I am graduating! Finally, after a lengthy college career, I am finally walking the aisle and receiving my diploma. I don’t mean to be cliche, but I am ready to spread my wings and fly out into the world.
Because I “believe I can soar,” and “I see me running through that open door” — this is starting to sound familiar.
But I digress, when I first arrived at Penn state I was a shy young man. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life, much less my career. I began my first semester full of hope, full of pride, but I quickly realized that college was more difficult than I thought. I had mistaken the party culture for an easy experience that I could breeze through, no problem. But hitting the snooze button one too many times and missing one too many 8 a.m. Spanish classes my first semester became a nightmare hangover that would plague me through the rest of college.
After a few ups and downs, I was still not achieving academically as well as I could. Or so I thought.
I decided to leave school for a time. I am from State College so I needed a change of pace and I moved to the Delaware shore for a year. It was some of the best times of my life. I got to relax and hang out at the beach for a time. But eventually, I realized that I had reached a dead-end in my life and I was simply treading water. I was going nowhere and I felt as if I had hit a glass ceiling. I soon realized that I had to return to school and get my degree in order to make myself into an industrious person. I enrolled in summer classes and did well. I still believe golf is a great class for anyone stuck in summer session.
That fall I began writing for The Daily Collegian, our wonderful Penn State publication.
Now, I am graduating college — college — a feat I didn’t think was possible. I am on pins and needles. My heart is pulsating from drinking unnecessary amounts of coffee. My toes are tingling, my hands are shaking and my brain is about to explode with excitement, pride, joy, happiness and relief.
That’s right, relief. Classes are fun, but if I analyze another comma splice or run-on sentence I will go crazy.
I would like to give a shout-out to News Adviser Jim Rodenbush for giving me a chance at this magnificent paper, and another shout out to Joe Paterno and the entire Paterno family for putting the “P” in Penn State.
I discovered the best Penn State had to offer: pride, honor, tradition, tailgates, football and redemption. But I also learned the worst: deceit, horror, disappointment, heartbreak and tragedy.
To say the least the past year was emotionally one of the most difficult to cope with and thankfully I was not alone.
I am thankful for my parents who never gave up on me, even when times were rough.
They mean more to me than anything in the world. I am thankful for my friends who saw me through the best and worst of times.
A special thanks to Halie, who is the best girlfriend (and who really, really wanted to be in my senior column).
A special thanks to David, freshman year would have been lame without you. And also Elliott for making the best pizza. A special thanks to my editors, co-writers, and beat partners for their infinite support but also writing the best paper in the country.
I am thankful for my school which gave me a first-class education. Without Penn State I would probably be super-lame and not have so many great career opportunities ahead. I am thankful for my professors who taught me the value of quality work. Though, I don’t always agree with your grading methods I thought they were fair.
Also, during my tenure I learned how to be a better person.
I learned to keep my options open and to leave no stone unturned. I learned to not praise false idols and to not tread upon those below me, but to treat everyone for the value they’re worth.
Lastly, if you take one thing from my letter, it’s I think you’re all wonderful. It’s the students that make this university what it is.
It’s the students that raise so much money for THON, it’s the students that make the football games great and it’s the students that I will always remember after I graduate.
Please, current and future students, work to keep this university great. Finally, in the words of R.E.M. frontman Michael Stipe: “It’s the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine.”
Leon Harner is a senior majoring in a journalism and is The Daily Collegian’s local business reporter. His email is email@example.com