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OS Gives Thanks 2023

Happy Thanksgiving, folks!

Our staff at Onward State hopes you’re enjoying the day no matter how you’re celebrating, and we’re thankful for your support over the last 15 years.

Here in Happy Valley, we’re thankful for all sorts of things this year, including chicken baskets, Flipps Grill, and Saquon Barkley.

Aidan Conrad

Thanksgiving is a day that allows me to look around and appreciate everything in my life. The first thing that I always think of are my great parents and sisters along with my friends back home and at school who make up the best support system.

I’m thankful for this staff that allows me to be myself and makes me strive to be more than I was a week ago. On a less serious note, I am also thankful for mirrorless cameras, Diet Coke, Penn State football before October, and Wednesday night trivia at Pickles.

Alex Smith

I am super thankful for being at Penn State! I am also thankful for my friends and family, including my cat, Kuch. I am thankful for Penn State hockey, actually any hockey, especially Connor Bedard. I am incredibly thankful for OS and everyone involved!

Ally Eaton

To put it simply, I am thankful for change. How funny is it that the changes that used to scare us most now bring us the most joy? I am feeling extra thankful this year for this new chapter of my life and time at Penn State thus far. Every day, I am reminded that I am exactly where I am supposed to be and have received some of the most amazing opportunities.

I am thankful to my wonderful family for making it possible for me to live out my dreams at this school every single day. I am thankful for new friends who feel like home and for each present moment spent with them. I could go on for hours about the things that mean most to me, but to sum it up, I’m thankful for each day I get to spend in the happiest valley in the world!

Anna Wiggins

As always, I’m thankful for my friends and family. This year, I’m thankful for Doggie’s hot dogs, LineLeap, and TouchTunes.

Ashley Connington

I’m so thankful that I get to call Penn State my home and all the people I get to share it with. I love this blog and everyone in it and can’t wait for the future in it. Of course, I’m always thankful for my family and friends, Taylor Swift, Chipotle, and Saquon Barkley.

Brady Miller

I have so many things to be thankful for in my life, and the fact that this is hard to write shows me how blessed I am.

First off, I am thankful for my family. I have been blessed with the biggest support system, and I cannot thank you all enough for being by my side through every decision I make and still pushing me to be the best version of myself every day. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for raising me and shaping me into who I have become.

I am thankful for my little sister, Brenna, although she fights with me all the time. I am thankful for my best buddy, Cooper, who is either scratching me, biting me, licking me, or waiting until I get out of bed so I can play with him. Crazy dog! I am thankful for my grandparents who never let me go hungry and are always eager to listen to my various sports rants because somebody needs to. I am also thankful for all my aunts, uncles, and cousins for always being there, and I am thankful to be able to live so close to you all that you are able to be such a huge part of my life. I am thankful for all my friends back home who never allowed for a single dull moment and assisted in any dumb decisions we might’ve made.

Lastly, I am thankful for Penn State University and all the times here with everyone I’ve met along the way. I am thankful for the bonds I have formed here with some awesome people that I will carry with me to take on this crazy life by my side.

Brendan Wagner

God, Family, Football.

Cadyn Gill

I am thankful for my health, my family, my dogs, and my friends. Oh, and CeeDee Lamb. Also, the transition from Dallas to State College has been pretty smooth so far, which is much appreciated. I’m thankful for the grilled chicken sandwiches from Flipps because, without them, I probably would have perished from starvation by now. Lastly, I’m thankful for Onward State and all the dope opportunities it has given me so far and hopefully will continue to give me down the road.

Charlie Pegler

It is pretty easy to be thankful for all of the great things in my life. The main things I am thankful for are Penn State football, the New York Yankees, Podward State, and all of my friends and family. I am also always thankful to not be a Michigan or Ohio State fan.

CJ Doebler

I’m thankful for all the great people in my life who help me every day. I’m very lucky to have a large network of folks I can lean on for advice and ideas or to just chat when things are tough. I wouldn’t be where I am today without my friends, family, fellow editors, and everyone else who gives me support.

