A Childhood Dream (Kind Of) Coming True

(2/10/19)

I’m back again and writing on a rainy day in LA, which unfortunately means that my co-workers were wrong when they said that the initial days of rain were the only bad weather days I would see during my time here but fortunately means that I can be lazy on a Sunday and not feel guilty about it. This past week may have been my favorite so far, due to both an exciting work week and a weekend of so many fun and new experiences.

Though each work week brings a lot of different projects to work on and meetings to attend, something particularly exciting happened this week that I’m sure anyone who follows me on social media may already know about because I couldn’t keep myself from fangirling and posting about it. On Wednesday, there was a shoot in my building for Disney Channel “Wand IDs” with the child actors in new series coming out in October called “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables.” For anyone who isn’t aware of what wand IDs are, they are those 10 second clips that air on Disney Channel in between programs when an actor comes on screen and says “I’m so and so, and you’re watching Disney Channel,” then draws Mickey Ears with a glowing wand. Throughout my childhood, my friends and I would always pretend to do our own wand IDs and dream that someday we could actually do them. Watching these actors on set saying these words as the camera rolled and the crew showed the boys and girls where to point the wand made me feel like, in a sense, that my childhood dream is coming true. I was right there, watching in person the making of one of the most iconic moments on television! I even got to hold the wand and pass it off to the different actors as they went to stand in front of the camera. It was so cool, and reminded me how lucky I am to be in the position that I am.

I also did some really cool things outside of work this week. On Wednesday I went to a networking dinner with some other students in the Hollywood Program, and we ate an amazing dinner at a restaurant called Pearl’s Rooftop which was absolutely beautiful. On Friday night I had the time of my life singing karaoke at a little hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurant close to our apartment, and on Saturday I went with four friends on a beautiful hike to a waterfall. That’s one of my favorite things about Los Angeles so far – we are in one of the biggest cities in the world, yet if we drive a half hour away we can find ourselves in beautiful and remote forests that make us feel like we are far from civilization. I got back from brunch at an amazing crepe place a few hours ago, and it is getting me so excited to discover a ton of new and diverse restaurants around the city.

Fancy Nancy on a Tough Guy’s Computer Screen

(2/3/19)

Today marks three weeks and one day since I’ve arrived in LA, and that means I have a whole week of new memories, experiences, tasks, and interactions to share. I’ll start off by saying that it was definitely interesting to see my friends at Penn State on social media and hear all about the freezing temperatures and class cancellations. I think I saw at minimum 15 videos on Snapchat of people throwing boiling water out their windows just to watch its violent reaction to the cold air.

This week at work was kind of all over the place, especially because my direct supervisor and the writer/producer that I had been shadowing were both on vacation. That could have meant a lot of free time at work on my part, but I’m the kind of person who needs to be constantly busy or else I will go crazy, so I definitely made the effort to reach out to people in different departments and see if there was anything I could sit in on or help out with. It began on Monday when I just overheard someone talking about a Disney Junior meeting and when she passed by my desk I asked her if it was something I could possibly observe. Next thing I knew I was sitting in a huge conference room listening to Disney Junior’s quarterly reports and descriptions of all of the new DJ programs in development. As they were presenting some of the new shows, there were some rough sketches and basic animations to display what the series would look like, and it was super interesting to see these programs at their very initial stages. It made me think hard about how long and tedious of a process it is to go from having just a concept to a full-fledged and complete animated series.

Some other interesting things that I did this week were: help pull clips from the show “Coop and Cami Ask the World” for social media spots, sit in on editing sessions and rough cut meetings, conduct a research project about diversity in workforce for the various design/animation vendors that Disney works with, watch a pre-screening of the new Kim Possible live action movie, and help to write a promo for an upcoming “Fancy Nancy” episode. To explain the title of this blog post, one of my favorite things about a typical workday is walking by any given employee’s desk and see them intently watching episodes of “Fancy Nancy” or “Puppy Dog Pals.” It’s especially funny when it’s a big, tough guy who looks like he could be a club bouncer but is instead trying to write promos for these Disney Channel shows!

