One Great Big Collaborative Effort: Dana Lipshutz’s Senior Column
Right before I graduated high school, I was anxiously trying to immerse myself in everything Penn State would soon be offering me in a few short months. It was then that I stumbled upon a story on Onward State titled “A Walk Full of Memories.” I remember crying while reading author Kevin Horne’s senior column, a very honest and emotional story of his time at Penn State. In it, he takes the reader on a walk through parts of campus and downtown, retelling the important and special moments associated with certain landmarks. At the time, he was just someone who had typed words that I was reading far too late at night. Little did I know that 3.5 months later, I would brazenly (drunkenly) walk up to Kevin at an Onward State party and tell him that it was his senior column that made me want to join this motley blog.
Since that night as a senior in high school, I’ve held onto Kevin’s words and knew that one day I’d write my own column for the same blog. While Kevin talks about the places that have shaped him throughout his time at Penn State, I find I have to talk about the people.
You see, the thing is, I couldn’t have done this whole college thing without the help of others. When they call my name on graduation day, and I stand up and cross that stage, I know in my heart that this has been a collaborative effort. It is not just my name they call. It is a list of people that have helped me to achieve that one, special moment. All the good times and the hard times. All the projects, phone calls, and texts. All the smiles and laughter. It is all of those people who have loved and supported me whose names should be called along with mine.
So think of this as my long-winded award show acceptance speech. Tell them to avoid playing the music halfway through it, because I have far too many people to thank to be cut off.
To all of Onward State: Thank you. I cannot express with enough gratitude the lifetime of memories you have given me. I have explored a world within Penn State just because I had the title “Media” attached to my name. I will never forget the night I cried outside a frat party because I got the email saying I was hired as a photographer for this site. I still feel that overwhelming happiness to this day. To Jack Lukow and Tim Gilbert, thank you for making sure I hustled hard as a freshman. I look up to both of you more than I could ever explain. Thank you for taking me under your wing. To Gabi, Elissa, and Steve, thank you for always making me smile. You three are an unstoppable force, and I am so glad that I was able to be swept up into it. Thank you for loving me almost as much as you love my mom. And to the rest of Onward State, past, present, and future (I wish I could thank you all individually), you are seared onto my heart forever. I am thankful for those I have met and for the new staff I will someday meet, FTB.
To Katie, Gabby, Meg, Heath, Rachel, and Lauren: I am so sorry for every time I’ve referred to you as my “home friends” — it was a title given for purely geographical reasons. You all have been by my side for every moment we’ve shared the same zip code and for every moment we haven’t. You six have been my rock and my foundation through hard times. I feel invincible when I know I have my best friends supporting me. While you may be “home friends,” I bring you everywhere with me. In texts, in face times, in meme tagging, in tweet sharing, in conversations with others, you are all always by my side. Thank you for our little Friend Cult.
To my classmates in Graphic Design: It’s hard to explain in a paragraph how much you all mean to me. I still get excited for class knowing I get to see all of your faces. You are the reason that graduating feels so hard. I am having a tough time coping with the thought of not seeing you all every day. I consider myself lucky, knowing I could have stumbled into any other major, but I came to this one. I met some of my best friends because of it. Thank you for letting me crack jokes that fall flat, talk a little too much about history, and play whatever music is stuck in my head that day. You are all the hardest working, funniest, selfless people I know. I am so grateful for how you have impacted my world. I know we will all stay friends beyond Penn State, but just check in on me after graduation. I’m sure I’ll be a mess thinking about being apart from you guys.
To JH and Ryan Russell: JH thank you for letting me be opinionated and loud-mouthed in your photography class in high school. That hour and a half block spent goofing off in the darkroom gave me such clarity into what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. You never stifled my creativity or my personality. Thank you for giving me a career path I love. And Ryan, I try to avoid inflating your ego anymore than necessary, but I’ll do it this one last time. You have kept me motivated from day one (I was really just worried you’d metaphorically and physically throw me out of the major at any point). You have been my favorite professor, mentor, and “coach.” One day, after I’ve made a bunch of money, I plan to name a building after you. It’ll be called “The Ryan Russell Building: For Scaring Young Graphic Designers.” I will be head professor with a teaching style just like yours. Thank you.
To Kristen, Maggie, Christian, Evan, Marisa, Haley, and Katie: I’m sorry you don’t fit neatly into one of these categories, but that doesn’t make you less important. You all have given me a friendship I love and cherish. Thank you for all that you have given me.
To Mom, Dad, Tyler, and family: None of this would have been possible without your love and support. Thank you for always letting me be a little too bossy and call too many times in one day. You make me strong. You make me funny. You make me kind. But, most of all, you make me overwhelmingly happy. Thank you for every softball game you attended, every birthday party you planned, every Mexican restaurant you went to because I asked. Thank you for putting up with me when I decided I only wanted to go to Penn State and thank you for when you supported me when I switched my major at midnight, two weeks before my sophomore year started. Thank you for every time you came to visit when I needed you by my side, and every time I came home for a whirlwind weekend. You three are my world. I’d do anything and everything for you. In my lifetime, I’ll never be able to give back enough for how much you three have given to me. Day one with a real job just means day one of spoiling all of you as you deserve. All that I am, I owe to my family.
And finally, to Penn State: Thank you for giving me five (ugh) years of true highs and lows. I have been my happiest and my saddest within your zip code, and that has taught me more about myself than I could ever imagine. You have given me so much that I hold close to my heart. I just wish you weren’t so damn expensive.
I know this senior column probably had far fewer jokes and wisdom than some expected. However, my time at Penn State has been so individualistic and personal, I have a hard time forming a blanket piece of advice to pass along for others.
I can only hope that some senior in high school, anxious about attending Penn State in the fall, reads this column and it sets off their own personal chain reaction.
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About the Author
James Franklin is here to stay.
It’s safe to say that James Franklin’s contract extension that’ll keep him in Happy Valley through 2025 made Penn State fans very happy.
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