I’m Leaving Home: Ted Hozza’s Senior Column
Before I became a student here, I was just an everyday kid from Whitehall, Pennsylvania — the place that molded me into what I am today. Sure, I had a great group of friends like almost everyone else, but I didn’t think I could find anyone who really got me. I learned how to deal with conflict, challenges, and mistakes. Four years ago, however, I didn’t realize the things that place gave me, but I had to move on to something else, even though I didn’t think I was ready or willing to.
Penn State seemed like a logical choice from the onset, but I didn’t know what to expect. Before my senior year of high school, I had only been here once, in third grade. I remember visiting the old Creamery, the Corner Room, and McLanahan’s with my great aunt and uncle. Their son was a graduate and they pretty much influenced me to come to Penn State. Not your typical path to Penn State for most students. I visited for “real” on July 30, 2010 with my mom. We ate at the Corner Room again and made our way through campus on our own, with no sense of direction since we couldn’t figure out how to go on a tour. I visited Pitt the next day and got a better feel for its campus than Penn State’s, but I knew where I would end up. In fact, my family figured out where I would choose to go even before I did.
I only made it to my first football game in September of that year – Temple, a mistaken White Out. As soon as I was accepted, I was coming here and living with my neighbor from down the street, the same kid that shared a seat with me in kindergarten, him in the afternoon and me in the morning.
I came here because of the academics and the at-home feel, but learned so much more during my time at Penn State. It’s almost impossible to put into words the sense of family you get when you come to State College. I realized that on the first Tuesday of my first year on the seventh floor on Sproul Hall. The friends I made there have lasted for the past four years, even though we may have drifted for a little bit. I owe a great debt to them for making my Penn State experience one of a kind and I hope I did the same for them.
Sure, I wasn’t involved in anything outside of school, but I always had them even though many were involved in Greek life, THON, club sports, and business fraternities. I just couldn’t find my fit here, but I wasn’t necessarily in a rush after being almost too involved in high school. I was just fine on my own, but then I took a shot at Onward State. To me, they’re my second Penn State family.
I could go on and on about why it was important to finally get involved in Onward State and UPUA, but those people know that I’m grateful for everything they’ve given me over the past two years. Getting involved in school is great, but the relationships you make outside of the rigid structures of organizations are better. For all the great professors that I’ve had over the course of my four years here, I’ve learned countless lessons from my friends. Don’t leave the Phyrst at 8:30 p.m. on St. Patrick’s Day, always watch Walk Hard if it’s on, and take a night off and go out once in awhile (or every night).
To my parents: I owe you more than I can imagine. To my siblings: we might not get along all the time, but who does? To my roommates: thanks for putting up with me for the past four years. To seventh floor Sproul: Baholla. To Onward State: thanks for the best two years of my life. But for all the people I have to thank for my time at Penn State memorable, I know it’s time to move on.
When I walked out of my final class the other day, I called my mom to let her know. She said to me, “Your sister and I were talking, and we both agreed that you aren’t going to take leaving Penn State well.” The thing is, I have been dreading it since I arrived this past August. Every time someone asked me if I was ready to graduate, the answer was always immediately, “No.” It still is. It’s going to be harder than I ever imagined four years ago.
You may not realize it, but when you’re in State College for four years, it becomes home. Sure, you more than likely go home during breaks and over the summer, but you spend most of your time here. It truly becomes home if you make it home.
Now, I realize that my time at Penn State can’t last forever. Everyone needs to move on. Another freshman will come here and take my place and write their own story. State College is one-of-a-kind, and each person’s experience is too.
At Penn State, nothing is forever. I know it’s time to move on. My time has ended here.
I’m ready to accept the challenge. I’m leaving home.
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About the Author
After losing my father to cancer, I thought there was nothing THON could offer me that I didn’t already know. After four years, I found comfort in the familiar.
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