One other cool opportunity I had was to be on set during a shoot that Disney had organized for a handwashing PSA. They brought in a bunch of kids from a talent agency to participate in this PSA that would air on all of Disney’s linear channels during flu season. It was crazy to see such an elaborate set-up for such a short spot: they had re-created a bathroom and had tons of lights and equipment rigged up. I sat in a director’s chair and felt really important even though I was doing absolutely nothing more than observing!

As per usual, I will end with outside of work adventures. On Friday my roommates and I went to the Universal Citywalk for a delicious Italian dinner and on Saturday a couple of us in the program went to a pre-screening of the new How to Train Your Dragon movie which was INCREDIBLE. I definitely sobbed more than I expected. Today we are getting ready to have a Super Bowl watching party complete with burgers, buff chick dip, and all the fixings. It’ll feel like a classic Penn State tailgate – and hopefully the Rams will win and we can get some cool reactions from the LA residents across our apartment complex.

Week Two Down!

(1/28/19)

Another week here in Los Angeles has come and gone, and things are really picking up in terms of both work and adventures outside of work. After a relaxing MLK weekend and a day off from work on Monday (woo!) it was back to Disney Channel on Tuesday. This week involved a lot more meetings and shadowing, and I am slowly getting used to learning everyone’s names and their positions around the office. The people I work with are so friendly, and a lot of them have expressed to me that they want to meet with me and show me what their specific departments do. I love the welcoming environment that these people have created for me, and I’m excited to learn about jobs and tasks that I didn’t even know existed.

One of the most exciting things of this week was a meeting held by Gary Marsh, president of Disney Channels worldwide (aka two or three rungs below CEO Bob Iger on the Disney management pole). It was surreal to be in the room and be introduced by a man with an insane amount of power and influence over such an international brand. I also really enjoyed the opportunities to attend more rough cuts meetings and a screening of a new show that will premiere on Disney Channel in October. This past week also involved a lot of behind the scenes “Descendants 3” footage, which I was asked to go through to find specific soundbites and b-roll footage that the writers/producers can use for the upcoming marketing campaign for the movie. Finally, I got to sit in on a voiceover recording session with a VO artist who reads lines for different promos. This time, he was reading lines and tags for the upcoming Kim Possible movie, and his voice was insane!!!

In addition to all of these work experiences, this past weekend I also had more opportunities to explore Los Angeles and all that it has to offer. I went to Santa Monica with my roommates and we watched the sunset on the beach in addition to walking along the Santa Monica pier during a beautiful night. Yesterday, I went to Disneyland for the first time! I have only ever been to Disneyworld, so it was really cool to see the similarities and differences as well as get to know some of the other Disney interns who work in different buildings across the Burbank area.

I am heading in to work soon and I am really excited to see what this week has in store! By this time next week, I will have seven more days of experience and opportunities under my belt!

First Week Down, Sun Comes Up

(1/22/19)

I have been here in Los Angeles for a little over a week now, and I am finally getting into the swing of things! The transition from being close to my friends and family on the east coast to only having a few people I know on the west coast (in addition to being unfamiliar with the area) was a bit rough at first, but I am now really hitting my stride and becoming used to the area and the lifestyle. Part of what made it a rough transition was coming to Los Angeles during it’s rare period of heavy rain – it was pretty much downpouring from the second I arrived and it lasted for a couple of days. Where was the Los Angeles sunshine that I was so looking forward to??

Finally, the sky cleared up and the sun took the place of the clouds, bringing with it warm temperatures and a refreshed, optimistic mindset for me. I don’t want to rub the weather in too much for my loved ones dealing with the snow and below freezing temperatures back in PA, but I am enjoying it a lot.

The first week brought with it a ton of exciting experiences, beginning with my Disney orientation. All of us interns were given a lot of insight into the inner-workings of the amazing company, and it was so interesting to meet so many people and hear about how they got here and what departments they would be working in. Two other students who are here with the Penn State Hollywood Program were also at the orientation because they are working for departments within the ABC division, so it was nice to get to know them and go through the experience together. After the orientation we were given a Disney studio tour (so freaking cool) and then we ate lunch in the on-site commissary. It amazes me to think about all of the film and television legends who have walked the grounds I walked on that day!

