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THON Director Thursday: Austin Sommerer, Entertainment

36 short days separate the hardworking THON community from its most celebrated weekend of the year, and with just a little over a month left to go, emotions are running extremely high for the moment the dancers stand. As always, we’re here bringing you all the necessary information you’ll need to be fully prepared come THON weekend.

Over the holiday break, we had Molly Twohig talk to us about the in’s and out’s of R&R Volunteer Safety. This week’s featured director is Austin Sommerer, the man in charge of Entertainment.

Austin Sommerer, Entertainment

Year: Junior

Major/Minor: Marketing Major, Recreation Park and Tourism Minor

Past THON Experience: THON 2014 Public Relations committee member, THON 2015 Entertainment captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about you: I am part of an Ocean Rescue Response team in my home town!

Onward State: What made you want to apply for the Entertainment Director position for THON 2016?

Austin Sommerer: As everyone involved in THON, my passion for the organization has grown year after year. College students spend most of their days focused on themselves, their grades, and their social lives, but THON provides an opportunity to give back to a cause that is much larger than oneself. At that moment, I knew this is an organization that I can pour my time into and truly have an impact on the community around me, and I know that the dedicated people around me and I are changing the lives of children impacted by this terrible disease.

OS: What are the responsibilities of the Entertainment committee, and how does your role as Director play into them?

AS: Entertainment is responsible for coordinating the music, performances, and audio-visual material for the entirety of THON weekend, as well as over 40 THON events throughout the year. Our committee is made up of 25 captains and 30 committee members, all who work to engage the audiences at each of our events. Specifically, I work to oversee these volunteers and help coordinate the most diverse and exciting entertainment, while working each aspect into the THON weekend timeline.

OS: We know that the “100% student-run” aspect of the Entertainment committee is relatively new. What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

AS: Last year, I loved being a part of the leap to having Entertainment become 100% student-run by DJing the entirety of THON weekend. This year, I want to expand Entertainment to all areas of the Bryce Jordan Center through the implementation of a Crowd Committee, who will spend their weekend engaging spectators in the crowd with various games and activities to help them feel more involved with all that is going on in the BJC.

OS: What do you think makes the Entertainment committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

AS: Entertainment helps create that amazing atmosphere in the BJC by providing the great music and exciting acts that everyone looks forward to. It’s awesome to directly see how our committee’s actions play a role in the energy felt throughout the weekend, and I can’t wait to feel this energy again.

OS: What are the overall goals you wish to reach within your position and committee for THON 2016?

AS: Above all, I want to provide an amazing experience for all the Entertainment committee. THON wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the dedication and support of each volunteer involved, and it is so important to make sure they know that their work everyday is appreciated, all while making sure they have a great time and bond as a family in the process.

OS: So Austin, why do you THON?

AS: As cliche as it sounds, I THON for the day where I hear that we have finally found a cure. Each day, a new story crosses me that reaffirms why I pour my time into this incredible organization, and it pains me to know that there are still families battling this fight. I THON for the smiles during THON weekend, and the hope that our organization brings to families day after day.

OS: Can you tell us about your favorite THON memory?

AS: During a cold and rainy canning trip last fall, my org and I decided to take a quick break and grab lunch at a local diner. As we sat down, an older gentlemen sat down at our table and introduced himself. Confused, we started a conversation and were soon astonished by what the man was doing. “I would like to pick up your check today,” he said. While we tried to refuse, he explained to us how he is inspired by the work we do as college students, and his four-year old nephew in Florida is currently battling childhood cancer and he knows that our work is helping to find a cure. He was a cancer survivor himself, and between tears, he and his wife hugged and thanked us. This really brought things full circle for me and made me want to do as much as possible for THON during my time here at Penn State.

OS: Finally, an Onward State tradition. If you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

AS: I would be a pterodactyl of course. How cool would it be to just fly around all those beasts? I’m assuming it would be kind of like having one of those birds from Avatar.

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About the Author

Kaitlyn Dividock

Kaitlyn is a staff writer for Onward State who is entirely too enthusiastic about Pittsburgh sports, music festivals, and crude humor. She is a senior English major who concentrates in Professional and Media Writing and minors in Sociology. She is really fun and very cool, and her favorite color is red. If for some reason you can't find her, she's probably at Primanti's with an ice cold IC Light in her hand. You can follow her on Twitter (@kaitdivi) if you want quality #content, or contact her via email at [email protected]

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