Senior Column: Make These Years Your Own
Most people that meet me for the first time assume that I’ve been a die-hard Penn State fan for years and I wish it were true. But, I applied to Penn State on a complete whim and here I am today, writing a senior column for the most-read news source at Penn State that was barely even heard of when I took my first steps on this campus.
When I was a senior in high school, I knew I wanted to take a different path than those before me. Both of my parents and my three older sisters graduated from schools in New Jersey. Although I’m ridiculously passionate about the place that I’m from, I felt the need to go somewhere new, and I’m so glad that I did.
When I got here in August of 2009, I never realized my full potential. I had never heard of a single one of the clubs that I became heavily involved in. I never thought I would be a “President,” an “Overall,” or even a “Staff Writer.”
Originally, I wanted to be a physical therapist. Soon enough, though, I realized that science was not my strong suit. I was so unbelievably worried about what my parents would say when I talked to them about changing my major. It took me a solid week to build up the courage to call my mom and talk to her about it. She couldn’t have been more supportive and told me that it has nothing to do with what she wants to do for the next 4 years, but what I want to do.
To this day, I don’t know what my college career would have been like without that phone call. It made me realize that it’s not up to your parents, or your siblings, your friends, or your professors. These 4 years are up to you, entirely.
From then on, I started branching out and joining clubs. I can’t count on two sets of hands the amount of listservs I joined throughout my freshman year because I have a serious case of, what I now realize is called, FOMO (For those who don’t know, this is the Fear Of Missing Out).
Early on, I realized that the BJC would become my home. I went to all the men’s and women’s basketball games my freshman year and joined Nittany Nation as a sophomore. I went to a meeting by myself because the people I went to games with weren’t really interested in getting more involved.
Within a month of joining the club, I was driving to Indianapolis with 12 other people to watch the team take on the Big Ten Tournament. Soon enough, I had an officer position and found my passion at Penn State.
Later on, I found Relay For Life of Penn State. Some people had never even heard of Relay this time last year. Now, they know that we broke the fundraising total by over $28,000, doubled the amount of survivors participating, and had more teams and participants than ever before.
I had an amazing time here at Penn State because I did what I wanted to. I drove all over, from Boston to Chicago, to see Penn State Basketball with Nittany Nation. I took classes that involved tweeting for a better grade. I went to the Czech Republic for a week to learn about their culture thanks to an awesome professor. I went out on a limb and applied to be an Overall for Relay For Life and ended up meeting my best friends for life. I helped put together a Homecoming event that no one had ever heard of, and managed to get a bounce-house in the HUB approved for it. I interned with B94.5 when I never would have thought I could work with radio and now absolutely love waking up at 4 a.m. to go to work. I met a 4-year-old THON child and his family who will always have a special place in my heart because of the incredible work of THON. I got to meet Joe Paterno, twice. And, of course, I defended Kevin Horne in an article and now have the opportunity to write about the place that I love on a daily basis.
I haven’t listed these things to boast or to show you my resume, but, instead, to show you the amount of things you can do in such a small amount of time here, and to show you that all of these things were up to me. I didn’t have to do any of them, but I wanted to.
Each student’s collegiate career is kind of like every snowflake — no two will ever be the same. So don’t be embarrassed to try something that your friends don’t like or would never think of doing. Don’t be afraid to march to the beat of your own drum. This is your education and your college experience. Shape it however you’d like to.
Someone who had a major influence on my college years taught me that, although there aren’t a lot of things in life we can control, one thing we can always change is our attitude. We are in total control of what we want to achieve.
So take the classes that will interest you, not just the ones that will give you an easy A, or the ones your friends are taking. Go to different sporting events, find a club that fits you. Find those obscure places on campus, try all the restaurants and bars downtown. Go on road trips with friends. Join a blog. Try a new hobby. Make a bucket list and finish it by senior week. And, of course, go to Penn State basketball games!
Whatever you do, don’t let anybody influence your decisions because, in the end, when you graduate, it’s your name on the diploma.