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Full Text: President Katelyn Mullen’s Convocation Address

I would like to join President Erickson in welcoming you, the Class of 2017.

Congratulations — You are now part of a school that ensures a world-class education and experience for each and every student, one that is ranked in the top fifty of the entire world. Most importantly, you are now part of a family that is not only rich with tradition, but also one whose future looks brighter than ever before.

Simply put — welcome to Penn State, a place that WE ARE so fortunate to call home. Throughout your life, you are guaranteed to hear this expression more than once — whether it be students reminiscing over the times they shouted “WE ARE” on the streets here in State College after a football game, or alumni, who yell this phrase on one side of the Eiffel Tower only to hear someone respond with “PENN STATE” from the other side. These two words hold the ability to connect strangers forever and remind us that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves.

As new students here at University Park, you are now at a pivotal point in your lives — a time when the possibilities of what you can contribute to your communities and the world are truly endless. Over the next four years, you will — without a doubt — experience some of the most exciting times imaginable: You’ll have the opportunity to take part in THON, the largest student-run philanthropy in the world. At the same time, you can contribute to understanding the social issues that influence our society and, through undergraduate research, contribute to a larger body of knowledge.  You’ll have the privilege to cheer on the football team from the best student section in the country and experience national contenders in wrestling, fencing, women’s volleyball and women’s soccer among others. Chances are you’ll even have to pull an “all-nighter” to study for what you think is the hardest test of your life.  Whether it is these experiences — or the thousands of others available to you — that become part of your Penn State story, I encourage you to embrace every second of the journey, for the memories and friends you make along the way will become a part of you forever.

One thing I want to you to keep in mind throughout your time here is that greater rewards come from taking greater chances. Three years ago, I sat in the very same place as you are right now — but, I decided to take the safe route with everything that I did. I stayed in DUS until the very last minute. I even walked everywhere because I was afraid of where the Blue Loop would take me. But over time, I decided to branch out, I got involved, and I took chances, and because of that I’ve been able to experience the greatest and most humbling opportunity of all in serving as your student body President.

Something that we like to say on tours, as I’m sure you’ve heard before, is that “you can make a big school small, but you can’t make a small school big.” Penn State may seem overwhelming right now, but if there’s one piece of advice I can give you, it is to branch out, get involved, and take those chances, for there is truly a rewarding activity here for everyone.

If you aren’t sure what you want to join, stop by Alumni and Heritage Hall in the HUB for the Involvement Fair this Monday through Thursday. Wednesday is the Volunteer Fair, and Thursday is the Fraternity and Sorority Life Fair. There will also be opportunities to engage in conversations about “Beautiful Souls” beginning on September, 9th.

Congratulations again on your acceptance, and before I leave I really want to Instagram this…

On the count of three, when I say “WE ARE,” you say, “PENN STATE.”

1…2…3, “WE ARE!” “PENN STATE!”

Thank you, and this formally concludes our program. We’ll see you at LateNight, which begins immediately following convocation in the HUB.

About the Author


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