CJ Gill

This year around the sun, I am thankful for all my family and friends who always make my days better. I am extremely thankful for my dog, Callie, who keeps me company over each break. Penn State continues to give me so many memories and opportunities to succeed. Despite the disappointments from time to time, Penn State Athletics continues to bring me as much joy as it has for the past 20 years, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the memories and excitement it’s given me this year. One of those opportunities I’ve been given is to write for this amazing blog, and I can’t imagine what my college experience would be like without Onward State, and for that, I am most thankful.

Collin Ward

I am thankful for my friends and family that have kept into touch with me since I moved into college. I am thankful for my EGEE class for giving me an easy A this semester. I am thankful for my dogs even if I can’t see them as much as I would like. Lastly, I am thankful for the breaks upcoming because, man, do I want to be home right now.

Cooper Cazares

I am so blessed to have the best support system in my family and friends. They’re the ones that keep me striving to be the best version of myself. I am thankful for all of the opportunities that have been given to me such as being able to go to school at Penn State University and, of course, being a part of the great staff of Onward State. The season of thanks is definitely appreciated this time around. Thank you to all who have supported me and continue to encourage me on this journey. Also, thank you to Beaver Stadium chicken baskets for your continued support of my mental health.

Dennis Wilkins

I have no idea where to even begin, but I will start off with the boring answer of being thankful for my family, in particular, my mom and dad. When I decided to change majors from economics to journalism this past April, they were my biggest supporters. Their support has put me in the position to write for the best blog out there. On that note, I am thankful for everyone at Onward State and for being given this opportunity. It has truly been an amazing experience in my short time here. Lastly, I am thankful for my halal cart order of chicken over rice with both sauces, hold the salad.

Emma Loria

This year, I have a lot to be thankful for. I am thankful for the friends I have made this year which coincidentally have connected me to past friendships in different countries. The friends I have made this year and the ones I solidified remind me why embarking on this experience is worth it.

I am also thankful for my camera which I’ve now grown to love and share. As I photograph people and moments on campus, tailgates, parties, dinners, and more, I love that not only do I capture people’s smiles but also memories.

This year I have also grown thankful for change. Change is unpredictable and, at times, scary, but I have come to realize that change also allows for growth and reflection. Because of the unpredictability of change, I have begun cherishing the present more and being more aware of what I have in the moment rather than what I want in the future or had in the past. I am thankful that I realized that I should not fear change or rather what change has to bring, instead, I should look for it as really change only reveals opportunities of what life could be.

Finally, I am deeply thankful for my mom, my dad, and my sister. With my parents in another country and my sister in another state, I thought it would create some distance between us, but thankfully this only brought us closer together. The time I now spend with them is increasingly more important because of how limited it becomes in the future. So, Mamá, Papá, Vale, gracias y los veo pronto.

Ericka Apolskis

I am thankful for my family, media tech, self-tan, and the fact that I haven’t had to be in Texas for the past four months.

Erin Conaway

I’m thankful for the people who always have my back and are constantly supporting my dreams and aspirations. Without these people in my life, I would never be where I am today, and I cannot thank them enough for that. I am grateful to have people who constantly are pushing me to do better in all aspects of life and strive to exceed my expectations.

Evan Halfen

This Thanksgiving, I’m thankful for loads of things. For starters, I’m thankful for my family and friends who keep me off the brink of insanity and keep me in check. I really couldn’t do it without them. Secondly, I’m thankful for my dogs who keep me company every break and whimper every time I leave to go back to school. Lastly, and this may sound cringe, I’m truly thankful for being able to call Penn State my second home. Since starting school here, I’ve had some amazing opportunities and met some of the best people on earth who share the same energy and love for this place as I do. Happy Thanksgiving!

Fernando Martinez

I’m thankful for so many things in my life but I have to start with my family first. I am thankful for them, especially my parents and brother. I wouldn’t be the person I am today without them, and I thank them for always supporting me on my journey. I’m thankful for my friends here at Penn State. They have made my time here at Penn State so much fun, and I hope that it stays that way in the future.

