Penn State Current, Alumni Share Their Happy Valley Stories Over the Years | Way of life


When former student Rachel Fatica returned to State College on a road trip through the Poconos, she was glad she could stop at her favorite cafe, Saint’s Café. Little did she know that this cafe would close shortly after her visit.

Over the years, Penn State and State College have undergone many changes in student culture. Penn State has a long history – not just of the university itself, but of the students who occupy it.

However, former students over the years have participated in many of the same organizations and clubs that exist today.

Ann Silver, a Penn State English graduate in 1967, was herself a contributor to the Daily Collegian.

“I treasured my time at the Daily Collegian. I was the co-credit officer and spent a lot of time in the offices of the Daily Collegian,” Silver said via email. [on] take classified ads and [writing] their.”

Not only did Silver spend her time in the offices of the Daily Collegian, but she also highlighted her time as a member of Penn State Hillel.

For her, being a member of Hillel made her feel like “there was a purpose to it,” meaning it wasn’t just a group of college students. who were hanging around.

Being a part of Hillel has not only made her feel grounded in her religion, but she said the charity work has also made her feel “part of something bigger than [herself].”

Penn State alumnus Mike Silverman graduated from Penn State in 1993 as a real estate specialist, and he said he had been involved in the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity with the real estate club.

“Being involved in Greek life made the university feel relatively small, if you can believe it or not, so it was a great opportunity to be a part of it,” Silverman said.

While at Penn State, Silverman said Greek life was very popular among students and that he would recommend students get involved in Greek life.

Silver was even involved in Greek life during her undergraduate studies, mentioning that she was part of the Iota Alpha Pi sorority.

“Greek life was very popular, although there was a crowd that thought it was cool to be anti-Greek,” Silver said. “For me, it was a warm environment.”

Current senior Ashlyn Fitzgerald said she instantly found a connection to the Alpha Delta Pi sorority on campus when she was recruited as a freshman.


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“I just fell in love with the girls at ADPi, everyone is so kind and genuine,” said Fitzgerald (business owner).

Although she has a great love for her sorority, Fitzgerald said her a cappella group, Savoir Faire, is one of her favorite engagements at Penn State.

One specific memory that comes back to Fitzgerald is playing with Savoir Faire at THON in the Final Four of his freshman year at Penn State.

Rachel Fatica, a 2011 Penn State economics graduate, said serving on the THON finance committee was one of her favorite after-school programs at Penn State.

Connecting with THON through a committee was a “cool way to meet other people you wouldn’t normally interact with in your classes,” Fatica said.

Aside from the shared involvement in extracurricular activities among Penn State students, a big difference between students then and now is how they view downtown State College.

As a real estate agent, Silverman said “a variety of things have changed [downtown]. From a retail perspective, the retail market has changed.

A big difference is the shift from more local stores to chain restaurants, like the installation of Starbucks and Dunkin’ downtown.

Fatica said her favorite place to study on campus was a cafe called Saint’s Café, which recently closed. During his undergraduate years, the Starbucks behind McLanahan never existed.

“Overall, in recent years, [State College] went from local retailers to trending nationally,” Silverman said. “But more importantly, I think the multi-family student housing complexes that have been developed…[has] improved marketing.

When Silver attended Penn State, downtown consisted of “a few small restaurants, maybe a few clothing stores. The [were] maybe a few streets.

Although small, Silver’s favorite restaurant was HiWay Pizza, which is still located on College Avenue.

Silver said that until graduation, it was common for 1960s students to live on campus. From her recollection, most, if not all, of the students lived on campus.

“It’s like a mini-town now,” Silverman said of remembering downtown State College. “There weren’t as many skyscrapers or tall buildings [back then].”

Another notable difference in student life at Penn State is the student housing rules and regulations.

Karyn Cosiol graduated with an elementary education degree just a year after Silver and was even part of the same sorority.

While at Penn State, Cosiol said she remembered having a curfew when she lived upstairs at her sorority in Hastings Hall. Today, all of the sorority floors reside in the South Halls, whereas at the time, some of the sorority floors were in the East Halls.


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Reminiscing about her evenings, Cosiol sometimes said she “almost made” the midnight curfew, meaning she was about to get locked out of the dorm.

“It was security, and it was all girls at the time,” Cosiol said. “They didn’t have any girl-boy dorms.”

In the 1960s, Silver remembers using the underground tunnels to walk to class when it was cold. Or, at least, she “thinks there was [tunnels]given that she graduated so long ago.

Although the lives of Penn State students have changed over time, one thing remains unwavering: the spirit of the school.

Silver is the youngest of three children and all are Penn State graduates.

Fitzgerald has a similar experience, mentioning that both of his parents attended college.

Fatica said she’s always been close to her “close-knit group of Penn State friends” and they come back to Penn State to see a football game almost every year.

When the kids are in the picture for Fatica and her friends, she said she plans to “get them ready for Penn State.”

“Penn State University is probably one of the best experiences of my life,” Silverman said. “Penn State during this time [of the ‘90s] was truly an exceptional experience.”

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