Onward State Gives Thanks 2020

Happy Thanksgiving from everybody at Onward State! No matter how you’re celebrating this year, there’s always lots to be thankful for.

Here’s what our staff is grateful for after an unexpectedly tough, strange, and hectic year.

Abby Han

I’m thankful for the good health of my family and friends, as well as the time we get to spend together. This year especially, I’m thankful for all the little things in life – for all the things I used to take for granted – because even the simplest things, like a face-to-face conversation, have become all too rare. I’m also thankful for those who continue to go to work despite the risks, like our fearless health care workers and school teachers.

I’m thankful for the family I’ve made at Penn State, who supports me and cheers me on in all my endeavors. And lastly, I’m thankful for McAlister’s Four Cheese Toasty sandwich – it always made those long workdays at the HUB a little bit better (and cheesier).

Acacia Aster Broder

I am thankful for my health, my family, and my friends. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and I know I personally wouldn’t have been able to get through it without the amazing support system I have. I’m also thankful for chocolate. Especially chocolate.

Alysa Rubin

I’m thankful to be here. So many people have had their lives completely upended, and I am so fortunate and blessed to be able to celebrate Thanksgiving with my loved ones because I know many others do not have that luxury. I’m thankful for all of the opportunities that have come my way, and I am so thankful to be surrounded by the most supportive family and friends- your love means everything to me.

Anna Wiggins

Obviously, I’m thankful for friends and family both at home and at Penn State. This has been an interesting year to say the least, and it’s safe to say that we all needed a little support from our loved ones to get through. I’m also thankful for the chicken and cheese quesadillas from my beloved, Yallah Taco. My heart hurts knowing I won’t be able to feast on such a delicacy until January.

Annie Kubiak

Even though this year has not been easy, there is still so much good in the world that I am thankful for. I am thankful for my parents and my sister who have supported and encouraged me all throughout my first semester of college. I am also thankful for all of my friends (old and new) who have stuck with me through all the good and bad times. Iced coffee, bagel sandwiches, creamery lemonade, pianos, dogs, and photography are also small things that I am extremely thankful for because they make my days much better.

Aubrey Miller

This year, I am thankful for the connections I have made through Onward State and my classes; although all these connections currently require an internet connection, I cherish each one. I am also thankful for my loving friends and family who are always there for me and whom I love very much. Most importantly, I am thankful for NPR’s Tiny Desk concerts for helping me get through this historic time.

Charles Reinert

I’m thankful for a lot of things this year, even if it is 2020. I’m thankful for my loving and supportive family, all my friends who are there for me, and the new people I’ve met here at University Park and my Onward State family that have made my first semester at State College as great as it could be. But most of all, I’m thankful for Jahan Dotson, the only person on Penn State football’s roster that is making the most of their scholarship.

Colleen Nersten

In no particular order, I am thankful for the health of my loved ones, Trader Joe’s spinach tortellini, and people who respond to my emails.

Connor Donohue

I’ve been a Penn State kid since birth and it’s been my dream to go to school in State College ever since I could remember. When I came to Penn State in 2018, I started at a branch campus then went to another branch campus before finally making it to University Park. Even though there’s a pandemic going on and State College isn’t how it was even just a year ago, I’m thankful for finally getting the chance to live a dream that’s been 20 years in the making. Seeing Beaver Stadium and Old Main on my typical commute to class is something I hadn’t had in my first two years at Penn State.

Opportunities like Onward State have only enhanced the experience and made my short time in State College so far memorable. So here’s to 16801, my home away from home.

Connor Krause

As a freshman, I’m extremely thankful that I was able to spend the first semester on campus in the middle of a pandemic. Sure, it wasn’t perfect, but I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet great friends and make lifelong memories during a difficult time for all.

I’m also thankful for the start of Penn State basketball. After a dreadful beginning to both the football and hockey seasons, I’m hopeful Jim Ferry’s squad can surprise some folks in the Big Ten this year and turn the campus’s spirits around.