Also, I’m thankful for the opportunities that have been provided to me at Penn State like Onward State, SBC, and TDAY Sports. They have allowed me to showcase my abilities, do the things that I enjoy the most, and have the opportunity to meet so many great people. I couldn’t be more thankful for these organizations.

Lastly, I’m thankful for Lionel Messi, the Cowboys (even though I’m starting to lose my patience with them), the Phillies for giving me a great memory this Red October, all the sports teams I root for, and most importantly, Mexican food. I could eat tacos and quesadillas all day.

Giovanna Lee

I am thankful for all of the opportunities that Onward State has provided me, especially Hailey and Mikey. I never would have thought I would be photographing Division I sports already in just my first semester.

Onward State has given me the community and support I was anxious about finding in college, and I am so thankful that I am surrounded by some of the most hard-working individuals I know.

I am also thankful for Drew Allar.

Gracie Mullan

I am thankful for my friends, family, and my partner for making every day so much better.

Hailey Stutzman

This Thanksgiving, I am thankful for my experiences and the friends I’ve made along the way. From road-tripping to Des Moines, Iowa, with my best friends (shoutout hoops beat Keeley, Connor, and Tobey) to cover March Madness and now going to Illinois twice in two weeks to cover Penn State football with the most adventurous people, I’ve truly done it all. I owe all of my opportunities to this awesome blog and the people who work so hard to make it so great.

Haylee Yocum

I am thankful for my family, who always support my choices and do their best to help out. I’m thankful for my partner, Zack, our first apartment together, and our kitten, Nova. It makes coming home something to look forward to (even more than usual). I’m eternally grateful to my best friend, Hannah, who has dropped everything for me on multiple occasions. I’m thankful for the health of my loved ones and myself, even if it may not be perfect.

On a lighter note, I’m thankful for the opportunity to do what I love at Onward State and for the rest of our team. I’m also grateful for my ability to travel and go to concerts, for sitcoms that keep me sane, the Starbucks rewards program, and Taylor Swift, as always.

Jack Anderson-Jussen

I’m thankful for my family, friends, and girlfriend. I’m thankful for my health and to live in a safe and secure part of the world. I’m grateful for the opportunity to study at Penn State. I’m thankful for Onward State and Club Lacrosse. I’m thankful for the support and care I receive from others. I’m thankful for my freedom and my country as well as those who protect it.

Jack Scott

This year, I’m thankful for so much. Penn State hockey, Lupita’s, Manny Diaz, and the Davey Library keep my life at school on track, so thanks! And now at home, I’m always reminded of how thankful I am to have an old hound dog on the couch, two brothers that are less annoying now that I don’t live with them, and a mom and dad that are happy to have us home. Finally, I’m thankful for the whole gang at OS, you guys rock!

Jamie Lynch

I’m thankful for having two places that I can call home. Ever since I was a little kid, Penn State has been one of my favorite places on Earth. I’m extremely grateful that I’m able to go to school here, cheer on the Nittany Lions in Beaver Stadium on fall Saturdays, and have near-unlimited access to Creamery ice cream. As for my home in New York: enjoying my mom’s cooking, watching the Cowboys with my dad, and going on walks with my dog, Baci, are all things I’m looking forward to doing this Thanksgiving. I’m forever thankful for the time I get to spend with my family.

Jess Farhat

I’m thankful for family, friends, good music, the Eagles (go Birds), a nice cold can of Coca-Cola, and the girl who gave me directions to the Burrowes Building on the first day of classes.

With my first semester at Penn State coming to an end, I have the people who helped me navigate this place to be thankful for. What was once a stressful environment, has become a place I can enjoy.

Joe Lister

This Thanksgiving, I’m trying to be more thankful for the small things in life. They’re what really brighten my day and keep me going, so I like to take some time to recognize them. So here goes, my list of small things: I’m thankful for the phone calls I have with my parents, which make my day better and which I try to have as often as possible. I’m thankful for the (physical) fights that I have with my roommates and the late nights we spend together. I’m thankful for the times I went to Culver’s with the Onward State football beat. I’m thankful for the friends I have that keep me in check. I’m thankful for the way the colors turn red and yellow on Mt. Nittany in the fall which makes the afternoons a brilliant display of beauty. I’m thankful for the cold days in State College, too, which wake me up and let me have some fun. I’m thankful for the couple of friends I have from my high school days, who are there when I need something. I’m thankful for those and so much more. And reader, I’m thankful for you. I hope that wherever you are, you’re also having a thankful and joyful Thanksgiving, folks.