The next day, Wednesday, was my first day working at Disney Channel in a building called The Burbank Center. It was definitely an overwhelming first day, with meeting so many new people and diving right into shadowing and projects. Just on the first day I was able to attend a rough-cut meeting during which a lot of the writer/producers present what show and movie promos they have been working on to get feedback. I was also able to sit in on rough edits for teasers and trailers for the new Disney Channel original movies “Descendants 3” and the live-action Kim Possible movie. Finally, the entire creative department at Disney Channel gets together once a month at a huge meeting called “All Hands,” and it just so happened that January’s monthly meeting fell on my first day. So I attended that and was introduced to everybody, and the particularly interesting part of that meeting was that the guest speaker was the new head of development for the upcoming Disney Plus streaming service that is rolling out in the coming year. It was so interesting listen to him speak, and crazy to think that I was hearing from one of the most influential individuals in the entire company on just my first day!

Aside from work, my time in Los Angeles has been wonderful so far in helping me develop new friendships with people in the Program and discover unique and interesting places. Over the weekend I was able to hike in the stunning Hollywood Hills up to the Griffith Park Observatory, go out to eat at some adorable hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and finally take a dip in the pool and hot tub at the complex I live in. I am scoping out new places to experience every single day, and I’m beyond excited for what is to come.

Although I dearly miss everyone back in PA and family elsewhere, I know that my time here is going to be invaluable for my career and it is going to weave such a beautiful quilt of memories that I will cherish forever. I will make sure to report back next week with the new pieces of fabric I will add to the quilt over the next couple of days.

State College to West Chester to Philadelphia to Los Angeles in a Day

To most of you, I am writing this blog post at 9:31 pm. But for me, it is 6:31 pm and the sun has just set over a cool and overcast Los Angeles Sunday. I arrived in the City of Angels yesterday evening, at long last commencing my time as a part of the Penn State Hollywood Program. I will be here for the entirety of the spring semester working, taking classes, and soaking in the west coast experience while (hopefully) learning a lot about myself along the way.

The past couple of days have brought with them a fully mixed bag of emotions. I spent last week at State College as my friends and roommates began their spring semester classes and I made the most of my last days before moving thousands of miles away. I was so happy to have this time, but it made it so much harder to leave. As I hugged some of the people that I love most in the world knowing that it would be a spring AND a summer before I see many of them again, I couldn’t help but feel so sad and envious that I would be missing out on a semester of memories. But at the same time, driving to the airport and boarding the plane to LA with my close friend, Christina, revved up my emotions and replaced some of the melancholy in my stomach with excitement and wonder and eager anticipation for an extremely pivotal time in my life.

I am already so appreciative of the warm weather here, and on Tuesday I have my orientation for my upcoming internship in the creative marketing department at Disney Channel. I will be working full-time for the network that utterly defined my childhood, producing shows that I was raised on and that I will cherish forever. I cannot wait to meet my supervisor and my fellow interns and get started on tasks and projects that will hopefully help to shape young minds in the way they shaped me. Each career experience I have during my time in college has been highly instrumental in clearing my path for the future; in allowing me to see what I could and could not envision doing with my life. I know that my talents lie in creative communication, and I want to use these talents to change lives or at the very least cause the tiniest positive ripple in the universe. I am so fortunate to have had these experiences – everything from my time hostessing at a Greek restaurant a few summers ago to now working at the largest media company in the world – and they have challenged me and thrilled me in so many ways.

I try to look for the thrills life has to offer in everything that I do. I can’t wait to report back over the coming weeks, hopefully with good news. Something tells that I’m in for something good!

Time Flies

How is it already the last week of my internship?? June 11th feels like it was just yesterday, and I can still remember how nerve-wracking and foreign it felt to be stepping onto the fifteenth floor of Paramount Plaza. I remember looking around at my group of fellow interns and wondering about the experiences we would have and the memories we would make in the upcoming weeks. It’s actually kind of funny to think back on us sitting around a conference room on that first day and recall how nervous I was to introduce myself. Now I have gone through so much with my 22 Showtime cohorts and I really feel as though I’ve made some lasting friendships.

