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College’s ‘defining moment’ launches grads into waiting workforce

Punctuating the ultimate celebration of student achievement, Pennsylvania College of Technology held a dizzying dozen commencement exercises from May 14-16 to provide a memorable occasion for students and their families while adhering to federal and state guidelines. The proceedings – four on Friday, five on Saturday and three on Sunday – simultaneously honored Fall 2020 and Spring 2021 graduates and featured speeches by a rotating trio of class representatives: Joseph M. Morrin, of Morrisville, graphic design; Ethan M. McKenzie, of Muncy, software development and information management; and Olivia C. Ferki, Richboro, plastics and polymer engineering technology. (Each of the three spoke at his or her major’s assigned ceremony; recorded versions of their remarks were rotated among the other nine.)

– Photos by Cindy Davis Meixel, writer/photo editor, and Jennifer A. Cline, writer/magazine editor (unless otherwise noted)

President Gilmour celebrates the graduates' success, as well as their COVID-era compliance that enabled on-campus instruction and in-person commencement. "On behalf of the entire Penn College community, I thank you wholeheartedly for your steadfast commitment to this outcome. Navigating this year has tested your mettle again and again, and you never wavered," she said. "Your perseverence in the face of previously unimaginable adversity has brought us to this defining moment. You can and should be justifiably proud of that accomplishment."
President Gilmour celebrates the graduates’ success, as well as their COVID-era compliance that enabled on-campus instruction and in-person commencement. “On behalf of the entire Penn College community, I thank you wholeheartedly for your steadfast commitment to this outcome. Navigating this year has tested your mettle again and again, and you never wavered,” she said. “Your perseverence in the face of previously unimaginable adversity has brought us to this defining moment. You can and should be justifiably proud of that accomplishment.”

A 2021 graduate soaks up the ambiance: marquee lights, a blue sky, trees in bloom ... and a dazzling tomorrow, straight ahead.
A 2021 graduate soaks up the ambiance: marquee lights, a blue sky, trees in bloom … and a dazzling tomorrow, straight ahead.

Olivia C. Ferki, a plastics and polymer engineering technology graduate from Richboro, capped off a long list of accomplishments during her undergraduate career by being serving as Sunday’s student speaker. She recalled the Olympic-sized leap of faith that led her and her classmates to enroll at Penn College, and examined the rewards of being an imminent part of a strong, skilled labor force. "A science and applied technology education endows us with a nuanced, demonstrated learning and training model," Ferki said. "In addition to examining theory, we've become versed in industry engagement, processes, collaborative opportunities, tangible outcomes and skill-building. From year one, we're boots on the ground – work boots, that is!"
Olivia C. Ferki, a plastics and polymer engineering technology graduate from Richboro, capped off a long list of accomplishments during her undergraduate career by serving as Sunday’s student speaker. She recalled the Olympic-sized leap of faith that led her and her classmates to enroll at Penn College, and examined the rewards of being an imminent part of a strong, skilled labor force. “A science and applied technology education endows us with a nuanced, demonstrated learning and training model,” Ferki said. “In addition to examining theory, we’ve become versed in industry engagement, processes, collaborative opportunities, tangible outcomes and skill-building. From year one, we’re boots on the ground – work boots, that is!”

The mother(board) of all mortarboards is displayed by Deanna M. Helverson, of Southampton, who ended her Saturday as a software development and information management alumna.
The mother(board) of all mortarboards is displayed by Deanna M. Helverson, of Southampton, who ended her Saturday as a software development and information management alumna.

Speaker Ethan M. McKenzie, by turns poetic and philosophical, powerfully urges his classmates to savor the instructive gray moments that inhabit the space between dark and light, highs and lows. "From embarrassing failure, I discovered the path toward improvement. From darkened cocoons, we emerge stronger and wiser. Rather than suppress them, I hope ... that you'll reflect just as gratefully upon these insightful, albeit painful, shadowed memories as you do the pleasurable, shining ones."
Speaker Ethan M. McKenzie, by turns poetic and philosophical, powerfully urges his classmates to savor the instructive gray moments that inhabit the space between dark and light, highs and lows. “From embarrassing failure, I discovered the path toward improvement. From darkened cocoons, we emerge stronger and wiser. Rather than suppress them, I hope … that you’ll reflect just as gratefully upon these insightful, albeit painful, shadowed memories as you do the pleasurable, shining ones.”

Nursing alumna Maria A. Krammes, of Lewisburg, rejoins well-wishers outside the CAC. (Photo by Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost)
Nursing alumna Maria A. Krammes, of Lewisburg, rejoins well-wishers outside the CAC. (Photo by Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost)

Humorously (and emotionally) recapping his collegiate ups and downs, Joseph M. Morrin asked other grads to raise their hands if they, too, had experienced their lowest low in the past two or four years. Recalling the January 2019 death of his father during that period, as well as the overwhelming and chaotic nature of campus life in general, he said pandemic-induced isolation gave him a chance to slow down and catch his breath.
Humorously (and emotionally) recapping his collegiate ups and downs, Joseph M. Morrin asked other grads to raise their hands if they, too, had experienced their lowest low in the past two or four years. Recalling the January 2019 death of his father during that period, as well as the overwhelming and chaotic nature of campus life in general, he said pandemic-induced isolation gave him a chance to slow down and catch his breath.

