Onward State Gives Thanks 2021

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

From El Jefe’s burritos and Penn State football to our friends and family, our staff is thankful for a little bit of everything this year.

Abby Williams

Although the pandemic is not over, am I thankful for a slight return to normalcy. I am so happy to be back in class, and it truly brings me joy to see campus filled with students again. I am extremely thankful that my family has remained healthy through it all, and I am thankful that all my extended family gets to spend Thanksgiving together again, a tradition I missed so much last year.

Acacia Aster Broder

As always, I am so thankful for my family and friends. Without them and their support, I don’t think I would be the person I am today. I’m especially grateful for my parents (basically my therapists) who don’t complain when I call them once a week to cry about everything and anything. But, most importantly, I’m thankful for Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and Starbucks vanilla lattes, as they’re the real reasons I’m able to get through senior year balancing Onward State, two internships, and classes with my sanity intact.

Alex Pepe

I’m thankful for ~normal~ life in State College. Last year was weird and difficult for everyone, so I am extremely thankful that we were able to have a relatively normal experience this past fall. I have made some of the best experiences of my life this year, whether that was my first White Out (which was insane), or just seeing a busy, beautiful campus. I am thankful for my great professors and friends who make me know I chose the right school. I love Penn State and am so so thankful to finally experience what State College is really like.

Alysa Rubin

Today and every day, I’m thankful for my family, friends, boyfriend, and dog. Your love and support have gotten me through many of my hardest times. I wouldn’t be who I am without you all and I love you all dearly! I’m thankful for Onward State because, without it, I would not have learned several valuable life lessons, nor made as many connections with some of the best people on Penn State’s campus. Thank you, OS, for giving me the opportunity to grow in the best way. I’m thankful for my summer internship in Cotuit, Ma., for pushing me to be my best and embrace challenges. In no particular order, I am also thankful for my camera, sunsets, Whole Foods, The Coop, fall foliage, country music, and a good hug.

Alyssa Wagner

I am thankful today, and every day for my family and friends. I’m also thankful for my Onward State family and all the opportunities OS has given me during my first semester at Penn State. Oh, and I’m thankful for my dog Luna, too. I love her.

Anna Wiggins

I’d like to thank my loved ones, friends, Onward State, caffeine, the Penn State chipmunks, Bistrozine’s chicken fried rice, Black Friday deals, Trader Joe’s, and the Academy.

Annie Kubiak

This year I am extremely thankful for my family and all of their endless support through college (and for not getting mad at me when I forget my keys). I am also thankful for all of my friends that put up with my nonstop singing and my lack of knowledge about sports. I’m thankful for the pianos in Warnock and Pollock Commons, hockey games, farmers markets, chicken baskets, and bagel sandwiches. Lastly, I am so very thankful for Onward State and the endless amount of opportunities and friendships that have come out of the blog.

Bryse Wade

This year there are a lot of things to be thankful for. For one, I and thankful for the amazing first semester I’ve had at Penn State as well as the friends and memories I’ve made along the way. It’s been a dream to be here and I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else. I’m also of course always thankful for my family and my friends back home who continue to love and support me. With the same level of importance, I am incredibly thankful that Taylor Swift dropped Red (Taylor’s Version) in time for my three-hour drive back home for break.

Caitlin Burns

Obviously, there are so many things to be thankful for. Family and a good life are a given. But the incredible relationships that I have from Penn State are something I will always be thankful for, and I want the people in that support system to know that they mean the world to me. I’ve never felt so lucky and loved in my life, even when things feel horrible, and for that, I am so beyond grateful and thankful that these people are by my side. Choose people who choose you and you’ll never have a day where you aren’t thankful!

Charles Reinert

In a world where people are always worried about what they don’t have, it’s important to take a step back and appreciate the blessings that have found you. I’m grateful every day for my loving and supportive family and friends, and every person who is there for me. I’m thankful for the food I eat and the water I drink. And lastly, I am thankful for the memories I’ve made so far in my life. Here’s to another year of good fortune!

