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Alumni Association CEO Insights: Are You A Game Changer?

by Paul J. Clifford

Are you a game changer?

For a moment, the stadium goes silent, a player leaps up and blocks a field goal, his teammate scoops up the ball and races to the end zone for a game-winning touchdown over the No. 2 team in the nation!

Sound familiar?

It’s a description of the game-changing moment orchestrated by Marcus Allen, Grant Haley, and their Nittany Lion teammates and coaches last month against Big Ten rival Ohio State. In this moment, the game changed, victory was snatched from defeat, and optimism and expectations soared for the future of this team.

An instant classic in the storied history of Penn State.

It isn’t often that one has the opportunity to be a game changer and seizes it. And while those opportunities aren’t available to everyone on the football field, we all have the opportunity to change the game for students at Penn State.

On Nov. 29, Penn State will implement a University-wide Giving Tuesday campaign. Gifts can be made beginning at 6:55 p.m. (18:55 in military time, representing the year of Penn State’s founding), on Monday, Nov. 28. The Alumni Association will share more details on how to give via its Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.

Leading up to and on Giving Tuesday, the Penn State Alumni Association will be encouraging members and donors to participate in the FastStart Challenge: Empowering First-Year Penn State Students. FastStart is an impactful mentoring program that supports first-year Penn State students from underrepresented backgrounds.

FastStart connects students to both a faculty/staff member and a Penn State graduate who are experienced and aligned with the student’s personal and professional aspirations. The transition to college is eased, and students receive the necessary insight and resources that allow them to flourish as they begin their Penn State education.

Making a gift will help keep the FastStart program sustainable for many years into the future and support the many resources provided to students such as an online mentoring platform, kickoff orientation, networking workshops, etiquette dinner, and opportunities to attend a Center for the Performing Arts event. FastStart catapults students into a diverse college experience, enriching their Penn State education.

In a great example of a game-changing play, two Alumni Council members have agreed to match the first $1,000 raised! Thank you to Greg Sam and David Paterno for their generosity and for leading by example. Game-changing generosity!

Do you want to change the game for a Penn State student? Support the Penn State Alumni Association’s FastStart Challenge on #PSUGivingTue.

For the Glory,


Paul J. Clifford is CEO of the Penn State Alumni Association, which supports 176,427 members and more than 658,000 alumni worldwide.

About the Author


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Tom Beeby will serve as the 2019 Class Gift Executive Director.

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