Penn State alumnus Paul Steinke describes himself as a passionate Philadelphian, and the improvements he spearheads in his beloved hometown have earned him many high-profile awards. And for more than a decade his day job -- the general manager of the city’s historic Reading Terminal Market, one of America’s oldest farmers markets which attracts a whopping 6 million visitors annually -- has kept him in the spotlight.
But Steinke, the Abington spring 2013 commencement speaker, credits much of his success to his days at the campus.
“Penn State propelled me. It formed me and finished me. The way I act and dress — it goes back to my days at Abington,”Steinke, Class of 1986, told a group of Abington seniors last week.
“We are family. We will be here for you. Think of us as a refuge. We care about you, and we are proud of you,” said Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler.
In what has become a tradition, Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler hosts a lunch a few weeks prior to the spring and fall commencements so a small group of seniors can share their experiences and plans with the commencement speaker. At this year’s spring lunch, Steinke offered words of advice and encouragement.
Steinke encouraged the students to get involved in a club or organization outside of their career interests. “It is healthy and mentally stimulating. When you give, you get back even more. That’s the essence of life: being there for people and they will be there for you,” he said.
While at Penn State, Steinke spent an academic year abroad. Soon after graduating he thought he had “grabbed the brass ring” with a well-paying job and a corporate apartment. But it didn’t feel right, and he returned to Philadelphia to eventually accept a position with a startup civic organization.
“I never said no and did whatever it took to get the job done,” he said. “Part of it was luck, and luck figures into your career. Always keep your ear to the ground, your career options open and your networks fresh.”
The Abington seniors who attended the lunch included Jeanette Gloge, a corporate communications major who parlayed an internship at the prestigious Fox Chase Cancer Center into a full-time position, which she will start after graduation in a few weeks.
Soon-to-be alumnus Ryan Steele asked Steinke to remind the new alumni that graduating from Abington means you can go on to great things.
Among the other students at the lunch were Poi Van, a science major who has enrolled in nursing school, and Abington Development and Alumni Relations intern Mabel Alvarez, who plans to pursue a master of business administration and eventually run a nonprofit.
Last week, Sandler reminded the seniors that there will always be a place for them at Abington.
“We are family. We will be here for you. Think of us as a refuge. We care about you, and we are proud of you,” she said.