Keeley Lamm

I’m thankful for sandwiches, my friend Colleen who catches my typos, porch time, and this blog that means so much to me. 

Kyra Birmingham

This year, I am especially thankful for all of the opportunities Penn State and Onward State have brought me this semester. I am also thankful for my family and friends. Without their constant support, I wouldn’t have been able to take the risks I have these past few years. And I can’t forget the Visual Arts Building’s Panera. Thank you for keeping me going.

Lizzie Palmieri

I’m incredibly grateful for my mom, dad, and sister, Emily. We are a close-knit group, and I’m so happy to have them in my life.

As always, I’m also thankful for chicken baskets, Diet Pepsi, and Onward State. For all the people I’ve met, the stories I’ve written, and the fact that the best is yet to come.

Luke Pieczynski

This year I have a lot to be thankful for.

I’m thankful for having a wonderful family who is always there when I need support or to just come home for a weekend. I’m also lucky enough to be able to attend a university like Penn State, which is a privilege not everyone gets to enjoy.

With that, now my second Thanksgiving as a college student, this place has also brought me Onward State and all of the lovely people who make this blog work every day. There’s no group I’d rather write alongside and also have the privilege to edit for. For THON and Mt. Riether, you guys rock. I’m so excited to be able to tackle THON Weekend’s PASS table with such an amazing group of people.

For new friends and some old relationships I’ve rediscovered this year, too, I’m thankful.

Marie Moyer

To start, I’m thankful for the College of Communications. Through my education, I have truly found my passion and am excited to continue pursuing broadcast journalism. I’m thankful for football games, Raising Cane’s, and Cafe 210 where I’ve had hundreds of laughs and maybe even some tears.

I’m beyond thankful for my family and friends this year. I’m thankful for my parents who have always supported me and who pick up the phone at any hour. I’m thankful for all the friends I made and became closer to this past fall semester. I genuinely was anticipating graduating from Penn State in the spring and never looking back, with only a handful of friends to stay connected to. This was until I recently had the bittersweet realization that graduation is going to be a little bit harder than expected with all these new, life-changing relationships, like that Winnie The Pooh quote about being lucky to say goodbye. I’m thankful for all the memories I have made and am excited for the experiences to come.

Happy Thanksgiving, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.

Matt Brown

This Thanksgiving I am thankful for many things. Like last year, I am thankful once again for Bryce Aron Max Harper, the soon-to-be greatest Phillies player of all time. Also, I’m thankful for Jalen Hurts and Joel Embiid again as they continue to lead their respective teams to fantastic seasons. I am also thankful for the new stars in Philadelphia sports, Tyrese Maxey and AJ Brown, and for my favorite podcaster and player, Taylor Swift’s boyfriend’s brother, Jason Kelce. 

I’m once again thankful for my friends and family who continue to support me every day. I am thankful for my family at Onward State who makes being a part of this blog every day the best part of my time at Penn State.

Max Zarbo

First and foremost, I’m thankful for my family. They relentlessly support me and allow me to follow my dreams. I am thankful for all of the people I have met through Onward State, my roommates and the memories we have made, and the opportunities that I have been able to take advantage of and capitalize on while being a student at Penn State.

Oh, and chicken baskets.

Mara McKeon

This year, I want to thank my amazing family and friends for being an amazing support system and helping me when times get tough. I am extremely thankful for the close relationships that I have and will continue to nurture for years to come. I’m also thankful for toasted vanilla shaken espresso, Penn State wrestling, El Jefe’s, and my cat.

McKenna Murphy

This year, I feel as though I have so much to be thankful for. For starters, I am thankful for my wonderful family, for keeping me sane and giving me a reason to always be the best person I can be. I am also thankful for the amazing friends I have made at Penn State. They make this big university feel so much smaller and are some of the kindest and funniest people I know.

