Five years ago in November, my heart sank along with those of countless others, when it was revealed that Jerry Sandusky was said to have committed unspeakable crimes.
I just couldn’t imagine my alma mater—truly the most positive place I’d ever been to or heard of—being caught up in such a horrific situation. My heart ached for the children and families involved. And I couldn’t stop crying for days.
I’d spent 10 years of my early career as a clinical psychologist, fighting for child victims of sexual abuse. My late-’80s undergraduate experience at Penn State had inspired that career choice. I learned during my time in Happy Valley that the resilience of the human spirit is more powerful than any evil or harm that can come to a child. I learned that with courage, support and guidance, even those who encountered the worst imaginable suffering could find healing.
Since graduating, I’ve proudly borne my Penn State blue, and would share with anyone who would listen why this amazing institution was second to none.
But on that November day in 2011, the sterling shine of my school, my team, our beloved coach, and everything I’d believed in, felt the weight of a dark cloud above it.
Tom and I went to the Penn State-Nebraska game that following weekend, despite the circumstances. The on-field prayer shared by both teams was one of the top five emotional experiences of my life.
Since that November weekend, I have been proud and excited to watch Penn State rebuild. Some of the same young men who chose to stay with the team are on the playing field today. But I didn’t realize until this moment what the Rose Bowl means for me, now five years after the nightmare began…
Today, I watch Penn State compete valiantly in the Rose Bowl. I feel a different kind of pride.
Not just for my team and the fact that they overcame a 13-point deficit to take the lead in the second half. But that pride comes from the steadfast focus on the values that Penn State is built upon, and the unbreakable spirit that Penn State represents.
Roar, Lions, Roar