Could it be magic? - Spring 2010 Ivy Leaf Magazine

Ivy Leaf - Spring 2010

Could it be magic?

As the spring 2010 semester comes to a close, our faculty, staff, and students at Penn State Altoona have many reasons to celebrate. Another academic year has reached its successful conclusion, and we have enjoyed the pomp and circumstance associated with the grandest commencement ceremony in our college's history. Before our graduates processed across the stage at the Jaffa Shrine, our commencement speaker, Dr. Zane Gates, spoke movingly about the power of learning and its capacity for transforming lives.

It truly has been a magical academic year at our college. In August, we celebrated the magic of Steve and Nancy Sheetz's remarkable gift - a gift that will affect students' lives for generations. As with Dr. Gates, Steve and Nancy understand intuitively about education's ability to impact our students' futures. Their philanthropy is valuable in an economic sense, to be sure, but Steve and Nancy don't merely talk the talk, as the saying goes; they walk the walk. When our students traveled recently to Philadelphia to compete in a Students in Free Enterprise competition, Steve joined our contestants on the bus, sharing stories about his own experiences with entrepreneurship. There he was - one of the most successful and innovative businessmen of his generation - sitting on the bus, side by side with our students, and shaping the leaders of tomorrow.

But the magic of Penn State Altoona doesn't end there. At our campaign kickoff celebration earlier this month in the Adler Athletic Complex, members of our campus and greater Altoona community came together to celebrate the power of our collaboration—a shared vision that once saw the Altoona Undergraduate Center transformed from the former Ivyside Amusement Park into Penn State Altoona. During our campaign kickoff festivities, we commemorated the many ways in which our shared community efforts have merged together to impact our region's educational possibilities.

At times, the power of higher education may indeed seem like magic. But it is much more, of course, than mere sleight-of-hand or illusion. The awesome power of the good work that we do at our college is not measured by wealth or stature, but by what our students carry into the future after their years at Penn State Altoona have come to a close.

As he delivered his commencement speech, Dr. Gates challenged our graduates to consider their lives beyond the academy. He asked students to continue to be dreamers, arguing that our ability to test the limits of our imaginations is part and parcel of our life's work. Our ultimate success, he reasoned, will be measured by our ability to answer a truly momentous question: "Did I change others' lives because of my existence?" The answer will be much more than magic. It will reflect the power of education made real.

At Penn State Altoona, it's what we do.