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A Teen's View

"We are Penn State" A Studentís View

Danielle Ryan

(10/2012) "We are Penn State." I hear this chanted at every Penn State event. Not many people even know where this slogan came from. Last year at my freshman orientation, all of the incoming students were told about the origin of this famous Penn State chant. It is said that the iconic chant was the 1940ís Penn State football teamís response to segregation amongst other football teams across the country. The Penn State team allegedly cancelled a trip to play another team in protest of not being allowed to have their black teammates play in the game. When the Penn State coach was asked to discuss the matter he simply replied "No, we are Penn State."

Over the past year some very serious accusations have come out regarding certain circumstances that happened at Penn State. I, however, am tired of hearing about all of the negative comments and connotations being thrown at Penn State. Unfortunately though, in todayís society, the media is constantly bombarding us with negative stories about all the terrible things that are happening locally, nationally and globally. Rarely do we ever hear about the positive stories that are taking place. The same has applied to Penn State recently. Over the past year I have only heard about everything that went wrong in this scandal. The Pennsylvania State University seems to be defined solely by this unfortunate incident now, thereby giving the university and its students a negative image. I would instead like to take some time to focus on some of the positive things that have come from Penn State just in the past couple of years.

As I said, not many people take time to look at all of the amazing things that Penn State students and employees have done just in the past couple of years, but I am here to mention a couple of recent examples. Several medical advancements have been made with the help of Penn State researchers and scientists. For example, researchers in the Penn State College of Medicine have found a virus that kills human breast cancer cells in their laboratory research. This non-disease producing virus has the potential to create opportunities for new cancer therapy treatments. According to the researchers involved, breast cancer is the most prevalent cancer in the world which makes the discovery of this virus to be monumental in the field of medicine.

Another amazing discovery by Penn State scientists deals with cancerous tumors. Penn State scientists have developed a new way to "reactivate" cancerous tumor shrinking genes. They tested this strategy on mice recently and the results looked promising. What if this worked? This could lead to the development of a medication that worked as an anti-cancer agent, thereby targeting cancerous tissues in the body.

There was even a team of researchers from Penn State in the seventies that engineered and developed a medical device called the heart-assist pump. This pump was used in patients after heart surgery and helped the heart pump blood efficiently throughout the rest of the body while heart recovered. This invention was named as a life-saving device after it was successfully used in several patients recovering from various heart surgeries.

They have not just made medical advances, however. Penn State researchers have been studying environmental changes as well. I am sure most of you are aware of the more recent invasion of the pesky stink bugs. Penn State scientists are currently part of a project that is specifically researching brown marmorated stink bugs. They hope to develop control tactics in the form of integrated pest management that will help minimize the population of these insects. This will hopefully lead to less crop damage thereby yielding better fruit crops.

A Penn State research team has been studying a possible correlation between polar bear evolution and climate change. The researchers have found that there is a definite link between polar bear numbers since their species split from their ancestors, the brown bear, and the climate changes that their environment experienced. For instance, the polar bear population dropped during warmer times in earthís history, but flourished during the colder temperatures. Studying these patterns could lead to a better understanding of this species and how it may survive in the future.

Think a moment about all of these amazing feats that Penn State researchers and scientists have achieved. This is not to say of course that other universities across the nation have not done some equally amazing things as well. I am only trying to say that there are numerous positive things that have been coming out of Penn State, and itís a shame that we have let these go by the wayside and instead have focused our attention on a more tragic event. I think that it is time to begin looking at everything good that is happening right now, at all the positive research that is coming out of Penn State research teams and scientists.

From the very beginning, The Pennsylvania State University has been a strong institution. I think that the "We are Penn State" chant can carry us through any tough situation, even the one that we are currently being faced with. Anyone who belongs to the Penn State community, whether they are students, faculty or alumni, needs to remain courageous in standing behind their beloved university. I believe that in order to move forward from this we need to look at everything positive that has come from Penn State.

*All research articles are credited via The Pennsylvania State University database; Penn State Live and Research Penn State websites.

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