Dana Nunemacher

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my amazing family and my fabulous friends (both old and new). While this year has been hard, I was gifted the chance to grow as a person and learn to love those around me more. Thanks, 2020.

I’m thankful for the beautiful Blog itself. Onward State, you have given me another semester full of laughter and, sometimes, stress. Finally, I am thankful for my Comfy, Dunkin’ iced tea, and cows. All have been essential this year.

Erin Sullivan

This year, I’m thankful for my friends and family for supporting me and each other through a rough year. I’m thankful for my roommates for keeping everyday interesting. I’m thankful for my brother, Patrick, who is spending his first year as a doctor during a pandemic. I’m also thankful for my other brother, Daniel, for being dripped out constantly. I’m thankful for Victor for keeping me in check when I’m being melodramatic. Lastly, I’m thankful for the 10-0 Pittsburgh Steelers and Giant Eagle for giving me friends above the age of 50 and an employee discount with my Advantage Card.

Frankie Marzano

I am most thankful for good health this year. 2020 has been a crazy year for everyone, but I am lucky enough to say that my family is all happy and healthy. I am also thankful for my friends (Noah) and parents after this rough and crazy year. In a year that was filled with uncertainty and many ups and downs, I know I could always count on them to keep me going.

And last, but not least, I am eternally thankful for Penn State football. Yes, I know the team is 0-5. But Penn State football brings people together more than anything I’ve ever seen. It’s an excuse to sit down with my friends or family for three and a half hours on a Saturday to cheer for a team that we all love. Nothing could ever beat that.

Gabe Angieri

First off, I’m thankful for the good health myself and my family have been given during this tough year. I’m thankful for my parents and all the sacrifices they’ve made for me over the years. My brothers, who I know will always be by my side despite how much they mess with me and get under my skin. Additionally, I’m thankful for my girlfriend who’s always there to put a smile on my face no matter the situation. Lastly, I’m thankful for Onward State and the opportunity it has given me to write about some of my favorite things and the platform it has given me to publish some of my awful takes.

Grace Cunningham

As always, I am extremely thankful for my mom, dad, brothers, and dogs. I am also thankful for my wonderful friends, especially the ones that read the blog (hi guys), and of course, I am beyond thankful for this blog and all of the amazing people I’ve met because of it.

This year, I am also thankful for an abundance of things that I maybe was not as appreciative of during this time last year (thanks, covid). These things include, but are not limited to: homemade mudslides, pinkish-purple sunsets, good music, friends who share good music, long walks, even longer drives, when the moon looks extra big, good sleeps, New Jersey bagels, Hot Ones with Sean Evans, an abnormally warm autumn, “The Spins” by Mac Miller, BLTs, and also my roommate because she turns off then oven when I forget to.

Hope Damato

I’m thankful that my family is always there for me and supported me throughout my college experience. To my girls on Gill Street, thank you for walking around downtown State College and smashing pumpkins with me at 4 a.m. when I needed you the most. I very thankful that I have all of you in my lives and now you’re stuck with me forever! As always, I’m thankful for my Onward State family who have been with me since day one of college (“So, what’s your favorite cereal?”). And finally, skoooo Birds!

Jordan Mansberger

While 2020 has been anything but normal, I am thankful for my family and friends for how we have stuck together through these hard and confusing times. While most of my classes were through zoom this semester, I’m thankful for the opportunity to come back to Penn State on campus. Every Saturday, I am thankful for Penn State football for reminding me how grateful I am to be a Steelers fan. Oh, and of course I’m grateful to have joined Onward State! I can’t wait to meet everyone in person once it is safe to and help deliver a dodgeball victory.

Katie Braun

Although this year has been all but normal, I feel like I’m more thankful for things than ever before. I spent more time with my family than ever before and for that, I am thankful since we are all growing up and not seeing each other as much anymore. In addition to the time I spent with them, I’m also thankful for my Mom, Dad, and two brothers, Dan and Ryan, because I cherish our relationships with each other and appreciate your support.

