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A (Candle) Light in the Dark

In the midst of perhaps the most emotionally and mentally grueling week of most of our lives, we were left searching. Searching for a sliver of light in the middle of all of the chaos. A light of normalcy. A light of unity. A light of hope. Last night I found more than a singular light. I stood among over 10,000 students, alumni, and State College residents in what was the most beautiful gathering I’ve ever been a part of. So many times this week, we’ve been distraught about our now controversial coaching legend and have forgotten about the chief issues at hand. For about an hour, it wasn’t about Joe Paterno and football, it was about the victims of the Sandusky child abuse scandal and their families. That’s how it should’ve been.The most heartfelt words of the night arrived from Dustin Yenser, a teacher and PSU alum. He firmly addressed the crowd and the victims; “We are Penn State and we are sorry.” Those are the words that I’ve been looking for, but am often unable to communicate. The sorrow in his voice drew tears from many, including myself.

Former football player LaVar Arrington spoke next. His calm but stern voice brought a belief in better days to come to the audience. “The challenge has been issued and we will answer the call,” he said. Judging from the turnout last night, I feel that we’ve answered the call.We’ve been under the world’s spotlight for a week now. We just witnessed a campus once filled with utter disappointment, disbelief, and division; suddenly turn hopeful, heartfelt, and united. That is how the Penn State I know responds. Through adversity and strife, we always come together to make a positive impact on the community and the world.

That is what we did tonight.

As I swayed to the Alma Mater with my friends, tears dripping down my face for the better part of the medley, I genuinely felt a sense of harmony amongst us all. Given the amount of hate received from people outside of the Penn State family, the support from friends and alum is what keeps me going. I realized that in tough times such as these, we must rely and trust each other to overcome this prolonged suffering.

As LaVar told us, the challenge has been issued. This vigil should’ve motivated all of us to answer the call. It is a steep, tough challenge, indeed, but in time, we will bounce back. We have over a half a million of the world’s greatest men and women anxiously awaiting to help our cause as well as the healing of the victims affected. Just take a look at #ProudPSUforRAINN, which at this time has raised $234,540 towards helping victims and survivors of sexual abuse. Students are also volunteering inside Beaver Stadium at the game against Nebraska to collect donations.

Penn State has never let me fail, so I’m going to return the favor here, and say that I won’t let Penn State fail. In time we will rebound, we will restore our image, and we will recover.

LaVar repeatedly told us, “This could be the greatest story ever told.”

Who wants to help me write Chapter One?

(Thanks to Jess Sever and Kyle Harris for putting together such an inspiring event.)

About the Author

Ryan Beckler

Ryan is a senior in the Smeal College of Business majoring in Marketing. He is a Lion Ambassador who loves giving tours to prospective students. His favorite activities include distributing news and consuming Chipotle.

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