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It’s Never Goodbye, It’s ‘See You Again’: Navin Zachariah’s Senior Column

I remember not originally being sold on the idea of coming to Penn State when I was accepted.

In fact, both my twin brother and I wanted to go elsewhere — we actually wanted to separate and go to two different colleges entirely. But something pulled us both here eventually. I don’t know whether that was the informal tour we got from our friend Tony, the acceptance into the Schreyer Honors College, or the idea that it was “just far enough away from home,” but something clicked. And I’m glad it did.

I can honestly say that I really matured in my time at Penn State. I came into my freshman year intent on pursuing journalism. That’s because my time in high school covering the sports teams as a student-journalist had such an immense impact on my life.

So that passion to become a sports journalist was there. However, I was also driven to potentially become a doctor as well. My dad used to be a doctor, and after having volunteered in the hospital he worked in, I was intrigued by that possibility as well.

Four years later, I have decided to pursue medicine. And I have my time as a college student to thank for that. Whether it was the trip abroad to shadow doctors in Spain, the experience I gained during the summer shadowing doctors locally, or all the time I spent working at the Penn State clinic, all these experiences led me to finally decide what’s next.

The fact is that Happy Valley is a special place, and I think I finally realize that now. It’s the type of place where you can discover something new about it every day if you try. There’s no way that you can live in this town during college and not let it shape you in some way.

Whether you’re sitting outside at Cafe on a sunny day or watching Saquon Barkley leap over people as “Closer” plays in the background at Beaver Stadium, it’s an experience that only Penn Staters know. After spending last summer in town doing research, I got to experience a lot of the things that I am usually too busy to do here during the school year, and I enjoyed every minute of it.

So if I had any advice for students who haven’t gone out of their way to discover State College, it would be to just walk around and explore. Go get that buffalo chicken grilled cheese sandwich from Bradley’s, go watch the No. 1 lacrosse team in the nation go to work on just about every opponent, or even just change your daily run from being on a treadmill to running around Penn State’s beautiful campus. Soak up your time here and make the most of every minute of it.

In addition to having to leave State College, my decision to pursue medicine also, unfortunately, made me take a step back from my desire to become a sports journalist. Similarly to calling Happy Valley home for the past four years, ever since the start of high school when I started writing for my high school newspaper, The Spoke, I have always felt at home as a journalist.

It’s tough knowing that this will probably be my last year covering all the different and interesting things that students do on a daily basis — it really has been a passion of mine for about eight years now. It doesn’t matter if that entailed writing a story about the lacrosse team or hearing about the research being conducted in the scientific community at Penn State, I’ve simply enjoyed being a storyteller. Listening to people’s stories and finding the most interesting angles to share those stories with you all is the reason why I loved being a journalist so much.

Before I finish, there are definitely some people that I want to thank for their influence on both my time at Penn State and as a journalist over the years.

First, I want to thank two professors who have really had profound impacts on my time at Penn State: Dr. Juliet Pinto and Dr. Santhosh Girirajan. Both of you have always pushed me to be my best and have also shown a true interest in helping me reach all of my goals. Next, I want to thank my two high school journalism advisors, Cyndi Hyatt and Susan Gregory, for helping mold me into the polished student-journalist that I feel I am today.

I also want to thank my roommate Manas (we survived, somehow). To all my Penn State friends though, it’s been fantastic getting to know you all these past four years and seeing all the amazing things everyone has accomplished. I know we will all go on to do even more in the future.

To my family and friends back home, you all have been so supportive during my time at Penn State, and it’s been instrumental to my success. In particular, thank you to my mom for demonstrating to me what hard work looks like. I don’t think I’ll ever quite understand everything you do for me on a daily basis, but I hope I can bring your attitude and persistence to everything that comes next for me. And to my twin brother, John/Kirin (I honestly don’t know which name you’re called at this point), thank you for always pushing me to be my best. And by best, I mean better than you at almost everything.

Finally, to Onward State. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to continue being a student-journalist these past of couple of years. After disliking my time writing for the Daily Collegian at the start of college, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to continue pursuing this passion of mine anymore. But writing for Onward State has been such a great experience. Being on a team with all of you positive and talented people has been unforgettable.

And so as I graduate from Penn State in the coming days, I am technically saying goodbye to two of my “homes”: Happy Valley and my time as a journalist. The experiences that I’ve had both at Penn State and as a journalist will stay with me forever though, continuing to shape me in both medical school and beyond.

There’s this song by Charlie Puth called “See You Again” that was really popular when I graduated high school. In fact, my brother sang it (really well, but with a little bit of a voice crack in the middle of it) at our “senior send-off” back in 2015. I think it really sums up how I feel about this whole “saying goodbye” thing.

The truth is that these experiences that I’ve had, both at Penn State and in my time as a student-journalist, will always be with me. So it’s never goodbye. It’s simply, see you again.

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About the Author

Navin Zachariah

Navin is just your average Dallas Cowboys fan from "right outside of Philly." A biology major, Navin hopes to one day cure the Cowboys of Jason Garrett. He is one of the select few who actually like The Chainsmokers. And if you see someone who looks exactly like him around campus, it could actually be his identical twin brother. Navin always trusts the process. Feel free to contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @nzach3.

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