For cousins Michael and Tyler Henderson, the past six years at Penn State have been long, but good.
On Saturday, the duo from Pittsburgh said they both started Penn State together and now finished with a degree in hand.
“It’s been a long time so I’m glad it’s over, but Penn State’s been good to us,” Michael Henderson, 24, said.
Michael Henderson, a media studies major, said he hopes to pursue a career in filmmaking, while Tyler, who studied philosophy, hopes to open his own business one day.
“It’s just one of the best schools that gives you the right resources to have a career afterward,” Tyler Henderson, 23, said. “It allowed me to do a lot of networking and make the contacts I needed to make.”
Michael Henderson said he was in eighth grade when he made his decision to go to Penn State after attending a football game and touring campus.
“There was no other atmosphere like it,” he said.
The two were among about 2,671 undergraduate students, 811 graduate students and 202 doctoral students who graduated this semester, said Barb Meeker-Ettaro, director of campus and community affairs.
University President Rodney Erickson was the speaker during the undergraduate ceremonies at the Bryce Jordan Center on Saturday. After 37 years at Penn State, he plans to retire at the end of June.
“You could say this is my senior year, too, and as my hair color suggests, I mean senior in more than one way,” Erickson joked.
Graduate Dominick Pollio, 23, originally from New Jersey, said Saturday was bittersweet for him.
“This is the place I’ve called my home for the last four years,” he said. “It’s absolutely exciting, but a little sad and humbling. I’ve loved every minute of it and leave it a better person.”
The broadcast journalism major said he’s going to take a break, relax and then hit the job hunt.
“It’s been a tough few years. I’m just going to take it easy and then hopefully find something in sports,” Pollio said.
And as a wise word to underclassmen, graduates advised them to not waste time with their college career.
“Study hard,” Michael Henderson said. “Don’t get so caught up in the college party lifestyle. Do a little bit of that, but know you go to school for another reason that can help your future.”
But for those headed to the next chapter of their lives, Erickson left the graduates with a little something to think about.
“You are leaving Penn State a better place, and I sincerely hope you will have the same impact in whatever community or company that is lucky enough to land you,” he said. “Take advantage of the opportunities that come before you, but also think about what you can leave behind, think about what your legacy will be, personally and professionally. And I hope that as you go forth from here, you will find that giving your time, talents and treasures to others in need will enrich your own life in greater measure.”
Penn State is on winter break until Jan. 13.