Paterno Fellow Brian Loane’s Remarks upon Graduation

Each year we ask an outstanding graduating senior to speak at the Paterno Fellows graduation ceremony. Our speaker from the class of 2019 is Brian Loane. Brian majored in English and Comparative Literature and minored in Philosophy. His thesis is entitled “Whales, Judges, and Mortals: Human Will and Divine Destiny in Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick and Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian.” While at Penn State, Brian studied abroad in Dublin, Ireland, and did an Internship with Penn State’s Committee for Early Modern Studies. He was Secretary of the Kappa Sigma Executive Committee. And most unusual, he was a two time winner in the Paterno Fellows Collegiate Laws of Life Essay Contest.

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Good afternoon everyone. My name is Brian Loane, and I studied English and Comparative Literature, with a minor in Philosophy. I want to begin by thanking Barb Edwards for all of her work with the Paterno Fellows Program, and I want to thank Dr. Wanner for inviting me to speak today. I was so honored when she reached out with the invitation.

My last assignment before graduating from High School was a “This I Believe” speech, and I spoke of some very high-flown and grand concepts about how we’re all connected…or something like that. Looking back, I think I was a bit too concerned with these higher-order concepts. My time at Penn State has taught me to alter the scale of my focus—to narrow it down.

I’m willing to bet that I speak for everyone when I say that these past few weeks have been tough—A strange mix of contradictory emotions that shouldn’t exist at once but do. And it’s in this mood that I’ve been reflecting on the last four years. The central thing that I have realized is that the moments that I am going to miss, the moments that left the most lasting impact, aren’t those bigger moments like giving a huge speech, going to a formal, or struggling through finals week. No, the moments that I am going to miss the most are way smaller… the ones that, as they are happening, you don’t realize will be the memories that endure.

I’m going to miss studying at IST with friends on either side of me.

I’m going to miss meeting with a professor who develops into a mentor.

And I’m going to miss walking home after a long day to find a house full of friends watching the Office and laughing because Michael just cooked his foot.

These moments are tiny, and even common, but they add up to a unique experience in our lives—the small moments turn out to be the big ones.

But graduation isn’t just a time to be sad. These past four years have prepared us for all of the years that are coming. And that is what the Paterno Fellows Program specifically has given to us: the tools to go out into the world and to be citizens. As Paterno Fellows, we have learned in our classes how to read and write well, which adds up to learning how to think well. We have learned how to articulate those ideas and messages in the most powerful and expressive manner. With our study of ethics, we have been invited to consider exactly what a good life is, and how we can best achieve it. And finally, the Paterno Fellows Program encourages us to recognize that service and leadership are important. The Program provided us with an opportunity to act on these ideas in the world.

I took a philosophy course in my freshman year that I would never have if I hadn’t been in the Paterno Fellows Program. In that class, Dr. Colapietro mentioned a contemporary novelist named Colum McCann. We talked about his writing, his ideas of radical empathy that can help strive against hatred and his notion that the world is the sum total of our individual life stories. In one of his essays, McCann implores his writing students to take a challenge—to do what is most difficult. That is exactly what Penn State and the Paterno Fellows Program has prepared us to do. Commencement is a beginning. All of those small meaningful moments, all of the experiences in our classes, prepared us to go out into the world to do what is most difficult, and to succeed. Thank you.

2019 Paterno Fellows Best Thesis Awards

Call for Nominations: Due April 9


UPDATE: Please note that the requirements have been revised. We will only require one faculty recommendation, from either the honors adviser or thesis adviser.

The Paterno Fellows Program will present two Best Thesis Awards: one for a thesis in the social sciences and the other for a thesis in any field of the humanities. Each prize carries a $500 award and the students will be recognized at the PFP Graduation Ceremony at noon on Saturday, May 4. A faculty panel will make the selections based on the originality of the project, the rigor of the research, and the clarity of presentation. Students must have met all PFP graduation requirements to be eligible. (If you are not sure of your student’s PFP status, please inquire at

To nominate a thesis, or to self-nominate, we must receive the following by Tuesday, April 9:

Students who self-nominate are responsible for requesting input from the faculty adviser.

Please direct questions to

To the Theatre: To Kill a Mockingbird, and Kinky Boots

The Paterno Fellows Program has reserved a block of seats to two upcoming shows on campus: To Kill a Mockingbird on Tuesday, April 2, and Kinky Boots on Tuesday, April 9. (Correction: this was previously listed incorrectly as April 10.) You may enter the lottery for a chance to purchase one or two tickets to each of these shows for a great discount. These tickets are for Penn State students only, but if you purchase two, the second person does not have to be in PFP.

Tickets for To Kill a Mockingbird will be sold for $2 each (usually $12.50), and Kinky Boots will be $10 each (usually $50).

PFP has offered discounted tickets in the past which sold out before the end of the first day, so we had to turn many students away. In anticipation of a similar high demand for these tickets, we are holding a lottery to be fair to students whose schedules do not allow an immediate in-person visit to Sparks to be first to claim the seats. If you would like to be considered for tickets, please fill out the Google form. Names will be drawn at noon on Monday, March 11. All students who entered will be notified of whether or not they have been selected to purchase the discounted tickets. If additional tickets remain after March 11, we will announce how sales will continue.

Please only enter if you plan to use the tickets. Although you are only paying a few dollars, PFP is paying the balance, and we want to be sure the seats are filled!

LA 197 Mass Death and National Monuments

LA 197 Mass Death and National Monuments: the 2018 Washington D.C. Memorial to World War One in Comparative Perspective (1 cr) Honors / Ethics Course for Spring 19

Instructor: John Horne, Paterno Fellow Visiting Scholar from Trinity College, Dublin

Extended war with large-scale death is not a modern phenomenon. However, when such wars are fought by the “people” (as opposed to rulers and elites), “the people” are deemed to have made the key sacrifice. Questions of how to commemorate the war dead, given the losses, become central (famously expressed in the case of the American Civil War by Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg address). The answers take many forms – political rhetoric, socio-political reforms, public rituals, veterans’ movements – but monuments symbolising the sacrifice are key. How they are proposed and built, who supports or opposes them, what form do they take aesthetically, and how does what is said at their inaugurations (or later) reflect victory or defeat, the scale of the loss and the status of the dead (men, women, soldiers, civilians). We shall examine the US National Memorial to World War One in Washington, DC, scheduled to be inaugurated in November 2018. We shall ask why it took a hundred years for such a memorial to be created when monuments had already been erected in the nation’s capital to honour US involvement in the other major wars of the 20th century. We shall study the creation and meaning of the memorial in its American and international contexts, using multiple disciplines (history, cultural studies, art and architectural history, anthropology, etc.). We shall visit Washington in order to study the monument and compare it to other war memorials in the capital, notably those to World War Two, Korea and Vietnam.

Class Meeting Times: 5-6:30pm Thursday, Feb 7, 14, 21, 28 PLUS Tuesday, Feb 19, and an all-day trip to Washington, DC, on Saturday, Feb 23. Class attendance is mandatory. If you must miss class or this trip, do not enroll in this course.