University Park, IL,
11:20 AM

Before Jax, there was Pierre

How the Plucky Penguin Became GSU’s Unofficial Mascot

Everyone has a dream. For Pierre in 2010, it was to be the first penguin to visit the North Pole. Having accomplished his quest with much less fanfare and difficulty than he anticipated (chartering three planes, which he covered using frequent flier miles), he decided to head back to the Antarctic. Ironically, his journey home, about which he’d given little thought, turned out to be life-changing.

Seeking some exercise and fresh air after a train ride through Canada, Pierre swam southward through the Great Lakes (highly recommended for migration on Yelp). During a break in Chicago, he waddled over to Millennium Park and admired the Bean, where he further admired his own reflection and was glad to be wearing his best tuxedo.

After taking in the Art Institute, Pierre was tired and decided another train was more certain than hitchhiking. He boarded a Metra Electric train and dozed off. About an hour later, Pierre was awakened by the conductor announcing “University Park, end of the line!” Pierre, ever the impulsive and spontaneous type, exited the train, and headed towards the cornfields along Stuenkel Road.

The smell of fish tickled his bill and Pierre felt his stomach grumble. He followed the scent to Governors State marveling at the sculpture park along his trek, marched through the Hall of Governors, and enjoyed a meal in the café.

Back outside near the pond, he mulled his next steps. Slowly, a crowd of curious, friendly people formed around him. The quiet was broken when someone called out, “He matches our school colors! He’d be the perfect unofficial mascot!”

“Yes, yes!” the crowd agreed.

Pierre hopped on a table and held up a wing. “Whoa, whoa, whoa. While I am flattered, and you all seem like lovely people, and this is a lovely campus, what would I have to do?”

“And he speaks English!” shouted someone from the back.

“Stay here and go to all our events to foster school spirit! Open house, table tennis games, whatever!”

Pierre thought for a moment. “Friends, again I am flattered, but I cannot commit to that. I am longing for my home in the Antarctic.”

“Would you be willing to rep us on your travels home, share the word about Governors State?” someone asked.

“As long as I get home before my 10th birthday,” Pierre said, “I’d be happy to.”

The crowd roared with excitement, with dozens and dozens of faculty, staff, and students pledging to get Pierre around the world and eventually home.

From China to the Caribbean, Niagara Falls to the White House, and the pyramids in Egypt to the Acropolis in Greece, Pierre traveled the world. He even went to Hollywood, where he stood on the star of Burgess Meredith, a cousin whose TV credits included a gig on “Batman” years before.

Student life recently scanned the collection of the photos Pierre took on his journey, and will be showcasing some of the best ones at Homecoming this November.

There are even rumors that Pierre might stop by to say hello and chat with Jax…

GSU alumni, students, their families and friends are invited to join Pierre as GSU celebrates Homecoming 2018 from Sunday, November 4, to Saturday, November 10. This year’s theme is “Salute to the Past, Cheers to the Future,” which embodies the essence of the university as GSU continues to build upon it great legacy and celebrate its transformation towards higher heights and deeper depths of being a public square for our rich diverse community of students, faculty, staff, and alumni.

Click here for a full schedule of events.