VALLEY Asked Penn State What They Are Grateful For

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From studying for finals and completing group assignments to preparing for the holidays at home, this can be an extremely busy time of the year. It’s really easy to rush through life in order to get everything done; however, it’s also important to take a moment to slow down and reflect.

Research has found  that practicing gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness. In fact, a Harvard Health article states that gratitude “helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.”

In the past, VALLEY has done an article asking Penn State students what they are grateful for — and we are bringing it back this year! In the spirit of the holiday, what better time than now to count your blessings and recap what you are grateful for this season.

What are Penn Staters Grateful for this Year?

Since the pandemic has prevented us from being with loved ones for so long, many students are grateful to finally spend the holidays with extended family. 

Autumn McDonald, fourth-year student majoring in psychology says, “I am grateful for the ability to be with and celebrate the holidays with the people I love this year.”

“This year I am especially grateful for the ability to be able to celebrate the holiday season with family and friends safely,” says Emily Laird, fourth-year student majoring in Spanish and HDFS.

Similarly, Beth Powderly, fourth-year student majoring in biology, says she is grateful to “celebrate the holidays with my grandparents again!”

“I am grateful that I have friends and family around me after the past year,” Sydney Wetzel, second-year-student majoring in Telecommunications said. “I am grateful that the world is taking measures to help us get back on track. Almost everyone I know feels like they lost a year due to the pandemic but I am grateful that I still have so many more years to come. And I am grateful that I am here and can take advantage of every opportunity I can, knowing it could be taken away like before. But most importantly I am grateful to be alive and that my loved ones are all here with me as well.”

Whatever you are grateful for is important and special, no matter how big or small.

“I am grateful for my dog Jacob (an adorable and emotional corgi),” says Eve Francisco, a third-year student studying early childhood education.

“I am most grateful for the right to vote because it paved the way for women’s rights,” Magdalena Nygard, a third-year student majoring in public relations, said. “I’m grateful for my siblings, even though they annoy me, I still love them. I am grateful for Stouffer’s mac and cheese because it never fails to make me feel better.”

Many students are especially grateful for all the people in their life this Thanksgiving.

“I am grateful for Facebook Roomie Groups for helping me find my best friend!” says Leah Cunningham, fourth-year student majoring in supply chain management. 

Jacqui Clair, third-year-student majoring in public relations says, “I am grateful to have family and friends who support me in every aspect of my life.”

“I am grateful for my friends, who have been so supportive and caring for me. I am incredibly fortunate to have them in my life,” says Moe Kawasaki, third-year-student majoring in psychology and sociology.

“While I will always be grateful for the opportunities that come from a higher education, and that I am fortunate enough to have many of my basic needs and wants met, the aspect of my life that I have felt the most gratitude for recently are the amazing people I’ve met at Penn State and those that are supporting me in my transition here,” says Mia Heren, first-year architectural engineering student. “I have laughed so much and have created strong bonds with so many people the past couple months. I feel welcomed and appreciated by them. I couldn’t imagine how I would manage through school without these people making me smile and giving me the strength to keep putting in my best effort.”

Throughout your day, take the time to note what (and who) you are grateful for. Whether it’s something as small as the yummy meal you had for dinner, or something as big as the health of your family, there’s no better time than the holidays to show how thankful you are for the things, people and places in your life.


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