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about 5 months ago

Guest Column: Alumni Support Key to Continued Student Success

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The following is a guest column from Dan Cocco, a candidate for one of the alumni elected seats on Board of Trustees and the former THON 2008 Overall Chairperson. Email him at dan.cocco@psualum.com or follow him on Twitter at @dancocco.

The best of Penn State was on display last weekend and for alumni, it confirms what we already know about our alma mater. THON weekend is the culmination of a yearlong effort led by students and supported by alumni, donors,volunteers, and Penn Staters everywhere. Students continue to make us proud as they stand with the families of The Four Diamonds Fund.

Joe Paterno spoke for all of us when he attended THON one year and said “When we say We Are Penn State… this is what we are talking about.”

The leaders of Penn State have a responsibility to make an unwavering commitment to the future by making sure students continue to have the tools they need to succeed.

Our tradition of excellence can be found in many areas of Penn State and throughout the world. Student researchers are directing their sights to the moon with the Lunar Lion project. Student leaders are gathering to advocate for increased state funding and have found ways to partner with the administration to change the University for the better. Student athletes continue to define success with honor in intercollegiate athletics. No wonder Penn State graduates are the most sought after by corporate recruiters.

I have great appreciation for the contributions made by alumni and University leadership in the past to make Penn State what is today. Students look to alumni for support during their educational experience and we need to answer the calling to stand with them. We need to make sure they are always at the top of the agenda, because they are the most important stakeholders at the University.

The best way to honor our past is to focus on the future by promoting the best of Penn State. There is no time to waste because the future is bright and Penn State must keep moving forward by putting students first.

The next members of the Board of Trustees and our new university president, Dr. Barron, will have to address challenges facing higher education and Penn State. The topics of affordability, faculty and staff retention and expanded student services are not unique to us. But what makes Penn State different is the passion alumni possess for our alma mater. We must seize this opportunity to lead and set the agenda for the future.

All Penn State alumni play a key role in shaping the University. We may choose to donate, mentor students, and volunteer for our local chapter. Another way to help is to vote for alumni Board of Trustees members beginning April 10. We will set the direction of the University by making an informed and thoughtful choice. Alumni can find out how to vote by visiting the Board of Trustees website or by emailing BOT@psu.edu to request an online ballot.

Like most alumni, earning my Penn State degree and my student experience are defining moments in my life. I want the same experience for current and future students.

THON is an example of what can be accomplished if we all work towards a common goal. Let’s keep working and moving forward together. There is no telling what we can achieve for Penn State.

Photo: Sean Shapiro

Photo: Sean Shapiro

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