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This past weekend, No. 4 Penn State (5-0, 2-0) dominated yet another team. This time, the Lions trounced Indiana 45-14 and yet again did not allow the opponent to score a single point in the first quarter. Penn State also boasts the stat that it outscores its opponents 73-0 thus far.

While many of you read my pregame articles and game recaps each week (thank you!), I know that as the writer, I remain rather anonymous, which is how it should be most of the time. This time around, though, you get to know a little bit about what being a Penn State and Big Ten alumna means to me.

I graduated from Penn State this past year and was lucky enough to lock in a job in my field in Denver, Colorado. A bit of a drive from our lovely State College, no? Kansas took the longest, taking a whopping 10 hours to cross that great state.

I work for a big corporation, with nearly 2,500 employees in our office. That’s a lot of people, and a lot of faces and names to learn in the span of a few months. So far, I’ve mastered most of my department and even made a few friends along the way, too.

Which brings me to the point of this article – “What Being Big Ten Means to Me.” There are a shocking amount of Big Ten alumni at my job, despite it being over a thousand miles away from the nearest Big Ten school.

Funny enough, a lot of us Big Ten’ers have gravitated toward each other. We were all out for dinner the other day when someone jokingly recited the Big Ten slogan: “Big Life, Big Stage, Big Ten.” Although it was said in jest as a reminder of our big, often rowdy, alma maters, I took a special pride in being part of that mantra.

At Big Ten schools, even the ones we have rivalries with, there is a special vibe. A bond between all of us. We all know the hustle and grit that it takes to make it through our classwork, athletics and other activities day in and day out. We know how to work hard, celebrate hard and love each other.

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Those of us who went to a Big Ten school are thinking ahead – “Big Life.” We know the friendships, connections and bonds we make now are the ones that will mean the most to us even after our days as students have passed.

“Big Stage.” Big Ten’ers know that we are always under a microscope, being watched by sports critics, academic critics and students from other schools. While the misconception stands that Big Ten schools are not academically inclined, we accept that challenge and showcase our academic and athletic prowesses on a big stage for the rest of the country to admire.

“Big Ten.” Remember that electric buzz that hangs around campus the first few weeks when you get back to school? The tangible excitement on game day? That’s unique to us, my friends. Big Ten people have each other’s backs because when all final whistles are blown, when all the academic competitions end, we know that there is a glue that holds all of us who hustled, who worked long nights and multiple jobs, who opened their minds to different schools of thought, together in a way no other conference can understand.

Next weekend, Penn State heads to Illinois to take on Northwestern in yet another Big Ten showdown. While we all will be rooting for our Lions, I hope we can all take some special pride in all the teams in our conference for the rest of this season, too. After all, we’re all living a big life, on a big stage, proud of being Big Ten.

Kristin is a member of the Class of 2017 at Penn State University. She is a Public Relations and Spanish double major who will be relocating to Denver post-grad. Kristin is passionate about writing stories that foster a sense of community through athletics. When she is not writing, Kristin is an avid triathlete who is always game for a run with friends.

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