Lately, I have been especially thankful for the “little things.” This includes the small victories and seemingly insignificant nuggets of joy that can often go unnoticed. From treating myself to an iced coffee after my 9 a.m. class to the joy of finding the perfect spot in the library on a crowded day, these little moments truly make each day worth it. And, of course, I am thankful for Onward State, and the opportunity I have to write stories with an amazing, talented group of people.

McKenzie Clauss

This year, I’m thankful for my three wonderful roommates and our morning debriefs. They are the highlight of every single day and always know how to keep things interesting. Most importantly, I’m forever thankful for Lupita’s chicken quesadillas.

Megan Dougherty

I couldn’t have made it through this year without all the people who make me smile and laugh every single day. This year and every year, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and boyfriend. I’m thankful for Taylor Swift, whose music has been the soundtrack of my senior year and also my entire life. I’m thankful for all the incredibly talented people on Onward State’s staff, who make all the hard work that goes into the blog look easy.

I’m also thankful for my advisor, whose schedule-building skills have allowed me to take (mostly) fun electives my senior year. Special shoutout to iced coffee, Penn Kebab, and Twitter — sorry, X — for seeing me through my darkest moments.

Megan Kelby

As always, I’m thankful for my family, friends, and all the opportunities I’ve had so far. I wouldn’t be the person I am or where I am without you all, and I’m forever grateful for all of your love and support (sorry, being a senior has made me emo.) On a lighter note, I’m also thankful for El Jefe’s chips and queso, walks, my Oontz angle speaker, the color pink, balconies, and rice pilaf.

Michael Siroty

If you know me, you know I’m not usually this serious, but I genuinely have an amazing life with so much to be thankful for, so here are just a few things from that long list.

Thank you to my family, especially my mom, dad, and brother for putting up with me and supporting me through everything. Thank you to my Penn State friends for making me love Happy Valley. Thank you to my home friends for being there for me no matter what and giving me a reason to want to leave Penn State. Thank you to everyone else in Westfield (my friends’ parents, my neighbors, my teachers, and many others) who shaped me into the person I am today. Thank you to anyone who has trusted me enough to work for them and provided me with valuable experiences. Thank you to Lakeview Day Camp for introducing me to some of my favorite people ever. Thank you to literally anyone who has complimented me, bought anything for me, made me laugh, or given me a reason to keep going. Lastly, thank you to Onward State for bringing me amazing people who let me be myself around them, for allowing me to decorate my dorm with a press pass collection, and for giving me a platform to share this. I could keep going, but I’d rather not crash the Onward State website with that many words. Here’s to more happiness and health!

Mikey DeAngelis

I have so much to be thankful for this year. I’m grateful for the opportunities I’ve had to travel around the country with the incredible Onward State football beat to cover football this season. I’m thankful for Keeley Lamm trusting me in my new role as Visual Editor this semester, I’m thankful for Hailey Stutzman for being the best co-Visual Editor I could ask for, and I’m thankful for the entire Onward State visual staff who have given me their support and patience as I try my best to lead this amazing and talented group of people.

In fact, I’m just grateful for everyone in Onward State who have become some of my best friends here at Penn State over the last few years. I’m thankful to my friends, family, and my girlfriend Leah for constantly supporting me. I’m thankful for the fact that I go to such an amazing school with so many amazing people and that I’ve had such an amazing year with so many awesome adventures and experiences. In fact, I’ve got an awful lot to be thankful for. As Joe Lister would say, “Life’s a blessing, and I’m grateful for every second.”

Mitchell Corcoran

I am thankful for the opportunity to write and be a part of Onward State. I have had so many great experiences and learning opportunities so far this semester because of Onward State. I am thankful for Mike Tomlin and Trent Jordan Watt for keeping the Steelers afloat this season. I am also thankful to The Beatles for dropping a new song for the first time in my lifetime (it is fire, by the way). Finally, I am thankful to Puka Nacua for being the only beacon of hope on my fantasy football team. This has been a really tough season. Oh yeah, and I’m thankful for my friends and my family, and all that stuff too.

