Many THON veterans know the name Barry Bram. Bram was the THON advisor from 2007 to 2013. After he stepped down in April 2013, Interim Director of Student Activities Darcy Rameker moved into the role. With THON 2017 officially in the works after the selection of the Executive Committee, Rameker’s job is just starting up again.
Rameker is essential to the functioning and sustainability of THON. While the Executive Committee runs the show, Rameker is there supporting them every step of the way: acting as a soundboard, helping students accomplish their goals, and continuing to spread THON’s mission.
Depending on the time of year, about a quarter to half of her time is spent on THON. That time is filled with sitting in on meetings, meeting with individual members of the Executive Committee, and meeting with other university members.
With a rollover in leadership every two semesters, Rameker is one of the only consistent pieces of THON from year to year. Since she is able to see the shift of power every year, she witnesses first hand the good, and bad at times, job the organization does with transitioning and sharing relevant information.
Her position as a student advisor offers benefits that may be unintentional. “What’s interesting with advising any student organization is that every year I get older but the students leading the organization stay the same age,” she said. “It keeps me young working with students in that capacity.”
After working closely with a group of 17 students for nearly a year, Rameker jokes that it’s like she has an additional 17 kids on top of the two she has at home (a three year old and a six year old). She beams with pride over the ability to see students grow and develop over the course of a year. “What I love the most is being able to see that and be part of that growth and development,” Rameker says.
Seeing the committee through the eyes of a mother is both very rewarding and very challenging. Sometimes, the Executive Committee has to deal with tough situations. “You also see them when they’re having a difficult time…it’s hard to see them taking the brunt of that,” Rameker said.
Every year, Rameker’s favorite part of THON falls within the same few hours – the conclusion of THON weekend. “It’s in that last few moments of THON where there’s just this excitement and everyone’s in the room for the same reason and cause — it’s really inspiring.”
While THON weekend is always exciting, the relationships that develop between her family and the Executive Committee is also one of the best parts of THON. “The students are teaching my kids so much. My kids really look up to their ‘THON friends.’”
THON has taught her kids the importance of giving back. They look up to the students, who every year become their role models. Like many Penn State children, they have already fallen in love with THON. “My son asked me, ‘can I be a THON friend one day?’” Rameker said.
While the families and the kids do inspire Rameker, she is also there for the Penn State students. She is there to support the students who in turn give back to THON. “I THON so that the organization continues on and so the students can move the mission of THON forward.” Being a support system to the Executive Committee, Rameker is an integral part to the success of THON year after year.
“THON is such a big part of Penn State’s culture and I love to see that it’s something that can really unite a community around a common purpose and a common goal.”