Early childhood education graduates received beautiful corsages from their instructor, Jillian T. Scanlon.
Early childhood education graduates received beautiful corsages from their instructor, Jillian T. Scanlon.

Smiling eyes brighten an already sunny Sunday afternoon.
Smiling eyes brighten an already sunny Sunday afternoon.

Loni N. Kline, vice president for college relations, performs the national anthem to open the final ceremony.
Loni N. Kline, vice president for college relations, performs the national anthem to open the final ceremony.

A grad's cap affirms the very meaning of "commencement."
A grad’s cap affirms the very meaning of “commencement.”

Adorned with a red, white and blue honor cord and representing more than 300 servicemen and women attending Penn College this year, Eton Mason Spancake is acknowledged by a grateful audience. The McAlisterville resident earned a four-year degree in information assurance and cyber security.
Adorned with a red, white and blue honor cord and representing more than 300 servicemen and women attending Penn College this year, Eton Mason Spancake is acknowledged by a grateful audience. The McAlisterville resident earned a four-year degree in information assurance and cyber security.

A sign of safety
A sign of safety

The flowering headpiece of pet lover Madison P. Clark, graduating with high honors in early childhood education, adds dimension to a Community Arts Center poster ...
The flowering headpiece of pet lover Madison P. Clark, graduating with high honors in early childhood education, adds dimension to a Community Arts Center poster …

... projecting ongoing success for the Ralston resident and a welcome return for one of the region's premier cultural venues.
… projecting ongoing success for the Ralston resident and a welcome return for one of the region’s premier cultural venues.

Brandon J. Knauff, who received a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology, an associate degree in automated manufacturing and his commission as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, has his bars pinned to his shoulders by his parents.
Brandon J. Knauff, who received a bachelor’s degree in manufacturing engineering technology, an associate degree in automated manufacturing and his commission as an active duty officer in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps, has his bars pinned to his shoulders by his parents.

The brand-new holder of a degree in information assurance and cyber security, Thomas M. Herr, of Hummelstown, exults near the welded Wildcat north of College Avenue Labs – just one of the picture-perfect backdrops shared with commencement families.
The brand-new holder of a degree in information assurance and cyber security, Thomas M. Herr, of Hummelstown, exults near the welded Wildcat north of College Avenue Labs – just one of the picture-perfect backdrops shared with commencement families.

Thomas I. Gartside IV, of Ridley Park, steps toward graduation with a bachelor’s degree in automation engineering technology: robotics and automation ...
Thomas I. Gartside IV, of Ridley Park, steps toward graduation with a bachelor’s degree in automation engineering technology: robotics and automation …

... with a cap that includes nods to his family and his major, as dragonflies hold significance for his family, and he wired them with lights.
… with a cap that includes nods to his family and his major, as dragonflies hold significance for his family, and he wired them with lights.

Michael J. Reed, vice president for academic affairs/provost, reassures graduates that the absence of on-stage faculty (many of whom watched virtually) in no way diminishes the institutional pride in their achievement: "As an educator, there is no greater reward than sharing in this milestone event with students and their guests."
Michael J. Reed, vice president for academic affairs/provost, reassures graduates that the absence of on-stage faculty (many of whom watched virtually) in no way diminishes the institutional pride in their achievement: “As an educator, there is no greater reward than sharing in this milestone event with students and their guests.”

"Secret" admirers? Proud mom Linda and brother Christopher, unaware until Morrin took the stage that he was speaking as class representative, listen intently to his address.
“Secret” admirers? Proud mom Linda and brother Christopher, unaware until Morrin took the stage that he was speaking as class representative, listen intently to his address.

New welding technology grad Austin M. Holz, of Chicora, celebrates with girlfriend Macrina Forrest.
New welding technology grad Austin M. Holz, of Chicora, celebrates with girlfriend Macrina Forrest.

En route to a bachelor's degree in software development and information management, Nathan G. Repella, of Mifflinburg, undergoes the requisite temperature check-in in the Genetti Hotel lobby.
En route to a bachelor’s degree in software development and information management, Nathan G. Repella, of Mifflinburg, undergoes the requisite temperature check-in in the Genetti Hotel lobby.

Brady Masteller and sons, of Troy, uniformly show support for their favorite graduate: Amber Masteller, who earned an associate degree in nursing. (Photo by Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs)
Brady Masteller and sons, of Troy, uniformly show support for their favorite graduate: Amber Masteller, who earned an associate degree in nursing. (Photo by Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs)

Morrin, receiving the final diploma of the first ceremony, told classmates, "Each one of you here represents the best of Penn College, and I am honored to share that distinction with you. I know that you will amaze and astound yourselves with what you can accomplish."
Morrin, receiving the final diploma of the first ceremony, told classmates, “Each one of you here represents the best of Penn College, and I am honored to share that distinction with you. I know that you will amaze and astound yourselves with what you can accomplish.”

