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We Are…(Still) Everywhere

Last week, we asked you to send us the coolest place you’ve met a Penn Stater. As always, the Nittany Lion community delivered.

Submissions ranged from Iceland and Italy to Taipei and Zambia. Since the last time we showcased where Penn Staters have met, this time reinforces that We Are…(still) everywhere!

We’ve compiled our favorite submissions by continent (with the exception of South America) below.

North & Central America

Florida

Beth Clark was swimming in the Gulf of Mexico near Marco Island, Florida, when she heard someone shout “We Are.”

“He was wearing a PSU hat, I said ‘We are,’ he answered, and I began chatting with him, his wife, and their son,” Clark said. “He hadn’t been back in years, so I was telling him about all of the new buildings and such at University Park.”

Oklahoma

Janelle Rushton was on a road trip to Kansas with a friend who was making her way around to visit all 50 states. Oklahoma City happened to be on the way, so she and her friend made a pit stop there and attended a watch party for the 2017 Rose Bowl, in true Penn Stater fashion.

“I had timed our trip so that on our way back to Dallas we would drive through Oklahoma City in time to catch the game. As a Penn State Philly Alumni Chapter board member, I knew to look up the local alumni watch party and was able to join them,” Rushton said. “We had a blast, and my friend thought it was absolutely crazy that we were in Oklahoma City at a watch party with 20 other Penn State alumni. They were very welcoming and excited to have visitors join them.”

South Dakota

Christopher Albert had just moved to South Dakota from his native Central Pennsylvania to teach on a reservation. When he arrived at a monument near the Sitting Bull burial, an older couple noticed the Penn State stickers on his car.

“I walked to the monument took some pictures and as I returned to my vehicle I noticed the older couple were waiting by it. They had noticed my We Are and Penn State stickers on my rear window and asked if I had gone to Penn State,” Albert said. “They had as well, [having] met and got married some years ago. They were originally from Bellefonte, which is only 50 or so miles from where I grew up. Nice conversation. Strangest out of the way place to meet two former Penn Staters though.”

U.S. Virgin Islands

Raegan Price was vacationing in the U.S. Virgin Islands during the summer of 2019 when she heard someone yell out “We Are” at a local store.

“I was walking into a store in St. Thomas wearing a Penn State shirt when a car drives by in the parking lot and yells ‘We Are.’ They briefly stopped and had a conversation with my parents and I,” she said.

Europe

France

Derek Dawson and his wife were waiting for their friends, who are also Penn State alumni, before hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc in Chamonix. They were looking for a place to sit and decided to approach a man who was reading a book written in English, who also happened to be sitting at the last available table.

“[It] turned out he was a Penn State grad from Israel who also waiting to meet up with friends (more Penn State grads from Israel) to do the same hike, but going counter-clockwise — we were hiking the circular route clockwise,” Dawson recalled. “After our friends arrived, we spent the next several hours reminiscing over many beers about good times at State, favorite bars, and our anticipation of the daunting hike ahead of us. Our groups said our goodbyes and wished each other luck on our respective hikes. Five days and many, many beautiful miles hiking through the Alps later, we ran across them on trail, exchanged hugs (Pre-COVID, of course), We Ares, and each went on our way. Penn Staters really are everywhere.”

Iceland

Andy R. was vacationing in Reykjavik, Iceland when a fellow Penn Stater shouted a “We Are” in the middle of church.

“I was in Hallgrímskirkja, which is a beautiful church in the Icelandic capital of Reykjavik. The church is known for its access of panoramic views of the city. As I waited in line, a gentleman who said he graduated in 1991 yelled ‘We Are’ from across the church causing I’d estimate three or four dozen people to turn their heads. I, of course, reply back ‘Penn State.’ We might have been the only people that understood the exchange, but it was well worth it.”

Ireland

Onward State photographer Erin Sullivan was on her way back from visiting family in County Kerry. She and her family stopped at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin before their flight back to Pittsburgh when she noticed a boy wearing a Penn State sweatshirt.

“Being from Pittsburgh, it’s not something I’d think twice about seeing in public. It then registered to me that I’m not in Pennsylvania, but across the Atlantic Ocean, so this is pretty wild. It was the summer before my freshman year and it made me feel all warm and fuzzy. The boy was there on a school trip and I asked him where he was from. He told me where and I don’t have an inkling as to where that is now (some small town in Pa.). Regardless, it still made me realize how far and wide the Penn State love is spread, and it made me proud.”

Italy

David Delozier crossed paths with former Penn State volleyball players Max Lipsitz and Blair Brown in Pompeii, who were playing professionally at the time.

“[It was] hard to miss them [because] she is 6’5” he is 6’7.” They were happy to see fellow Penn Staters.”

Asia

China

Kristen McKnight Burns was attending the 2008 Summer Olympics in Beijing the summer before her freshman year when she saw a Penn Stater from across Olympic Village.

“Across the way in a crowded Olympic Village the day after opening ceremonies, I screamed ‘We Are’ And they yelled back ‘Penn State.’ It was the summer before my freshmen year. [It was] very cool and made me very excited to join in on the tradition!”

India

Andy Cutler was visiting a manufacturing facility in a small town in India for work. After talking with the facility plant manager, Cutler learned that he was a Penn Stater, too.

“I began talking with the plant manager of the facility and we got into some of our history. I told him I was from Pa., and he said he went to university in Pa. I said, ‘Me too, I went to Penn State.’ He couldn’t believe it, for he was also a Penn Stater! We ended up talking about the university and what had changed. My son had just started going to Penn State so I had been there recently. He was thrilled to hear about the happenings in State College. Never would I have expected to meet another Penn Stater in such a remote place so far from Happy Valley!”

Chinese Taipei

Carolyn Quinn was on a Young Leaders Delegation trip in Taipei in 2018. After a 15-hour flight, Quinn had a meeting at the Taiwanese Foundation for Democracy, which is where she met a man whose wife attended Penn State for her Ph.D. at the time.

“[He] told me that he had lived in State College for seven years as his wife was working toward her Ph.D. While he wasn’t an official Penn Stater, he was a State College resident, and I couldn’t believe the immediate connection and bond I had with this no-longer stranger.”

Africa

Zambia/Zimbabwe

Alan Wagmeister was in Zambia and Zimbabwe for humanitarian work when he saw a Penn Stater crossing a bridge that connects Zambia and Zimbabwe.

“I saw the gentleman crossing the bridge wearing a Penn State shirt. He was from Pennsylvania and was a tourist who just ziplined over the Zambezi River from Zambia to Zimbabwe.”


Some of these responses have been lightly edited for clarity.

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and one of Onward State's associate editors. She is from Minersville, PA, and is always trying to explain exactly where that is. Send all compliments to [email protected] or @MackenzieC__ on Twitter.

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