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You Can’t Make Your Memories While You’re Asleep: Kevin Cacela’s Senior Column

I am the oldest of an immigrant family, and the first one in my family to go to college in the United States. Very soon, I will be the first to graduate from a college in the United States. Given the circumstances, there was a lot of pressure and a lot of expectations for me to exceed.

As a high school senior who had to figure out college all alone, I had no idea what Penn State had to offer other than the statistics and rankings. I could have taken the safe and familiar route and gone to a school close to home, like Rutgers, but there was an intrinsic factor that brought me to commit on a whim. I went to Penn State on a whim. It was the greatest “oh well, why not” decision I have ever made in my entire life.

My time at Penn State has been quite the journey, and not your typical one, either. If there was one word to describe me during these past four years, it would be adaptability. I transferred from Penn State Harrisburg sophomore year as part of the nursing program, having to forge new friendships in an environment where lifelong friendships had already begun to blossom. Once I found my niche, I then had to transfer once more to Penn State Hershey Medical Center junior year for my nursing rotations. I now find myself back in Happy Valley for my final year, and I ask myself: where is my Penn State home? My Penn State home wasn’t at East Halls, or wherever freshmen are these days, but rather it was wherever I built these lifelong friendships; I made my home wherever life took me.

Each year, I was brought into the fold by a different family, and made them a part of my home.

To The Student Nurses’ Association of Pennsylvania: You guys are the only ones who truly understand the struggle of a nursing student. I am so incredibly proud of us all for surviving the trials of Hershey Medical Center and growing as healthcare professionals. Without my fellow nursing students, I would not be anywhere near where I am in my career. I owe my success as a nurse to you all.

To Onward State: My time with you folks has been short, but the quality of the time that I’ve been with you guys has been unforgettable. I have never met such talented and passionate individuals who care deeply about this school. You have all enlightened and enriched my experience as a Penn State student and showed me what it’s like to love your school. My heart goes out to the visual/buttstuff squad for being the ones who helped me realize my potential as a photographer.

To R.A.M. Squad: Dancing six days a week with you all sophomore year surprisingly made me a wiser person, as the countless hours of practice have broken us all down into our true elements. As a result, I was able to gain introspective insight on myself. Who knew dancing would yield these kind of bonds?

To The Penn State Filipino Association: You are the ones who helped me build my home at Penn State. You’ve also already seen me cry at the sendoff, so I’d be wasting space to tell you guys how much you mean to me in writing.

Regardless of how you spend your time at Penn State, you will find your family away from home, often times in the least expected ways.

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About the Author

Kevin Cacela

Kevin is a senior nursing student. Kevin is from Old Bridge, NJ. Passions include taking the good photos, import autos, snowboarding, dancing, and hiking. Kevin's one true dream is to make enough money to buy out wings over, then subsequently bankrupt it from eating all the wings. Kevin never sleeps and basically only wears scrubs or sweatpants in public.

You can contact Kevin at [email protected] or peek at his adventures on instagram @kevincacelery


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