Henry Barusevicius III leads his classmates to the Community Arts Center. Barusevicius, of Media, earned an associate degree in electrical construction.
Henry Barusevicius III leads his classmates to the Community Arts Center. Barusevicius, of Media, earned an associate degree in electrical construction.

Caffeine for the win!
Caffeine for the win!

Phi Mu Delta brother Duncan C. McSain, of Warminster, champions his fraternity as he celebrates his bachelor's in web and interactive media.
Phi Mu Delta brother Duncan C. McSain, of Warminster, champions his fraternity as he celebrates his bachelor’s in web and interactive media.

Captured in a casual moment as the first of the ceremonies concluded, the president's energy, good humor and enthusiasm would consistently carry through Sunday's final ceremony.
Captured in a casual moment as the first of the ceremonies concluded, the president’s energy, good humor and enthusiasm would consistently carry through Sunday’s final ceremony.

Gilmour turns McKenzie's tassel, as the 2020-21 Student Government Association president turns the page on his boundless future.
Gilmour turns McKenzie’s tassel, as the 2020-21 Student Government Association president turns the page on his boundless future.

On the heels of receiving a Distinguished Staff Award from the college, honors graduate Bridgette R. Snyder – earning an associate degree in individual studies – caps an already-stellar week with a turn on the Genetti Ballroom floor.
On the heels of receiving a Distinguished Staff Award from the college, honors graduate Bridgette R. Snyder – earning an associate degree in individual studies – caps an already-stellar week with a turn on the Genetti Ballroom floor.

Alongside the stacks of diploma holders awaiting their deserving recipients, Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost, introduces a student speaker.
Alongside the stacks of diploma holders awaiting their deserving recipients, Carolyn R. Strickland, vice president for enrollment management/associate provost, introduces a student speaker.

Lifting off ... and sparkling up!
Lifting off … and sparkling up!

Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs, escorts McKenzie into the venue.
Elliott Strickland, vice president for student affairs, escorts McKenzie into the venue.

State Sen. Gene Yaw, who chairs the college's board of directors, remotely authorizes conferral of degrees and certificates.
State Sen. Gene Yaw, who chairs the college’s board of directors, remotely authorizes conferral of degrees and certificates.

A facemask shows one of many companies that hire Penn College grads.
A facemask shows one of many companies that hire Penn College grads.

Morrin's "study abroad" patch, one of his many signposts of collegiate time well-spent, is visible in a hug with Mom after the weekend's opening ceremony.
Morrin’s “study abroad” patch, one of his many signposts of collegiate time well-spent, is visible in a hug with Mom after the weekend’s opening ceremony.

President Gilmour enjoys a chat with paramedic and police personnel who are always standing by, ready to assist.
President Gilmour enjoys a chat with paramedic and police personnel who are always standing by, ready to assist.

The cap of Barbara J. LeGeyt, a welding and fabrication engineering technology graduate from Barkhamsted, Conn., shows yet another “maker” skill. Her next stop? Working for John Deere.
The cap of Barbara J. LeGeyt, a welding and fabrication engineering technology graduate from Barkhamsted, Conn., shows yet another “maker” skill. Her next stop? Working for John Deere.

Masks, along with distancing and capacity restrictions, keep the ceremonies as safe as they are significant.
Masks, along with distancing and capacity restrictions, keep the ceremonies as safe as they are significant.

Gleaming eyes telegraph student satisfaction and presidential fulfillment.
Gleaming eyes telegraph student satisfaction and presidential fulfillment.

The forward-looking cap of Paige D. Picola, a building automation technology grad from Williamstown, modifies a song of traveling Hobbits.
The forward-looking cap of Paige D. Picola, a building automation technology grad from Williamstown, modifies a song of traveling Hobbits.

Knauff, ultimately headed to Fort Bragg, N.C., gives his first salute to retired Master Sgt. Steven Kowatch. (In center is Bald Eagle Battalion ROTC instructor Lt. Col. John C. Acosta, professor of military science.)
Knauff, ultimately headed to Fort Bragg, N.C., gives his first salute to retired Master Sgt. Steven Kowatch. (In center is Bald Eagle Battalion ROTC instructor Lt. Col. John C. Acosta, professor of military science.)

The president – who estimated she shook hands 750 times over the weekend – let graduates decide how they wished to exchange greetings: elbow bump, handshake or (as in this case) a fist bump.
The president – who estimated she shook hands 750 times over the weekend – let graduates decide how they wished to exchange greetings: elbow bump, handshake or (as in this case) a fist bump.

Kienehn L. Jemison (left), of Conshohocken, and Austin Malik Moore, of Ashton, Md., both earned degrees in information technology: technical support technology emphasis.
Kienehn L. Jemison (left), of Conshohocken, and Austin Malik Moore, of Ashton, Md., both earned degrees in information technology: technical support technology emphasis.

A family captures all-important memories of the milestone.
A family captures all-important memories of the milestone.

 

 

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