Wilkes University Holds 68th Annual Spring Commencement
Wilkes University awarded 679 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at its spring commencement ceremonies held on May 16. The ceremony for graduate students receiving doctoral and master’s degrees was held at 10 a.m., while the ceremony for undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees was held at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies were in the Arnaud C. Marts Sports and Conference Center, 274 S. Franklin St., Wilkes-Barre. Graduates at both ceremonies processed to the Marts Center from the University Center on Main led by bagpipers.
Pennsylvania Sen. John T. Yudichak delivered the address at the morning ceremony for graduate students, while Wilkes University President Patrick F. Leahy spoke.at the afternoon ceremony for undergraduates. Remarks on behalf of the senior class were delivered by Kayla Rooney of Long Pond, Pa., who also was presented with the Alumni Award for Leadership. Rooney majored in international studies and political science.
During the afternoon undergraduate ceremony, the University awarded the honorary doctor of humane letters degree to Seymour Holtzman. The University is recognizing Holtzman, who graduated from Wilkes with a bachelor’s degree in 1957, for his accomplishments in business and industry.
Holtzman has managed public companies for more than 40 years and has been featured in Forbes, Business Week, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and many other national business publications. He is the president and chief executive officer of Jewelcor, Inc. He also serves as chairman and chief executive officer of Jewelcor Management, Inc. He is owner of C.D. Peacock, Inc. in Chicago, Ill., the Rolex Boutique Luxury Swiss in Miami, Fla., and of Homeclick.com. He is the chairman of the board of Destination XL Group, Inc., the nation’s largest specialty retailer of big and tall men’s apparel. He was previously the chairman of the board and chief executive officer of Gruen Marketing Corp.
At the morning ceremony for graduate students, two students graduating with the doctor of pharmacy degree from Wilkes’ Nesbitt School of Pharmacy were recognized for being the 1,000th graduate from the pharmacy program and for being the student to receive the 1000th diploma. Because the pharmacy school has awarded two diplomas posthumously, two different students achieved the milestones.
The 1000th graduate is Marissa Lynn Hoffman from Millerstown, Pa. She will be pursuing post-graduate training as a post-graduate resident at Children’s Hospital in Philadelphia. The 1000th diploma was awarded to Erin Joy Hanley from Clifton Park, N.Y. Hanley also had the distinction of receiving three diplomas on Saturday: In addition to the doctor of pharmacy, she was also awarded the master of business administration and a bachelor of arts in Spanish. She will be pursuing post-graduate training as a post-graduate resident at Penn State Hershey Medical Center in Hershey, Pa.
The following awards were presented to undergraduates at the afternoon ceremony:
Alumni Leadership Award – Kayla Rooney, Long Pond, Pa.
The Alumni Leadership Award is given by the Wilkes University Alumni Association to the member of the graduating class considered to have made the strongest contribution to student life and the student activities program of the University. This year’s recipient, Kayla Rooney, is graduating summa cum laude with the Bachelor of Arts degree with majors in international studies and political science and minors in economics and Spanish. She is the daughter Michelle and Richard Rooney. A resident of Long Pond, Pa., she is a graduate of Pocono Mountain West High School. Rooney served as President of the Multicultural Student Coalition. She is a member of the Pi Sigma Alpha and Alpha Chi honor societies. She served as a resident assistant, an e-mentor trainer, working with upperclassmen who mentor freshmen. She participated in Intercollegiate Leadership Wilkes-Barre, the National Model United Nations and the alternative spring break trip to the Dominican Republic., Rooney was named the Outstanding Graduate in the College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. Following graduation, Rooney will attend the New York University School of Law.
Teresa Jordan and Frank Mehm Prize – Sierra Marsh, Auburn, Pa.