Charlie Pegler

We all have a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. For me, I am most thankful for my mother and father, my two brothers, and my great doggo Maggie. Regardless of their record, I am still thankful for Penn State football, as there is no other way I would want to spend every Saturday of my fall. To Penn State in general, I am thankful for the first semester I have had so far and look forward to the many more to come.

Colleen Nersten

I’m thankful for the chemistry department’s acetone supply following a national shortage, Erin Sullivan’s vintage Mad Mex collection, and a phat burrito from El Jefe’s after a Penn State football game. Most importantly, I’m thankful for one more semester with my best friends before they graduate and leave me and Grace behind.

Dana Nunemacher

After another wild year, I am thankful to be here. I am thankful to all the new people that have entered my life, including Naya, Natalie, Liz, Maria, Oscar, Bo, Katherine, Anders, Kate, Molly, Kasey, and Anthony. Of course, I am forever thankful for those who have always been with me, like my blog family, Mira, and Dani. I’m thankful for Alysa Rubin, and I can’t wait to hug her soon. She is the kindest soul you will ever meet. If my family is reading this, I love you and remind you pretty frequently how thankful I am to be supported by you, but here it is in a blog post just so you remember. Also, I’m thankful for my fish children. Greg and Mr. Fish, it’s an honor to be your mom. Finally, thank you to Dunkin, the Berkey Creamery, and my nail salon for making me feel human.

Devon Craley

I’m most thankful for being able to have a happy, healthy, and normal year for what feels like the first time in a long time. After the last two years and everything that happened with COVID-19, having 2021 be a healthy and normal year for myself and those around me is something that I am very thankful for.

Emma Kappel

This Thanksgiving, I’m particularly thankful for the continued health and wellness of my friends and family. I’m continually grateful for those in my life who push me to be a better person and to have an amazing support group. I’m thankful for my education and the opportunities Penn State continues to provide me. I’m also thankful for photography, Harry Styles, Trader Joe’s $5.99 flower bouquets, my boyfriend, chai lattes, and movie theaters. Happy Thanksgiving!

Erin Sullivan

This Thanksgiving can gladly look a lot different than last, so I thank the COVID-19 vaccine and the fruits of modern medicine for this possibility. I’m very thankful for my family for being so supportive and loving and making me the very cool, interesting, cool, and humble person I am. I’m very thankful for 502 for making our little corner of heaven a true home. I’m very thankful for all of my pals on the Onward State staff for being so funny and making my experience at this school so special. I’m very thankful for the Kovac Lab for giving me an opportunity to do some compelling research and a place to film most of my awful TikToks. I’m very thankful for the Buckhout Greenhouse for being the best place in the world to work and letting me hide from all of my problems in there three days a week. I’m very thankful for [scanning sports teams rosters I’m fans of in my head]…never mind.

Ethan Bell

I am thankful for the new friends that I have made at Penn State. I was very nervous that I would have trouble meeting people as a freshman, but I have made some of the best memories of my life with my new friends in Happy Valley.

Frankie Marzano

It’s hard to summarize what I’m thankful for in a few short sentences. I’m thankful for this blog and the lifelong friends I’ve met in the last two years. I’m also thankful for my family and health. I’m thankful for my best friends who make my life better every day (Hope, Alex, Gabe, and Jesse <3). This year was certainly filled with its up and downs, but I am very grateful to have these people in my life.

Most of all, I am still thankful for Penn State football. The team drives me up a wall every fall, but it still brings people together like nothing else can. No matter how the team performs, watching the team play for three and a half hours every Saturday with my friends and family always creates memories that will last a lifetime. Nothing can ever beat that.

Gabe Angieri

This Thanksgiving, more than ever, I’m thankful for my family. I’ll never take my family for granted, as you never really know how much time you have left with the ones you love. Recently, I lost my grandpa, and I’m thankful for the 20 years of memories I was able to make with the strongest and most hardworking man I’ll ever know.

I’m thankful for each of my parents and the great relationships I have with both of them. My brothers are my best friends and people I can go to no matter what. I’m thankful for my Nonna, to who I’m sending lots of love right now.

Lastly, I’m thankful for my girlfriend and all my great friends. You guys are the best — even you, Frankie.

