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Homecoming 2020 Executive Director Julia Greco ‘Making The Most’ Of Dancing In Final THON

Julia Greco has had a very eventful last year, to say the least.

On top of being a Penn State student and fulfilling other responsibilities, she served as Penn State Homecoming’s 2020 executive director for the world’s largest student-run parade.

Now, she gets to satisfy another accomplishment. But this time, it’s for the world’s largest student-run philanthropy.

This weekend, Greco will dance in THON 2021 as one half of an independent dancer couple (IDC) from her basement, along with her friend R’Asya Philbert. She said it’s something she’s been dreaming of for the last four years.

Greco has been heavily involved in THON for the last four years. She was a Rules & Regulation committee member during her freshman year. As a sophomore, she was a part of an IDC but didn’t get picked from the dancer lottery despite raising about $11,000.

“It’s been a dream of mine to dance for a really long time so to be here now is seriously really huge and exciting to me,” Greco said. “Even then, just knowing that we had raised $11,000 and had made such a difference and spent so much time dedicated toward fundraising for THON during my sophomore year, it was all so worth it.”

She also served as the primary THON chair for the Association of Pre-Professional Pediatric Specialists (APPS) and continued the role again in her junior year. Additionally, Greco was a merchandise captain for THON 2020 all on top of being in charge of Penn State Homecoming. No big deal, right?.

Courtesy of Julia Greco

After a busy last year, Greco felt satisfied by how involved she’s been with THON while at Penn State. She decided to take it easy and focus on fundraising for her IDC.

“I knew that there was no other way that I could imagine culminating my THON experience over the past four years other than dancing,” she said.

Although this past year has brought challenges to fundraising and staying engaged in THON, Greco views these difficulties as positives, saying that they bring on new opportunities to try different approaches.

Greco and Philbert focused on a lot of virtual fundraising this year, which entailed engaging with friends and family through social media. She credits THON’s Donor Drive for making a huge difference in her and Philbert’s fundraising efforts for this year especially.

She and Philbert also capitalized on pushing their Donor Drives at times when resources say that a lot of people are active on social media. They also received a lot of donations during special occasions like “Pediatric Cancer Month” in September or around the holidays when people are most likely to donate.

Courtesy of Julia Greco

Greco said that her role as Penn State’s Homecoming executive director didn’t coincide as much with fundraising for THON 2021 as it did with THON 2020 while she was a merchandise captain. Luckily, Greco is “absurdly organized,” as she put it, and knows how to manage her time when it comes to the things that are most important to her.

“I had already kind of done the major overlap of two major positions,” Greco said. “So, when we decided to fundraise to try and dance in THON this year, and I was already the executive director of Homecoming, I really just sat down with my calendar and said, “OK, how are we going to allocate my time so that I can make sure to fully attend to both of these things that are really important to me?’”

Greco also said that she feels very lucky to have been heavily involved in both Homecoming and THON, given that most students don’t have that opportunity and need to choose between one or the other. Of course, there were times when she needed to put Homecoming first given her position but once it ended and she chose her successor, Greco was able to give more of her time to THON.

Aside from all of her involvement, Greco is currently working toward becoming a Certified Child Life Specialist (CCLS) and recently got accepted into Penn State Children’s Hospital’s practicum program in the Child Life department for this summer. There, she’ll get the chance to work with Four Diamonds children.

Becoming a CCLS is something that Greco has known she’s wanted to be since her sophomore year of high school. Once she came to Penn State, she knew she wanted to get involved in THON because its mission aligned with her personal values and career aspirations.

“Having the opportunity over the past four years to fundraise and to do what I can from the student side to make a difference for all of the Four Diamonds children has been such an incredible experience,” Greco said. “It definitely has strengthened in me the desire to become a Child Life Specialist and have the opportunity to help on the [medical] side of things.”

Courtesy of Julia Greco

Greco said THONs for various reasons. As an alumna member of Omega Phi Alpha, Greco’s sorority represents three THON families: the Megan Martin family, the Josiah Garcia family, and the Miranda Zeigler family. Both Martin and Zeigler are now THON angels.

Additionally, Greco THONs for her organization APPS new THON child, Becca Noll. Finally, Greco THONs for her boyfriend, Isaac Messner, who is a Four Diamonds child and serving as a Dancer Relations captain for THON 2021.

“I just want the opportunity to, like, stand and dance for all of these people who have been impacted in so many different ways by cancer through childhood,” she said. “Hopefully someday we will get to dance in celebration of no families having to go through this.”

Despite her final THON being in a year unlike any other, Greco knows that there will be new challenges that come with dancing this year. However, she wants to soak up every second of her last THON as a student.

“At the end of this weekend, I’m hoping to just feel the absolute culmination of everything that I’ve put into THON over the past four years…I just really want to soak it all in and enjoy every moment because this really is my last student THON,” Greco said. “I just want to make the most of every second.”

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About the Author

Mackenzie Cullen

Mackenzie is a junior majoring in English and is 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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