Follow Your Heart, It’ll All Work Out: Brady Miller’s Senior Column

Since joining Onward State in the fall of my junior year, I have been thinking about my senior column and what to say. Now, the time’s here, and I still can’t seem to piece it all together.

Penn State has always been in my family. From having baby pictures with Penn State clothing to attending many Blue-White Games growing up, Happy Valley has always held a special place in my heart.

While in high school, my family would make trips up to State College for College Gameday and tailgate all day and then travel back home to watch the game. One thing remained the same with every trip: I never wanted to leave.

Although the love for Penn State was always evident, choosing a college was not so easy. I was set on playing football in college and not wanting to move too far from home. I began touring smaller schools where continuing my athletic career was a possibility, but every time I stepped foot on Penn State’s campus, it felt different.

After the passing of my Pap, the biggest Penn State fan I knew, the decision became easy. This was home, and this was where I needed to be. I wanted to be the first in my family to attend and graduate from the school that has been such a big part of our lives.

Growing up in a super small town, my graduating class had only about 50 kids. My backyard is a cornfield, and my entire immediate family is within a mile radius of my house, so Penn State was a culture shock.

Quickly, I realized that although State College was much bigger than the hometown I was used to, much remained the same. The endless farmland, the numerous mountain ranges, and the smell of cows made me feel right at home.

I’m sure my college experience is similar to many seniors because of the impact COVID-19 had on us all, but I wouldn’t trade any of it. I came to college not knowing a soul. Within a few short hours, I found my best friend in a randomized roommate and a close group of 10 kids who remained my best friends for the next four years.

It seemed like everything we could think to do violated a COVID-19 protocol, so we would just gather to watch a movie or whatever else college freshmen do. Although we didn’t know it at the time, those nights of doing absolutely nothing together and wandering around downtown at 2 a.m. were some of my greatest memories during all of college.

I’m also grateful for all of the opportunities Penn State has provided me. With very little professional experience under my belt in my sophomore year, I landed an internship with the men’s Final Four in New Orleans.

I have always been a big Kansas Jayhawks basketball fan. My Nana and Papa took me to Lawrence, Kansas, as a high school graduation present for a basketball game one week before COVID-19 shut the world down.

What are the actual chances, after I landed this internship, that Kansas would actually make the Final Four?

Well, it did.

I traveled to New Orleans to work with 30 people from all over the country and got to work for the Final Four, while also getting to watch my favorite team win the national championship. It was at this moment I knew Penn State was the right decision, and I wanted to spend the rest of my life working in sports.

After this, Penn State provided me with more opportunities. I interned with the Lancaster Barnstormers with former Onward State staffers Tobey Prime and Zach Donaldson. Had I not gotten the Onward State rundown from them, I may never have decided to apply for this blog.

Working for the Penn State football team throughout my junior year was truly a dream come true. I was no longer just spectating the greatest show in college sports, but now I was helping produce the game and team I grew up loving.

I want to give a huge shoutout to Penn State Sports Business Club and all the great people that club has introduced me to. I am also super grateful for all the opportunities and trips we went on as a group, such as New York City, D.C., Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.

Penn State has begun to feel different, though. It’s sinking in that I am leaving in a few short weeks. I’m really trying to take everything in, even the things that I may not like as much — a 20-minute walk to class or an overly full gym. I think it’s important to go through life without taking anything for granted, even the things that may feel like a hassle.

Go back to where I said previously how my entire immediate family is within a mile radius of my house. This is easy to take for granted because this is all I’ve ever known, but there aren’t many people at all that have it as good as that. There are not many people who have that strong of a supporting system with everything they do in life. They are my driving force to be the best version of myself and push me to be as successful as I can possibly be.

I took some time on Sunday to just walk around campus and observe. I was looking at different buildings, different signs, and different people, and it sank in. I’m leaving the places and people that have grown to be home for me.

With that being said, I want to say thank you to each and every person who has played a role in making these past four years the best of my life.

I want to give a special thank you to my mom, dad, and sister. Without you guys, I wouldn’t be nearly the person I am. As I grow older, I cherish the relationships and friendships that we all have more and more. I’m so lucky to have been given as strong of a foundation as I was.

Thank you to Nana and Papa for doing anything that I could ever possibly need. Thank you for the endless breakfast trips, grocery hauls, generous donations (lol), and the constant love and support I have always received.

And thank you to Grandmaw for keeping the Penn State tradition going strong. No one knows more about old Penn State players or watches more Penn State football reruns than you. Thank you for always being the first to text about any Penn State sporting event. You don’t know how much I look forward to these. Also, thank you for the endless meals and love you show me.

Lastly, thank you to Penn State. I couldn’t imagine attending any other university in the world. Although the decision did not always seem obvious, I knew from day one it was the right choice. Thank you for introducing me to my best friends and building relationships that will last a lifetime.

Oh, how I’ll miss the countless rainy days, the reckless drivers, the hour-long bar lines, and the extreme school spirit that all makes State College the best college town in the country.

Peace out, Penn State. I’ll miss you dearly.

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About the Author

Brady Miller

Brady is a senior public relations major who originates from the cornfields of Schuylkill County, PA. He spends most of his time watching the Philadelphia Phillies blow leads and the New England Patriots struggle to score points. When not watching sports, Brady is most likely "studying" or with his friends. Follow him on Twitter @_bMiLL_32 to see mostly retweets of whatever is going through Marlon Humphrey's head, or you can email him at [email protected].

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