There’s nothing like that sudden rush of excitement: the sight of a familiar blue and white swoop in the distance. Whether it’s stitched carefully on a sweatshirt or shining prominently above the brim of a hat, there’s no mistaking the sign of a Nittany Lion. You’ve found a Penn State alumnus. But, what’s next? Do you walk up and say hello? Introduce yourself? Or quietly admire their Penn State garb from afar? Don’t sweat it. Follow this simple guide to make the most of your next Nittany Lion sighting.
Number One: Be Confident and Take Initiative
After spotting a fellow Nittany Lion, your first instinct should always be calling out the “We Are” chant. Odds are both of you aren’t sporting blue and white gear at the same time (they don’t recognize you yet!), so take initiative and let them know you’re family. Feeling a little nervous to start the conversation? Have no fear! Penn Stater’s love Penn Stater’s. VALLEY knows they’re just dying to meet you. Go ahead and say, “We Are!”
Number Two: Say It Loud and Say It Proud
First and foremost, when calling out the “We Are” chant, say it loud and say it proud. Whether you’re going for a walk in the park or just browsing through the grocery store, make sure the recipient of your chant can hear you. You don’t want to miss out on a perfectly good opportunity to say hello.
Number Three: Wait for a Reply—A Tale of Two Scenarios
Worst Case Scenario: Brush It Off
The worst thing that can happen after calling out the “We Are” chant is being met with a blank stare and furrowed eyebrows. It’s sad. It’s awkward—but do not fret. It has happened to the best of us. The supposed Penn State alumnus and wearer of blue and white apparel was likely a fake fan or spouse who, unfortunately, did not realize what they were signing up for, but it’s okay! Brush it off. Smile and go about your day. VALLEY and the rest of the Penn State family are here to pat you on the back. Keep that Nittany Lion heart up on your sleeve and try again next time.
Best Case Scenario: A Pleasant Surprise
However, the best thing (and also the most likely thing) that can happen after calling out the “We Are” chant is turning a complete stranger into a new connection. “Penn State!” is replied and smiles will surely be exchanged. Congratulations! You’ve done it! You have successfully found another Penn Stater. Let all the warm and fuzzy feelings sink in. Now, you decide what’s next.
Number Four: Gauge the Situation
While VALLEY highly recommends taking a few minutes to stop and talk with your newfound friend, it’s not always possible in each situation (which is okay!). Alumni may be out on their morning run, picking up a coffee in the Starbucks drive-through, or even hurrying to their car because they’re late for work. As a rule of thumb, if the alumnus looks busy or is just too far away to strike up a conversation, send them off on a positive note. Simply smile and tell them to have a good day.
Number Five: Conversation Starters
On the other hand, if you find yourself with the unique opportunity to stop and talk with an alumnus, definitely do so. Here are a few conversation starters to help you get the ball rolling!
- What year did you graduate?
- What campus did you study at?
- What did you study?
- Where did you used to live on campus?
- Have you visited State College recently? Have plans to visit soon?
- Has anyone else in your family attended Penn State?
- When was the last football game you attended?
- What is your favorite Berkey Creamery ice cream flavor?
- Were you involved with THON? What was THON like when you attended?
Number Six: A Graceful Farewell
After exchanging stories and reminiscing about Happy Valley, as always, be polite when it’s time to bid them farewell. Say that it was very nice to meet them and that you enjoyed talking with them. Thank them for any insights they may have provided, and if you really hit off, maybe even exchange phone numbers! Who knows? Maybe this is the start of a new friendship? No matter how the story ends, tell them to have a good day after saying goodbye, which is key to any graceful farewell.
One of the trademark characteristics of Penn State is the sheer size and expanse of the alumni network. With nearly 700,000 living alumni, you can find Penn Stater’s in the most unlikely places, so be on the lookout! Keep these simple steps in mind to make the most of your next Penn State alumni sighting. You never know who you’re going to meet.