Senior Column: Keep Your Head Up
My senior column is dedicated to the memory of my wonderful friend Jason Sees.
I’m a senior. I’m graduating. This is really real. Somehow, those are the only words I can think of as my time with Onward State comes to a close. I’m normally very good with finding the right words to say, but now? Now I can’t really think of anything. Writing this senior column is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
Maybe I should just start with the basics. I’ve been with Onward State for two years, but I’ve been reading it since I was a senior in high school, because I saw posts on Facebook from Founder Davis Shaver’s sisters, excited to share the fruits of their brother’s success. When I first started at the Harrisburg campus, reading the site made me so excited to transfer up to University Park. The summer before I transferred up, someone suggested that I should write for the site, and never in a million years did I imagine that I would be writing for a site that’s grown so much over the past four years. Since I’m a broadcast journalism major, I never really pictured myself writing for any sort of publication, but here I am. I don’t regret writing for the site at all, no matter how many times I get told I write for a tabloid publication. In fact, I’ve had a lot more fun writing for Onward State than I’ve had in any of my broadcast classes. Maybe I’m meant to be a writer instead? Who knows. I just know that in the small timeframe of two years (and they really flew by fast!), I’ve grown and changed more than I ever thought I would.
Anyway, the one thing I love the most about writing for this site is that the staff is a large family. In that large family, there’s a crazy drunk uncle, impeccably dressed grandpa, a kind, compassionate mother, a grandma who bakes you yummy things all the time, so many siblings/cousins/etc., and that one relative who just doesn’t want to leave the family gatherings. I’ll give you bonus points if you can figure out who belongs where, and I mean all of those things nicely. I love my wonderful OSFam. Every single person I’ve met on staff has been nothing but super nice, and willing to help out when needed.
Speaking of wonderful people, I cannot forget the OS Girls Club. When I started out as a writer, there really weren’t many ladies on staff. In fact, I think I could count the number of female writers on a hand and a half. Now, there’s the OS Girls Club, and I’m so happy most of us were able to grab Irving’s together, bond with each other, and send silly GroupMe messages to each other. You’ve made meetings much more enjoyable, and I’m sad that I won’t get to hang out with you gals when I graduate.
I’ve made many friendships throughout college, from Harrisburg to University Park. I’m grateful for each and every single person I’ve become friends with, as well as my family, who I simply cannot thank enough. You’ve all been fantastic people, and you (somehow) put up with my ridiculousness. I love every single one of you, and I wouldn’t be the person I am today without you guys. That sounds totally cliché, but it’s true. You’ve helped me keep my sanity when I thought I was going crazy (or rather, when everything seemed like it was going crazy). You all told me about the riots that took place last year, and worried about my well-being when I slept through them all, but that’s another story though, for another time and place. Okay. I’m done thanking people now. Let’s move on.
It seems like only yesterday I was a little baby freshman, and here I am. Ten days away from graduation. Time really flies, and that’s the scariest part about college. Everybody’s right when they say your four (or however many years you decide to go to school) years just zoom past you, and right before you graduate, you begin to realize what you should have done in your undergrad years. I’m bad with time management and organizational skills, but I’m a pro at procrastinating. Somehow, those three things together don’t mesh well, and I’m left with some regrets. But it’s important to grow from your mistakes, and teach others what not to do (i.e. DON’T PROCRASTINATE). I know that when I leave Penn State, I’m going to be more confident, wittier, more social (can you believe it?), better at being rejected, and most importantly, stronger. Everything I’ve learned here, especially over the past year or so, will stay with me forever. I’ve gotten a first-hand look at what it means to be an ethical reporter, how to report things properly, and without error, and how to deal with breaking news…just in one year. I think that’s enough experience in a short time that many people only start to get when they get out in the field!
When I think about experience, I also think about the things I’ve written for the site. I never really had a set position; I just wrote about anything and everything that interested me. I got to meet Tim Gunn and shake his hand (which was one of the highlights of the Fall semester, especially since he linked my post on his Facebook page!), meet Frank from PostSecret (and his speech came at a time that I will forever be grateful for), and even be too stunned to ask John Legend questions during the press conference. I’ve been so happy being the Natty Nittany this year, even if some people might hate me for thinking that that the male population at Penn State is part of a “sea of sweatpants, snapbacks, and sneakers.” Sorry guys. But it’s nice to see you charming gentlemen dressing nicer, now that’s it’s Spring! I’ve also gotten to interview some really fantastic people, like Olympic fencer Miles Chamley-Watson, and Dr. Madlyn Hanes, as well as several people during THON 2012, and the Director of the Four Diamonds Fund during THON 2013. I got to write a story about zombie bugs, using knowledge from my totally awesome science class. I was the unofficial Penn State Fencing reporter, even earning a Snarky for “Best in Epee” my first semester with OS, despite the fact that I’d probably be a horrible epeeist. I even made the rookie mistake of using the generic title (Musician) Rocks (Venue) for my first post, but I’m past that now.
If I don’t make it in the broadcast world, maybe I do have a future writing for some news outlet. Maybe I’ll end up writing album or concert reviews on a music site. All I know is that just from the two years I’ve been with OS, I’ve gained a plethora of experience; experience that I’ll treasure for as long as I live.
I’m still a little freaked out that I’m graduating so soon, and I’m still not quite ready to leave the bubble that is Happy Valley. I mean, as I sit here at 1:20 in the morning typing this out, I’m trying not to lose my composure by bawling my eyes out, “but I’m getting better at fighting the future.“
However, I figure I should end my senior column with some useful words of advice. Do what makes you happy, and don’t let people bring you down with harsh words. Don’t let negative comments ruin your life. Not everybody’s going to like you, and that’s okay. If someone tells you your work sucks, it’s okay to feel bad, only to push forward, to show them that they’re not the bigger person dictating your life. Embrace your college years. Take some time to breathe; you’re going to need it. College (and the future) can be incredibly hectic. When everything seems like it’s going wrong, keep your head up. Things will look up. For every bad thing that happens in life, there’s always a positive one waiting on the horizon.