Abington hails new graduates and their ‘life altering, life changing’ journey

Penn State Abington spring 2023 commencement

More than 300 students from around the world received their bachelor's degrees during Penn State Abington's spring 2023 commencement exercises.

Credit: Penn State

ABINGTON, Pa. — Penn State Abington Chancellor Margo DelliCarpini celebrated more than 300 new graduates on May 5, praising the class of 2023 for their fortitude and optimism despite the pandemic shutdown interrupting the first two years of their college experience.  

“One of your classmates, Ashlee Barnett ... observed that your class responded to adversity by reevaluating and reassessing your priorities, and then you stepped up, fought for change, and achieved your goals. And all the while you discovered unexpected moments of growth and joy. Finally, Ashlee said, your four years at Penn State Abington were life altering, lifesaving, and life changing,” she said. 

DelliCarpini also quoted another member of the class of 2023, Patrice Manasse, who explained that the new graduates transformed adversity into motivation.  

“We survived and we thrived … even though our class was physically separated for months, we became a family anyway. We forged better, richer and deeper connections that will last beyond today’s commencement,” the chancellor quoted Manasse. 

Three students who earned dual degrees were among those who were recognized during the ceremonies: 

  • Paul Daly graduated with two bachelor's of science degrees, one in business and the other in project and supply chain management.  

  • Luke Falcon earned two bachelor's of science degrees in cybersecurity analytics and operations and information sciences and technology. 

  • Patrice Manasse also earned dual degrees, a bachelor of arts in multidisciplinary studies and a bachelor of science in rehabilitation and human services. 

In addition, there were three Schreyer Honors College scholars (Lauren O’Neill, Jessica Peskin and Edmund Wekunga) who received their medallions, and 57 new graduates who completed their degrees with honors (summa cum laude, magna cum laude, or cum laude).  

Jessica Peskin, valedictorian for the morning commencement ceremony, reminded the class of 2023 that their time at Abington made them more well-rounded, exposing them to new experiences and new people. 

“We’ll continue to learn, grow and discover more about ourselves and the world. Life will not always be easy, but we need to have faith that we can accomplish our goals and have the drive to keep moving forward,” she said. 

Joe O’Brien, the valedictorian for the afternoon ceremony, reminded his classmates that their four years at Abington prepared them to take on the world. 

“If you do find yourself feeling apprehensive about life after graduation and questioning whether you’re ready for this next step, remember all those challenges you’ve overcome throughout your time at Penn State Abington because there is no doubt in my mind that you will succeed again,” he said. 

State Sen. Art Haywood, who represents the 4th Senatorial District, told the new graduates about his personal experiences overcoming diversity and how it will serve them well in the future. 

“Your degree will generate many opportunities for you, but the character that got you to your degree will open many more,” he said. 

Each year, the new graduates honor a faculty or staff member with the Ross Brinkert Lion Heart Award, named for a beloved Abington professor whose grace, integrity, kindness, courage and humility continues to inspire the campus community. 

The class of 2023 chose Kevin Cannon, professor of chemistry, as the 2023 winner for teaching “with grace and kindness. ... His positive attitude and willingness to see his students succeed in the real world has had a positive impact.” 

Meet more members of the class of 2023 here.

About Penn State Abington

Penn State Abington provides an affordable, accessible and high-impact education resulting in the success of a diverse student body. It is committed to student success through innovative approaches to 21st-century public higher education within a world-class research university. With more than 3,100 students, Penn State Abington is a residential campus that offers baccalaureate degrees in 25 majors, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.