This is sure to be a memorable weekend for thousands of Penn State University graduates.
Their senior year, in some ways, was one to forget with a sex abuse scandal, riots and the death of a legendary football coach.
“It was school, campus, football, and JoePa,” said senior Carmella Mataloni of Dunmore.
Then, November’s arrest of Jerry Sandusky followed by riots over Joe Paterno’s firing and not long after, the legendary coach’s death.
In spite of all that, Mataloni is proud of the way the school and community pulled together.
“It was a tragic situation, I personally could not have asked for a better senior year. The bumps in the road helped us as a class, as friends as a community,” Mataloni said.
Each year, graduates visit the Nittany Lion Shrine with their caps and gowns, they smile for the cameras. This past year, their senior year, it was difficult for them to keep smiles on their faces while their university was thrust into the national spotlight.
“Throughout the next five days, it just hit the fan. It was weird, people all over the place, candlelight vigils which were awesome,” said Macullen Byham.
This is a bittersweet time for Byham, a senior from Williamsport, who said she will not let the past year’s events ruin her love for Penn State and the community.
The same goes for Nate Frailey whose family bleeds blue and white. Any worries Frailey had about finding a job with a Penn State education are gone. He is moving to Florida to put an engineering degree to work.
“You had to do the best you could, tried to band together as students. At the end you realize most of it out of your control. You have to concentrate on yourself,” he said.