A Heart in the Highlands

by Jacob Wucher

Since its founding in the late 1800s, the Highlands has been a staple to the State College and Penn State communities providing a home to families as well as fraternities. Many have passed through this historic community, all with different goals and aspirations; however, one thing they all had in common was that, during their time in the Highlands, they were a part of a close-knit community who cared for one another.

I now have the pleasure of calling the Highlands my home, and I have witnessed firsthand why this is such a special community. Fred Rogers, once said, “All of us, at some time or other, need help. Whether we are giving or receiving help, each one of us has something valuable to bring to this world. That’s what connects us as neighbors—in our own way, each one of us is a giver and a receiver.” I believe this quote sums up the atmosphere that is present throughout the Highlands. In my time living here I have witnessed many acts of kindness and gestures of good faith. I would expect nothing less from the reputation this community has earned.

Sigma Phi Epsilon

There are many things that make the Highlands unique. One is how diverse it is. If you were to walk down the street you would first notice how different the houses are. You may find yourself looking at a mid-century Spanish-style house—the Sig Ep house I call home—which can house 40.  Turn your head and you may see colonial revival architecture with grand pillars that can house 50 fraternity brothers. And right in between, there could be a modest cape cod home with a happily married couple of 20 years. What makes this place so special is the range of the people who live here. Per Fred Rogers, “each one of us is a giver and a receiver” in this neighborhood you will find just that, the young and able fraternity brothers may be seen lending a hand to the older residents, whether it be tidying up their yards or fixing up a broken fence, and in return, they will usually be awarded a glass of lemonade and nicely cooked meal.  An example of a perfect give-and-take relationship.

In addition to single family homes and small apartment complexes, the Highlands is home to a several of fraternities. One would think that because, there are so many fraternities around, it would be loud and messy. However, I would say that the Highlands neighborhood is fairly calm and clean. I believe the people who live in the Highlands take pride in keeping it well maintained and safe. I feel that the fact that there are fraternities here just increases the pride that the students take in keeping this place in pristine condition. Even though their time here may be temporary, their fraternity houses will stand long after they depart, therefore the drive to keep this community in the best condition possible remains for the sake of brothers to follow.

The Highlands holds a special place in the State College community, especially to those who are involved in fraternity life, as well as the families who reside here and call this place a permanent home. I am very lucky to have been given the chance to stay in this community for some time. Not many are as fortunate as I to experience such an outstanding atmosphere. When I leave, I will take with me the many lessons that I have learned from my time living the Highlands life: the importance of being a good neighbor, for example, or lending a hand when you are able to, just to name two of all of the many lessons learned while living in this special place that I will take with me for the rest of my life. As I get older I will begin my search to find a permanent home to settle down with my family; my only hope is to find a place that compares to the Highlands. I know that will be a very difficult task considering there are not many places out there that have such a rich history, such a diverse community, or the heart of the people who call the Highlands home.

I am sure the many who have ventured through these streets throughout the years have many fond memories of this outstanding place. What makes it so special is that, whether you graduated 5 years ago or 65 years ago, this place has remained virtually the same; the same historic homes still stand, the same fraternities continue to prosper, and the heart of the Highlands still remains.

Jacob Wucher

Jacob Wucher is from Sunrise, Florida.  He is a junior at Penn State majoring in Industrial Engineering.  He received Sigma Phi Epsilon’s Balanced Man Scholarship and takes photography for Sig Ep.  After he graduates. he hopes to work for a consulting firm and travel the world.