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‘Adopt A Senior’ Facebook Page Provides Positivity, Sense Of Community For Class Of 2021

The past year simply hasn’t gone according to plan, especially if you’re a senior.

With spectators not allowed into sporting events, a majority of classes operating through Zoom University, and gatherings limited to a minimum, there’s been a major damper put on what’s supposed to be a victory lap before seniors move into the real world.

Enter the “Adopt A May 2021 Penn State Senior” Facebook page, where parents of Penn State seniors are coming together to shine some positivity on what’s otherwise been a pretty disappointing year.

The page, which was started by Penn State parent Bridget Nieuwsma Hayes, works to provide senior students with small care packages that are tailored to their interests. Hayes started the page after being inspired by various “adopt a senior” programs that high schools across the country had organized last spring when the pandemic first began.

“I have a Penn State senior, and in January, when this pandemic was still playing out and I realized that his last semester was going to be anything but normal, my heart broke,” Hayes said. “I wanted to do something special for my own senior, and I thought other parents might want to do the same.”

She put out a general interest message on various Penn State Facebook groups she was a part of, which included the Class of 2021 Parent page, the Penn State Parent page, and other related groups.

Through the page, parents will post a short bio and a picture of their senior child. From there, the student will be added to the “Adoption Sheet,” where they can be chosen by another parent based on their interests. Each month leading up to graduation in May, these students will receive a gift from a different Penn State parent, which will “give them a sense that it is an entire community behind them.”

The letter that Hayes wrote to other senior parents

So why put in the effort? While it seems like a lot of extra work coordinating these “adoptions,” Hayes believes that it’s important for seniors to know that they have the support of the entire Penn State community as they move through this difficult last semester.

“The purpose of the program is to make our seniors smile, to give them something to look forward to when there are still so many unknowns —  graduation, internships, jobs, etc. — as they finish their Penn State journey,” Hayes said. “We wanted our seniors to know that we get it, we understand, we know that they have sacrificed and lost so much of their college experience. We wanted them to know there are other parents [and] community members standing behind them cheering them on.”

So far, around 85 seniors are being adopted on a monthly basis purely through this page and are set to receive gifts for February, March, April, and May. Outside of this page, Hayes says that she has heard that smaller Penn State communities, such as those within Greek life and honors programs, have started similar programs as well.

Although this school year has had a lot of negatives, Penn Staters like Hayes and other parents are stepping up to make this entire semester a little bit easier. For other parents who are interested in getting their senior involved in this program, as well as any parents who are looking to adopt a senior themselves, the page can be found here.

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About the Author

Katie Moats

Katie Moats is a senior majoring in English, and her goal this year is to get a big girl job. Seriously, though, if you're looking for someone who can write and edit like nobody's business, she's Katelyn Moats on LinkedIn and will literally interview with you tomorrow. You can follow her @k_moats24 on Twitter for stupid content, but if it's something serious, feel free to shoot her an email (preferably in the form of a poem) to [email protected]

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