I’ve also learned so much from working my first 40-hour week job, and these lessons cover an extremely wide range. From getting used to waking up each morning and taking the subway to work, to making sure I meet deadlines and send emails and make appointments, to forming professional relationships with established employees, I have really experienced a variety of responsibilities that have undoubtedly prepared myself for any job I may come across in my future.

I also want to report that the Intern Group Projects that I mentioned in one of my previous blog posts as being quite similar to the PLA policy papers and presentations went really well! The five groups of NYC interns presented this past Thursday in front of a conference room of around 120 and an audience of over 140 via live webcast. A lot of the Showtime “higher-ups” were in attendance, taking notes and gathering feedback. Our individual groups will receive that feedback this week, and I am very much looking forward to what they had to say. I was so impressed by the charisma and presence of each of the interns during the presentations, and I think the audience seemed very impressed by some of the ideas that we had to offer. And I have to say, I’m proud of myself too – I got my points across and spoke clearly, even though my legs were probably visibly shaking!

This last week of my internship is lighter on the work and heavier on the good-byes. I’m trying to schedule as many coffee chats as I can with Showtime employees and finish my final projects with exceptional products. My co-interns and I are planning final get-togethers outside of work, and I have to say that I’m getting really sad thinking about parting ways with many of them! Though two months seems like a short time, some very close bonds can be formed, and I will really miss them as we go off to our respective colleges.

The hardest good-bye will be the farewell I have to say to New York City. It has been incredible living here, and I feel so lucky that it was my home for the summer. I will miss my dorm, 1608 Gramercy Green, but I will always cherish the many memories that came out of it. My phone is chock full of pictures and videos from each of my NYC experiences, and I know that I will always look back at them fondly. Hopefully I will be back in the city next summer, and though I will never be able to fully imitate the summer of 2018, hopefully I can come pretty close.

Taking Advantage of the Time

After nearly a week spent on vacation over the Fourth of July holiday, I came back to NYC to realize that I have very little time left here. I have only three weeks left of my internship, and only three weeks left to do everything (or almost everything) that I wanted to do during my time in the city! As a result of this crazy realization, I really tried to take advantage of this past week and dedicate my time both during and outside of work to maximize my experiences and make the moments memorable. What ensued was the busiest week of the summer yet, and I loved pretty much every minute of it. I’ll try to describe it all, splitting my week into work and play:

Work: As the time goes by, I get more and more appreciative of my experiences with Showtime. A lot of exciting things were happening this week within the company and with the intern program in particular. First of all, my group project is coming along really nicely. My group and I tried to really tie everything together within the past couple of days, including our write-ups, powerpoint slides, visual aids, and more. We wanted to give ourselves enough time to read and revise everything before we begin our rehearsals and eventually the final presentation in two weeks (gulp). I finished two ongoing research projects within my Smithsonian Channel department, so next week means starting new and exciting projects including pitching a short-form series that could potentially be featured within Smithsonian Channel’s digital media.

Showtime also introduced an initiative this week that they are calling “3 Cups of Coffee,” in which higher-up executives agree to three 30-minute meetings with company employees. I signed up for meetings with three diverse executives so that I could really get a feel of the different roles within the company, especially since I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with my life. A new Showtime series called “Who Is America?” starring Sacha Baron Cohen was released today, and has already stirred up a ton of controversy. We had a pre-viewing this past Friday of the first episode, and all I can say is that I was shocked. It’s definitely an insane series that will cause a lot of commotion for Showtime, so it will be very interesting to see how everything plays out. And finally, we had our CBS intern kickball tournament on Thursday, which involved going to Central Park for three hours and competing with interns working in different departments. Showtime interns may not have gotten the victory, but it was by far one of the most fun experiences I’ve had here this summer. Here are some pictures from the  CBS tournament:


