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Onward State Gives Thanks

Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Onward State! Aside from you readers, here is what our staff is thankful for this year.

Aaron Andrews: I’m thankful for my time here at Penn State and for the amazing people I met here, especially the filmies. I’m thankful for my family for supporting everything I do and for my friends who have been there since “Sled Launching”. I couldn’t be more thankful for my many meals at Canyon Wings and my extended families here at Onward State and the Findlay Dining Commons. Thanksgiving definitely begins to mean more to me every year and to be able to spend it at home with the best people in the world is an amazing gift.

Alexandra Calderaro: I’m thankful for the incredible transition that has taken place during the past year of my life, and the people who helped me through it. As a freshman, I dreaded returning to Happy Valley at the end of Thanksgiving break. Over the past year, with the support of my family and boyfriend, I found my place in a few organizations that have allowed me to make the most of my college years. I am forever thankful to my sisters in Alpha Xi Delta, my fellow representatives at UPUA, and the staff at Onward State for helping me find new reasons to love this university each and every day.

To all of the struggling freshman: be patient and be open to the opportunities that Penn State can offer you.

Alex Robinson: I’m thankful that my parents haven’t killed me yet for all the shit I’ve put them through. I’m thankful that my roommates are degenerates just like I am. I’m thankful for my family’s tradition of seeing the new Hunger Games movie on Thanksgiving to cheer my dad up after the Detroit Lions lose the early game. I’m thankful that my therapist doesn’t think I’m crazy, even though I am. I’m thankful that, three years ago today, I saw Kanye West perform live, and I’m thankful that I’ve seen him three more times since then. And finally, I’m thankful for Justin Timberlake, because he creates beautiful music and beautiful tequila that go very well together.

Alicia Thomas: I’m grateful for good friends, my crazy family, hilarious roommates, and my loving boyfriend. As always, I’m thankful to attend our beautiful university, for the wonderful people I’ve had the good fortune to meet in the College of Communications, and for the opportunity to be a part of the Onward State staff with people I genuinely admire. I’m also grateful for oversized sweaters and the chance to read for pleasure over this fantastically relaxing Thanksgiving break. And for wine. Definitely wine.

Amber Kloper: I’m thankful for my family and friends at home in Maryland, but also for my family and friends at Penn State. I’m thankful for being at Penn State. I’m thankful for my Ohana and its three Four Diamonds families. I’m thankful for my relationship with the Bekah Tuckey family, and appreciate it now more than ever. I’m thankful for my Onward State family and all the experiences each person has brought me. I’m thankful for CHAARG and that I found it last year. I’m extra thankful for good food and good movies, like any normal person. I’m thankful for Penn State football and morning coffee and walks to the HUB and runs down Blue Course and Cozy Thai and hanging around with my roommates after a long day of class. I’m thankful for becoming the person that I am today because of all of these things, and how they’ve shaped me over the past two-and-a-half years. Basically, I’m thankful for being a Penn Stater.

Anna Foley: I’m thankful for my extraordinarily supportive family, who puts up with me despite my ever-changing career goals and lingering teenage angst. I’m thankful for my friends, because they never fail to make me laugh, even if it is at my own expense. I’m thankful for Schwab Auditorium, because life would be far duller without headsets and take-out sushi. I’m thankful for Onward State, because I probably would have never realized how desperately I want to write for the rest of my life if it weren’t for this site. I’m thankful that I went abroad, because I feel most incredibly and ambiguously changed by the experience. I’m thankful for the Penn State Thespians for giving me a place to eat lunch in between classes. I’m thankful for No Refund Theatre, because it makes Forum a somewhat bearable building. Finally, I’m thankful for pepper jack cheese, the Georgia font, over easy eggs, sweater tights, café con leche, tortoise shell glasses, the color green, blackberries, and mechanical pencils.

Anthony Lestochi: I’m thankful for the founding fathers’ decision to go with the eagle as the national bird instead of everyone’s favorite eatable avian the Meleagris gallopa. Now I can fully indulge in stuffing my face full of turkey.

And beer. I’m thankful for beer. Actually, booze in general — I’m thankful for all of it and for anyone I’ve share a drink with.

Ben Berkman: I’m thankful for all of my families: my parents, Onward State, and those who I live with on campus. I’m thankful that the grind of football season is almost over, and that DJ Newbill will soon lead Penn State to the Final Four. I’m thankful for Redifer Late Night, and the fact that I have over two and a half more years at this great university. And I’m thankful the Onward State Sports Groupme, at times equally the most stressful and incredible experiment in my daily life.

