Let me tell you, I was obsessed with the idea of college since the beginning of freshman year in high school. The moment I watched Pitch Perfect in theaters, I wanted to explore my options of universities and places where I could go.
But there’s a lot more that goes into my story of how I chose to go to Penn State. Starting all the way back in eighth grade.
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Some of you may know that movie, some may not. Either way, I often credit this as the first time I ever heard about Penn State. Let me provide you with some background info.
I suffered through middle school as a victim of bulling. A lot of bullying. From about the beginning of fifth grade to the end of eighth grade, classmates made fun of how I looked and how I spoke, who I talked to and what I read and really anything that they could find that they didn’t like about me. Although that is still considered one of the darkest times of my life, I had one constant in that: Harry Potter.
I became obsessed with the book series.
Even to this day I’ll randomly watch the movies or read the books when I feel particularly down. I have a Platform 9¾ pillow that I sleep on constantly. It’s become a steady part of my life now. But because of my love for Harry Potter at such a young age, I became a fan of the actors as well in the movies.
Once the films had finished, I tried to follow the actors into whatever they would do next because I wanted to support them. One of them was Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the films. Now, people know her as the beautiful Belle in Beauty and the Beast and a kickass feminist to boot, but back then, her first starring role after Harry Potter was The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
The movie revolves around a kid who doesn’t fit in at his new high school, and he makes friends with a bunch of people who also don’t fit it: Hence, ‘Wallflowers.’ Emma Watson played one of these famous wallflowers in the movie. I really connected with her and the film in general because I didn’t fit in for some time.
At the time, I was thinking about colleges that had a film program. As a child, I used to make stop-motion films with my American Girl Dolls, and because I loved story-telling with a passion, I thought that maybe I could turn that into a job one day, win an award and rub it in my bullies faces.
It was a much simpler dream back then. Anyway, back to the story.
In the movie, Emma Watson’s character wanted to go to Penn State. I decided to check if they had a film program. Not only did it, but it had so many other crazy cool things I didn’t expect to see in a college. Perfect.
I told my mom about it and she looked at the program, but she turned it down, saying that it might be too competitive. So I let it be.
I Had Other Schools as Dreams.
Throughout my high school years, I would fall in and out of love with schools. It started out with Marist (which I applied and got in to); then Ithaca; then SUNY Binghamton (which is considered the best state school in New York), but the one I had my eyes on for a long time was Indiana University.
I don’t even know how I discovered Indiana University. I suppose I received some sort of postcard in the mail about the school, and when I looked it up that day I instantly fell in love with the campus. My mom seemed to like it too until she realized how far it was from Long Island. I know I am much more independent now and know how to handle a bad situation, but back then, I was pretty naïve. So, she decided “how about we check out PSU again?”
That confused me, understandably. This same woman told me the program I wanted was too competitive, considering I couldn’t just enroll in the major, I had to be accepted into it. She simply told me “I just have a good feeling about it.”
So, we went.
We scheduled a tour and decided to go to one of their Spend a Summer Days. I had my heart set on Indiana, but if I did this for my mom and pleased her, I might as well go along with it.
The moment we stepped onto the campus, I absolutely fell in love with the grounds. It was like what a modern college campus should look like with old buildings but newer tech ones as well. Plus, there were thousands of visible traditions all around campus. The school spirit was the largest I had ever seen, especially compared to my high school. It was like a dream come true.
I stayed at the on-campus hotel, The Nittany Lion Inn (with 40,000 students a year, parents need a place to stay, too), and the room they put me in was 2020. This is the year I intended to graduate college. If that isn’t a sign that I was meant to go there, I don’t know what is.
After the tour, I fell in love. I needed to go to this school. I worked my butt off the rest of my senior year, applied super early, and got in, with a scholarship to boot.
I’m So Thankful.
Really, I feel thankful for everything. I’m almost thankful to my middle school bullies because if it wasn’t for how lonely I felt, I would have never heard of PSU in the first place. The fact that my mom changed her mind and influenced me to give Penn State another chance changed my whole life. My years in college have been filled with countless wonderful experiences.
I wouldn’t have met my boyfriend, who I have been with since the very first week of college. I couldn’t imagine my college experience without him. Some of the best friends I have now, who always seem to make me laugh even when I’m stressing about school work or deadlines for our school newspaper, I wouldn’t have met.
Hell, maybe I wouldn’t have even switched over to journalism and realized my true passion for writing. Now, I am so much happier then I was a few years ago. And that’s because I came here.
I wouldn’t have made some of the best memories I’ve ever made like cheering on our football team or seeing Saquon Barkley run down the field after kickoff for a touchdown while the Nittany Lion freaks out on the sideline.
My first date with my boyfriend was at the Corner Room downtown. The memories of my friends in someone’s living room eating and laughing about something that happened at the Phyrst a few Saturday’s ago makes me happy everyday. I never would be able to experience those moments if I hadn’t come here.
Penn State will forever be my home.
I know that no matter what happens to me in my life, Penn State will always be there to welcome me.
And as I enter the spring semester of my junior year, I can only say a thank you, to Penn State, for the memories I have made, and for the memories to come. We Are.
“Thou didst mold us, Dear Old State. Dear Old State, Dear Old State.”