Play: I definitely checked off a lot of items on my NYC bucket list this week! One of the most memorable experiences was seeing “Wicked” on Broadway one day after work with some friends from Penn State. I have loved the music from this show for years, and I had been dying to see it. So when my friend told us that she had found $70 tickets on Craigslist (and when we discovered that it wasn’t a scam!), we were so thrilled. It definitely was one of the best Broadway shows I have watched, and I definitely cried at the end. The same group of friends and I also went to a hotel rooftop one day after work, and stayed there as the sun set and we were able to look at a stunning panoramic view of the NYC skyscrapers at night. We talked and laughed and had a great time for hours, and both the location and feeling that came with it are things I will remember for a long time. I saw Incredibles 2 with my co-worker after work on Tuesday, and that same co-worker and I went to a improv comedy musical on Saturday that was insanely entertaining. A fellow PLAer, Grace Miller, surprised me on Friday night, and we went to a little independent movie theater to watch a documentary called Three Identical Strangers (highly recommended). Finally, yesterday evening, I went on a sunset lobster cruise with some friends, and we sat on the boat and ate and talked as the sun went down and the we drifted by the beautiful NYC skyline. Again, it was an experience I will keep with me forever. Here pictures of some of these experiences:

Overall, this was probably my favorite week here in New York. I want to keep this excitement going for my next few weeks here, and I already have some fun things planned. These are memories that are incomparable and cannot be imitated, and I am so grateful to have a summer full of them!

Days Ahead, Days Behind

After a couple of weeks of getting acquainted to the craziness, excitement, stress, and beauty of New York City, I returned to West Chester this past Tuesday for a couple of days with my family to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday. For my whole life, July 4th has been a big deal for my family, and we have the same traditions that we look forward to repeating year after year. It always begins with a trip to upstate New York to visit my grandparents, where we’ll usually catch a baseball game in Binghamton, have a nice breakfast overlooking the vast landscape at grandma and grandpa’s remote house on the hilltop in Oneonta, bounce from store to store in downtown Cooperstown, and finally spend the rest of the afternoon lunching and lounging at the beautiful Glimmerglass Lake. This recipe is always the same, almost methodical, but why change anything when what you’re used to is the best you can imagine?

After spending this time with my dad’s parents, we always continue our trip by traveling to Hamilton, NY, where my aunt, uncle, and cousins live. My other aunt and uncle and my grandma on my mom’s side meet us there, and it instantly becomes our annual family reunion. In Hamilton, there tends to be more fluctuation when it comes to the events of the day. Sometimes we’ll go to the farmers’ market, sometimes to the lake for a swim, and other times we’ll have a fire out in the backyard as the sun sets and the sky moves from its baby blue to murky midnight. However, there are some things that never change – we always have a family poker tournament, family tennis outings for some and golf for others, big cookout dinners, and scenic hikes. Each year guarantees hours of sitting out on the Johnsons’ big front porch, sipping cool drinks and talking about anything and everything until once again the murky midnight is upon us.

This time spent with my family in July is one of those traditions that I look forward to every single year. Often times throughout the year my family and I will reference funny memories, interesting experiences, and inside jokes. We’ll laugh at the song that was sung at the parade six years ago with more gusto each time its mentioned. My brother and I will reminisce on the games that we made up with our cousins years and years ago, like Spiderman baseball and the rockslide game. My cousin, aunt, and I will laugh thinking about the disastrous cakes we have frosted in the past as we continue to improve year by year.

I had just as much fun as ever this year, but I also began to think more than ever about how even though so many things are the same, so many things are also changing. This is natural, I know, and I recognize that some change is definitely good. But I can’t help but feel the nostalgia; sometimes it creeps up gradually, and other times it impacts me at an unexpected and extreme force. When did we play Spiderman baseball for the last time? When did the cousins start drinking wine instead of grape juice? When will it no longer be practical for my immediate family to take a road trip with just us – mom and dad in the front seat, me and Jack in the back?

Life goes on and people grow up. I may be sad thinking about this sometimes, but I do know that with this change comes a lot of new and exciting opportunities. Some of the best days of my life haven’t even happened yet, and who knows what memories and inside jokes will created at the next Fourth of July holiday and the one after that? Who knows what people I will meet and what things I will do in between? I am looking forward to all of the amazing things that are yet to come in my life, but it’s weeks like this that remind me that sometimes it’s okay to look back every once in a while and appreciate all of the moments that have pieced together like a mosaic to make me the person that I am today.