The Mehm Prize is awarded annually to the undergraduate who most nearly represents the ideal respecting moral courage, unselfishness, and noteworthy extracurricular participation significantly advancing the University on and off campus. This year’s recipient is Sierra Marsh, who is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with minors in sociology and women’s studies. A graduate of Pottsville Area High School, she is the daughter of Sharon and Brian Marsh. Marsh’s list of activities and contributions at Wilkes is noteworthy. She was co-president of the Christian Fellowship Club. She served two years as an e-mentor, advising first-year students in their transition to Wilkes. Marsh also was the civic engagement coordinator for New Student Orientation an was as a bystander intervention peer trainer. She was the community service chair for the Programming Board. Marsh also participated in the alternative spring break trip community service trip to New Orleans, La.; was a volunteer at Schuylkill Women in Crisis; and volunteered for the Wilkes Relay for Life in 2014 and 2015.
Mabel Scott Wandell Award and Sterling Leroy Wandell Award
The Mabel Scott Wandell and the Sterling Leroy Wandell awards are presented to the man and woman in Wilkes University’s graduating class with the highest grade-point average. This year, three women tied for the award with a perfect 4.0 average and two men tied with a 3.93. The winners are:
Christine Bergey, of Kingston, Pa, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, with a major in Biology. She is the daughter of Dr. Laurie Langan and Dr. David Bergey. She completed high school through the Commonwealth Connections Academy. Bergey received the award for being the Outstanding Graduate in the College of Science and Engineering. She is a member of the Beta Beta Beta and Alpha Chi honor societies. She is a pre-medical scholar and earned honors in Biology. Bergey will attend the University of Maryland School of Dentistry in the fall. She earned her degree with a perfect 4.0 average.
Virginia Edwards, of Warrington, Pa., is earning the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, on her way to earning the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2017. She is the daughter of Cindy Irvin and Mark Edwards and is a graduate of Central Bucks South High School. Edwards is a member of the Alpha Chi and Rho Chi honor societies. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a grade point average of 4.0.
Sarah Fillman, of Limerick, Pa, earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, on her way to earning the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2017. She is the daughter of Virginia and David Fillman and is a graduate of Spring-Ford High School. Fillman is a member of the Alpha Chi Honor Society and will be vice president of the Rho Chi Honor Society next year. She served as president of the Wilkes chapter of the National Society for Leadership and Success. Fillmann also was co-captain of the cross country team and an e-mentor. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree with a grade point average of 4.0.
Michael Grobinski, of Harrisburg, Pa, is earning the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, with a major in mechanical engineering. Grobinski was co-chair of the Engineering Student Advisory Board and president of the Ski Club. He was awarded the Engineering Student Advisory Community Leadership Award from the Department of Engineering and Physics. After graduation, Grobinski will join his four partners in further developing their business, Kraken Boardsports, for which they recently won the TechBridge Business Plan competition in the “wild card” category. Grobinski graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 3.93.
Nicholas Stauffer, of Barto, Pa., is earning the Bachelor of Science, summa cum laude, on his way to earning the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2017. He is the son of Karen and Daniel Stauffer and is a graduate of Boyertown Area Senior High School. Nick is a member of the Alpha Chi honor society. In 2013, Nick participated in a medical mission trip to Guatemala through the School of Pharmacy. Stauffer is the 2015 recipient of the United States Public Health Service Award for his exceptional initiative and launch of the "Smoke-Free Wilkes" campaign, for his work promoting appropriate antibiotic use in Guatemala, and for the development of web-based health applications at an independent community pharmacy. Stauffer earned his Bachelor of Science degree with a grade point average of 3.93.
About Wilkes University:
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university is on a mission to create one of the great small universities, offering all of the programs, activities, and opportunities of a large, research university in the intimate, caring, and mentoring environment of a small, liberal arts college, at a cost that is increasingly competitive with public universities. In addition to 39 undergraduate majors,Wilkes offers the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education and doctor of pharmacy degrees and more than a dozen master’s degree programs, including the master of business administration and master of fine arts in creative writing. Learn more at www.wilkes.edu