Brandi Heckman: I’m thankful for how terrible this semester has been. I’ve worked three jobs, lost friends, scholarships and sometimes even my own mind. I’m thankful for getting mono the second week of classes and I’m even thankful for changing my major yet again. Because without all of these things I wouldn’t find myself exactly where I’m supposed to be now. I wouldn’t realize how much I truly value family and how badly I just want to write. I’m thankful I now know that while nothing gold can stay, there’s always a silver lining, or in my case a blue and white one.

CJ Doon: With graduation approaching in less than seven months, I’m definitely NOT thankful for how fast the time has past over the last three and a half years at Penn State. While the semesters have flown by faster than I’d like, I’m thankful for all the wonderful people I’ve met, the incredible professors I’ve had the privilege to learn from, and the amazing opportunities I’ve been granted. Day in and day out, I wake up in State College knowing that I’m where I’m supposed to be, and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I’m thankful to John A., Lori, John B. and the College of Communications for sending me to Dublin, Ireland to cover the Croke Park Classic, an experience I won’t soon forget. I’m thankful to Greg, Eric, Bobby, Jake, Melissa, Kelsie, and Hannah for being an especially fun group to hang around with, whether we were busy working or out exploring the local watering holes (or getting stuck in a New Jersey hotel at 2 in the morning). I’m thankful for my roommates, who also happen to be my best friends, for not wanting to strangle each other even after two years of living together. I’m thankful to Vanderbilt University, not just for James Franklin, but for two incredible summers at Vanderbilt Summer Academy where I’ve met the most inspiring people and young adults. I’m thankful for “my person,” because without her, I wouldn’t be as happy as I am today (or enjoy sea puns nearly as much).

Last but not least, I want to thank Onward State. As a journalism student, I wrestled with the choice of writing for either the Collegian or OS, and although I have great respect for the student newspaper, I’m thankful for where I ended up. Never did I think a WordPress blog would mean so much to me, but I’m thankful to Kevin for bringing me on board and allowing me to write, and for the funny and talented people I’ve met as a result. I’ve enjoyed being a part of OS, if even for a short time, because I can look back fondly and say I was part of something that started from humble beginnings to become the most-read student media organization in the country.

Dana Lipshutz: I’m thankful that I have two places in this world that I can comfortably call home, my hometown where my friends and family are as well as State College where I am lucky enough to attend my dream school, Penn State. I am thankful that my family still loves me enough to let me come home to an actual homecooked meal, even after all the items they had to ship to me because I forgot them on move in day. I am thankful that I have been accepted into a new family, Onward State, which I have been fired and rehired from more times that I can count. I am thankful for the opportunities that Onward State has given me for photography, even if sometimes it is unconventional and breaks some rules. I am thankful that my roommate is not a psycho. And most of all, I am thankful that somewhere in this world Beyoncé is existing.

David Abruzzese: I’m thankful for many things, mainly my friends and my family. I’m thankful that I decided to take a chance and go to summer session, because becoming a Penn Stater is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I’m thankful for Onward State alumnus Ryan Beckler, who was instrumental in helping me get started here at Onward State. Ryan, thanks for giving me that tour on that snowy February day. I’m thankful for Terry Pegula, because without him, my beloved Buffalo Bills might be playing somewhere else within a few years. His overwhelming generosity has impacted me, because among the NFL owners driven by money, Mr. Pegula has shown that there are still people left who care about the community, and to him, I say thank you. All in all, I’m thankful for every great door that has opened in my life, and couldn’t imagine my life any other way. It sounds sappy, I know, but it’s true. Last but not least, I’m thankful for my parents, for helping me along this crazy path we call life.

Doug Dooling, Jr.: I am thankful for my family, the friends I have made through Penn State Law, and awful B1G referee-ing that brings the University together like nothing else.

Doug Leeson: I’m thankful for all of the great new experiences Penn State has already shown me. I’ve been a student here for about three months and it’d be a challenge to find a better three-month span in my life. I’m thankful for my roommate who will never let a dull moment arise (even if that means never letting me nap). I’m also especially thankful for my tenth-grade English teacher, who got me interested in writing and the English language, and basically got me where I am today. I’m thankful for the networks here at Penn State I’ve become a part of, especially Onward State. I’m thankful for the Pegula family, Bob Shoop, and the fact that I have more than seven semesters left here. And of course, I’m most thankful for the friends and family who always have and always will support me through everything.

