Bittersweet Commencement

By Heather Cass
Publications & Design Coordinator, Penn State Behrend

Earlier this week, I was looking through the photos taken at Commencement and began jotting down the image numbers of students I recognized from having interviewed in the past.

“Oh, that’s a really nice one of Maddie. I’m going to have to send that one to her.  Awww..there’s George. And Vee. And Brian. And look at this one of Katie & Cody. Oh, I love it!  Wait, Nico graduated? And Megan and Paul, too?”

And there go half of my go-to student sources. Dang.

As a writer in the Office of Marketing Communication at Behrend, I work this gig like a newspaper beat, cultivating relationships with people in each school, making contact with the movers-and-shakers, and keeping tabs on standout students.

But, eventually, they all leave.

*sigh*

Such is the nature of the beast in academia. Student turnover is inevitable (and, if we’re being honest, preferable for everyone involved, I’m sure). It’s our job to educate them and send them out into the world.

But it’s bittersweet to see them go. Not just because I lose valuable student sources, but because we lose charismatic, interesting, enthusiastic, and remarkable members of our Penn State Behrend family.

  • Brian established the Waste Not program with his friend and former classmate, Stephen, turning what was waste into food for the hungry.
  • Vee was a very successful president of the LEB and a visible member of the Arts Administration program.
  • George was a hands-on, charismatic Marketing student who gamely posed in a hot, humid water park for a School of Business cover shoot.
  • Katie drove (and worked on) the School of Engineer’s thrice-winning Supermileage Car. Cody was a vital member of the Supermileage team, too.
  • Maddie helped the women’s soccer team to four championships while earning an Interdisciplinary Business with Engineering Studies degree and doing an internship in Germany.
  • Megan was the cheerleading coach and a founding member of Phi Sigma Rho, a new engineering sorority on campus.
  • Danielle was an outstanding tutor. She even has an award to prove it.

I could go on…and on…and on…and on. We have a lot of really great students at Behrend.  And I’ve been here long enough to know that there will be more to replace those who graduate.

While I’m going to miss the students that I got to know in the Class of 2015, I can’t wait to see where they go and what they do. Rest assured, you’ll probably hear about them in the future. I write alumni stories, too, you know.

(So, students…I mean, ’15 alums, go out there and do something I’m going to want to write about!).

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