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Know thy enemy, Rutgers: Why they love Penn State

Yes, this week they’re the “enemy”. But they are also fans - nay, people - who love their school. And as we’re doing all season, we’re telling you why. Today: Dear Old State!

Ohio State v Penn State Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

We love Rutgers. Why? Lots of reasons, personal, professional, emotional. But the people we play, their fans, love their schools, too. Why? Each week we’ll tell their story. Today with go with this week’s opponent, Penn State. Doing the honors, this week we have my cousin, Karen Slagle. She is a dear person to be nice! We are....

OTB: Why did you decide to go to Penn State?

Karen: My father was a long-time Penn State fan, and my older sister was attending Penn State when it came time for me to apply to college. Being a rebellious teen, I applied to both Penn State and Pitt, just to annoy my family. Fortunately, in a moment of clarity I chose to attend Penn State, instead of Pitt, and have never regretted that decision!

OTB: Do you love Penn State now and why? What makes it great in your mind?

Karen: Penn State enjoys a long and storied history of scholarly, philanthropic, art and athletic excellence. In times of success and in times of trouble, Penn State loyalists proudly stood by their university. I love Penn State now as much as ever.

OTB: Were you a sports fan while at PSU ?

Karen: Yes! As a student, I attended everyhome football game (and tailgate!), made a memorable all-girl road trip to Notre Dame, and attended the 1979 Sugar Bowl against Alabama. Throughout college, I worked as a life guard and often worked during swim and diving meets. I attended soccer matches, basketball games, gymnastics meets, andparticipated in intra-mural sports.

OTB: What was the best thing about being on campus?

Karen: Penn State University is settled in the beautiful, and happy valley surrounded by seven mountains, that provides an amazing vista four seasons of the year. Between the ages of 18 and 21 yrs old, I had the good fortune of living in this beautiful environment with 25,000 to 30,000 friends and acquaintances, all between the ages of 18ish and 25ish. Never again will life be so sweet, so fun, so full of promise, possibilities, activities, and interests.

Because of the university’s somewhat remote location, most students did not leave on weekends. This impacted the climate of the campus, and encouraged the feeling of community amongst students. There was always something to do and people to do it with.

OTB: What was the best thing to happen to you (or in general) while you were at State ?

Karen: Meeting my late husband, Harry xo

OTB: Tell me one or two really cool or important things about State College?

Karen: It is not New Brunswick (:-) [Editor’s Note: she’s my cousin - I’m letting that one go!], and you didn’t need a car. Grilled Stickies at Ye Olde College Diner on Sunday mornings; guarding the Lion before homecoming game; the deer and pig pens, the rose gardens…...

OTB: How does/did PSU make you feel a part of the school as an undergraduate? How about now as an alum?

Karen: From the moment you enter the campus, you become a Nittany Lion. The blue and white are everywhere. The Nittany Lion prominently displayed. Opportunities to attend events from a vast array of sporting to cultural events are available. No matter what your interests or talent, there are always opportunities available for you to shine as a Nittany Lion. Additionally, Penn State encourages its students to give back to the community at large. One of its most successful endeavors is the dance marathon for pediatric cancer. This event raises millions of dollars for cancer research and gives Penn State students the opportunity to give back to the community.

As a Penn State alum, the tradition continues. Nittany Lions bleed blue and white. Once a Nittany Lion, always a Nittany Lion. We are loyal to Penn State to the end. Returning to campus, one feels the same pride in this institution that we felt as an undergraduate. There is a continued commitment to integrity, pride, and a higher standard of conduct. We pride ourselves on this.

OTB: How important is it to you personally being a graduate of Penn State ?

Karen: I have an undergraduate degree from Penn State, and two graduate degrees from Rutgers. Rutgers is a fine institution, but Penn State will always be the Alma Mater I identify with.

OTB: Anything else you feel would be important to know.

Karen: Like many other great universities, Penn State has an impressive faculty, amazing facilities, bright students with diverse interests; it provides unlimited opportunities and the campus is beautiful and expansive. The University instills lifetime loyalty in its students, and a conviction to become lifelong learners.

However, what I love most about Penn State is the deep pride, rich history, strong devotion and loyalty of her alumni, staff, students, and myriad of many other Penn State loyalists. I am extremely proud to be part of this community!

Penn Staters display their pride 'loud and proud.’ Virtually anywhere you travel, you readily see others wearing their blue & white gear, typically followed by a shout out of, “We Are……” To the dismay of my children, when traveling anywhere, this is very often the opening to lengthy and energized discussions with strangers about time spent at Penn State, and conversations about our great University!

I am extremely proud to be a Penn State alumna, and revel in returning to campus any chance I get. We Are……Penn State!!!

Penn State at a glance

History: In 1855 the Commonwealth chartered Farmers' High School of Pennsylvania as one of the nation's first colleges of agricultural science, with a goal to apply scientific principles to farming. Centre County became the site of the new college in response to a gift of 200 acres from gentleman farmer and ironmaster James Irvin of Bellefonte. In 1862, the school's name was changed to the Agricultural College of Pennsylvania and then to Pennsylvania State College in 1874. It became PSU in 1953.

Enrollment: 40,742 at University Park, 29,938 at all other campuses

Location: State College is the largest designated borough in Pennsylvania. It is the largest settlement in Centre County and one of the principal cities of the greater State College-DuBois Combined Statistical Area with a combined population of 236,577. In the 2010 census, the borough population was 42,034 with approximately 105,000 living in the borough plus the surrounding townships often referred to locally as the "Centre Region."

Academics: The university offers more than 160 majors in its degree programs through 12 colleges at University Park in addition to the College of Medicine at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center, and the Dickinson Schools of Law of the Pennsylvania State University: Penn State Law and Dickinson Law.

Athletics: 16 men’s and 15 women’s sports