My Family Is Penn State

Posted: February 1, 2013

Frank shares memories of his family and growing up with Penn State.
Here's a picture of the family Penn Staters from our last Christmas party. Yes, that's a Snuggie I'm wearing.

Here's a picture of the family Penn Staters from our last Christmas party. Yes, that's a Snuggie I'm wearing.

Every family has traditions, and one of ours happens to involve Penn State. I just found out my youngest sister will be coming to the university this fall! So the school will have my sister Megan, a freshman; my cousin Hannah, a sophomore; my sister Sarah, a junior; and myself, a senior. Pretty cool if you ask me!

You see, Penn State’s been more than a school for my family for two generations now… it’s a way of life. My mom went here, along with three of her siblings, two of whom met their husbands here (and I might add Hannah’s parents are Ag Sci alumni). My two oldest cousins came here in the early 2000s, and my cousin Emily was here to greet me my freshman year. In other words, there’s pretty much always someone from my family at Penn State. 

I can remember growing up seeing the school’s logo and the Nittany Lion hanging around our house and the homes of our relatives. Brainwashing? Nah. For me, those images became symbols synonymous with my family, home, and growing up. They were comforting. Family parties in the fall would always have Penn State football in the background, and the rest of the year I’d hear fond anecdotes of the “golden days” in Happy Valley. I can remember my first best friend from kindergarten TJ and I talking about when we’d come here together and eat Pop Tarts and play Nintendo 64 past our bedtime…unfortunately, I don’t know where TJ is these days, but my friends and I certainly honor that pact.

When my mom first started working at Penn State Great Valley, I remember going there to see a magician who had me as his assistant. It was great! We even visited University Park once during our semiannual trip to my uncle’s cabin, which by no coincidence is only half an hour’s drive away. Although I didn’t know it at the time, we were at the Pattee Mall, which I thought was the entire school, and I was terrified by how big it was. Little did I know that was only a small percentage of campus. And of course my mom told me stories about how Penn State squirrels will run right up to you if you stretch out your hand. Now that was exciting! Penn State, in both dreams and reality, was an integral part of my childhood.

It was only fitting, way down the road, that this became my favorite of the schools I applied to. I didn’t understand when I came here that it’s more than just a great school with countless opportunities.  There’s a reason my aunt and uncle throw enormous tailgates for almost every home football game. There’s a reason my relatives found the loves of their lives here. There’s a reason my entire family is still going to school here. Penn State really is who WE ARE.