Jack Lukow: There seems to be times allotted in the year for all things. Love, caring, giving, and although I approach these hallmark holidays with much pessimism, Thanksgiving holds a special place in my heart. Every year at the table our family would discuss what we were happy for; each other, good health, and good luck that had graced us with its presence that year. Although this year has been difficult, it is this time of the year that reminds me of what I have. I have my family, both my Penn State family and my blood family. I have made friends that I hope to never lose, and regained friends that I should have never let go. I am grateful for Margarita’s Pizza, for keeping me full and happy for an entire semester, and for being my surrogate Penn State mom. I am grateful for the opportunity I have here at Onward State, and for the hardest working group of people I have ever met, my film team. Together we have tackled things that professionals would be daunted by, and created content that I am proud to have worked on and call my own. I’m grateful for having turned 21, and then having that day overshadowed by the Ohio State game. But most importantly, I’m grateful for the opportunity Penn State has given me, and the connections I have made. As cheesy as it is, this has been, and will hopefully continue to be, the best times of my life.

Jake Somerville: With this being my last Thanksgiving as a college student, I have to thank the fam first for the support all my life and especially these last four years. Especially thankful for my dad who’s been in my life in a way his parents never were and has molded me into the man I am today. I’m thankful to be a Penn State student where I’ve enjoyed experiences I couldn’t have imagined four years ago. One of those being the chance to work here for Onward State, something I don’t think I envisioned even four months ago. Thankful for close friends, a wonderful girlfriend and some amazing mentors that have guided my path along the way. Starting to get a little sentimental with just a few months left in school so got to close out with thanks for the turkey, mac and cheese, mashed potatoes and various foods that are going to lead to a deep and lengthy case of itis today and that the Birds are going to beat Dallas on this joyous holiday.

Jessica Myers: This year, I have a lot to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my parents, who have taught me what it means to be hard-working and ambitious, to be confident but also immeasurably kind. They are my heroes, and I am forever lucky to have them in my life. I’m thankful for all of my friends, who are always wonderfully supportive, loud, and ridiculous, and who force me to have fun — especially when I’m too focused on the “future,” whatever that means. I’m thankful for my main man, for always being able to make me smile, for being my rock, and for many, many more reasons. I’m thankful for Onward State and for THON, two very different facets of Penn State but two organizations within which I have cultivated amazing and long-lasting friendships. I’m thankful for all of my professors and classes. I’m thankful for anyone who has pushed me to create better work and become a better person, who has motivated me to progress and grow and strive. I am graduating in May, and although I am stressed and anxious and all sorts of negative adjectives, I am so thankful that I get to receive an infinite amount of support and love. Special shoutout to Dunkin Donuts, which is open 24/7 and only a block away from my apartment. You da real MVP.

Jessica Tully: I’m thankful that I visited this great university five years ago. And as much as I joke about how I feel like I’m never leaving and call going to undergrad and law school here the “seven-year plan,” I know every day as I roam our sprawling campus that there’s no place I’d rather be. In high school, I never thought of myself as someone who makes friends easily. But, when I came to Penn State and met so many different yet likeminded people who share the same love for Dear Old State as me, I finally found the sense of community that I had been longing for. I’m thankful for everyone who I’ve had the chance to meet here. You’re the people who shaped my experience and made this place feel like home.

Jon Deasy: I’m thankful for too many things in my life to fit into one or two paragraphs. I have a great family, the best friends, and a bright future ahead. Fortunately, I was able to join the Onward State staff this year and not far behind the weekend shenanigans with my friends, it will go down as one of my favorite activities in college. I’m thankful for my eleven roommates, all of whom I’ve been together with since freshman year along with the countless number of friends I’ve made along the way. I’m thankful for two attractions in State College: the Rathskeller and Chipotle (No explanation needed). I’m thankful I’m from Pittsburgh and look devastatingly handsome in black and gold. But most importantly, I’m incredibly gracious for my family who has supported every decision I have made over these past four years at Penn State. Without them, I would not have the opportunity every day to go to class, learn from some of the best professors in the country, and ultimately prepare myself for the world after graduation.

Kevin Horne: I’m thankful that I’ve been around long enough to remember when these things were 200 words instead of 4,000 words. I’m thankful for the Daily Collegian and the Penn State Board of Trustees. Mostly, I’m thankful for anyone who has read down this far for six amazing years of support for Onward State, including the last four of my life. I’m also thankful for the person two paragraphs up from me (sorry Jon).

