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Sue Paterno, Lisa Salters Talk All Things Penn State In Homecoming Alumni Panel

Penn State Homecoming hosted an alumni panel Wednesday with four former grand marshals and honorary grand marshals to talk about their favorite Penn State memories, experiences, and lessons.

Featured on the panel were Sue Paterno (2004, grand marshal), Lisa Salters (2018, grand marshal), and Paul and Martha Sharkey (2019, honorary grand marshals).

Lisa Salters is an ESPN reporter and former Lady Lion, while Paul and Martha Sharkey are the founders of “Today is A Good Day,” a non-profit organization that provides personal and financial support to families who experience the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU).

2020 Grand Marshal and Honorary Grand Marshal Captain Sarah Faretta talked to the panelists about their Penn State stories and how they’ve stayed true to their “blue and white roots.”

Following a brief introduction, Paterno’s witty personality made its appearance on the panel.

“I hate the pandemic,” Paterno bluntly said. “But we’re going to get rid of it soon.”

The panelists talked about their favorite (and least favorite) classes at Penn State, which prompted a conversation about the new Bellisario College of Communications professional setup, which was highly praised by Salters and Paterno.

Paterno later talked about her favorite way to relieve stress after class when she was a student.

“Ice cream, chocolate, and Pepsi,” Paterno said. “That takes away every stress.”

The Sharkeys talked about their love for each other and their love for Penn State, which led to a Mount Nittany engagement and Penn State wedding. They ran into Joe Paterno, holding an ice cream cone of Peachy Paterno, immediately after their engagement.

“‘Coach, we just got engaged,'” Paul reminisced. “It’s the greatest luck here!”

Joe Paterno took a lick of ice cream and smugly said, “That’s what it’s all about.”

Though there was no discussion about West cookies, Salters and the Sharkeys talked about how West was the best dining hall. All four panelists agreed that the White Out is superior to the Stripe Out thanks to the tradition and unmatched energy.

Paterno talked about how all but one of her Penn State memories are her favorite, and that she loved to walk around campus with the kids, take them to the Palmer Museum of Art, and reward them with Creamery ice cream.

“This place is just magic,” Paterno said.

The panelists talked about the lessons that Penn State has taught them that they carried into their adult and professional careers. Martha specifically noted how THON taught her the importance of giving back to the community which later played a role in the couple founding their nonprofit.

Salters talked about how strong the university’s alumni network is and how she’s constantly running into Penn Staters as a reporter, be it Sean Lee, Chris Hogan, Devon Still, or Robbie Gould.

“No matter where you go, you’re going to run into an alumni,” Paterno said.

Paterno talked about how different campus is now compared to when she was a student. She said women needed to wear skirts in the dining hall every night, dressed up on Sundays, and could only wear slacks during finals. She also talked about how many buildings there are now, and that the charm of downtown has gone away with all of the high rises.

The panelists talked about the importance of preserving the green spaces, the classics, and the places they all hold dear as construction continues to grow. Salters was crushed when she found out that the Ye Olde College Diner was gone.

Paterno detailed a time she was heading toward Austria and went deep into an underground salt mine in Konigsberg. She met two Penn Staters and thought it was the last place she would ever meet one.

Additionally, Salters talked about her time in the NBA bubble from July to mid-August. The NBA vetted six restaurants that they could order from, so she opted for pizza from a place called 1,000 Degrees. When her food was ready, it came with Penn State napkins, cups, plastic silverware, and a personal “We Are!” note addressed to her.

The panelists closed with a discussion about what Penn State means to each of them personally.

“I thank Penn State for who I am today because of all of the leadership opportunities, the classes, the lessons learned, the friendships, the experiences,” Martha said. “I met lifelong friends at Penn State who will be with me through thick and thin. I credit Penn State for who I am today.”

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About the Author

Colleen Nersten

Colleen is a senior biology major from York, Pa, and is one of Onward State's associate editors. She overuses the ~tilde~ and aspires to be no other than the great Guy Fieri. You can find Colleen filling up her gas tank at Rutter’s, the ~superior~ Pennsylvania gas station. Please direct any questions or concerns to [email protected] For the hijinks, always.

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