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Eric, Molly Barron Virtually Toast Class Of 2021

Penn State President Eric Barron, along with his wife, Molly, toasted the Class of 2021 over Zoom Sunday night to kick off Senior Week festivities hosted by the Alumni Association, Lion Ambassadors, and Blue & White Society.

Joined by Alumni Association CEO Paul Clifford, the Barrons invited soon-to-be-graduates and their families to celebrate seniors’ accomplishments and wish them well in their future endeavors.

“Earning your degree from Penn State is an accomplishment that you and your loved ones can take tremendous pride in,” Clifford said. “Your graduation is a significant milestone, but it’s not the end — rather, just a milepost in your journey as a lifelong Penn Stater.”

Clifford then welcomed seniors to the Alumni Association’s extensive family. Per tradition, each Penn State graduate receives a complimentary one-year membership to the organization.

Clifford hardly wasted time introducing the Barrons and promptly gave them the floor to toast Penn State’s seniors.

“It’s wonderful to be here with you this evening. It’s a great day to celebrate,” Barron said.

Barron addressed the elephant in the room and said this probably wasn’t the senior year Penn State’s soon-to-be-graduates envisioned. He specifically noted how different campus looks these days, citing the Willard Preacher’s student-less sermons and even that black bear that showed up on campus last fall.

“But I hope you’re also thinking about the fact that it wasn’t just one year. It was a great run of years with all sorts of things that were going on that were exciting. The pandemic’s just one of them,” Barron said, joking that pandemics seem to happen just about once every hundred years. “It was an unusual capstone from a wonderful Penn State experience that suited you well.”

Although this year wasn’t ideal, Barron said he hoped seniors will tell their kids and grandchildren about their times at Penn State and look back on them fondly.

“You’re now always a Penn Stater,” Barron said. “You have your degree. You’re going out into the world. We want you to come back and have that White Out that you missed this year. We want you to come back and have the opportunity to celebrate face to face with your many friends.”

The president then addressed the university’s upcoming commencement plans that will bring seniors and their families to Beaver Stadium next weekend. The socially distanced celebration will offer some semblance of a traditional graduation — something the Class of 2020 never got (and is still asking for).

“May your resiliency that you just demonstrated, coupled with that Penn State degree and all those other things that you bring to the table and offer to the world — may the three of them create a future for you that is stronger and greater, even than your hopes,” Barron said before taking a swig. “Congratulations.”

As always, the Barrons ended their toast with a hearty “We Are!” cheer before signing off.

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About the Author

Matt DiSanto

Matt proudly served as Onward State’s managing editor for two years until graduating from Penn State in May 2022. Now, he’s off in the real world doing real things. Send him an email ([email protected]) or follow him on Twitter (@mattdisanto_) to stay in touch.

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