It’s Showtime!

I have to admit, I was extremely nervous to move to New York City.

As exciting and eventful as I know the city is, and as much as I knew before coming here what a great experience it would be, I was still shaking in my shoes last Thursday as I drove with my mom, dad, and eight weeks’ worth of necessities to the city that never sleeps.

As I moved into the NYU dorm that would soon become my home for the summer, I began to feel the eagerness and excitement take the place of the nerves that had been plaguing me in the days prior. Even within just the first couple of hours of coming to New York, I could already feel the sense of ambition and opportunity hanging in the air like something tangible. I could feel it, and I was ready for it.

I took the weekend to settle in and try to become accustomed to my new surroundings, or at least as accustomed as I could in a place where there is literally always something sensational happening. I explored parts of New York I had never been to with my suitemate and fellow PLA’er Liv, and I found new restaurants and new places to take my book and relax for a few hours. I navigated the subway system and I scoped out where I would have to be for work on Monday. I took advantage of all that I could in the days before starting my 40-hour work week.

After an exhilarating weekend, Monday rolled around and the nerves returned. This was my first internship, and my first time working long hours in an office. I really did not know what to expect, and question after question muddled my mind in the hours leading up to my entrance into Paramount Plaza, my office building (shown below).

Finally, I made it up to the fifteenth floor where the Showtime headquarters is located. I got my ID card and sat down in a room with about 20 other 20-somethings, and we all eagerly awaited the activities to come. Orientation involved the classic introductions – to the bosses, to each other, and to the company as a whole. We learned about the projects that we would be involved in in the coming weeks, and again I felt the sensation of excitement overriding the nerves.

The rest of the week brought with it a lot of new and eye-opening experiences. As a digital media production intern for the Smithsonian Channel sector of Showtime, I was right away given tasks that would be beneficial to the company and to my advisor. I reviewed Smithsonian Channel content and logged clips for specific promotional material. I came up with ideas related to specific series on the Channel that would appeal to a younger demographic. I even cut and edited my own mock promo video to help advertise an upcoming series called “Bug Bites.”

In addition to the work with Smithsonian Channel, Showtime has provided the 23 interns with a lot of supplementary work and excursions in order to get the most out of this summer as possible. This first week brought with it a focus group session with Showtime executives to discuss millennial television viewing habits, a lunch outing with the Smithsonian Channel president (who happens to be a Penn State grad!), an intern scavenger hunt that I went absolutely ham on and won with my group, and the introduction to a group project that would take place over the 8 weeks. I was assigned to the “Creative Challenge” project, which I’m extremely excited about because it involves coming up with creative ways to expose younger viewers to newer Showtime series like Shameless, SMILF, and The Chi.

Well, that was a lot more than I intended to say, but I guess it just goes to show that my first week in New York City was a whirlwind of nerves, excitement, and just about every other emotion in the book. I can’t wait to see where this summer takes me…its Showtime!

The Hiatus is Over!

It’s been a while since I’ve written a blog post for my website, and even longer since I’ve written one that wasn’t prompted by a Presidential Leadership Academy blog due date 🙂

I guess now is a better time than ever to update this blog, since I am officially done my sophomore year at Penn State (oh my goodness) and a lot of exciting things have been going on in my life. I’ll do my best to compress a year of memories, moments, musings, and more in just a single post.

The first struggle: where do I begin?

I was back in Simmons Hall this year with my roommate and best friend Harshitha, and like last year we were surrounded by an amazing group of friends that got the school year off to a great start. I volunteered as a mentor for the Schreyer orientation called (SHO TIME) where I met some awesome people and formed close bonds with my mentees. The beginning of sophomore year already felt so comfortable, with a support system of friends I already knew and the boldness of being a returning student that helped me talk to so many more people that I have since developed strong relationships with.

