Evan, Ben, Caleb, DJ

I always knew I was going to go to Penn State.

I’m one of nearly 20 people on my dad’s side of the family to end up in Happy Valley. But once I got here, I had to start from scratch.

I went from having a close group of friends in my hometown of Boulder, Colorado, to not knowing a single soul at Penn State.

For a while, that was a frightening reality.

I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do for a career, but I knew I loved sports and felt more comfortable writing than I did with most things in school.

When I heard The Daily Collegian was holding tryouts, I decided to show up despite being incredibly nervous, as it was my first experience being involved with anything at Penn State.

But, I immediately felt welcomed.

I still remember the joy I had after the first time I sat through a sports staff meeting in the James Building — it was a room filled with 20-30 other people just as obsessed with sports as I was, laughing and joking around.

It was the first time since I left Boulder that I felt like I really fit in somewhere.

Evan Patrick

Sports reporter Evan Patrick walks to the media entrance of the Bryce Jordan Center to cover a Penn State men’s basketball game on Sunday, Dec. 6, 2020 in University Park, Pa. Past the week of Thanksgiving, most Penn State students are attending classes and activities remotely, but some of The Daily Collegian’s reporters are still working and reporting in State College.

Now, looking back on the last four years, I’m so grateful for my decision to join the Collegian because of the experiences I had and the people I met along the way.

It still feels like last fall I was struggling to find the media entrance at Pegula to cover a women’s hockey game, learning how to follow AP style and turning in candidate stories to Trudi.

I learned the value of quality, unbiased journalism within our communities. I learned just how important it is to tell people’s stories, and how much of an impact you can have on others through sharing those stories.

I still feel so lucky that I was able to cover Penn State football and basketball for the past two years — something I dreamed of doing ever since I first joined staff.

I’ve been able to travel all over the country to places like Chicago, Dallas, Washington, D.C., and countless more.

And as much as I’m going to miss attending and covering games in person, what I’ll miss most is all the time spent in between destinations: the long car rides to East Lansing, Michigan, and Columbus, Ohio, the late-night stops at Raising Cane’s, and the early mornings at College GameDay.

Getting barbeque in Dallas, watching a Mavericks game and going to the Glass Cactus — I’ll cherish those memories forever.

It still hasn’t fully hit me that my time at the Collegian is coming to an end, but while writing this, it’s certainly starting to sink in.

Evan and Justin

Sports reporters Evan Patrick, left, and Justin Morganstein, right, walk to the media entrance of Beaver Stadium before Penn State football’s game against Michigan State on Saturday, Dec. 12, 2020. Due to the coronavirus, no fans are allowed at games, tailgating around the stadium is prohibited and all media must follow strict spacing and health protocols while at games.

I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for the Collegian and all the supportive people I met in my time here.

First, thank you to all of my family for the endless support you’ve given me. I know my decision to move across the country to go to school wasn’t always the easiest to deal with, but you never showed anything but love and support.

To Michael Kume, Akbar Almukhamet and Atolani Olaniyi: You truly shaped my college experience in more ways you could ever know. If it hadn’t been for the year we spent in 320 Shulze, I wouldn’t be nearly the same person I am today. Thank you each so much for always being loving and supportive friends.

To Ashley Hayford: Thank you for always being by my side, making me laugh and pushing me to be my best. I couldn’t have done any of this without you.

To Jake Aferiat: Thank you for believing in me from the start of our friendship, for being a mentor and for having more confidence in me as a reporter than I did in myself at times. If it weren’t for you pushing me to be my best, I wouldn’t have been able to accomplish nearly as much as I did in my time at the Collegian.

To Dave Eckert, Tyler King, Matt Lingerman, Caleb Wilfinger and Dylan Jacobs: Thank you all for being great role models and leading by example. Watching the work you all did and getting to work alongside you only made me a better reporter and person. I often think back to summer 2018 — a time where I wasn’t focused on many things related to school. I barely checked my email the whole summer and missed the application for the fall sports staff. Dave, you went out of your way to reach out to me directly about joining the staff anyway, and I’ll forever be grateful that you did that — if you hadn’t, I never would have had the incredible time I did over the next three years as a member of the Collegian.

Evan and Caleb

To Ben Ferree, Justin Morganstein, Andrew Porterfield, Tanyon Loose and all of the editors I have worked with the last year: Thank you all for working as hard as you do, it has been a pleasure to see what we have all accomplished despite the crazy circumstances. You all mean the world to me and have made my life much easier.

I’m going to miss this more than I can express in this column, and I don’t know exactly what the future holds.

Hopefully you’ll be hearing from me or reading my work again soon, and thank you to everyone who stopped to read my words along the way.

It means the world to me.

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Evan Patrick is a football and basketball reporter for The Daily Collegian. He is a senior studying digital and print journalism with minors in business and liberal arts and labor employment relations.