The Penn State Scandal Hurts Many, Confuses More, But Makes Me More Passionate
For the glory of Old State
For her founders, strong and great
For the future that we wait
Raise the song, raise the song
The last few days have been both gratifying and nightmarish as Penn State fans, alumni, students, instructors and administrators. It's as if everything one valued has become worthless. It's caused media from across the state of Pennsylvania to swarm into one town which has become more infamous because of negativity.
Some former students become disgusted with what has become of Penn State, actually walking onto the steps of Old Main, and torching their diplomas.
Even current students are questioning their loyalty to a school that is synonymous with successful graduates, wondering if they should stay at the school or consider transferring to another institution. It's led to both an outpouring of support for the school, but also to a push for it's president and head football coach to leave.
All this because of accusations, and now perjury, from high-ranking officials. But the part that some forget, is that there are more victims than the ones mentioned in the scandal to rock what has been named "Nittany Nation."
The victims I speak of are the ones who now are wondering if people OUTSIDE of Penn State will still value a Penn State degree as they did before.
I knew when I was only in eighth grade that I wanted to be a Penn State student; no other school would do. As a kid, I heard the success rate of it's graduates, and the value Penn State degrees have on employers. In October 2002, I sent in my request for acceptance into Penn State. It was one of the satellite campuses, but I didn't care, I was applying to be accepted at Penn State University.
Less than a month later, I get an envelope in the mail with big letters under my name and address saying "Congratulations!" At that moment, I knew I was accepted.
So, I entered college, learned the ropes, and took a vow, like every student, to have "Success With Honor" as part of the university. Something I learned really quick when I began reciting the alma mater.
Sing our love and loyalty
Sing our hopes that, bright and free
Rest o mother dear with thee
All with thee, all with thee
I knew when I entered college in 2003 that I wanted to be a journalist, and Penn State had a great communications program. After five years of struggle, late nights, an incredible amount of money in tuition, books, supplies, and for that matter gas to get to and from campus, I earned my degree. At the same time, the job market was changing, so it was hard getting into the field.
Still, I found a way in, although small, and have enjoyed some success. My name has gotten out there, and has gotten recognized.
When I get asked where I went to school, all I have to say is PSU. That says more than enough to people.
Now, when I look at what I saw today, when the beloved 84-year-old Joe Paterno walked out of his own home in State College, suddenly being mobbed by reporters, it makes me sad, but for many more reasons than some think.
For one, the man already had planned to address the case that day, without anyone asking him to do so. His press conference Tuesday afternoon was going to be about the Nebraska game on Saturday, which he was going to focus on as when he was mobbed, he was on his way to practice. With about 15 minutes left, it was cancelled. It certainly raised eyebrows, but the coach also made it clear that he was going to address the situation, but not on his own front lawn.
Secondly, in this day and age of social media, Twitter and Facebook blew up like a volcano since Paterno wasn't going to address the situation, with people calling for his resignation, along with Penn State President Graham Spanier.
All I could then do was keep thinking about the alma mater.
When we stood at childhood's gate
Shapeless in the hands of fate
Thou didst mold us, Dear Old State
Dear Old State, Dear Old State
I'm not siding for Paterno's removal, because in my heart I feel that he doesn't want to leave amid this scandal. He's given too much to the university, and in turn we as alumni and current students have given him in return.
Even me, who has not met Paterno in person, nor did I even attend the University Park campus, I still feel he gave something to me. He showed me that Penn State is not about a football team, it's not about a coach, it's not about being part of the "Best Student Section in College Football."
No, Penn State is about having Success With Honor, and that doesn't mean about wins and losses. It's about success in life, while honoring the people that got you to that point.
It's not just the professors and instructors that got me to where I am today, it's also the friends that I met along the way and gave me encouragement. The photo to the right illustrates that.
One of my really good friends, Julia, was among the many I graduated with on May 10, 2008. Even though our time in college is over, we all know what that degree of ours means.
Are we all shocked and disgusted by what has happened at our beloved institution, of course. We have a right to be.
But, that does not mean we want to have our degrees from Penn State to have less value, if any value at all. In my eyes, that is now my biggest fear. I spent five years of my life at Penn State, and enjoyed every moment of it.
Now, what I fear is that those five years have become a wasted time, and I'll be stuck where I am right now. My job is retail, and I make just enough to get by, including an expensive credit card bill, plus all the student loans, all being paid in monthly installments.
Now, the one thing I don't want to have happen is that the degree I worked so hard for to earn is worth nothing.
It makes me sad to hear what's happening at Penn State, and disgusted as to what the accused has done. But as angry as I get when the idea comes to my mind, suddenly once more, the alma mater comes back to my mind.
May no act of ours bring shame
To one heart that loves thy name
May our lives but swell thy fame
Dear Old State, Dear Old State
There is no way that I am backing down from my support of Penn State. My diploma is still folded up and in my desk, and I do not value it any less. I'm sure employers are not looking at a Penn State degree of a potential new hire and saying, "That's the school with the scandal."
I've continued to visit the school after I graduated, both in support of the football team and visiting professors that got me to this point in my life. My best friend last year came to me and asked if she could join me for a Penn State game, as she hadn't experienced one before. In that moment, her love of the Nittany Lions grew to leaps and bounds.
There is also no way I'm going to ask Paterno to step down as coach of this football team. He's been the leader of the team for 45 years, and has endured requests in years past for him to step down, mainly in 2003 and 2004 after only seven wins through those two seasons.
Until I hear Paterno himself say he's walking away from the school he put on the map, I'm going to continue to believe he's going to lace up his black Nike coaching shoes, roll up his pant legs, put on the big glasses, and be on the sidelines for Saturday's game.
Just like the students that elected to wait for the coach at his own home, and to have the man address them not as a coach, but as a friend and admirer.
Paterno won his 400th game as head coach last year, and when given the microphone to describe the feeling, he spoke from the heart.
"People ask me why I've stayed here so long, and you know what, look around, look around. I stayed here because I love you all."
As the slogan goes that is said at every home football game, We Are...Penn State.
I am...Penn State.
I will forever be...PENN STATE.