Nina Jeffries

2023 has been a heck of a year for me, and I have a lot to look back on to be thankful for. To start, I’m thankful for my family, especially my parents, who have supported me throughout my time in school and all of my students that I’ve gotten to work with this year. I’m thankful that I got an awesome mentor for my student teaching and can’t wait to teach full-time in January. I’m thankful that the state of Pennsylvania is passing the student-teaching stipend because if y’all think I’m driving to Altoona every day for free, the goodness out of my heart is priceless but my gas tank isn’t.

I’m thankful for Megan x2, Lauren, Thea, Frankie, and Devyn for being amazing friends. I’m thankful for Autum who keeps me sane on the drive to Altoona every day, and I’m thankful for my wonderful roommate/best friend, Abby, who I don’t know how I would survive this year without. Can’t forget to shout out love to SPSEA and SOTR, where I’m thankful to be your community outreach chair and head of models for this year. Finally, I would like to say I’m thankful for caffeine, Abby’s cooking, Doggie’s pizza, Panera in Kern, dancing at the Basement, and the Steelers firing Matt Canada. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Nolan Wick

I’m thankful for college football, CJ’s car, Culver’s, Kaytron Allen, and Spotify. And, of course, I’m beyond thankful that Dan Snyder no longer owns the Washington Commanders — in Josh Harris and Magic Johnson we trust.

In all seriousness, I’m thankful for a lot. I’ve had a great 2023 for various reasons, and Onward State has been a massive part of it. This place has given me so many great opportunities and people, which I don’t take for granted. I’m so excited to see how the rest of the year plays out!

Ryan Banks

This year, I am thankful for all the incredible people in my life. From family that’s always been by my side to friends I consider family, I am blessed to be surrounded by amazing people that have and will continue to shape the person I am today.

I am thankful for Penn State and the countless traditions, experiences, and memories. From tailgating on a brisk Saturday morning in anticipation of a noon kickoff to late-night Sheetz orders with Charlie Pegler, attending Penn State has awarded lasting memories and friendships. Lastly, I am thankful for Onward State. The blog allowed me to transcend outside my comfort zone as a writer and play a role in telling part of the Penn State story.

Ryan Smith

Since starting college, I’ve really noticed how much I truly am grateful for my family. My parents and my sister are my best friends in the entire world, and I’m so grateful for them every day. I’m thankful that my parents have allowed me to go to such an amazing university, and they are always there when I need them. I’m also so thankful that I get to experience college with my older sister, Shannon!

But most importantly, I’m thankful for our little crusty white dog named Yogi. He is our family’s pride and joy and definitely the favorite child… I am also so thankful that I have made such an awesome group of friends at Penn State that I now consider my family. Oh, and I can’t forget Flipps’ $1.19 french fries. Happy Thanksgiving!

Rico Gore

I am thankful for McLanahan’s BECs, my advertising competition team, Bob Martin, the OPP, my family, some of my friends, my two golden retrievers, and Diet Coke. Oh, yeah, and I am obviously thankful for Onward State and three-plus years with the team. Shout out to Keeley for letting me write some of the dumbest stories known to man.

Sarah Lynn DeCarlo

As my senior year starts to come to a close, there are plenty of things I️ am grateful for. I️ am thankful for my family and friends and the support they continue to provide me. I️ am thankful for love. I️ am thankful for laughter. I️ am thankful for Doggie’s Pub happy hour. I️ am thankful for hugs. I️ am thankful for music. I️ am not thankful for the stair master; you humble me. I️ am thankful for Onward State and my THON committee. I️ am thankful for my roommates and my boyfriend — thank you for being the best people on the planet. I️ am thankful for my mama. You are incredible. Lastly, I️ am thankful for Penn State in all its glory.

Sophie Yadzinski

First and foremost, I am thankful for my family, friends, and good health. I am also thankful to live in a world that is filled with Beaver Stadium chicken baskets and the immaculate vibes of Drake. Finally, I’ll be giving extra thanks to Onward State this year. Thanks blog for letting me share some crazy story ideas and for giving me the opportunity to capture some awesome events!

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About the Author


Posts from the all-student staff of Onward State.

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