Gabriel Herman

There is a lot to be thankful for this year. First, it is great to have a daily routine with almost everything happening in person this semester. While being in Happy Valley can be challenging at times in terms of personal workloads, I am always thankful to know that I have my friends and, most importantly, my family there for me when I need them most. Also, while I just complained about the workload, I am thankful for it, as every opportunity provided at Penn State has been nothing short of amazing.

Grace Cunningham

As always, I am thankful for my friends, family, and this blog. I am also thankful for everyone that listens to Podward State (especially Ryan Smith.) I am thankful for my dogs, Teddy and Yogi (but mostly Teddy.) I’m thankful for my roommate, Ava, for locking the door because I always forget to. I am also thankful for bagels. But most of all, I am thankful for the babies on a leash that walk around campus. Happy Thanksgiving!

Hailey Stutzman

Above all, I’m thankful for the good health of my family and friends. Every day I am surrounded by people who love and care about me. I’m also thankful for the opportunity to attend this school because I truly can’t picture myself anywhere else. Lastly, I’m thankful to come home to a Wawa, for my dog Gracie, Podward State, half-priced apps at Applebees, and my awesome job (shoutout to The North Face). Go Birds.

Haylee Yocum

As always, I am so incredibly thankful for my loved ones’ continued health. I’m also thankful that they’ve listened to me go back and forth about changing my major until I finally made the decision and supported me the whole way. I am even happy to be able to attend my classes in person now, even if it means trekking through the rain and cold. I’m also grateful to Onward State, of course, for giving me a platform to continue a passion that I thought would be left in high school. I can’t forget about the little things either: iced coffee, Osmond Lab for being my second home, Jurassic Park, the Insomnia Cookies delivery drivers, and professors who teach later than 10 a.m.

Hope Damato

I’m thankful for Mad Mex and their Big Azz margs. I’m so upset they’re leaving me for the rest of my senior year. I’m also thankful for the man at Collegemart, the Starbucks on Calder, Friday nights at Cafe, and Penn State football for reminding me that things could be worse.

But on a more serious note, I’m thankful for my family, which never fails to put a smile on my face and makes me excited to come home for break. Thank you for being everything I could ask for and more. To The Blog™, thank you for introducing me to my best friends in the whole world. I am very thankful that I have all of you in my lives and now you’re stuck with me forever! And as always, go Birds!

Jordan Mansberger

Most of all, I’m thankful for my family and that we continue to be in good health in such crazy times. I’m thankful for my parents who are always my sources of inspiration and ambition. I’m thankful for my roommates, who have helped make my second to last semester at Penn State the best of my time in college. I’m thankful for Shandygaff and all of their over-priced pitchers. I’m thankful for Podward State for finding more friends of the show. I’m thankful for James Franklin for reminding me that sometimes extensions are not earned and that’s okay. I’m thankful for Tristan Jarry, who is having a bounce-back year for the Pens. I’m thankful for my friends back home.

Keeley Lamm

This Thanksgiving, I’m grateful for the support, health, and love of my family. Thank you to my mom for picking up my seven phone calls every day and shoutout to my dad for always making me the best food. I am also grateful for my brother who sends me funny memes. Outside of my family, I’m thankful for the blog, brookies, my bed, and whoever is always on aux at the W. College Ave. Starbucks.

Kyra Cunningham

I am thankful for my mom, dad, brother, dog, James Franklin, the blog, my health, and laughter. But most of all, I am thankful for Erin Sullivan. Get that second serving of turkey girl, you deserve it.

Larkin Richards

This is a question I always love to answer. The person I am today is because of the people I am so entirely grateful for. My mom and my sibling, Mikey Jo, are the reason my heart beats. They are my purpose. They are the reason I strive to be the most successful and driven version of myself. I don’t know where I would ever be without those two. I am so thankful for the friends that surround me, at home and in State College, that have become my family. It takes a village to help out a tiny family like mine, and that village is the reason we have a smile on our faces day after day. I wake up each day feeling thankful and overwhelmingly lucky. I am motivated more because of the environment that surrounds me.

