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You’re Not Embarrassing, You’re Just Fun: Yuka Narisako’s Senior Column

I’ve spent the last five years at Penn State, not because I failed a handful of classes, but because I chose my major somewhat blindly, not realizing it was a five-year program until after I submitted my application. Five years later, I’m about to receive a bachelor’s, a master’s, and a minor over the course of one weekend.

These five years spent at Penn State are a mere fraction of what I imagine will be a fruitful, long affair with the institution, but Penn State isn’t exactly the same as it was when I first moved my bags into Hartranft Hall in the fall of 2010. I think it’s fair for me to say that my five years here were a few of the most transitional years of my life, and coincidentally a few of the most radically transitional years in the history of the university.

I joined Onward State as a result of one of these transitional moments in the university’s history, a billionth of the things that happened as a result of the Sandusky scandal. Two semesters after news broke of the scandal, I wrote a speech for my CAS 100 class on the lack of individualism at Penn State and the “group think” movement I observed following the release of the Freeh Report.

Have you ever felt unsafe at Penn State? Aside from the Yik Yak threat last fall, I would hope not. Penn State during the fall of 2011, however, was not a secure environment to voice your opinions in a crowd of fellow Penn State students. I therefore took the opportunity a year later to speak in front of a classroom full of students to promote individuality within a large population of students.

“I have to kill this speech, or this speech kills me,” I often thought to myself.

Through my research for this particular topic, I came across an Onward State article by Evan Ponter titled “Instead of We Are, How About I Am” (great read, highly recommend), and I was amazed that a Penn State student shared my beliefs. I reached out to him, and following an hour-long chat at Panera Bread, he asked me to join Onward State the following week.

Flash forward three years and I am a walking poster child for senioritis with regards to the blog. My time as an Onward State writer has been highlighted by multiple lists for your entertainment, gymnastics fangirl posts, and long-form features on Penn State’s finest. Of these, I cannot adequately express my gratitude for the opportunity given to me to meet so many amazing individuals at this university. From future medical researchers, and incredibly devoted athletes, to the most inspirational fitness walking coach there ever was, I am moved by the phenomenal individuals who step foot on this campus alongside me.

These examples are just a few of the most wonderful people I’ve met at Penn State. The school really is as small as you make it, and there’s no feeling like greeting multiple friends as you walk through campus. A friend once told me, “You’re not embarrassing, you’re just fun!” and I’m glad to have made so many friends with whom I can share all my embarrassing fun moments.

I won’t go in depth about how mentally tolling my academic career has been, but I will let you know that there is always someone to help if you need it. In particular, I’d like to thank my roommate Maggie Golden for helping me with my own anxiety, which reached an unprecedented peak this year. Your understanding and kindness are appreciated tremendously and I cannot thank you enough for your support.

It is, however, this academically demanding and challenging coursework of the Architectural Engineering program that has led me to land a phenomenal full-time job in Boston, and I absolutely cannot wait to embark on my career in a few short months. This major, which pushed me to my limits, has also introduced me to some of the greatest people I know and the best summer I’ve ever had in Rome.

Typically, these senior columns include a short words-of-wisdom list for friends and future students, but I wrote quite the extensive list of 409-plus (I duplicated a few of the numbers by accident) pieces of advice for my future Penn State daughter a year ago, which you can read if you both have the time and feel the need for some direction in life. Though I currently lack original advice, I do wish to repeat an old phrase that I hold near and dear: “The pen is mightier than the sword.”

As the admittedly egotistical human being that I am, I wish I could say I made it here by myself. This simply isn’t true, and lying isn’t my cup of tea per se. Without these following people, I would not be the person that I am today:

  • My parents. You probably won’t read this post, but thank you for paying tuition. Thank you for encouraging me to go to Penn State. Thank you for putting a roof over my head. Thank you for your great genes. Arigato, I love you, Mama and Papa!
  • My thesis team. Without your support, intelligence, and patience, there is absolutely no way I would have made it through thesis without 20,000 more mental breakdowns. You guys are my rock.
  • Maggie King and Melissa Barrow. I can’t imagine a more fun college experience without you two. I actually can, because since you’ve graduated those weekends you come to visit are the most exciting, fun times I’ve had all year.
  • The Penn State Men’s Gymnastics Team. You are the most devoted group of people I’ve ever met and I am so fortunate to have lived in your dormitory freshman year. Thank you for your inspiration and your friendship. Long live collegiate men’s gymnastics.
  • Adrian Evans. I’m not one to miss home, especially when “home” is in Michigan and Michigan still sucks, but I do know how much it feels to miss your best friend. From making dinner together to listening to each other’s odd problems to lackadaisically chatting about our lives, you are the best person I know and I’m so glad to call you my best friend.

My life motto, thanks to a great modern poet named TI, is “Yuka, have whatever you like,” and though Yuka may not be your name, I do firmly believe that as Penn State graduates, the world is at your feet. I had the most phenomenal experience here at Penn State, and now I am thrilled to take on the next stage of my life. Yuka, have whatever you like, indeed.

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About the Author

Yuka Narisako

Yuka legally immigrated to the United States via airplane in 1996 from the small island nation of Japan. Since then she has migrated throughout the country and now identifies herself as a senior majoring in Architectural Engineering. The Shandygaff is her Happy Place, though she was once kicked out of the establishment after breaking her shoe and screaming “I LOVE DAY DRINKING. I’M HAVING FUN.” Yuka is overly enthusiastic about life in general, but especially Ja Rule, Halloween, and the puffy black vest she purchased from the Gap. You can reach her at [email protected], or through Twitter @yukahontass.

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