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Afro Man Shaves Afro

There are certain Penn State characters that everyone seems to know. Some stand the test of time and become part of the story for decades, like Mike the Mailman and the Willard Preacher. Others have their fleeting moment of infamy and fall away, like Mike Waite. Most student pseudo-celebrities make it four years and go off into the real world — freshmen probably haven’t heard of Boombox Guy, but the Squirrel Whisperer is still around.

Then there’s Afro Man — still very much present in Happy Valley, but without the very thing that made him famous to virtually every Penn Stater for the majority of a decade.

Tanner Beck, a 2014 Penn State graduate and second-year law student at Penn State’s Dickinson School of Law, maintained his Penn State-famous afro for nearly 11 years. If you count his graduating class, plus the three classes above him as a freshman and the four classes below him as a first-year law student, that’s at least eight graduating classes of Penn Staters who would recognize him in an instant.

No longer, however. Beck was strongly encouraged to shave it off to make himself more marketable in a conservative legal profession where business professional is the daily dress code. A bushy blonde afro wouldn’t necessarily make the best impression in a courtroom. After finals ended in May and before he began his summer internship with the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office, Beck’s iconic afro succumbed to the razor blade for good.

“It’s disappointing,” Beck said when approached at the Law School, as he stared out the window in the Katz Building foyer, thinking about what once was.

Grad afrokid
Beck took hundreds of photos with random students over the years. Here he is with some members of Onward State’s 2013 graduating class.

About the Author

Kevin Horne

Kevin Horne was the editor of Onward State from 2012-2014 and currently holds the position of Managing Editor Emeritus, which is a fake title he made up. He graduated from Penn State with degrees journalism and political science in 2014 and is currently seeking his J.D. at the Penn State Dickinson School of Law. A third generation Penn Stater from Williamsport, Pa., Kevin is also the president of the graduate student government. Email: [email protected]


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