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THON Director Thursday: Meet Merchandise Director Will Koch

Name: Will Koch

Committee: Merchandise

Major: Political Science

Past THON Experience:

HOS CM, Merch Captain, HOS Captain

Name an interesting, weird, or quirky fact about yourself:

I have driven a submarine.

What made you want to apply for the Merchandise Director position for THON 2017?

I desperately wanted the opportunity to give of myself wholly to THON. I never want to look back and believe that I could have done more as a THON student volunteer. In my mind, a position on the Executive Committee gave me the opportunity to make the biggest impact for THON, the Four Diamonds families, and most importantly, the kids. I realized that I could, and wanted, to give more. Growing up, my parents taught me that you have three gifts: time, talent, and treasure, and it’s your job to give them to other people. This year, I wanted to give my time to the Executive Committee, my talents to the Merchandise committee that I have the honor of leading, and my treasure to the children and families of The Four Diamonds so their worries disappear until the day we all dance in celebration.

What are your responsibilities as the Merchandise Director?

As the Merchandise Director, I get to oversee the everyday operation of the THON Store in the HUB. Merchandise is one of the committees that has responsibilities everyday, and has the opportunity for constant improvement and trial and error. I have the opportunity to lead a group of 21 motivated and creative Captains in the pursuit of growing the THON Store as a presence within this university, and around the world. I also have some special privileges that make this position different from others. I get to be a part of the development of all new products, even though I’m nowhere near talented enough to make them myself. I also have the privilege of choosing the colors for the new logo shirts. So if you don’t like the shirt colors when the logo drops, I’m the guy to blame.

What do you want to implement in your position this year that’s unique and differs from years past?

My job this year has been to bring the THON Store to a new level of professionalism and retail status. The constant movement of the cogs of the committee allows creativity and innovation. I wanted to put out new products that people would love and want to buy, while also putting the Store in a sustainable place moving forward.

What makes the Merchandise Committee so cool, fun, and/or important?

The Merchandise Committee gets to play a role in how committees, organizations, alumni, and supporters of THON represent the organization. From the products we sell in the THON Store to the designs that organizations create for their own gear, we set the standard for the way we want THON portrayed. We are also in charge of protecting THON’s trademarks, which helps the organization grow in credibility and professionalism. We also get the opportunity to make an impact as a committee the entire way through the academic year! Our job does not end at THON Weekend as we aim to continue our fundraising efforts year-round by keeping the THON Store open throughout the entire year.

What are the overall goals you hope to reach with your committee for THON 2017?

I want to leave the Merchandise Committee in a place where people realize that being on this committee gives you the opportunity to make huge changes within the entire organization. I have constantly reminded my Captains that just because something was done a certain way in the past doesn’t mean it needs to be done that way now. This is the 10th year of the Merchandise Committee, but in a way it is the Second Year of the reinvented Merchandise Committee as a result of the THON Store. It has revolutionized our operation, given us countless new avenues for growth and success.

Why do you THON?

I THON for the families that I have gotten the opportunity to know over my four years as a THON Volunteer. As I said earlier, I wanted to give my time, talent, and treasure to this organization from the moment I stepped foot on Penn State’s campus. But that was where I was slightly misguided as a Freshman. I wanted to give to this organization. And while I care so desperately about this organization, I realized very quickly that my efforts were to be pointed directly toward the wellbeing of the families. I think that is the greatest part of this organization. The individual, personal connections we have to families and children who are fighting battles that most of us cannot fathom. It reminds us that we are called to do something beyond ourselves.

What’s your favorite THON memory?

Last year during Family Carnival, I got the opportunity to be Carl The Conqueror for an hour. It was roughly 30000 degrees inside the suit, and I have never sweated so much in my life, but I would relive that hour everyday for the rest of my life if I could. Every kid wanted to play tag, give me a hug, or play a game. I was dressed as a “knight in shining armor” in the Carl costume, and they were looking at me like I was their knight. But little did they know, I was looking at them like they were mine.

Per Onward State tradition, if you could be any dinosaur, which one would you be and why?

I would be a Velociraptor because I recently learned that those aren’t actually Velociraptors used in the Jurassic Park movies because Hollywood felt that they needed a “bigger and scarier” dinosaur. So I felt bad for the Velociraptor for being told that they weren’t good enough for Hollywood. I wanted to show them some love.

About the Author

Elissa Hill

Elissa is a junior public relations major and the managing editor of Onward State. She is from Punxsutawney, PA [insert corny Bill Murray joke here] and considers herself an expert on all things ice cream. Send questions and comments via e-mail ([email protected]) and follow her on Twitter (@ElissaKHill) for more corny jokes.


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