Mike “The Mailman” Herr and Penn State professor Molly Countermine spoke to a crowd of about 70 people Tuesday night on campus as part of the Penn State Mortar Board’s Last Lecture Series.
The duo provided the audience — comprised mostly of students — with nuggets of life advice and uplifting stories prior to the upcoming stress finals week will bring.
Herr, the renowned, long-time campus mailman at Penn State, kicked off the lecture with a couple of jokes and stories about his days at the University Park post office.
“Mike the Mailman,” as he was referred to by Penn State students and the greater community, recently retired in April, 2016 exactly 48 years after he started working on campus. Over the years, he became a Penn State icon and still is one of the most cheery personalities in all of Centre County.
Herr told the audience there are three goals they should strive for every day: have fun, relax and stay positive.
He said those three goals will help not only in everyday life, but also as students prepare for their finals. Herr constantly imparted those themes in his daily interactions with students during his time working at University Park. He was most known for making the normally mundane chore of picking up mail fun for students.
“There’s a way to have fun and still get the job done,” Herr said. “I try to have fun with a serious situation. I always found it fun to make people laugh. I’ve told the same jokes so many times when I worked here, and I still laugh at them today.”
Happiness is not a destination. It’s a byproduct of the way you live your life. Mike is a prime example of that.
Herr told the students in the audience that relaxing is crucial in this time of high stress and a busy workload. He said taking breaks to listen to music or go on a run is just as important as the actual studying.
After answering a few questions from the audience, Herr passed the stage of Countermine, but not before leading a “We Are” chant.
Aside from teaching in the College of Health and Human Development at Penn State, Countermine is also a lead singer and founding member of local bands Maxwell Straight, which performs regularly at The Phyrst, and Pure Cane Sugar.
Countermine spoke Tuesday about finding happiness in life and what it takes to truly get there.
She began with the notion that life is simply the pursuit of love and happiness. She challenged the audience to think about what it means to truly love your life and how that’s possible.
“Everyone just wants to be loved for who they are, not who anyone wants them to be,” Countermine said. “They want to know that the world is a safe place and that it will look out for them.”
She shunned the typical college mindset that material possessions lead to happiness. Countermine said only 10 percent of our happiness comes from materials and that most of our happiness is created by our own actions and behaviors.
“Happiness is not a destination. It’s a byproduct of the way you live your life,” Countermine said. “Mike is a prime example of that.”
Jack Dougherty is a Penn State journalism student.