Never Stop Learning: Carly Weiss’ Senior Column
I grew up in a Penn State home. My mom, aunt, grandfather, and great uncle all went to Penn State, so it’s pretty obvious that some brainwashing happened over the years.
When I was a teenager, my parents took me and my sister on weekend trips to Happy Valley to go to football games, see the campus, and walk around downtown. I loved the size and feel of State College. I remember my first football game in Beaver Stadium — the energy was unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and I knew I wanted to be in the middle of that huge student section one day. Even in the worst weather conditions you could imagine, I knew I wanted to go to Penn State.
I think everyone has their own vision and expectations of what college is going to be like. You’re told that you’ll find your place and your people, but you have no idea how to go about it. One thing that I’ve learned over the past four years is that if you can’t find your place, make your place. I wasn’t always the most outgoing person, but I’ve learned that things won’t come to you unless you bring yourself to them. Never did I ever think that I’d become a leader, start up my own THON organization, improve my creative skills tenfold through journalism, or earn an ethics award for student activism. But I made that all happen by bringing myself to the opportunity.
Eclipse was the start of it all. My freshman year, I knew I wanted to be a part of the THON hype but I didn’t seem to feel welcomed in any other org. When I met other freshmen in the same boat, I saw it as my chance to be a part of something new. We made our very own organization that, just three years later, has somehow become one of the biggest on campus and recognized among the top fundraisers for THON. Through Eclipse, I’ve learned how to put myself out there and become a leader and a teacher. I’ve learned how to focus on something that’s bigger than myself and create a purpose. I’ve learned how to make others feel included and help them find their “why.”
My sophomore year, I saw an online application to join Onward State. As a student with a graphic design hobby and a moderate interest in photography, I saw this as a perfect opportunity to incorporate my skills with communications (a major that I had not committed to yet) and to get more involved in the Penn State community. Through OS, I’ve learned way more than I could have imagined. I’ve learned that journalism is essential to a digitally-based society that we have become, regardless of the bad rap that it gets from time to time. I’ve learned how to cover events, keep ahead of the competition, and stay ~woke~. I’ve learned how to really take pictures, keep creating, offer ideas, and collaborate.
My junior year, I had committed to media studies with a focus on media effects as a major. One of my professors, Michelle Rodino-Colocino, piqued my interest in becoming more involved in activism for equality through her course curriculum and passion of the subject. MRC invited a few of her students to co-author an article about the #MeToo movement to be published, and the authors later came together to start up a new student organization, Time’s Up Penn State. This sparked an opportunity to create a group for activism, awareness, and advocacy, and to be a safe space for sexual assault survivors to change the way Penn State handles issues that are too often ignored. Through this group, I’ve learned how crucial it is to be aware of policies and what is going on around us, and that everyone has their own story.
I’ve learned countless lessons through all my involvements during my time at Penn State, but the most important thing I’ve learned is that I will never stop learning. I’ll sometimes look back on old pictures, projects, and pieces of writing and cringe at the fact that I actually thought they were good at the time. But that cringing moment makes me realize that this is all a never-ending learning experience. Penn State is known for its invaluable education, and I’m incredibly thankful to have been able to learn here. While I’ve learned plenty in my classes, some of the most valuable lessons were learned outside of class.
I wouldn’t have been able to learn what I have without the most important people in my life. To each of these people, I’d like to thank you:
To Onward State: Thank you for believing in me from the start. Each of you are some of the most hardworking people I’ve ever met and you all inspire me. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to cover the coolest events and be creative with my work. Shout out to the visual squad for the continuous support and for your empathy when my new camera got destroyed while covering a hockey game. Thank you to Matt and Elissa for all of the amazing opportunities and for answering all my questions. #FTB
To MRC, Sophia, and Time’s Up: You guys inspire me to make the world a better place. Thank you for the opportunities and support through this journey.
To my Eclipse family: Whether you’re a co-founder, chair, old, or new member: Thank you for the laughs, tears, hugs, and hard work. I couldn’t imagine my time at Penn State without all of you. Colin: Thank you for making this all happen and for allowing me to be the first VP and dancer of our org. It’s been a privilege and a pleasure to be a part of all of this and I have faith that the future board and each one after that will carry on the legacy, nature, and mission of this group. Keep dancing FTK!
To the Group Chat: You guys are my people. Thank you for always being there and showing your support (even when you pretend to prefer the Collegian over OS). Thank you for the nights out at Champs, 516, and U216. And for the record, there is no separate chat.
To Colby: I’m so glad that we crossed paths while you were visiting during summer session. Thank you for coming up to me in COMM 118 our fall freshman year. Thank you for the impromptu snowboarding trips, all-nighters in the HUB, and random photoshoot adventures.
To Christina: I have no idea what my college experience would be without you. Living in Packer Hall was only enjoyable because of you, so thank you for being the best roommate and best friend I could ask for. Thank you for being a part of the madness that is Eclipse along my side. Thank you for your endless support and strength through everything.
To Leanne & Michelle: Ever since middle school, you guys have been my rock, and I’m so thankful that we got to experience Penn State together. You both have always been there for me no matter what. Thank you for always listening to my nonsense and keeping me motivated.
To Kim, Kayla, & Erika: You guys have always shown your support, no matter how far away. Thank you for being the best “home friends” a girl could ask for and the countless movie nights over winter breaks. Thank you for believing in me and for all that you’ve given me over the years.
To Mom, Dad, & Emily: I’ve learned the most from you three. Thank you for the world. None of this would have been possible without you and all of your support. I owe everything to you and I strive to give back what you’ve given me for 22 years. Thank you for pushing me to pursue my goals, allowing me countless opportunities, and for introducing me to Penn State.
And to Penn State: Thank you for the best four years I could ever imagine. Everyone I’ve met and everything I’ve been involved in has taught me more than any gen ed ever could. As I graduate in just two days and enter the real world, I can proudly say that I’ve found my place and I’ll never stop learning.
Carly Weiss ’19
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