A male professor in a black academic robe carries a mace and leads two rows of graduates in dark blue caps and gowns to the graduation ceremony.
Image: Dekka Studios

Hazleton holds spring 2019 commencement ceremony May 3

HAZLETON, Pa. — Penn State students received degrees and awards Friday evening, May 3, during Penn State Hazleton's 49th annual commencement ceremony, held in the Dr. Thomas M. Caccese Gymnasium in the Physical Education Building.

Director of Academic Affairs Elizabeth J. Wright presented the candidates to Chancellor Gary M. Lawler, who conferred associate and 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.

Michael F. Polgar, associate professor of sociology and president of the Penn State Hazleton Faculty Senate, served as the faculty marshal and led the academic processional.

Andrew C. Brink (class of 2020), president of the Student Government Association, offered remarks to the graduates. Lisa R. Schugardt (class of 1982), president of the Penn State Hazleton Council, extended greetings and congratulations from the campus advisory board. Denise Corcoran (class of 1986), president-elect of the Penn State Hazleton Alumni Society, inducted the new graduates into the Penn State Alumni Association.

Commencement speaker

Julia Carter (class of 2015) served as the speaker for the ceremony.

Carter graduated from Penn State with a bachelor’s degree in biology and a minor in Spanish. She attended Penn State Hazleton for her first two years of college before transitioning to University Park. She is a student at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and currently lives in Newark, New Jersey.

Carter earned a master’s of public health degree in epidemiology with a global health certificate from the University of Pittsburgh and is a 2011 graduate of Hazleton Area High School. She holds a certification in public health from the National Board of Public Health Examiners.

She has received numerous scholarships, honors and awards, including the following: Chancellor’s Scholar, Rutgers New Jersey Medical School; Dean’s Service Award, University of Pittsburgh, Graduate School of Public Health; National Society of Leadership and Success, Student Leadership Program Grant; National Society of Leadership and Success, Global Leader Scholarship; second-place award for poster presentation, Penn State Hazleton Undergraduate Research and Scholarship Fair; certificate of accomplishment, Third Annual Penn State Regional Undergraduate Research Symposium; Academic Achievement Award, Penn State; M. Leonard Shaevel Award, Penn State; Scholar’s Lion Award in the Eberly College of Science, Penn State.

Carter worked as a graduate student worker for the Center for Global Health, and a graduate student researcher for the Department of Epidemiology for the Graduate School of Public Health, both at the University of Pittsburgh.

She served internships with the Summer Immersions Research Program at the Michigan Institute of Clinical and Health Research, University of Michigan; Bureau of Assessment, Statistics, and Epidemiology, Allegheny County Health Department as a hepatitis C and Lyme disease surveillance intern; and the Student Clinical Preceptorship Program at the Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Carter is secretary for Public Understanding of Medicine in Action at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School (NJMS); medical student preceptor for the Minimed School at NJMS; class of 2022 student representative for NJMS Student Council; Patient Centered Medicine course representative at NJMS; and Office of Admissions student interviewer at NJMS.

She presented “A Critical Discussion Regarding the Underrepresentation of Black Men in Medicine,” at the Association of American Medical Colleges’ Northeast Group on Student Affairs/Northeast Organization of Student Representatives Regional Conference in 2019. Carter was a co-presenter of “Developing a Spring Break Travel Embedded Course: An English Instructor Discovers Puerto Rico and Belize through Student Research” at the Pennsylvania College English Association in 2012 about her spring break trip led by Penn State Hazleton Assistant Teaching Professor of English Eileen Morgan.

She is the founder of the Carter Family Foundation and a member of the Association of American Medical Colleges and the Student National Medical Association.

Carter recently competed on the hit CBS reality show “Survivor: Edge of Extinction,” which featured 18 castaways separated into two tribes trying to win the $1 million prize. Carter made it to week eight before she was eliminated.

Degrees conferred

Associate degrees

Associate in arts in letters, arts, and sciences: Edward Casey, Laurel Springs, New Jersey

Associate in science in business: John Ndikwike, Tamaqua; and Lynea Reiner, Weatherly

Associate in science in medical laboratory technology: Christie Brimmer, Allentown; Allison Causey, Howard; Kaylynn Covine, Lansford; Nicole Gebhardt, Nanticoke; Helena Laukaitis, Mifflinburg ; Keri McMullen, Lansford; Aliza Nyce, Germansville

Associate in science in physical therapist assistant: Daniel Barnaby, Allentown; Tracee Benton, Dallas; Christina LeeAnn Canfield, Honesdale; Vincenzo Carlino, Allentown; Katherine Cure, Kingsley; Jordan Dickson, Jenkins Township; Erika Fisher, Bloomsburg; Christian Herbster, Nanticoke; Thereze Javelosa, South Amboy, New Jersey; Phethia Jean-Louis, Pottsville; Oksana Kondor, Wilkes-Barre; Terrence Michael McCabe, Pittston; Michael McGarry, Avoca; Ashley Meshach, Scranton; Olivia Moran, Pottsville; Bryan Olson, Hudson; Ashley Nicole Oster, Hazle Township; Krishna Patel, Voorhees, New Jersey; David Polisano, Elverson; Kelsey Sholtis, Kingston; Erica Simmons, Nazareth; Tori Sneeringer, Hanover; Robert Sorokas, Exeter; Karissa Tracy, Tamaqua; Olivia Watkins, Berwick; Shanna Weir, Drums; Nicholas B. Werner, Granville Summit; and Kayla Wickersham, Tamaqua

