Abington hails new graduates who transform ‘adversity into opportunity’

Two new Penn State Abington graduates take a selfie

Penn State Abington officials conferred almost 200 degrees during the summer/fall 2023 commencement exercises on Dec. 15.

Credit: Dan Z. Johnson

ABINGTON, Pa. — Almost 200 new Penn State Abington graduates celebrated their accomplishments and looked excitedly toward the future during the summer/fall 2023 commencement exercises on Dec. 15. They were joined by their loved ones, faculty and staff in the campus Athletic Building. 

Following a stirring performance of the national anthem by the campus choir, Andrew August, the interim chancellor, explained why commencement is one of his favorite days of the year.  

“We see promise arrayed before us — the promise that each of you holds and that we have collectively nurtured during your time at Penn State Abington," he said. "You have overcome obstacles including often overwhelming personal circumstances, the chaos of the pandemic, and intellectual and academic challenges. ... But you transformed adversity into opportunity and developed new skills and perspectives that will carry you forward."

August called on the new alumni to thoughtfully consider their loved ones, faculty, staff and the citizens of Pennsylvania who invested in their education. 

“This suggests an obligation to use your skills and knowledge to look beyond yourself, to make the world or your corner of it a better place," he said. "I encourage you to lean on the values that guided your Penn State Abington education — integrity, respect, responsibility, discovery, excellence and community – to support you as you address the big challenges of our times."  

Keynote speaker U.S. Rep. Madeleine Dean, who represents Pennsylvania’s Fourth District in Congress, told the new graduates that they must give of themselves, their talents and their education to better society.  

“At a time of great turmoil in our country and world, at a time when the pandemic took more than one million American lives and forced us to shut down classrooms — you claimed your education," said Dean, a lifelong resident of the communities surrounding Penn State Abington. "Your generation will forever be set apart — and I would argue, set above — for your tenacity and persistence."

Twenty-three students graduated with honors, and two of them, Camile Infante and Alysse Tucker, were named student marshals. The pair led their class into the ceremony and received medallions to recognize their academic achievement. 

Each year during the summer/fall commencement exercises, state Rep. Benjamin V. Sanchez, who represents the 153rd District which includes the Abington campus, recognizes a graduate with the Legislative Citation. He was unable to attend, so August presented the honor to Darren Deeck. 

The Legislative Citation reads: “Mr. Deeck ... truly exemplifies the best qualities of the human experience, and his spirit of progress and dedication has greatly impacted the lives of others. Mr. Deeck’s commitment strengthens his leadership abilities, to the benefit of Penn State Abington and our community.” 

As the students were called to receive their diplomas, there was brief pause as Dan Meuleners, the longtime finance officer at Abington, made his way to the stage as part of a longtime campus tradition — faculty and staff may present diplomas to their loved ones. A cheer filled the Athletic Building when Meuleners gave his daughter, Alyssa, her degree from the Nese College of Nursing followed by an emotional embrace. 

The commencement exercises wrapped with brief remarks from Leilani Fox, class of 2004 and president of the Abington Alumni Society board. She presented the students with a free one-year membership to the Penn State Alumni Association and rocked the building with a final “WE ARE!” before the campus choir returned to sing the alma mater.  

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, accelerated master's degrees, undergraduate research, the Schreyer Honors College, NCAA Division III athletics and more.