John Eveland searched everywhere for something that reminded him of his Penn State days.
It took him a while, though he did find that blue-and-white connection.
Eveland grew up in rural Pennsylvania and attended two Penn State campuses, first enrolling at Hazleton before earning his College of Engineering degree from University Park.
He made the most of his college days and waned to reunite with like-minded alumni, a fairly straight-forward goal.
So, why did Eveland’s search take longer than you’d expect. Simple. He lives near Columbus.
Growing up, Eveland saw Penn State everywhere. Then, it was all about the Buckeyes once he moved to Ohio. As Eveland said, he wanted to hear about the Nittany Lions.
He stopped by a Central Ohio Chapter watch party, and found what he was looking for: a sense of Happy Valley amid a sea of scarlet and grey.
“After a few more game watches, I started attending board meetings and wanted to learn more,” Eveland said. “Staying connected was important. I know it’s important to a lot of other alumni, and the chapter is a great way to keep that connection.”
Eveland, a 1992 Penn State graduate, first got involved with the chapter about a decade ago. He recently saw an opportunity to help even more when a leadership position opened up; so Eveland decided to step up and accept the role as chapter president, beginning his new role in August.
It was also a natural next step for someone who maximized his time at Penn State.
“I got a great education while I was there, and the people and the experiences I had outside of the classroom were also really important to me,” Eveland said. “I was coming from a little town, so there weren’t a lot of people moving in and out of my life. When I got to the Hazleton campus, that all changed.”
Eveland then transferred to University Park, and his social circle expanded. He met new people, enjoyed ever-broadening activities, all while completing his college days in a meaningful way.
“Staying connected to Penn State reminds me of those experiences and keeps me open to having more of those experiences,” he said.
This weekend will be an exciting time for the chapter, Eveland said, with Penn State and Ohio State set for a Top-10 battle at The Horseshoe on Saturday. Kickoff is set for noon on FOX.
The chapter will host an alumni event Friday night at a local restaurant, with the event drawing 300-plus attendees in recent years. It’s a chance for Eveland and his group “to put Penn State in a positive spotlight,” he said, with the added bonus of meeting new folks who might be learning about the Central Ohio Chapter for the first time.
Fall is the busiest time of the year for the chapter, with hosting watch parties, though there are also happy hour events and THON fundraisers for members to participate in year-round. There’s even an annual canoe or kayak trip in the spring, along with the yearly student sendoff picnic. Eveland said the chapter also looks for ways to volunteer for local charities.
This weekend’s event will also benefit the chapter’s Franklyn C. Ingram Spirit Scholarship, which benefits an incoming deserving freshman from the area. All the scholarship funds come directly from the support of local alumni and friends.
That type of thoughtfulness and caring are hallmarks for Eveland’s group. Even for something as simple as asking for a good place to grab dinner or something to do before or after the game, the Central Ohio Chapter has you covered.
“Our chapter is here to provide support to Penn State alumni and their families,” Eveland said. “Anyone who comes in from out of town, we want them to feel welcome and that they have somewhere go and be around other Penn Starters. In this town, that can be hard.”
There are nearly 300 Alumni Association affiliate groups, spanning geographic regions, academic colleges, and shared interests. You can view a full list and connect with Penn Staters anytime at alumni.psu.edu/groups.