I’m extremely grateful for both my friends at Penn State and at home, you guys have always been there for me no matter what and I love you all. Lastly, I’m eternally thankful for McLanahan’s, chips & salsa, and Starbucks Pumpkin Cream Cold Brew. I couldn’t have made it through this past semester without them.

Katie Moats

I thought about making this a joke or slightly sarcastic, but after the semester we’ve had, I decided to keep it serious. This Thanksgiving, I’m really thankful for my friends. When I had COVID in September, it was really scary. My family was 600 miles away and there were a lot of unknowns, like if my symptoms were going to get worse or if I’d experience long term effects. As soon as I entered quarantine, nearly everyone I knew at Penn State, whether it was a close friend, a sorority sister, Onward State staffers, or just a classmate, dropped everything to make sure I was okay and see if they can do anything to help me. As a senior, this year has definitely not been what I wanted, but I’ll never forget the way everyone in my life was there for me when I really needed it.

Kyra Cunningham

This year, I am thankful for the usual things, my family and friends, but there are a few standouts from 2020. For one, a big thanks goes out to my immune system for beating Covid-19. Also, I have to thank Penn State for keeping the Hub open so that I could sit and stare at my computer screen for a couple hours without getting any work done somewhere other than in my apartment. Lastly, I need to thank Penn State football for giving me a reason to study on Saturdays, and the Pittsburgh Steelers for giving me the joy of seeing a team I like win a game. All and all, this year could have been a lot worse, and I am extremely grateful that it wasn’t.

Larkin Richards

I am thankful for a lot this year. With a pandemic taking over 2020, I can genuinely appreciate the great people and moments within my life. I am extremely thankful I learned to not take any aspect of life for granted. I am so thankful for my mom for dealing with my constant anxiety and overthinking. Whether it be at home or good ole Penn State, my mom has been there through every assignment and story. I’m so thankful for my sister, Mikey Jo, for FaceTiming me three times a day until returning home for break. I don’t know what I would do if I went a day without seeing my three beautiful dogs.

Throughout it all, I am thankful that Onward State has played such a significant part in my life. Each week, I am surrounded by incredible people and endless story ideas for the Penn State community. When I am having a bad day? Onward State is bound to put a smile right on my face. Happy Thanksgiving to my loving family, the people at Penn State that changed my life, and the one-of-a-kind staff that make me laugh infinitely.

Lauren Wysseier

I have a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for my amazing family and friends, including the lifelong friends (borderline family) that I’ve made through this blog. Shoutout to Ava, Colleen, and Grace, who I’ve spent every possible second with this semester. I can’t believe I’m lucky enough to attend Penn State, and I thank my family for allowing me to do so. On a less serious note, I’m thankful to be home for Thanksgiving with delicious home-cooked food, a sister to learn pointless TikTok dances with, and a dog to snuggle.

Lily Whitmoyer

I am thankful that the events of 2020 and Penn State football have humbled and prepared me to lose in my family’s Fantasy Football League. I am more than ready to receive the toilet bowl trophy and display it with honor in my room. But most importantly, I’m thankful that my family is healthy, safe, and relatively happy despite the difficulties of this year.

Lindsay Tagliere

I am thankful for my loved ones who have gotten me through this year. My parents and two younger brothers, my wonderful boyfriend, my close friends, and of course, the Onward State staffers. Dealing with losing my senior year to a pandemic, trying to figure out graduate school applications and/or a job after graduation, and countless other stressors hasn’t made 2020 easy, and I’m so grateful for the support that they have given me. <3

Mackenna Yount

This year, I’m thankful for my friends and family who give me endless support through all of my crazy. I’m also thankful for my new home away from home where I’ve gotten so many incredible opportunities thus far, including OS. And I can’t forget the Rocky Mountains, tacos, coffee, and the new season of “The Mandalorian.” Can’t wait to grub on some mashed potatoes Thursday.