Maureen Gallagher: I am thankful for my crazy family, who are always there for me. I am thankful for my amazing best friends and my incredibly supportive roommates, who never fail to make me smile. I am thankful for all of the amazing people I’ve met over the past two and a half years–I have learned so much from all of you. I am thankful for the staff of Onward State and their trust in my obsession with grammar. I am thankful for red wine, tough hikes, comfy pillows, superhero movies, good music, bad dancing, and macaroni and cheese. I am thankful for my teachers and advisers and anyone who has ever had faith in me. I am thankful for the opportunity to be involved with THON. And I am thankful for this University I can proudly call home and the precious memories I have made here.

Megan Fleming: I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met during my first semester of college. I’m thankful for my family, and their constant love and support. I’m thankful for my friends, old and new. I’m thankful for Onward State, and that I’ve found something I love to do. I’m thankful to know and work with everyone on this incredible staff. I’m thankful for my roommate, and that she’s even cooler than she seemed on Facebook. I’m thankful I’m still my dog’s favorite member of the family. I’m thankful the words to the alma mater are on the jumbotron at the football games. Lastly, I’m thankful the 400 mile drive back to Happy Valley feels like coming home.

Melissa McCleery: I’m thankful for Thanksgiving, which is a yearly reminder of how unbelievably lucky I’ve been in my life. I’m thankful for my family and my sweet pup Cooper, who make me laugh and remind me that all in all, the world is a good place. And I’m forever thankful for Penn State, for the people I’ve met here who inspire me to be more, for the opportunities I’ve had that have kicked my ass, and for finding a place that so quickly became my home. I’m thankful that Zach Berger lives west side so he can walk me home after many a long night at The Phyrst, and I’m thankful that Jess and Kevin let me routinely stuff my face with Chinese food on their couch. I’m thankful that I look so great in Penn State’s blue and white stripes, of which I own many. But on Thursday specifically, I’m thankful that I turned 21 last January so no one can comment on my Thanksgiving wine drinking this year.

Mike Reisman: I’m thankful for my friends and family make my life meaningful, and who, for some strange reason, put up with my horrible stories and unfunny jokes. I’m thankful for all the organizations at Penn State that I’m involved in for making my first year and a half here better than I ever could have imagined. I’m thankful for Penn State football and basketball, which make me happy no matter their records, usually. And last, but certainly not least, I’m thankful for the newest addition to my life this semester, late-night Five Guys, which has forever changed my answer to the question “What is the best drunk food?”

Morton Lin: I’m incredibly thankful to be welcomed into the Onward State family, and being given the chance to shoot events all around campus that I would never have attended on my own. I’m thankful for any restaurant that serves breakfast all day, triple windmill dunks in NBA Hangtime, and the Big Bowl staff for always knowing my order. Most of all, I’m incredibly thankful for all of the friends I’ve met at Penn State – you’ve all challenged me to be a better person, and I truly intend to keep in touch with each and every one of you.

Noel Purcell: I’m thankful for all the typical stuff, my family and friends and health and such, but you’re not reading this for that. I’m thankful for Alpha Kappa Psi, without whom I’d probably have transferred and become a Fordham Ram. I’m thankful for my pledge kids in ET who make me proud every damn day. I’m thankful that Pita Cabana is right next to Chipotle because it’s better and there’s no line. I’m thankful for the Phyrst and the people I know who will go any night of the week. I’m thankful for Wednesday nights at Chrome with my roommates in the Goat House and the deep house they play. I’m thankful for the UPUA and the people that elected me to it, even if it is the most frustrating thing I do. I’m thankful for I-80 never having traffic when I drive back to school at midnight. I’m thankful for New York’s abundance of good Mexican food, bagels and pizza, the things I miss most in State College. Mostly, I’m thankful for Onward State for trusting me to write stupid stuff like a Wings Over bracket and for Kevin Horne and Bill DiFilippo for giving me that opportunity, because getting the chance to write again has been incredible.

Sarah Caskie: I’m thankful for all the wonderful people in my life who have supported me on this crazy four-year journey called college. To my family, who always believed I could achieve my goals no matter how far reaching. To my friends, who always help me up when I’m down and inspire me every day. To my roommates, who always make me smile even on the worst of days. And lastly to Monster energy drinks, who made completing my education without dying of sleep deprivation possible.

