Penn State Hazleton holds commencement ceremony

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State students received degrees and awards Friday evening, May 6, during Penn State Hazleton's 46th annual commencement ceremony, held in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium in the Physical Education Building.

Additional photos are available at the Penn State Hazleton Facebook page.

Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth J. Wright presented the candidates to Chancellor Gary M. Lawler, who conferred 61 associate degrees and 58 baccalaureate degrees to students completing programs of study at Penn State Hazleton and other Penn State locations who chose to participate in the graduation ceremony.

Highlighting the program was the granting of the first baccalaureate degrees in the new rehabilitation and human services degree program offered at Penn State Hazleton.

Gina Monks, instructor in mathematics and president of the Penn State Hazleton Faculty Senate, served as the faculty marshal and led the academic processional.

John R. Meier Jr., president of the Penn State Hazleton Council, extended greetings and congratulations from the campus advisory board. Rocco Formica Jr., a 1967 Penn State graduate and president of the Greater Hazleton Chapter of the Penn State Alumni Chapter, inducted the new graduates into the Penn State Alumni Association.

Susan Russell, associate professor of theatre in Penn State’s School of Theatre at University Park, was the guest speaker. In addition to being an educator, Russell is an actor, stage director, playwright, author and speaker. She served as Penn State’s laureate for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Russell holds a bachelor’s degree in theatre from St. Andrews Presbyterian College and a doctorate in theatre studies, summa cum laude, from Florida State University. Between earning her degrees, she spent 25 years as a professional actor on and off Broadway, including five years in the Broadway production of “Phantom of the Opera” and in regional theatre and at opera companies across the country.

Her plays “Olympia” (1998) and “Present Perfect” (1999) have been produced by Lincoln Center and the Emerging Artist Theatre in New York City. Her play “Severe Clear” was a semifinalist in the 2006 O’Neill Theatre Center Playwriting Competition, and her 2009 play “Écoute: Pieces of Reynaldo Hahn” toured 40 venues in the United States, starring Penn State School of Music faculty member Norman Spivey. Russell initiated a collaboration between the School of Theatre’s bachelor of arts program and Penn State’s Office of Student Affairs to produce student-generated films on drinking and sexual assault.

Russell also uses her talents to advocate for human rights. She is the author of two books, “Body Language: Cultural Conversations Reaching Out and Reaching In” and “Body Language: Stop the Violence/Start the Conversation,” which help schools learn how to use playwriting, media and public performance to explore issues affecting middle and high school students.

She received the Penn State Commission for Women’s Achieving Woman Award in 2012 and the Centre County Youth Service Bureau’s Dr. Edward Vogelsong Professional Excellence Award in 2013 and was selected as one of the “Faces of Penn State” in 2013.

Degrees, graduates and their hometowns

Associate degrees

Associate in science in information sciences and technology: Barry A. Strausser, Mount Carmel.

Associate in science in medical laboratory technology: Peter M. Chairge, Pittston; Rebecca Deeb, Hazleton; Ashley L. Fallon, Lewistown; Audra A. George, Lewistown; Keilamarie Gonzalez, Hazleton; Randall J. Iagnemma, Mountain Top; Virginia Mazack, Ashland; Jay B. Patel, Scranton; Jennifer S. Phillips, Palmerton; Brian M. Rothrock, Lewistown; Sarah E. Valchar, Petersburg; Michael J. Weaver, Lewistown; and John Yakubik, Wilburton.

Associate in science in physical therapist assistant: Joshua J. Alberola, Nanticoke; Mark A. Altand, Middletown; Michael S. Berger, Lewisburg; Patrick M. Bloom, Harrisburg; Taylor M. Cable, Bellefonte; Casey T. Correa, Lititz; Chad M. Crispell, Luzerne; James Dalessandro, Freeland; Miranda E. Edler, Jersey Shore; Robin A. Estrella, Bloomsburg; Jessie W. Faust, Northumberland; Paul Franke, Danville; Gabrielle Freed, Tamaqua; Dominique M. Gennaro, Lords Valley; Megan E. Hayes, Pottsville; Samantha L. Koch, Tamaqua; Haley Koppenhaver, Northumberland; Zachary Kovaleski, Richmondale; Dakota T. Kresge, Lake Winola; Leanne E. Lagowski, Wrightsville; Brian J. Lauderman, Whitehall; Amanda Liebermann, Succasunna, New Jersey; Melissa M. Lomax, West Hazleton; Ashley E. Long, Reading; Kevin A. Martorano, Ringwood, New Jersey; Kimberly L. McAllister, Petersburg; Shari A. McCaul, Lehighton; Dixie J. McCoy, Watsontown; Joshua J. McDermott, Wyoming; Christopher A. Melnick, Hazleton; Tiffany L. Mill, Womelsdorf; Megan B. Miller, Drums; Alissa E. Muffly, McAdoo; Jenna M. Mundenar, Pittston; Gabrielle A. Nabholz, Pottsville; Marc R. Olander, Hazleton; Max-Jeffrey A. Orsot, Effort; Justin A. Pliska, Hazle Township; Allison K. Riche, Zionsville; Sean D. Rogers, Hazleton; Steven Shiffka, Nanticoke; Thomas K. Smith, Sweet Valley; Sara Stauffer, Mifflinburg; Katlyn Stremmel, Hanover; Petr Studitsky, Blue Bell; Kristian L. Wendel, Westfield, New Jersey.; Joseph K. Winter, Pottsville.


