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Joe Paterno: A Freshman’s Perspective

I’m going to be honest. I don’t know where to start this piece. As a journalist, I am supposed to have a way with words, but as a Penn State student, the past few days have left me at a loss for words. I don’t know what to write that has not been written already, but regardless, here is my perspective/opinion on recent events, biased as it may be.

I may only be a freshman, but in my short time here at Penn State I have learned what it means to be a Penn Stater.

When people say “We Are Penn State”, what does that mean? What IS Penn State?

Penn State is research and academic excellence.

Penn State is Beaver Stadium on a Saturday in the fall.

Penn State is Happy Valley.

Penn State is outstanding faculty and countless alumni.

Penn State is 91,000 students representing 132 nations.

Penn State is the largest student run philanthropy in the world, THON.

Penn State is character.

Penn State is integrity and loyalty.

Penn State is a family.

Penn State is success…with honor.

All of these statements have merit – more for some people than others, but merit nonetheless.

Over the past 62 years, the values listed above (along with countless more) have formed and/or become stronger thanks largely to the contributions of one man. Despite recent events and pending court decisions, there is no denying what this man gave to Penn State – his life.

One of my favorite quotes comes from the movie Spiderman: “With great power comes great responsibility.”

Joseph Vincent Paterno, in one of the highest seats of power at Penn State, took it upon himself to make this university a better place – and succeeded.

Joe gave over $4 million to Penn State, in addition to heading multiple fundraising campaigns. Out of one of those campaigns came the Paterno Library (he and his wife Sue raised over $13 million).

Joe won more games than any coach in the history of college football, but if you asked Joe that was not his greatest accomplishment.

He was once quoted saying, “They ask me what I’d like written about me when I’m gone. I hope they write I made Penn State a better place, not just that I was a good football coach.”

It’s impossible for me to list all of Joe’s achievements here. Chances are if you are reading this website you are aware of a good deal of them.

Joe Paterno’s accomplishments on the football field could fill many books. His accomplishments off of it could fill the Paterno Library.

The physical presence of Joe may no longer be with us, but the impact he had and the traditions and values he stood behind will reverberate forever. We will continue in Coach Joe’s footsteps to make Penn State a better place, just like he would want us to do.

I think I speak on behalf of all Penn Staters when I say thank you, Joe. For everything. We are. Penn State.