I still remember my first Onward State party.
Let’s backtrack a bit before we get to that: I came to Penn State, despite never having aspirations of coming here. When my third grade teacher asked us where we wanted to go to college, I was the only boy in my class who had any idea.
I wanted to go to Syracuse and play basketball. Childlike enthusiasm is the best, ain’t it?
A few years later, when I was in 8th grade, I was a fat, depressed, friendless loser who was in the middle of one of the ugliest divorces that Utica, New York had ever seen (UPDATE: I’m still a fat, friendless loser, but I’m not depressed!). I didn’t want to do anything with my life. I was content sitting on a couch, playing video games and eating pizza rolls until my untimely death at 33 years old. I had no aspirations of college.
Hell, prior to, say, the end of 10th grade, I still didn’t really want to go to college. I had just finished my sophomore year at Morris Catholic High School in Denville, N.J., and had spent the last two years living with my grandparents. I saw my dad and sisters two or three times a month, and by that time, I had stopped talking to my mom, something that I still haven’t done. It’s been seven years now. Pretty unfortunate.
It wasn’t until my senior year at Danville High School in Danville, Pa., that I had any idea of what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a sports journalist, mostly because I wanted to be an athlete when I was a kid. Unfortunately, there are various skill and athleticism hindrances that prevented that from happening. So why not get paid to talk about sports? I AM A GENIUS, I TELL YA.
I started my college career at Penn State Altoona. I had no intention of finishing it here, in Happy Valley. After working my ass off during my first three semesters, I had a high GPA and a transfer form for North Carolina all filled out, and if I didn’t get in there, I was going somewhere else. I’ve moved six times in my life, I can’t stay in one place too long, and I decided my time at Penn State was through.
I discarded the transfer form. It was the best decision of my life.
I came to University Park in fall of 2012. I joined ComRadio (which I’ve since left), then Black Shoe Diaries, then Onward State. I had zero intention of doing any of those things, but I decided if I wanted to get a job, I should probably do shit. So I started writing. And writing. Then I decided to write some more. I write for so many places that our Managing Editor calls me a whore. He also calls me that because he’s a prick, but that’s neither here nor there.
Ok, back to the opening sentence. My first Onward State party. It was at an apartment in Meridian II. Like most OS parties, someone showed up and told us to tune it down because
apartment cops are the absolute worst and bust every party us OSers RAGE SO HARD. I leave with then-ME Dave Cole and former Social Media Manager David Morar.
While we’re walking, Dave turns to me and gives me the best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten.
“You’re in college. Do things. If the opportunity comes up to do something or, like, sleep, do something.”
It’s a simple piece of advice. It’s also an important piece of advice: You have four years here. It’s the last four years of your life that you get to be something other than some schmuck going to your job, trying to earn a paycheck and supporting a family.
Take advantage of your time up here. There are opportunities at Penn State – whether they be social, athletic, academic, professional, whatever – that you can’t get anywhere else in the world. You don’t need to take advantage of them, because some people don’t like fun or smiling or having a good time. If you’ve ever thought, “doing this random thing that sounds cool, maybe I should do that,” put aside all your reservations and do it.
Go to parties. Go to games. Go to class when you can. If there’s a concert, go to that. Do bar crawls. Climb Mount Nittany. Get involved with clubs and other stuff around campus. Hell, if you and your roommate want to go get lunch in Pittsburgh, get in a car and go to Pittsburgh.
Doing spontaneous stuff is the best thing about college. So do spontaneous stuff. Worry about real life later. It’s more fun that way.
Before I finish, I wanna thank a few people who have helped me out with this whole journalism/life thing:
- Of course, I want to thank my dad and my sisters for everything. I hate all three of you. You guys are the best.
- I want to thank Debra Berger and Michael Fleming of Danville Area High School for telling me I can do this journalism thing and not suck at it. I also want to thank Michael Mast for making me realize Penn State wasn’t awful.
- I certainly can’t thank all of my friends who have supported me through everything, because I’d forget one and you horrible people would make me feel awful. I love you guys.
- To Ryan Smith, Jeff Junstrom, and Dave Cole – the guys who brought me onto ComRadio, BSD, and OS – you are fools. And every day, I am glad that you guys made the horrible decision to hire me.
- Everyone at Onward State and BSD – the list is too long to personally thank everyone – for putting up with my excessive silliness and douchebaggery over the last year or so, and making me a better writer.
- To the amazing people at SLAM Magazine, thanks for help me achieve a dream of mine for a long time: writing for my favorite magazine from the time I was 10 years old. Also thanks to Ryan Jones for all the help he’s given me. And by “help” I mean “beer.”
- Lastly, I wanna thank my dog. Just for being chill.