Thanksgiving foods graphic

Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and as the time for gratitude and reflection rolls around, Penn State students know what they’re thankful for this year.

Matthew Stokes said he’s grateful to have settled into a more solid friend group and routine on campus.

“This year, I’ve made a lot more friends on campus,” Stokes (sophomore-chemical engineering) said. “I’ve had better teachers and support from my family, so I think those three things have helped me — I’d say I’m thankful for that.”

Stokes said having a community at Penn State has been beneficial to his mental health.

“As a freshman, I didn’t have my group as set in stone as I do now, [but] I now have friends I can rely on,” Stokes said.

Megan McNichol also said she’s grateful for how she’s come into her own at Penn State the last few months.

“I’m definitely very thankful for the new friends I’ve made this year and also getting new opportunities within school, academics-wise,” McNichol (sophomore-chemical engineering) said.

McNichol said one of her favorite extracurricular decisions was joining an engineering club that does outreach within the college.

Stokes and McNichol are both from Houston, Texas, and said they’re excited to get home “to the warmth.”

Isaac Yap also mentioned he’s grateful for the academic opportunities he’s had at Penn State.

“I’ve already learned an incredible amount, met some incredible people, made some incredible friends — I’m having a really good time,” Yap (freshman-computer science) said. “Comp sci is definitely pushing me, so the growth I’ve seen from the beginning of freshman year to now has been really incredible.”

Yap gave credit to his family for the position he’s in this year.

“I’m thankful for my family, who’s paying for my education so I can be here right now,” Yap said. “I’m super thankful for that — and all the opportunities they’ve given me throughout the years, especially this one.”

While Yap praised Penn State’s education, he wasn’t as positive about the food. He said he’s visiting his grandparents in New York for Thanksgiving and is looking forward to eating out.

“New York’s got good food, so I’m pretty stoked to get away from the dining hall food,” he said.

Other students will be in their hometowns for the week. Hailey Jordan said she’s looking forward to spending time with her family for the holiday, even just hanging out and “watching the parade and football games.”

“Honestly, I’m thankful for my friends, my family, the people that have gotten me to where I am today,” Jordan (sophomore-chemistry) said.

Gratitude for a strong support network was a recurring theme among students. Owen Mann pointed to the communities he’s built both within his business fraternity and his THON operations committee.

“I’m thankful for having a good group of friends at school through different involvements,” Mann (sophomore-finance) said, “and knowing I could go to them with anything if I need support.”

Lucy Jarvis also expressed her gratitude for the community of friends she’s built at Penn State, specifically through Young Life, where she said they “clicked instantly.”

“I have the best friends in the world, and I wouldn’t be where I am right now without them,” Jarvis (sophomore-political science) said. “We’ve been friends since the day I met them — it’s been a year, but it feels like a lifetime with them. It’s great.”

Sofia DiMauro said she’s thankful for the “experiences” she’s been having as she’s been transitioning to being a college student.

“I’m thankful for where the universe has taken me,” DiMauro (freshman-cybersecurity analytics and operations) said. “I definitely did not see myself being here and going through the stuff I’ve been going through, so I’m just thankful to be here now.”

DiMauro also said transitioning from a high school friend group to not knowing anyone at school has been a “big adjustment.”

“My best friend lived two minutes away from me, and now she’s 24 hours away from me,” DiMauro said. “But I’m thankful to get out on my own and live my own life and try all this new stuff.”

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Kate Irwin is a news reporter for The Daily Collegian. She is a senior majoring in public relations and minoring in digital media trends and analytics, English and history.