Baccalaureate degrees

Bachelor of arts in American studies from Capital College: Thomas P. Bruno, Hazleton.

Bachelor of arts in history from the College of the Liberal Arts: Nicholas J. Villani, White Haven.

Bachelor of arts in administration of justice: Emily Mazzariello, New York, New York

Bachelor of arts in letters, arts, and sciences: Beverly A. Labosky, Shenandoah.

Bachelor of arts in psychology: Nieves M. Alonzo, Hazleton; Bryanna M. Ator, Hazleton; Jacklyn M. Blew, Weatherly; Tiffany Marie A. Bobeck, Hazle Township; Alicea M. Eskeitz, Tobyhanna; Maya Y. Hamah, Bloomfield, New Jersey; Khadija B. Oladipupo, Springdale, Maryland; Lenora L. Paulukonis, Mahanoy City; Nancy L. Trelles Herrera, Hazleton; Joandra Ulloa, Bronx, New York; and Courtney E. Wanyo, Shavertown.

Bachelor of science in general engineering - alternative energy and power generation from the College of Engineering: Michael P. Aiello, Mountain Top; Michael F. Bohan, Nanticoke; Angelo G. De Luca, Tobyhanna; Paul M. DiBenedetto, Saint James, New York; Brandon P. Haydt, Wapwallopen; Patrick D. Henry, Mountain Top; Christopher M. Moran, Blakeslee; and Bogdan Nicolescu, Canadensis.

Bachelor of science in psychology from the College of the Liberal Arts: Melissa Phillips, Nanticoke.

Bachelor of science in administration of justice: Alexis A. Daly, New Albany; Richard A. Hobbs, Central Islip, New York; Gabrielle M. Leshko, Hazle Township; Olyvia B. Long, Pitman; Tarek J. Richardson, Bushkill; and Jahree S. Williams, Jamesburg, New Jersey.

Bachelor of science in business: Jordan D. Agnew, Dallas; Starlin Colon Encarnacion, West Hazleton; Cassandra Fiume, Hazleton; Francis C. Fuentes, Drums; Samuel A. Gallardo, Hazleton; Troy R. Hartman, Mahanoy City; Jessica A. Horlacher, Hazleton; Gary D. Hunt, Berwick; Ryan J. Lieb, Yardley; Kelly Mazur, Shavertown; Theodore N. McEachron, Blakeslee; Eduin R. Medina Lorenzo, Hazleton; Andrew C. Obrzut, McAdoo; Jacquemiere C. Ramos, Hazle Township; Sarah A. Smith, Hazleton; Maria C. Tejeda Arias, Wilkes-Barre; and John D. Washington, Decatur, Georgia.

Bachelor of science in information sciences and technology: Jesse P. Bohanan, Mountain Top; Demitry R. Byrd, Trenton, New Jersey; Alvaro L. Espinosa, West Hazleton; Zachary A. Gerber, Hazleton; Adam M. Karafinski, Berwick; and Kimberly M. Paladino, Hazleton.

Bachelor of science in psychology: Nicholas L. Brandtmeier, Drums; and Emily J. Greenawalt, Jim Thorpe.

Bachelor of science in rehabilitation and human services: Shari A. Campbell, Yeadon; Aneesha S. Reese, Philadelphia; and Jaclyn M. Vukson, Milnesville.

Graduation with Distinction

Students who are in the top 12 percent of their graduating class in their college and who have completed the required number of credits at the University receive special recognition. The 12 percent is divided into 2 percent “with highest distinction,” 4 percent “with high distinction,” and 6 percent “with distinction.”

Graduates earning “highest distinction” were: Thomas P. Bruno, Hazleton; Miranda E. Edler, Jersey Shore; Jessica A. Horlacher, Hazleton; Samantha L. Koch, Tamaqua; Amanda Liebermann, Succasunna, New Jersey; Virginia Mazack, Ashland; and John Yakubik, Wilburton.

Graduates earning “high distinction” were: Starlin Colon Encarnacion, West Hazleton; Dominique M. Gennaro, Lords Valley; Megan E. Hayes, Pottsville; and Gabrielle A. Nabholz, Pottsville.

Graduates earning “distinction” were: Jesse P. Bohanan, Mountain Top; Chad M. Crispell, Luzerne; James Dalessandro, Freeland; Reva Eagan, Shavertown; Jessie W. Faust, Northumberland; Gabrielle Freed, Tamaqua; Troy R. Hartman, Mahanoy City; Gabrielle M. Leshko, Hazle Township; Brian M. Rothrock, Lewistown; Sara Stauffer, Miffinburg; Michael J. Weaver, Lewistown; and Kristian L. Wendel, Westfield, New Jersey.

Frank C. Kostos Awards

Carl S. Frankel, assistant professor of biology, announced the Frank C. Kostos Award recipients who achieved the highest grade-point averages in their respective degree programs:

  • Robert P. Vitagliano, a sophomore engineering major from Hazle Township, received the honor for the full-time sophomore enrolled in a Penn State degree program.
  • Jessica A. Horlacher, Hazleton, who earned a bachelor of science degree in business during the ceremony, was honored as the graduate earning the highest grade point average in a Penn State Hazleton baccalaureate degree program.
  • - Virginia Mazack, Ashland, who earned an associate degree in medical laboratory technology, was recognized for the highest grade-point average of a graduate in a Penn State Hazleton associate degree program.