Sean Gregory: I’m thankful for my family putting up with my transition from having no majors to three majors to two majors and not even making me sleep outside for that many nights. They’re cool. I’m thankful for all the theatre people that have made me into the inappropriate, pun-slinging student I am today, and for all the Onward State folks that have given me a new outlook on “Don’t read the comments”. I’m thankful for Ken’s Best Wurst and his secret words, Schwab after dark, men’s yoga pants (don’t knock it til you try it), Bill DiFilippo for making me talk to Kevin Horne about jumping on the OS train, and most importantly, the sultry mistress we call Dear Old State, who’s taught me that “it’ll be over before you know it” is the rudest side of reality I’ve ever known. We Are.

Stephane Hardinger: I’m thankful for my family, who supported me when I wanted to go to college far from home and also supported me when I wanted to transfer closer. I’m thankful for my roommates at The Trap House for offering me a very unique place to live this year when I was 1500+ miles away last November. I’m thankful for my fraternity brothers who make sure there’s never a dull moment in my life and who are the best friends I’ll have at college. I’m thankful for Chip Kelly giving me hope about Philadelphia sports for the first time in a while, a beacon of light in a dark time for the rest of my city’s teams. I’m thankful for Zen Wings for their delicious Kick’n Ranch wings, and I’m thankful for for offering $3.99 1/2 pounds of said wings. I’m thankful for Wings Over for their delicious Jamaican Jerk wings (go vote!) and for combining service and quality to become a Sunday afternoon tradition unlike any other at the Trap House. And finally, I’m thankful for Penn State, for allowing me to realize that this is where I should be and where I should have gone to school all along.

Ted Hozza: I’m thankful for my family, especially my parents because without them I would not be able to attend Penn State. I am thankful for the past three and a half years I’ve spent at Penn State and the friends I’ve made here. You guys all know who you are. I’m grateful that the Phyrst and their bartenders, bouncers, and waitresses put up with me on a consistent basis along with the countless number of people that will sit in the best bar in State College (in my opinion) any day of the week with me. I would be remiss in not mentioning the many Groupme’s that I am a member of and all of the incredible memes and inside jokes that come out of them. Finally, I’m especially thankful for Onward State’s commenters and their piping hot takes in the Facebook comment section.

Tim Gilbert: I’m thankful for my mom, whose tolerance of my various bullshit is now going two decades strong. I’m thankful for my dad, who’s taken bullets so I could could grow up four blocks uptown of where he did and get this education. I’m thankful for my roommates and friends, whose unrivaled debauchery keeps me grounded. I’m thankful that I found a home when I went away to the best college in the world. I’m thankful for leading a staff that really appreciates a good GroupMe meme. I’m thankful for the Phyrst and $3 pitchers during Happy Hour. And, hey, I’m thankful to be alive.

Yuka Narisako: I am thankful for the life of opportunity I’ve lived. Notably, I’m forever grateful for my parents sending me off to Penn State, the wonderful friends I’ve made here, and the amazing career I’m beginning in the summer. I’m thankful for the overwhelming amount of support I’ve received from friends and family through this mentally and emotionally tolling semester. It seems that there is always a shoulder to lean on when I needed it the most, and I cannot express enough how grateful I am that I have those remarkable individuals in my life. A special thanks to my thesis team for their patience, intelligence, and compassion. And last but absolutely not least, I am thankful for the Shandygaff for providing me the sanctuary that I so badly need, and my best friends who enjoy the Gaff as much as I do. Birds of a feather do fly together.

Zach Berger: It’s Thanksgiving, and as the name implies, we have to give thanks. On Thursday specifically, I am thankful for deep-fried turkey, because it’s the perfect combination of crispy skin and juicy meat. I’m thankful for craft beer because I’m an American and that’s what we drink on our national holidays. I’m thankful for family, both my real one and my Penn State one. I’m thankful for the Phyrst, which is a beautiful basement with top-rate music and plenty of alcohol. I’m thankful for D.J. Newbill, because without him our Nittany Lions wouldn’t even be competitive on the hardwood. And lastly, I’m thankful for you, future employer who is reading this and considering hiring me when I’m a graduate. You’re the real hero.

Zack Rickens: While I may not be thankful that my four years here are coming to a close, I am definitely thankful for the opportunity to attend Penn State and meet so many amazing people. I’ve learned a lot both inside and outside of the classroom and that’s something that I’ll take with me for the rest of my life. Penn State has so much to offer if you just step outside of your comfort zone, and I’m thankful that I finally learned to do that this year. Most of all I’m thankful for my parents for always being there no matter what.

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About the Author


Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.


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