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Change Is Constant: Rico Gore’s Senior Column

About four years ago, I was wearing a homemade Penn State mask and had blue hair as I moved into Martin Hall. Looking back now, the greatest lesson I learned is that dying your hair blue as a “conversation starter” is not a great idea. So, I’ll never do that again.

The second greatest lesson I learned is that the only constant in life is change.

Obviously, moving about 2.5 hours away from home is a pretty big change, but that is to be expected. Everyone makes that big step of flying the nest and moving out. I knew this was coming. I was prepared for this. What I was not prepared for was how different my life would look when I left State College with a cap and gown versus when I arrived with blue hair.

Shortly after moving into 102 Martin Hall, my family decided to move houses. This was a minuscule, happy change as the family was upgrading and moving just down the street. I did not think anything of it. Or at least that’s what I thought, but now I realize that I never stepped foot in the house I grew up in again after I left for college. Who cares, though? It’s just a house.

Then, the changes got a little less fun. After another month or two into my freshman year, I had to do my first rush back home to be with family — a routine I didn’t expect to become accustomed to in my time here. Simply put, my uncle with pancreatic cancer was dying and I needed to be there for my family, especially my mom. I hopped on a Mega Bus and returned about two weeks later. At this point, the home I was raised in was gone (to me), and the uncle I spent summers with was no longer on this planet. It was time to grow up and realize that these four years away from home were going to be about more than just getting my degree.

Fast forward about a year. I got a similar call as before, but this one was a bit more abrupt and unexpected. My great aunt and uncle, who were more like grandparents to my family due to my grandfather passing away before I was born and my grandmother dealing with a terrible disease called dementia, were being hospitalized due to COVID-19. Change is constant, so I couldn’t justify uprooting life to run home every time someone was sick. So, I waited. I continued on for weeks until I joined a group call on my way to work a Penn State hockey game. No words were spoken, yet everything was understood by the hysterical crying heard through my car’s speakers. Someone was dead again, it was just a matter of who. Eventually, I learned that my uncle/grandpa had passed away. Again, I packed up and went home to be with my family.

My aunt was still hospitalized, and we still held out hope. I returned to school after a couple of days and continued life at Penn State. Change is constant. After about a week, while doing homework in the HUB, I got the text that my aunt/grandma had also passed away, joining her husband about 10 days after he passed. This time, though, I didn’t immediately run home. I sat in that chair, without anyone around me having the slightest clue what the text I just got said, and simply dealt with it. I was hours away from home and couldn’t keep running back home every time something bad happened. I mourned alone, and it was in this moment that I believe I really grew up. It was in this moment that I really began to learn that change is constant.

Change isn’t just bad. Three separate times during my four years here, I traveled home for one of my siblings’ weddings. All three are happily married now, and I’m thinking about investing in a Hinge subscription. Since I left for school, our family has grown by four people. You may be thinking, “Wait, four? I thought it would be three. Is one of your siblings practicing polygamy?” Nope. They all married just one person. The fourth person added to the family is little Asher who made me an uncle for the first time just a few weeks ago. The family is still expanding. The Uncle Reek era has just begun because there are more nieces and nephews on the way.

All of these changes were obviously out of my control. These changes were all around me but did not necessarily involve me. I simply experienced these changes like an audience member watches a movie or a play. However, there were changes that were my doing. Changes that were initiated by me.

I came to Penn State as a graphic design major in the College of Arts and Architecture, but now I am graduating from the Bellisario College of Communications as an advertising major and going into the market research industry. Not a drastic pivot but quite a substantial one.

This one seems a little sad. Anyway, the friends I had coming into school aren’t really my friends anymore. Make no mistake, though, I have made some of the best friends in my four years year than I could’ve ever imagined. I am talking about the type of friends that they’re in your wedding and their kids call you uncle even though you aren’t related. Besides the besties, I’ve met and come to know countless other amazing folks whom I hope to keep in touch with moving forward.

What I am trying to say is that everything is different now than when I ventured onto campus for the first time. Although all of that felt a bit depressing, I assure you that this column isn’t supposed to be. Change is constant, and that isn’t a bad thing. If everything always stayed the same, you would never be pushed to grow and adapt. This is the most important lesson I learned during my time here. I learned to constantly be changing because the world isn’t going to stop for you to catch up with it. Life moves fast. Live in the moment and don’t get hung up on the past.

The change in ole’ Reek’s life isn’t slowing down now. Matter of fact, it might even be ramping up because as I graduate, I am moving even further away from home and my family. I am off to New York City to start a new adventure. I am excited about the future and ready to learn, grow, and continue to adapt to all the change that I expect to come. I am leaving Penn State with a different mindset than I came in with. The world doesn’t stop. Everything keeps moving, and the only thing constant in life is change itself.

Now, let’s do a little more of the fun stuff. Throughout my time with Onward State, I have been known for two things.

First, my odd obsession with Penn State’s Office of Physical Plant. To put a cap on that, I would like to share that I have been capturing images of OPP vehicles for the past four years with the hope that I would eventually collect them all like Pokémon. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful, but here is a massive collage of all of the ones I was able to capture.

The second is Rico’s Rapid Fire. For those who have been in a Sunday meeting with me, you know what I am talking about. Basically, throughout each Onward State meeting for the week, I would come up with some crazy/dumb story ideas for the week. The rules were simple for me. I didn’t start coming up with ideas until the meeting started, and every idea (no matter how stupid) got added to the “Rapid Fire.” If we are being honest, my batting average for these outlandish ideas getting approved sits at about 12%. This is probably the best for Onward State’s readers and the internet as a whole. These ideas were chronically dumb. Nonetheless, to go out with a bang, I would like to do one more Rico’s Rapid Fire.

  • Power ranking different carpets from around campus
  • James Franklin love letters to his favorite players
  • Play-by-play analysis of the Nittany Lion versus 100 campus squirrels
    • The campus bunnies can be cheerleaders
  • Open letter to Campus Rec: we want a wave pool
  • The best possible locations for a zipline on campus
  • 10 Questions with George Atherton’s grave

I may not have always been the most active staff member, but Onward State has been a part of my life ever since my first couple weeks as a Penn State student. It appears that change isn’t the only constant because the blog is, too. Goodbye, OS. It’s been real.

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About the Author

Rico Gore

Rico is a senior advertising major from Pittsburgh who has been with Onward State since just a couple weeks into his freshman year. He loves to drink Diet Coke and eat Mexican food. You can follow Rico on Instagram @RealBigRico and TikTok @RealBigRico.

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