Support a local business. Share an inspiring quote. Tell someone a joke to brighten his/her day. Penn State students performed these small, yet meaningful, random acts of kindness Wednesday on what would have been John William McKenzie Brady’s ninth birthday. John, more commonly known as Mack, was Schreyer Honors College Dean Christian Brady’s son, who died on New Year’s Eve from a rare blood infection.
Brady released a statement on New Year’s to inform others of the tragic event: “Words cannot begin to express the deep, wrenching sorrow that our family feels at the sudden and unexpected death of our boy. He contracted a blood infection on Sunday and by last night had returned to God. He was a special treasure, a true blessing sent from God.”
Following the release of the statement, the Schreyer Honors College Student Council organized “Mack’s Day of Kindness” for his birthday. “We had a lot of students come forward saying they wanted to do something and help,” said Erin Platz, president of the student council. “Even though the students did not know Mack at all—I did not know him either—we are very close to Dean Brady. He really makes an effort to get to know all of the students in the Honors College.”
Random acts of kindness were written on slips of paper and tacked on boards in Atherton and Simmons halls. Students were encouraged to pass by either hall and take a slip of paper to complete throughout the day. (Click on the photos for a closer look.)
At 5:30, students and faculty were invited back to the Atherton Hall lobby to write a message for the Brady family on luminaria bags, which were lit up by fake candles and placed in the Atherton courtyard. The Schreyer Honors College Student Council hopes to make “Mack’s Day of Kindness” an annual event to help the Brady family through what will be a difficult day.
The Schreyer Honors College Student Council created a Facebook event and the hashtag #MacksDayofKindness, which was used on Twitter throughout the day. One example from Twitter user Anthony Shelton: “Just thanked anonymously a great member of our @penn_state faculty for all that she’s done for our community. #WeAre #MacksDayofKindness.”
Mack was a huge soccer fan, which led the Brady family to establish a scholarship in Mack’s honor. The scholarship will benefit a member of the Penn State men’s soccer team.
Brady, his wife, Elizabeth, and their daughter, Isabel, stopped by Atherton Hall during the event. They were grateful to all of the students in remembering their son and were touched by what the students made possible.
Kimberly Valarezo, intern
It’s a new semester, so that means we’ve got a new intern. And, as usual, we’re giving her some space to introduce herself. Meet Kimberly Valarezo.
Two-and-a-half years ago, I packed about 80 percent of my closet, gave my dog a tight squeeze, and said goodbye to the town I had called home my entire life, Union City, N.J. As my dad drove me out of New Jersey and into the heart of Pennsylvania, the familiar tall buildings and crammed houses slowly started to disappear and in their place came farms, fields, and cows.
Unlike so many of my other friends, I had visited State College only twice before move-in day; one of those visits was FTCAP. I didn’t have any memories of attending Saturday football games in Beaver Stadium or getting a scoop, or three, of ice cream at the Creamery. To be honest, I’d never really heard of Penn State until my junior year of high school, yet there I was, ready to move into what would be my home for the next four years of my life.
I chose Penn State because of its wide selection of majors, perfect for someone who was undecided like I was. It wasn’t until the fall semester of my sophomore year that I found my perfect niche in print journalism. Writing became an outlet, and after I enrolled in the College of Communications, everything fell into place.
Before I knew it, I began applying to internships all over New York City. During spring break of my sophomore year, I received an email from the assistant fashion editor at Marie Claire magazine asking me to go in for an interview. Before I knew it, I was at my first day at Marie Claire. My summer there was amazing. I made great contacts and connections, I was sent on two photo shoots, and I was also sent on these two TV segments, the first for QVC and the second for NBC’s New York Live.
My connections at Marie Claire led me to my second internship during this past Christmas break at O, The Oprah Magazine. Although my time there was short, I still learned a great deal about magazines and made even more connections, some with Penn State alumni.
I think the first time I truly understood what it means to “bleed blue and white” was when I was ferociously defending my school against anyone who tried to make it seem like it was anything less than what it is. I was proud to be a Nittany Lion, and still am, but I now understand the love that so many people have for this school. I now see the countless reasons why so many people love to stay connected to Penn State long after their graduation.
Even though I don’t have long-standing ties to this school, my love for it continues to grow each day that I am here. I don’t know what will happen a year, five years, or 10 years from now, but I know that one day in the future, I will be opening my very own issue of The Penn Stater magazine as an alumna, and I’ll be proud to know that I had the responsibility and privilege to contribute to one of many traditions here in Happy Valley.
Kimberly Valarezo, intern