Saying Goodbye To Penn State New Kensington

Heather Stewart, Kayla Smail and Katlyn Taylor at University Park for Women's State Volleyball Championships (Photo by Katlyn Taylor)By Kayla Smail

After four years of amazing classes, great memories and even better professors, it seems that my time at Penn State New Kensington is coming to a close. I will be finished with classes in a little over a week and will be putting on my cap and gown to receive my degree on May 15, 2010.

I’m scared.

I’ve loved this campus since I first stepped foot on it four years ago, and that feeling has only gotten stronger. It’s funny to sit here and think that I won’t be on the campus on an almost daily basis anymore, and I’m really having trouble believing it. I feel like I’m part of a family here at Penn State New Kensington and it’s really difficult for me to leave family.

I’m not the only one, though, as Ben Smith, SGA President, Eric Walker Award Winner and 2010 graduate feels the same way.

“The thing I will miss most about PSNK is the people. Everyone here is very friendly and helpful,” Ben said. “I’ve built many bonds with students, faculty, and staff that I will be sad to be further away from. However, I know I am always welcome to come back to visit!”

I’ve known Ben since we were small, but we lost communication many years ago.

However, on my first day at PSNK, Ben and I were paired up in an English class to interview and introduce each other to the class. It was here that I figured out who he was, and we’ve been friends ever since. That’s one of the things I love about this place: you never know who or what you are going to find here.

After a year of finding new friends and spending all my extra time in the upper lounge, I realized how happy I was here. I never felt uncomfortable, and I always felt like I could talk to my professors about anything. The fact that PSNK is a smaller campus was one of the reasons I came here in the first place.

I graduated from Elderton Jr./Sr. High School with 33 other students. (Small, eh?)  When I started my college search, I wasn’t ready to go far away from home, and I wanted something that wasn’t too overwhelming. Also, I’ve always wanted my name on a Penn State degree. It was at Penn State New Kensington that I found my home.

I’ve taken so many amazing classes here and learned so many things, even if they didn’t pertain to my major. I’m a journalism major who has taken Symbolic Logic, Asian Philosophy, World Music, Yoga and Public Relations. And I’ve learned something in each one of those classes that I will carry on with me for the rest of my life. PSNK helped me become the well-rounded individual I am today, and I feel like I am extremely prepared for the years ahead of me.

Ben also feels the same way.

“I feel that PSNK has prepared me very well,” he said. “The instructors are top-notch and really help to give us the knowledge we need. I also think that the leadership opportunities I have been able to partake in will prepare me for the future.”

There are many more graduates who have already done great things with their life, and Cory Stivason is one of those individuals. He has been here for four years, starting with a major in Engineering, but eventually changing it to Business. Already, Stivason owns his own Photography business and will be taking over a studio owned by Vivian Johnston after he graduates.

“To be taking over a very successful studio while expanding my business is going to be hard work. But I am excited to get started,” Cory said.

In a way, it’s all very bittersweet for graduates.

We’re leaving a place that knows us so well and in return are getting thrown into something extremely unfamiliar. Ben is currently in the job market, Cory already has his own business, and I’ve got an internship starting two days after I graduate. It’s hard to go right from one huge milestone to the next, but that’s what we are all doing.

I know from experience that some graduates thought this last semester was going to be easy, but the truth is that it wasn’t that way at all. I’m still struggling with a few last minute projects and changes that I need to make, but I do know that all will be well in the end.

Soon, I’m going to walk down that aisle with my Penn State blue cap and gown on, smiling, knowing that I’ve done something amazing with my life already. It’s nice to have achieved everything I set out to in the first place, but I will surely miss everyone and everything at PSNK.

I guess what I want everyone reading this to know is that it’s not easy to graduate. It’s difficult to get through everything that you have to in order to embark on the rest of your life.

But it’s worth more than I can even imagine, and I’m so happy that I’ve gotten my education at Penn State New Kensington.

I’m sad for my time here to end, as I’m sure many 2010 graduates are, but in the words of T.S Eliot, “What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning.”


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