I’ve worked for Penn State for a number of years. My first job was as a staff assistant, and I worked my way up from there. It wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up, but it was a good job with benefits–and when you have a family, benefits are a Good Thing. (Ask Martha.) One of the biggest “perks” is the educational benefit which allows employees a 75% tuition break on Penn State courses. This is not a benefit of which I took immediate advantage. We had a young family and priorities revolved around raising them. As kids grew and started to transition into middle school,
however, coordinating people and schedules started to get a little easier and I
was able to take the occasional moment to stop and catch my breath, and
It was during one of those taking stock moments I realized I wasn’t very happy with where I
was and what I was doing.
So I went back to school and began to fill in the blanks with continuing education business courses. It wasn’t what I wanted to be when I grew up, but it was the practical solution to a practical problem, and I was being a practical girl. I did, however, love my MIS courses, and was horrified to discover they were being phased out. Instead, they were being replaced with a new field of courses, the mysterious IST courses. Information Sciences and Technology. I couldn’t even find information on these courses, they were so new. One day, trying to schedule my last two MIS courses, I actually got my hands on a copy of this new School of IST mission statement. It was like it was written specifically for me. For the first time ever, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. And I knew I’d found the field of study I wanted to be in. Now to find a way to get in.
Enter Stan Supon.
Stan was the Senior Advisor for this new school. I scheduled a meeting with him and he was lovely and pleasant, and in the most lovely and pleasant way possible, told me unfortunately, I couldn’t be an IST student. As a newly created school with a newly created curriculum, IST was only accepting true freshmen and unfortunately (sweet smile here), I didn’t fall into that category. I smiled back. Sweetly. Because, seriously, this guy sitting across from me was underestimating the determination and drive sitting across from him. I had finally found where I was supposed to be, and I was in no way going to let this lovely and pleasant man stand in my way. I vividly remember standing at the end of that first meeting, shaking his hand, smiling, and asking if it was okay to stop in from time to time in the event that requirements changed? His first mistake: He said, Certainly. I was welcome to take IST courses to fulfill my business requirements.
And thus began the stalking of Stan Supon for the next two years of our lives.
Each semester, I’d pop in to say hi. We’d have a lovely chat, and I’d tell him what I was taking. I think it only took Stan half a year to realize I wasn’t going to go away. I always popped in, so he couldn’t be conveniently in a meeting or out of the office. And every time I popped in, Stan was always lovely and pleasant–if a little fearful of my persistence. The funny thing is, I started really enjoying our chats, and somewhere along the way, Stan ended up advising me. It almost seemed to parallel a scene from The Incredibles, where Bob ends up quietly telling a client how she might get around the system while loudly proclaiming there’s nothing he can do.
Then came the day he proposed that the Dean make an exception to the rule and admit me.
I’m an IST grad because of it.
Certain people and moments become pivotal to our lives, and whose
impact is felt forever. Today I pay homage to one of these people who will forever be an important part of my life, because he helped me make radical changes in mindset and direction, and he believed I could succeed. Stan has been a gatekeeper, an advisor, a mentor, a diehard supporter and, most importantly, a friend. He was at my graduation party then to celebrate with me. I will be at his retirement party today to celebrate with him. I applaud his significant contributions to IST and Penn State in general, but applaud his significant contributions to me specifically. I will miss seeing Stan early Saturday mornings at The Waffle Shop as we each have early morning breakfasts with our spouses. I’d like to think that even his wife has gotten used to me. (Probably not, but I’d like to think so.) I also offer my congratulations and wish nothing but the best for Stan and his
wife as they enjoy the next phase of their lives together. He’s definitely
earned it. But I will miss touching base and seeing that lovely and pleasant man smile sweetly at me.
Because Stan is, most definitely, The Man.