By Amy Nelson
As my daughter begins her final semester at Penn State, I am feeling a bit melancholy. She does have an exciting future ahead, though. She has accepted a position with the Peace Corps and a month after graduation she is going to move to a new country where she will learn a new language, live, and work for 27 months. I am incredibly proud of everything she has accomplished during her time at Penn State. But selfishly, though, I am also a little sad. There is so much that I will miss about having a child at Penn State.
I will miss football games and soccer games. I will miss shopping downtown (of course, I will come back to shop for Penn State gear). I will miss the wonderful variety of restaurants that we frequent when I visit. I will miss strolling across the beautiful campus. I will miss having my daughter call me when she is on her way to or from class. I will miss hearing about her professors, classes, and projects. I will miss hearing about her THON committee and the families they serve. I will miss hearing about the interesting opportunities that she learns about – clubs, research opportunities, Greek events, employment, and even the night life. There are also things that I won’t miss as much – like seeing her stress about grades, friends, parking, and the weather.
But overall, this has been a great run. I am left a bit breathless by the transformation of my daughter from a child to a young adult. I remember the fear and anxiety as I watched her navigate the first year or two. She struggled with friends, boys, drinking, and all of the illnesses she picked up in those first years of communal living. But, she has grown into a brave, accomplished, young woman. Without any help from me (and I am definitely a helicopter mom!), she switched her major three times and is still graduating on time with a major and two minors. She figured out what classes she needed, which classes could be substituted for others, and got the necessary approvals. She figured out how to bounce back from tests that didn’t go as well as she had hoped. She made the effort to get to know professors who have written letters of recommendation for her, made her aware of interesting speakers coming to campus, gave her teaching assistant opportunities, and advanced her professional goals. And she did this all on her own! As a helicopter parent, my conceit is that my children need me to help them with these things. But my daughter, with the help of Penn State, has proven me wrong. And I am incredibly happy about that!
In May, when I stand with many of you, watching our children graduate with a degree from Penn State, I will marvel at all that has gone into these four years. The tears, the joy, the growth – they are all part of the education that my daughter was privileged to get at Penn State. When the army of new graduates goes forth into the world, they too may feel melancholy about the good times that they are leaving behind. But they are also well equipped to take on the world. Penn State has prepared them with a great education, many and varied opportunities, and a valuable degree. I can’t wait to see what they accomplish!