With the first semester came a new set of classes and a knew workload, but I was happy to find that a lot of the work really interested me. I took my first hands-on film class that taught me a lot about the inner-workings of film, equipment, editing, and more. I discovered that comparative politics – despite the frequent monotony of the class itself – was a topic that piqued my interest. My first class with the PLA introduced me to a group of unique, diverse, and thought-provoking students, many of which are now my extremely close friends.

The first semester also brought with it a lot of tailgating and football games, complete with rain ponchos, adorable dogs, and buff chick dip. It brought crazily-themed parties, interesting Halloween costumes (Harshitha and I were “rama lama lama” and “ka dinga da dinga dong” from that one Grease song, intense concerts, canning trips, my amazing THON production committee and all that came along with it, the PLA Washington DC trip, formals, Thanksgiving break, and a whole lot of other memories that would create a nearly never-ending list. It also brought a new friend group, the beginning and ends of relationships, and the introduction to people who would touch my life in ways I never would have imagined.

And to think, that was only the first semester!

The second semester started out on kind of a rough note. After winter break, to put it quite simply I was down in the dumps. I felt unmotivated, uninspired. Certain events combined with my annual seasonal depression brought on by cold days and early darkness was not a formula for success. I didn’t like feeling down, especially since I – and I’m sure many others – always consider myself to be a cheery and upbeat person. This sadness didn’t feel like me, and I was determined to break it.

They say time heals everything, and I discovered that while this is true, it also takes a lot more. It takes distraction in the form of focusing on incredible friendships, diving into activities, and trying a lot of new things. I am so thankful to my close pals who always reached out to me when I wasn’t particularly myself, and I am also so thankful to my new amazing girl squad – the winter of women – who helped remind me that there are definitely great things that can come out of a seemingly never-ending winter.

THON season also helped pick me up into higher spirits. I was never feeling down when I was with my committee, from our Tuesday night meetings, to our filming get-togethers, to THON weekend itself. I can imagine it would be difficult for anyone to step into the BJC during THON weekend and not feel completely inspired and in awe at the difference some Penn State students can make. It also gave me some much-needed perspective; that no matter what I’m going through, I am lucky to have what I have and be am where I am surrounded by the people I am so grateful to have in my life.

Before I knew it, the days became a little longer and a little warmer, and it became more bearable to sit on my bed and do homework as the sky stayed brighter past 5:00. After THON was State Patty’s day, then the real St. Patty’s day, followed by my trip to Chicago during spring break with the PLA. This trip was honestly one of the highlights of my time at Penn State so far. We went to exotic dinners, museums, bus tours, comedy shows, and more. Each night we ended up in one of our hotel rooms, talking and laughing until our eyes drooped, and I could feel the pressure of friendship forming with a group of people I could both laugh with and talk in class with about some of the most serious issues plaguing our campus.

After Chicago came the last few months full of memories made with the variety of people in my life. I felt back to my upbeat self as I tried new restaurants in state college, spent late nights eating chips and salsa and talking about life, watched weird British movies, and got ready to the rhythmic bass beats that emanated from 275 Simmons each Friday and Saturday night. The last few months at Penn State encompassed moments that were the biggest reminders of why I chose this school and why I choose to spend time with the people that I do. I am surrounded by selfless, kind, funny, exciting, spontaneous, and unique people each day in a school that provides me with the resources that I need to both have fun and succeed in classes and preparation for my future.

On top of all the memories made this year, I have two exciting experiences coming up! This summer I will be working as a digital media production intern for the Smithsonian Channel in New York City. I just found out today that I will be rooming with my friend from PLA, Liv, in a nice NYU dorm! We are working at the same office and I am thrilled to get valuable career experience as well as the chance to explore the city with my good friend.

And in the coming spring I will be working in Los Angeles! I was accepted into the Penn State Hollywood Program, and I could not be more thrilled to have the west coast experience in the entertainment industry, especially with my amazing friend Christina, who was also accepted.

I have learned and grown so much during this past school year, and I am looking forward to the upcoming experiences through which I know I will grow even more! I can’t wait to see what I will do and who I will meet, and I’m hoping I will look back at this blog post in a few months with new relationships and vital knowledge under my belt. Until then, I will enjoy a few more weeks in good old West Chester!