I can’t forget about the staff that has been in my life for over a year now. Onward State is unlike any other organization out there. The support, love, optimism, and confidence that lives within our staff’s conversations are incredible. If you are ever in need of a shoulder to lean on, cry on, or laugh on, these are the people for that. I am so thankful for Onward State. I have grown within my time on staff and have learned so much. Matt DiSanto, our managing editor, has done everything to cheer me on. This year has been so good to me. Thank you, Onward State.

P.S. I literally do not think I could exist without the support of my three dogs, Ernie, Gertrude, and Stewart. If you saw them, you would understand why I show them off in every conversation ever.

Lauren Wysseier

Every Thanksgiving, I’m reminded of how thankful I am for so many aspects of my life. I’m so thankful to have an incredible family to spend quality time with during the holidays — yes, this quality time includes stuffing our faces on Thanksgiving. I couldn’t be more grateful for the friends I’ve made at school, who I’m sure will be my friends until I’m old and gray. Lastly, I’d like to say thank you to Canyon Pizza, who’s always there for me after a night out in State College. Missing you right about now.

Lily Whitmoyer

I’m thankful for coffee, festive candles, and sitcom Thanksgiving episodes that never fail to put me in the holiday spirit. But seriously, I’m thankful for the new friends I made this year, for the old friends I’ve been able to spend more time with, and for my family who continues to support me. I’m also thankful to be physically back in the classroom and for my professors who have made this semester enjoyable.

Lizzie Palmieri

Each year, family always tops my list of things to be grateful for including my mom, dad, sister, and 17-year-old puppy Macaroni. This year, however, I’m grateful for a bit of consistency, as we’ve stayed close through a turbulent time and come out even stronger. After entering the pandemic unexpectedly and unprepared, we’re still together, still close, and still us, and that is one fact I’m always thankful for far beyond the holiday season.

I’m also thankful for Onward State, the Oxford Comma, and Diet Pepsi. Thank you to Onward State for the opportunity to grow and learn as a writer, the Oxford Comma for the grammar lesson to write, and Diet Pepsi for the energy to do so in the first place. I’m especially grateful for the blog and friends, even though strangely I have not been able to go a single day without saying “folks” since September.

Mackenna Yount

I’m thankful for a lot this Thanksgiving, and a lot has happened in the past year for me to be grateful for. I’m thankful for being able to experience Penn State *for real* this year, my family and being able to spend the holiday with them, good coffee, my home back in Colorado and the home I’ve made here in State College, tacos, and all of my amazing friends. Let’s eat some good grub, folks.

Mackenzie Cullen

I’m especially thankful for my friends and family who have supported me through another rough year. I feel so fortunate to have amazing people in my life who still love me at worst. I’m also thankful for my Gill Gals who always keep life at our house exciting. I’m thankful for *almost* making it through what’s felt like the most normal semester since the pandemic started. Most importantly, though, I’m thankful for Gaffeoke on Wednesdays, Corner Brothers performances on Fridays at Cafe, and still having one more semester that better not go as fast as the first seven.

Mara McKeon

More than anything this year, I am thankful for my friends and family. We are all happy and healthy after another difficult year and I could not be more thankful for that. Without them, I don’t know how I would make it through each day. I also owe thanks to Starbucks and their Vanilla Sweet Cream Cold Brew for consistently giving me the energy to get through my first semester.

Matt Brown

I am thankful for my family and friends because without them I wouldn’t be who I am today. I am thankful for Philadelphia sports, and I love being fans of them even though everyone says we’re insane. I am also thankful for Penn State, as it has given me memories that I will surely never forget.

Matt DiSanto

As always, I’m thankful for another year of good health and good fun for my friends and family. This time, though, I’m thankful for a girlfriend who’s incredibly supportive in all my endeavors. I’m also thankful for Jonathan Taylor for carrying my fantasy teams, the Philadelphia Phillies for keeping me humble, and Onward State for keeping me busy.

Megan Dougherty

This year, I’m thankful for my friends, family, and my boyfriend. I’m thankful to have in-person classes this year and to actually live on campus, which has made my experiences at Penn State even more worthwhile. I’m thankful to have met so many amazing, new people at what has become a second home for me. I’m also thankful for new Taylor Swift music, good coffee, and, of course, I’m so thankful to get to write for Onward State. Happy Thanksgiving!

