Yesterday (Sunday, Aug. 25) I went to the 33rd annual pig roast sponsored by the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Association. The Chapter's signature fundraising event, it raises thousands of dollars for scholarships for area Penn State students and is typically attended by the Chapter's scholarship recipients, the Nittany Lion mascot, the Penn State cheerleading squad, staff from the Penn State Alumni Association, and hundreds of Penn State alumni, supporters, and fans.
(You can learn more about the Chapter at http://gsvpsc.com/.)
The pig roast is a fun event and one I am pleased to attend every year. I was there with my Alumni Association colleague Cheryl Stringer, a regional director in the Association's volunteer services office. We were both invited to make brief remarks. More on that later.
The primary mission of the Greater Susquehanna Valley Chapter is to provide financial aid in the form of scholarships to area students attending Penn State.
And this year, for the first time in its history, the Chapter awarded $8,000 in scholarships to area Penn State students -- a record high! One of the scholarship recipients was Brandon Smith, a first-year Penn State student from nearby Winfield and like both my kids a graduate of Lewisburg Area High School. Brandon's on Penn State's football squad. (More about Brandon at http://www.gopsusports.com/sports/m-footbl/mtt/brandon_smith_857129.html.)
The crowd couldn't see the back of Brandon's T-shirt, but I could. I saw it just before my remarks and used the slogan on the back as a little mini-theme.
"You can't see it from where you are," I told the crowd, "but Brandon's T-shirt says 'Raise the Bar' on the back. And that's what all of you are doing -- raising the bar -- Chapter members, with the $8,000 you're giving away in scholarships this year; Penn State football players, Coach Bill O'Brien, the cheerleaders, and all the students and faculty and staff at Penn State who are doing great work every day."
I also mentioned my boss, Roger Williams, executive director of the Alumni Association. He loves the pig roast and usually attends every year! But this year he had a family commitment out of state and could not attend.
So, for a little audience participation, I asked if anybody could tell me what Roger's favorite food is at the pig roast. "Deviled eggs!" someone yelled out right away. That's the answer, all right. He loves those deviled eggs. Cheryl and I tried to honor the tradition he has set. At least I did.
I also gave a brief plug for the Penn State Grassroots Network and asked Chapter members to get involved. With all the scholarship money they raise, it's clear they want to help students. So I asked them to get involved in the Network, contact their state legislators every year, and ask for the healthiest possible appropriation for Penn State.
It costs nothing to be a part of the Network. I just ask people to contribute their time, energy, and voices. The reason a healthy state appropriation is so important to Penn State -- just *one* of several reasons -- is that it allows the University to preserve the substantial in-state tuition "discount" for Pennsylvania resident students.
It makes a big difference, just like a scholarship does. A Penn State freshman from Pennsylvania, attending Penn State at University Park, will pay just over $16,000 a year in tuition. A Penn State freshman from outside Pennsylvania will pay more than $28,600. That's why we need dedicated alumni and parents and other friends of Penn State to raise their voices every year and call for healthy state support for our University.
(More about Penn State tuition at http://tuition.psu.edu/tuitiondynamic/rates.aspx?location=up.)
And I ended my remarks by leading the "We Are" cheer! That's really fun!
My colleague, Cheryl Stringer, thanked and recognized Chapter members for their accomplishments. Among other things, she pointed out that the Chapter has received the Alumni Association's "Group of Distinction" award every year since 2006. That's a clear, unmistakable indicator of the quality work they're doing.
Finally, I enjoy the pig roast and other Chapter events so much because in addition to being an Alumni Association employee, I'm a dues-paying Chapter member as well. (I *think* my dues are paid up! I'll have to check.) As founding Chapter member Bob Werba once told me, I'm not just from the Association's main office -- the "head shed," as Bob put it -- I'm one of the Chapter's own. It's great to be a Chapter member -- with my friends and neighbors from in and around Lewisburg, where I live -- and to be a part of the great work the Chapter does.