Mackenzie Cullen

I’m especially thankful for my friends and family this year. Despite this year being a shit show, I’m lucky to have been surrounded by the people who mean the most to me — especially when this isn’t the case for a lot of people during these unprecedented times.

Matt DiSanto

Above all else, I’m thankful my friends and family are safe, happy, and healthy during the weirdest holiday season I’ve ever experienced. Every day, I’m blessed to have some of the greatest folks a guy could ask for in my life. I’m also thankful for fantasy football for keeping me sane, Ina Garten’s bolognese sauce recipe for keeping me full, and Onward State for keeping me busy.

Matt Ogden

As I’m less than a month away from graduation, I’m thankful for the last 2 1/2 years I spent as a writer, editor, and podcast host with this silly old blog. I’m especially thankful for the sweet boys Matt Paolizzi, Mitch Stewart, and Sam Brungo for helping turn our podcast from an idea into a very fun reality.

Matt Paolizzi

I’m so thankful that I get a chance to spend Thanksgiving with my family, they’ve been my bulwark against COVID and politically induced insanity. I’m also thankful for the companionship I’ve found with my fellow student teachers as we attempt to reinvent the wheel while learning how to manage classrooms, both virtual and in-person, full of anxious high schoolers. Keep grinding folks. And I got to thank my pod brothers Sam Brungo and Matt Ogden for helping me build a project that has a chance to last as long as Onward State continues to exist.

That same warmth goes out to all my friends at the Blog, while I’m too busy see you all as often as I’d want, the little time I’ve gotten has meant a lot to me. As one of the resident old heads, seeing many of you climb the ranks and grow up into talented young journalists brings me much needed joy. And of course, thanks to all the movies, books, and music I’ve had the time to engage with and to all the brilliant artists that remind us why life is worth living.

May you all get to experience some love this holiday season. Salute!

Matt Rudisill

In this season of thankfulness, I give thanks for my health, my loved ones, and the Blog.

Without a support system around me, there is no way I would have made it to where I am today, finishing up my first semester in State College amidst a global pandemic. To my girlfriend, my roommate, my family at home, and my friends, I am thankful for you all.

Also, I am thankful for Onward State itself. Coming from a branch campus, I was nervous about joining organizations and clubs in State College, and although I have yet to meet nearly all of our staff in person, I am thankful for the opportunity to participate in a fantastic organization such as this one. Let’s go win ourselves a dodgeball game!

Michael Tauriello

At the forefront of what I’m thankful for this year is my health and the health of my family and friends. I feel very fortunate to have stayed healthy throughout the coronavirus pandemic thus far, and that the vast majority folks I surround myself with have managed to steer clear of the virus as well. Not too far behind that on my list of things I’m thankful for are mashed potatoes, my family and their love and support, my dad’s “championship stuffing,” and the great folks around Penn State who have shaped my career and life in ways I didn’t think were possible.

Mira DiBattiste

Last year I said that I was thankful for “a better Penn State football season”. That aged well. This year, I’m not at all thankful for Penn State football. Y’all stress me out. I am, however, so thankful for my friends in State College who have made this weird year feel almost normal. To Brittany, Kenzie, Ben Squared, and my roommates, thanks for always making me laugh when things get rough. To Justin, thank you for always looking out for me, and making sure I’m okay. To Ryen, Alysa, and Dana, thank you for being the best girl gang I could’ve ever asked for. I love all of you so much. This year, I’m thankful for friends and family, as the relationships I have are more important now than ever during “these trying times.” 2020 has made me realize just how short life is, how important it is to thank your friends and family, and to tell them you love them. Often.

Otis Lyons

It has been a crazy semester, so I am grateful for everyone who helped me throughout the fall. Of course that starts with my family– thanks mom and dad :). There are so many people to thank in that department, so for all of my friends, professors, and, of course, fellow bloggers, thank you.

Additionally, if the coronavirus has done one positive thing (no pun intended), it would be giving me more appreciation for the mundane things. So this year, I am giving thanks for walking to class, eating at a restaurant indoors, and breathing on others!

