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These Are My People – Melissa McCleery’s Senior Column

Penn State has taught me about love.

It’s taught me the importance of love; the deep, profound type of love, that makes you criticize something not because you want to tear it down but because you care about it so much that you need it to be better. This type of love requires patience (I’m still working on that) and persistence all at once. It takes time to learn to love this way, but once you get it, it’s a part of you forever. This type of love now drives the most important things that I do.

Penn Staters love love. They love Penn State, they love football, they love blue and white, and most of all, they love you. Yes, YOU. And me, too! A Penn Stater has never turned me down when I asked them for help, advice, a recommendation, or a beer. And it’s all because you are–we are–all a part of the family.

These are my people. And I’m sticking around them forever.

At one point during graduation weekend, my grandfather said to me, “Well, this is it! The last day of Penn State!” and I grabbed his shoulders, and said, “NO! It’s my last day as a Penn State student. The last day of Penn State for Penn Staters is the last day of their life.” He laughed, and said it was a bit dramatic, but I think it’s true. For me, at least.

Now, yes, I cried the last time I sang the Alma Mater with my best friends – I can’t believe I won’t see them every week for the rest of my life. I cried when my best friend moved out yesterday. I cried writing this. But, if my time at Penn State is any indication of what the rest of my life has in store for me, then I’m excited! This is nowhere near the end of the road for me and Penn State. What a hell of a fun ride, and that was just the beginning.

Had I been told four years ago that Penn State had all this in store for me, I never would have believed it. So far, this has truly been the best four years of my life, but I think the Class of 1915 got it right: “The best is yet to be.”

Alums are all over the place, jobs exist (I’m told I’ll have one eventually), football games and alumni weekends are scheduled, and campus is always here for me to come back to when I need it.

And… on the unlikely chance that I can’t come back, I’m simply grateful to have had this. All of it. I am grateful for Penn State, and for so, so many other things.

For Jess – I just love everything about you. You are the first friend I’ve ever had that I know will remain in my life forever, and I love that.

For Claud – You. You are so important. The Beaver Hill parking lot will remain one of the most important places of my senior year. The best is yet to be for us, too.

For Berger, Noel, Greg, and yes, even Ted – What would this year have been without you all? It’s going to be tough to pick which one of you I want to marry… ;)

For Kevin – Every time I’m with you, I learn something. You have helped me to understand what it is to love Penn State so much and be able to criticize it because you care. People like you are true stewards of the university, but you don’t need me to tell you that.

For my family – You’re the reason this is possible. Thank you for raising me with ambition, and let’s hope my kindergarten “attitude problem” never goes away.

For the pins on my graduation gown – You are two of the greatest groups of people I have ever known, who have taught me more than all my greatest professors combined.

For Penn State – I will forever carry with me the things this place has instilled in me: a thirst for knowledge, a desire to serve, an ambition to take on the world, my best friends, an appreciation for history and tradition, my favorite songs, a rally call to my family across the world, and this capacity to love in a completely new way.

I hope I can love anything in my life as much as I love you, Penn State, and I’ll make it all up to you someday.

For the glory, forever.

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About the Author

Melissa McCleery

Melissa is a senior majoring in Women’s Studies, Political Science, and Spanish. In the little free time she has, Melissa likes to cook, spend all her money at The Phyrst, and add to her collection of blue and white striped clothing. She can be reached via Twitter (@mkmccleery) or email ([email protected]).

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