Michael Tauriello

I said it last year, and I’ll say it again: I’m primarily thankful for my health and the health of my family and friends. Unfortunately, for various reasons, I’ve struggled a bit more with staying healthy this year. It makes me realize I can take those times where I feel and where others I care about feel one hundred percent healthy for granted when I really shouldn’t. I’ve learned it’s important to slow down when you need to, because the further you slip from one hundred percent healthy, the harder it is to get back to it.

Also on the list of what I’m thankful for this year: my friends and family’s love and support, jellied cranberry, the opportunities I get to practice my hobby thanks to this site, empty Thomas building lecture halls, mashed potatoes, Brent and Travis from the FAME lab, and anyone at Penn State who’s helped me get to the position that I’m in today. Happy Thanksgiving!

Mikey DeAngelis

I’m grateful for the blog! As a first-year student, working with Onward State has introduced me to so many amazing people and given me some great opportunities. I love my time at Onward State and am grateful for everyone who’s welcomed me into the team with open arms.

Mira DiBattiste

After a difficult year, I’ve been so thankful for the people in my life who have been a constant support system through tough times. To Naya and Dani, thank you for being the sisters I never had. 340 wouldn’t be the same without you. To Brittany, and Sam, thank you for always having my back. To Alysa, thank you for being the biggest supporter of my work. This year was a year of change for me and I couldn’t have made it through without your love and kindness. I hope you all get to experience some love and kindness this year. Salute!

Nicole Oronzio

I’m grateful for my family. They always help me with whatever I need and I’m always able to reach out. We’re all close and I’m extremely thankful to have that. I’m also thankful for my dog, Simba. He is the cutest and the best dog I could ask for. Also, here’s a big shoutout to my parents who always help me out with my fish, Pookie. They have helped me a lot with caring for her and I’m really grateful for that.

Nolan Wick

Penn State, My friends and family, sports, music, and so many more things.

Owen Abbey

There are so many people I wanna thank, so I apologize for the long list of names in advance. First, thank you to Adele, Larsen, John, Moana, Ashley, Aly, Elena, Kerrigan, Simran, Dylan, Jane, Lizzie, Kenya, Tehreem, Siddik, Emily, and Kadambari. You have each made this semester so much fun and so meaningful in your own ways. You all are amazing and I hope you all truly know that.

To Maddi, Peyton, and Adira; I am not sure where to begin. To say that you all are meaningful people in my life would be an understatement. I love you all so, so, so much, and I couldn’t do life without you. I will be forever indebted to you and I hope that I can live up to the standard you have set with me.

Lastly, I want to thank my first Onward State friend in Ryen Gailey. She is one of the most talented writers I know, and one of the friendliest people as well. I know she’s going to be a wonderful teacher, and as someone who wants to follow in her footsteps, I can’t think of a better role model. I will be cherishing our final semester together, and thank you for being the best role model and friend one could ask for.

Renata Carlos Daou

I am thankful for my friends. Without their help and support, I wouldn’t be able to get through college. They help me take my mind off of work when it gets too much and they always encourage me to do my best. I am also thankful for my professors, who are very flexible and have worked with me whenever I need.

Ríco Gore

As always, I am once again just abundantly filled with thanks for our glorious Office of Physical Plant. If it weren’t for the OPP, I don’t know how I would have made it through this semester. I have consistently been finding myself waking at the early hours of the morning just so I can gawk at the level of detail and excellence the OPP puts into making our campus the beautiful place it is. The only thing that could make me more thankful on this day would be if I was in possession of an OPP sweatshirt. For now, though, I remain full of gratitude because of my favorite Penn State department — the Office of Physical Plant.

Ryan Parsons

After how disastrous last year was, there’s really a lot for me to be thankful for this time around. Being able to consistently see a great group of friends and family, travel, and do the things I love are easy to be appreciative of this year. I’m also thankful for pool tables at Champs, vaccines, football road trips, Hazy Little Things, Drew Allar, and my roommates.