Owen Abbey

This year has been a strange one. So many crazy things have happened, so I have to give credit to the people who have helped me out the most. First and foremost, thank you to my family for allowing me to pursue things that I wanted to pursue, despite the challenges of the pandemic. I’d like to thank some of my friends, specifically Shannon, Hannah, and Ryen, who have all been great listeners and great advice-givers. Without them, I probably would have made some very dumb decisions and I don’t know what I would do without them.

Lastly, I want to thank my DC Social Justice Fellowship class and professors. These people taught me so much about the world and myself, and I would not have wanted to go through that process with anyone else. They are amazing people and I truly hope that I get a chance to work with them again in the future. You all are amazing, and keep up the great work you are doing here at Penn State and in your own respect give communities!

Renata Carlos Daou

I am thankful for the opportunity to join Onward State this semester! I felt like I grew a lot professionally and I met a lot of awesome people. I am also grateful for the support I’ve received from Global Programs through the pandemic. Being away is hard, but they helped me with everything I needed and answered all of my questions.

Richard Smeltzer

As someone who transferred to University Park last fall, this is certainly not how I imagined my time at Penn State would end. With that being said, I’m thankful for all of the friends and loved ones I’ve had the honor of meeting recently. Even in the short amount of time I’ve had, I was still able to meet my lovely girlfriend, all of my peers at Onward State, and many more who were able to make my time at Penn State feel at least slightly normal, even given the circumstances. Without them, I certainly wouldn’t have gotten a “true” college experience.

Ríco Gore

This holiday season I am thankful for friends, family, but most importantly the Office of Physical Plant. I am a massive simp for the OPP, and the holidays got me all in my feels about how much I adore the heroes of Penn State.

Riley Davies

This year I am especially thankful for my friends. In such an odd time they brought so much fun and laughter into my life. More specifically, I am thankful for the Gill Gals who make our college house a college home. Ryen Gailey, I’m thankful for your education major homework that turns our living room into an art class and that I can always count on you to be up at 2 a.m. Rory Pelella, I’m thankful you make me go on runs with you and wake me up when I have been sleeping for too long. Hope Damato, I’m thankful that you like reality tv just as much as I do and you always respond to my texts even when you’re in the room next to me. Mackenzie Cullen, I’m thankful that every time you cook the kitchen smells amazing (after the first cooking incident) and you are always the level-headed one.

This semester has forced us all to spend a lot more time with each other than any of us thought but I’m forever thankful for the time we spend together in our living room laughing, crying, and much more. Oh, and I am thankful for my family…but mostly my dogs.

Rory Pelella

This year I’m thankful for W.C. Clarke’s Cheese Shoppe in downtown State College. A special thank you to Bill for the best coffee in town (wouldn’t have survived the semester without it) and the daily chats that brightened each and every day. I’ll be back soon!

Also, thank you to my family (at home and at school) for always being there and never leaving my side and my dogs for the cuddles. Love you guys the most.

Ryan Parsons

To be completely honest, it took me a second to think of what I’m thankful for this year. But I think my answer is the same as it was last year: Penn State. This school has given me incredible opportunities and, most importantly, has felt like home. Even during a pandemic, just being in Happy Valley is comforting. I’m also thankful for a great group of friends and my family, who I know have my back through thick and thin.

In particular, I’m also thankful for coffee, my bike, my camera, Blue Moon, Beaver Stadium, and porkoll, egg, and cheeses.

Ryen Gailey

This year, more than most, I have been thinking constantly about what I’m thankful for. First and foremost, I’m thankful for my health and for my safety. I am eternally grateful for friends who deal with me when I cry in Redifer Commons because I’m having a bad day and let me vent to them into all hours of the night. I am thankful for friends who make me laugh until I cry when we run around Target and buy matching Spongebob shirts. I have the best roommates in the world and am more thankful for the Gill street girls than they could ever know. Who else would I want to make Bagel Crust trips with, sing karaoke with on Saturday nights, or binge season after season of crappy reality TV with?

