The Penn State Schuylkill graduating class of 2017 took center stage on Saturday. Despite the dreary, drizzly weather outside, the graduates and their families were all smiles inside as they celebrated a major milestone.
Commencement speaker Dr. Blannie E. Bowen, vice provost of Academic Affairs at Penn State, gave a hearty welcome to the crowd and invoked one of his favorite songs, “We’ve Only Just Begun,” a 1970s hit single by the Carpenters. He asked the students to turn to their right and to their left and tell their fellow classmates, “We’ve Only Just Begun.” He gave encouraging words and doled out wisdom of the years, emphasizing that their Penn State education has prepared them well for the future.
Bowen has served Penn State for nearly 30 years in various leadership roles. He will retire on June 30.
Ashley Schappe of Linden, New Jersey, was the student commencement speaker. She encouraged her classmates to pursue their dreams despite obstacles that will come their way. She also drew upon the value of a Penn State degree: “Remember your dream is important and you have the ability now with a Penn state degree to make your dreams come true.”
Following confirmation of degrees, Dr. Kelly Austin, chancellor of Penn State Schuylkill, said to the students, “You are now a Penn State alumnus, a significant and meaningful cohort of leaders, thought provokers and pioneers of the future.” He asked them to stay in touch with their alma mater and remain connected to the Schuylkill campus and the University.
Also speaking were Elyce Kaplan, campus registrar; Dr. Darcy Medica, director of Academic Affairs; the Honorable Charles M. Miller, interim president, Penn State Schuylkill Advisory Board; and David Gonzalez, president, Penn State Schuylkill alumni society.
And yes, they’ve only just begun their life journeys.