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A University of Friends

The tragic times we have recently faced as a university had seemed to foreshadow a lot of our pride, honor and unity. But as time has passed, we have not wavered in our mutual respect and care for our fellow Penn Staters. Friendships have actually gotten stronger as strangers before now stop, and through conversation and love for our University, new friends are found.

A woman seeing my Penn State jacket stopped me in front of our apartment and asked, “If I went to Penn State.” I told her I was attending now and thoroughly enjoying my experience. Her daughter has been offered admission, and this common theme led to a 20-minute discussion as to why we both felt that Penn State should be her school of choice. I offered to have her and her daughter meet me for lunch to discuss the value of a Penn State education.

And it is such a small world. My mentor and someone I deeply admire, Professor R. Thomas Berner, was my teacher for two of my courses. Since he retired, we have stayed in constant communication and yet, we have never met face to face (I will see you soon, Prof!!). Our friendship led me to another one of his former students, Rennie Dyball, who works for People magazine. We have become friends through Professor Berner.

Rennie wrote an article in People on Coach Paterno’s passing. She reached out to me for a quote to be published in the magazine. I was honored, flattered, and proud to represent my school in such a popular, well-read magazine.

People are now seeing us here in the city with our Penn State gear and chanting “We Are” once again as they walk by. It makes us proud when we all, as a family, chant “Penn State!” in response. You see the smiles returning to strangers’ faces, knowing that they have shared a moment with someone else that understands our perseverance and returning pride.

It also has not effected future enrollment. As it pertains to applications, there was a 3 percent increase compared to last year for those seeking admission to our school.

More importantly, I would send my remaining two daughters who live at home, ages 10 and 2, to Penn State in a heartbeat if they were of age now. My hope is that they attend like my oldest two daughters did.

We Are, and Will Always Be, Penn State.