Ryen Gailey

This year I feel extra grateful, as I remind myself just how little time left I have at Penn State and how lucky I am to go here. I’m thankful for my family, who make a 6 hour round trip in one day just to experience my final football game in Beaver Stadium as a student with me. I’m thankful for friends and roommates who make me laugh until I cry, and who are always down to kill it at karaoke with me – especially when I want to sing Taylor Swift. This year, I also have 17 of the best kindergarten students in the entire world to be thankful for. I’m thankful for my mentor teacher and all of our students who teach us every day the value of kindness, compassion, and just trying to bring a smile to someone’s face every day.

Lastly, I’m thankful for Onward State and my blog family. Truly, working alongside so many incredibly talented people has been the biggest blessing and I feel forever grateful every day that I get to be a part of our staff. I have met friends here who I know I will have for life.

Sam Brungo

For the past few years, I have written this post in a satirical light. But as I am now a senior, I am feeling a bit more sentimental and overall very grateful this holiday season. Grateful for my family, good health for both myself and for them. For my 6 housemates, especially my roommate Jimmie. For my brother, Luke, and the girl that lives across town. For the town of Darien, Connecticut, and it’s very fine people who have made up my second family at school.

For this organization, which has given me so many people in my life. For the Onward State football beat, and for Mike Poorman. For my podcast team, who is dedicated to putting out great content every week and always doing it with a smile.

For this town, for the Brewery, Cozy Thai, and the beautiful trees this time of year.

While it may not always seem like it, I am thankful for personal relationships, getting to know people beyond just surface level. If you are in my life, I’m thankful that you are here.

Sam Fremin

I’m thankful for my family and for my friends, who might as well be family. This year has been stressful and the kindness afforded to me by so many, at Penn State and elsewhere, has been impossible to repay. The amount of pride I hold for those around me is impossible to accurately articulate.

Shannon Smith

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for friends and family. I say this every year but it’s always something that I reflect on at Thanksgiving time. I am thankful for all the friends that I have made that have turned into family. Coming to Penn State I didn’t know if I would make friends or if I would be able to find close friends. Now thinking back on all of the people I have met I know for sure that I know people that I will be friends with for the rest of my life. As always, I am thankful for my family supporting me in everything I do and for being my biggest cheerleaders.

Tobey Prime

I’m thankful for Onward State (cliché, but seriously). I don’t think I ever could’ve imagined how much this blog would mean to me, but here I am. I have met some really beautiful people, interviewed some amazing people, and have been granted some great opportunities for my career because of this blog. Joining this blog has been my best decision, so far, while being at Penn State. I’m super stoked to be a part of this family and I am really happy that I can continue the legacy. Shoutout to Gabe Angieri, though. He’s the man.

Vanessa Hohner

First off, as a freshman, I’m ever-so-thankful for all the new people I’ve met this semester at Penn State. Additionally, I’m thankful for my friends and family, but especially my dad, who always knows how to make me smile on those days when I really need one (plus, he pays for my tuition). I’m also grateful for my dog, Felix, who has recently passed but has been a huge part of my life more than I ever realized. Lastly, but most certainly not least, I’m thankful for the Pollock breadsticks because they’re actually amazing and deserve all my gratitude.

Will Pegler

This year I’m thankful for what I’ve always been thankful for. My two great parents, Ryann and Hutch, my younger brothers, and my dog. I also am thankful for the amazing years I’ve had as a Penn State student. I still can’t really believe that I’m a senior, but I’m so grateful for all the friends and memories I’ve made so far. I’m also thankful for James Franklin’s contract extension and the 55 hours he got on his private jet.

Your ad blocker is on.

Please choose an option below.

Sign up for our e-mail newsletter:
Support quality journalism:
Purchase a Subscription!

About the Author


Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

[Photo Story] State College’s Fifth Annual Juneteenth Block Party

The event was buzzing with local vendors, performers, and more.

[Photo Story] Lift For Life 2024

Penn State football players took to Holuba Hall to raise money to fight rare diseases.

Penn State Names Corey Phelps Dean Of Smeal College Of Business

Phelps came from leading Oklahoma’s Michael F. Price College of Business.