This year has been exponentially harder than most, but at the end of the day, I’m thankful to have so many people, and so many places, that make me feel at home.

Sam Brungo

I am thankful for the health of my friends and family. I am thankful for my brother and sister who are both working on the front lines during this pandemic. I am thankful for Frank Scaramuzzo. I am thankful for PJ Pelella. I am thankful for the guy at Weirdoughs who makes my pizza. I am thankful for Cozy Thai’s Lemongrass Tofu. I am thankful for the fact that a case of Genesee Ice is only $14. I am thankful for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Sammy Stevens

This year, I’m thankful for my wonderful friends, my family, and my camera.

Sasha Kalika

I am thankful for my friends and family who have been so supportive during this crazy time. I am thankful to all the Onward State staffers who have given me a new family and place to bring my passion for all Penn State things and writing this semester. Most of all, I am thankful for Penn State for being my home away from home.

Shannon Smith

I am thankful for my family who supports me in everything that I do. Without their support I wouldn’t be the person that I am today. I am also thankful for all the friends that I have made, whether they are new or old. I am so thankful that I go to a school that I truly love. As a freshman I always hear people talking about other schools that they may have went to. I can honestly say that I can not see myself anywhere else but Penn State. Although my first semester wasn’t what I had imagined it to be, I am thankful for all of the memories that I have and the friendships I made.

Teagan Staudenmeier

As this year has been one for the books for all the wrong reasons, it’s helpful to look to your blessings. This past semester at Penn State has been the best yet despite all of the challenges and I’m very thankful for that. I’m thankful for the great friends that I’ve made and the support they offer. I’m thankful for understanding professors and the effort of this university’s staff to keep everyone safe. I’m thankful for the adaptability I have learned this semester and the perspective it has given me. Even when things aren’t “normal” there is still so much joy to be found. Lastly, I am thankful for Zoom, although sometimes I want to aggressively shake my computer screen bc Zoom has been loading for far too long, I see that it has been a tool to bring us all together during a time of social distancing. Although Penn State Zoom University is not what I signed up for, I’m thankful for the experience.

Tom Agudo

I am grateful that my family is still healthy and safe after an unpredictable year. It is always important to be grateful for what you have because it can all be gone in an instant. This year has taught me to live in the moment and to cherish the important things in life.

Trae Morgan-White

First and foremost, I’m extremely thankful for Onward State. I’m grateful to be a part of an environment with genuine people and doing what I enjoy. After feeling worthless and mistreated in previous environments this year, Onward State helped me bounce back. I know that I have support from an organization with cool, talented people, and I’m super thankful for that.

I’m thankful for Philly buffalo wings, Netflix, and Spotify. I’m also thankful for TikTok — without it, my sense of humor would be gone by now. That’s also funny coming from someone who refused to even open TikTok last year.

Ultimately, I’m thankful for my friends and family. Thank you to those who reached out when I was at my lowest. You all mean the world to me and I’m glad that I can confide in you all. Also, to the people who have hurt me this year, thank you for helping me realize that I could do better.

Oh, and thank you to Penn State football. I didn’t need to pay for season tickets this year!

Will Pegler

As I was last year, I’m still thankful I don’t go to Ohio State. Honestly, I’m extremely thankful for that. Other than that, I’m super excited about the fact that this college football season does not count. That’s right, folks, this year will not be remembered at all, and it’s like a season didn’t even happen!

In all seriousness, though, I’m extremely thankful for my friends and family. It’s obviously been a tough year for a lot of people, but I feel lucky that I’ve got such great friends at Onward State, Penn State, and back home to surround myself with. Outside of some great folks, I’m also thankful for Yallah Taco, Five Guys, Irving’s, my dog Maggie, Saquon Barkley, NCAA Football 14, the NFC East, Blue Moon, and so many other things that help make me a happy guy.

Most of all, I’m thankful for our Facebook commenters and top fans. I love you guys. Happy Thanksgiving.

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