Fall graduates get ready to walk

Members of the Gannon University December 2014 graduating class will receive their diplomas at 2 p.m Sunday during the commencement ceremony at the Hammermill Center. Gannon will have a total of 196 students receiving degrees and 233 degrees  will be pres4ented.

Eight graduates have earned summa cum laude honors, seven have earned magna cum laude and nine with cum laude honors. In order for students to earn honors they have to obtain a cumulative grade point average higher than 3.5.

Gannon will have students from seven different countries graduating Sunday and the committee in charge of commencement created a way for the international families to watch their children walk across the stage.

Kathryn DeSante, chair of the commencement committee and assistant to the provost, said that the new online streaming option has made it easier for a lot of families.

“Some students who are from countries like Hong Kong or China are unable to make the trip,” DeSante said. “With this resource being available just within the last couple years, we feel it has been a great success.”

The success the committee has comes from months of preparation and the committee consists of ground keepers to professors and they all work hard, she said. DeSante said that this is a major event for Gannon and preparation began at the end of September.

“Our fall and spring commencements are two of Gannon’s biggest events,” DeSante said. “We try and do them as well as we can.”

DeSante said the committee held a senior salute in October allowing the fall graduates enough time to sign up for graduation if they hadn’t done so. She said it was a successful event and students have been excited about graduating. They have worked hard for it, she said.

Alli Yori, a senior business administrative major, will be graduating Sunday and she said she couldn’t be happier.

“I’m excited to be part of the December commencement,” Yori said. “I’ve put a lot of hard work in at Gannon and it will all pay off when I walk across the stage.”

A Gannon alumnus felt the same way when she walked across the stage in 1989 when she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communication arts with a proficiency certificate in German. Sunday, she will walk across the stage again but, this time as a guest speaker.

Meg VanderLaan, chief communication officer of MWH Global, will be the speaker for this year’s commencement. VanderLaan received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2011 and was named a member of Gannon’s board of trustees in 2012.

VanderLaan said she is excited for Sunday; she remembers her commencement ceremony and is honored to address the graduating class.

“I look forward to the opportunity,” VanderLaan said. “I will be sharing a few personal stories of identity and enduring relationships. My graduation was an inspiring and emotional experience.  I sat next to one of my dearest friends, Jake Rouch, who will be present at Sunday’s ceremony.

“One piece of advice that I would give – if having to choose – would be to not let your job title define who you are.”

DeSante said VanderLaan has a secret surprise for the students. During the senior salute, VanderLaan asked all the graduates to say one word to describe their class and the surprise will be something related to that, she said.

Gannon’s students, families and faculty should expect more than just one memorable address during the ceremony. DeSante said there will be two songs performed by Gannon’s own musical talents.

Brianna Woods, a senior theatre and communication arts major, will be performing the opening song. This December commencement, Woods will be singing “America the Beautiful,” and during the 2015 May commencement, senior Kayla Scully will be singing.

DeSante said she needs the students graduating to be at Club LaRiccia at 1 p.m. Sunday to line up.

BECKY HILKER

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