Stater means that you’ve gone on that amazing, incredible, unreal, four-year journey that brought you to here and now and to those people who have touched your life forever.

The first tim I said “WE ARE PENN STATE” I never imagined that I would have ended up where I am today. I never knew that one small place could have such an impact on me, and that a group of people that define the “WE” in “WE ARE PENN STATE” could have shifted my life in such a way.

All I have to say is, thanks, Dad, for taking me to a place that I never wanted to be.

WE ARE …

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