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Penn State Report Should Not Crush Alumni Spirit

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Yet again, I’m finding it difficult to be a proud Penn Stater…and I’m facing painful comments at every turn.
I LOVE my school. I graduated from Penn State on May 19, 2007. I remember that day vividly — crying with my friends and classmates because we didn’t want it to end. It was absolutely four of the best years of my life, and the experiences I’ve had because I was (and am) a Nittany Lion are priceless.

People have often asked me, what is it about Penn State that makes you love it so much? How can you be so loyal to it? It’s just a school.

That’s the thing, it’s not JUST a school. It’s a family, and a lifestyle, and an experience that a lot of people just can’t seem to understand. Our chant says it all. We are Penn State. You don’t go to Penn State, you become part of it.

Penn State alum - Laurie Cataldo
Laurie Cataldo

So when you learn that part of you has done something unspeakable, has tried to sweep it under the rug, it’s difficult to know how to feel.

Part of me wants to believe that the school was trying to protect all Penn Staters from a nightmare…but most of me knows that a few selfish people were simply trying to protect their wallets.

As for Joe Paterno, I’m again so torn. I’ve met him a few times. I looked up to him. He was an old school Italian guy from Brooklyn. He reminded me of a Grandpa.

I remember him telling students at pep rallies not to curse and boo at opposing teams because we were better than that. I remember him building us all up and wanting us to be the best possible versions of ourselves. I remember that he seemed like the ultimate stand-up guy.

And according to today’s Freeh report, I now know that

The evidence shows Mr. Paterno was aware of the 1998 investigation of Sandusky, followed it closely, but failed to take any action…At the very least, Mr. Paterno could have alerted the entire football staff, in order to prevent Sandusky from bringing another child into the Lasch Building.”

JoePa chose to protect his football team, his family, his job, the school, all of us…at the expense of those boys. Back when the news of this scandal first broke, I remember defending myself constantly.

I will continue to defend my school. Why? Because again, Penn State is not a few corrupt administrators, a football coach who made the wrong choice, or a child rapist.

Penn State graduation May 2007
My fellow Penn State ComRadio grads. (Laurie Cataldo)

Penn State is hundreds of thousands of people who have gone on to do incredible things. Penn State is astronauts, scientists, broadcasters, teachers, and Olympians. It’s business leaders, senators, and professional athletes. It is the largest student-run philanthropy in world.

I am sad that people at my school allowed such horrendous things to happen, but I cannot turn my back on the institution.

Penn State Nittany Lion
Laurie Cataldo

So for Penn Staters past, present, and future, let’s stay strong, and continue to let no act of ours bring shame, because WE are Penn State.

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