Baccalaureate degrees

Bachelor of arts in administration of justice: Brianna Corra, Hazleton; Kaitlin Gomez, Tamaqua; Alexandra Mae Parker, Mountain Top; Rosana Placencia, Hazleton; Vanessa Subonj, Hazleton; and Joseph G. Whah, III, West Hazleton

Bachelor of arts in corporate communication: Shahzad Devani, Queens, New York; Nichole Rebarchick, Hazle Township

Bachelor of arts in letters, arts, and sciences: Matthew M. Balas Jr., Mountain Top; and Christine McCord, Mahanoy City

Bachelor of arts in psychology: Jessica Ann Brennan, Nesquehoning; Kaitlin Gomez, Tamaqua; Sara Kimborowicz, Jim Thorpe; Diamond Lynch, Brooklyn, New York; Nicole Marie Merriman, Albrightsville; McKenzie Beth Prutsman, Jasper, New York; Jenna Robbins-Dymond, Wapwallopen; Jordan Singletary, Houston, Texas; and Jacqlyn Siva-Harrison, Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

Bachelor of science in engineering - alternative energy and power generation from the College of Engineering: David Christopher Ecklund, Scranton; Aleksander Everett, Palmerton; Charles Robert Karchner, III, West Hazleton; Cassandra Kelly, Wilkes-Barre; Meagan Pandolfelli, Berwick; Steven Principe, Lake Harmony; Justin Shimko, Kingston; Jordan S. Williams, Easton; and Austin Yaletchko, Nottingham

Bachelor of science in security and risk analysis from the College of Information Sciences and Technology: Matthew Cantone, Oceanside, New Jersey

Bachelor of science in administration of justice: Bryan Bascombe, Brooklyn, New York; Devin Busher, Hazleton; Noelle Bergerstock, Muncy; Daisy Cabral, Hazleton; Kevin Michael Harry, Hazleton; Tyler Reid Martin, Milford; Nicholas Nowak, Philadelphia; Hailey Trasacco, Hamden, Connecticut

Bachelor of science in business: Albert Arias, Hazleton; Jeffrey Arias Nivar, Hazleton; Royce Chester-Brathwaite, Blakeslee; Rodney Brown Jr., Garnerville, New York; Ramiro O. Castro, McAdoo; Reigna Dones, Albrightsville; Kristina Evancho, Scranton; Nicholas Gerasimou, Hoboken, New Jersey; Ian Hornick, Drums; Mackenzie Kurtz, Sugarloaf; Zachary Kyttle, Berwick; Joshua Nelson, Teaneck, New Jersey; Jade Ariane Torchon, Apopka, Florida; and Ryan Wolfe, Coatesville

Bachelor of science in information sciences and technology: Tod Kania Jr., Mountain Top; Jaiden LaRizzio, Hazleton; Jhonel Mejia Pujols, Hazleton; Luis Saavedra, Hazleton; Corey Schreffler, Weston; Claudio Sokarda, Hazleton; and Ricardo Velazquez, Shenandoah

Bachelor of science in psychology: Patrick Michael Holman, Bloomsburg; Sarah-Kay Elizabeth Lemuel, East Stroudsburg; Hailee Shuman, Warrior Run; Justin Daniel Smith, McAdoo; and Samantha Varela, Hazleton

Bachelor of science in rehabilitation and human services: Wendy K. Adams, Nescopeck; Emilee Barkus, Mahanoy City; Mariah Curry, Pottsville; Maria Altagracia De Jesus Carrasco, Hazleton; Justin R. Doyle, Minersville; Jesselyn Fernandez, Hazleton; Bryan Anthony Kelly, Pittstown, New Jersey; Lauren Marie Nietz, Coaldale; Christian Nonnemacher, Hazleton; Michael Pollock, West Hazleton; McKenzie Beth Prutsman, Jasper, New York; Jasmin Smith, Woodbury; Aleigha Sokolowski, Drums; and Elizabeth Turse, Drums

Graduation with honors

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 “summa cum laude,” 4 percent “magna cum laude,” and 6 percent “cum laude.”

Graduating “summa cum laude” was Shanna Weir, Drums.

Graduating “magna cum laude” were Tracee Benton, Dallas; Christie Brimmer, Allentown; Jesselyn Fernandez, Hazleton; Jhonel Mejia Pujols, Hazleton; and Jenna Robbins-Dymond, Wapwallopen.

Graduating “cum laude” were Jessica Ann Brennan, Nesquehoning; Nicole Gebhardt, Nanticoke; Patrick Michael Holman, Bloomsburg; Michael McGarry, Avoca; Bryan Olson, Kingston; Kelsey Sholtis, Kingston; and Zachary Kyttle, Berwick.

Frank C. Kostos Awards

Dinesh “Dan” Patel, assistant professor of chemistry, announced the Frank C. Kostos Award recipients who achieved the highest grade-point averages in their respective degree programs:

— Nicolas Vitagliano, an engineering major from Hazle Township, received the honor for the full-time sophomore enrolled in a Penn State degree program.

— Jesselyn Fernandez, Hazleton, who earned a bachelor of science degree in rehabilitation and human services during the ceremony, was honored as the graduate earning the highest grade-point average in a Penn State Hazleton baccalaureate degree program.

— Christie Brimmer, Allentown, 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.

Photos from commencement are available at https://www.facebook.com/pennstatehazleton.