Penn State

Penn State graduates, families celebrate accomplishments

Penn State president Eric Barron shakes hands with Earth and Mineral Sciences student marshal Lori O'Neill during the Penn State Fall 2014 Commencement on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Penn State president Eric Barron shakes hands with Earth and Mineral Sciences student marshal Lori O'Neill during the Penn State Fall 2014 Commencement on Saturday, December 20, 2014 at the Bryce Jordan Center. CDT photo

Kyle Hunt was still getting ready at about 8:30 a.m. Saturday.

Standing in the hall of the Bryce Jordan Center with fellow Penn State student Derek Hall, the 22-year-old was tucking in his shirts and fixing his belt before zipping up the blue graduation gown he was wearing over his clothes.

Hunt and Hall, mechanical engineering majors, were among about 5,030 students who graduated from Penn State this weekend.

The first round of graduation ceremonies at the University Park campus began Friday night at The Penn Stater Hotel Conference Center, and continued Saturday morning and afternoon at the Bryce Jordan Center.

“I’m kind of relieved it’s over and the hard work will pay off,” Hall said. “I’ll miss it, but I’m glad it’s finally over.”

University President Eric Barron addressed the students and about a half-packed BJC.

He said 31 percent of people over the age of 25 have bachelor’s degrees.

“In achieving a degree at Penn State, you might identify yourself as a person who can develop a new product ... or make a difference in someone’s life,” he said. “You will find greater distinction in your lives, and add distinction to this society.”

As agricultural science major Ethan Okon walked the stage, a single shout came from the stands by someone who yelled, “yeah Ethan!”

When the morning graduation ceremony was over, some students tossed their caps in the air.

Hunt, originally from central Maryland, said it finally sunk in that he had to get into the “real world.”

But the next step was looking for a job.

“I’m not really sure where to start, but I think Penn State did a good job getting us ready,” he said.

Engineer major, Josh Konz, 22, said he will be heading back to the Philadelphia area with fiancee Becky Keenan, an engineer major who graduated last year, to look for work together.

Konz said he felt prepared to make the next step after attending several career fairs, and completing a co-op through eCareer at DuPont in Richmond, Va.

“It didn’t really sink in until I put my cap and gown on this (Saturday) morning,” Konz said about graduating. “It’s a special feeling. It’s nice to be able to do it in front of my family and know the last four and a half years were worth it, and feel like I‘m ready for what’s next.”

According to Penn State, at University Park, five students received associate degrees, 2,602 were awarded baccalaureate degrees, 667 master’s degree were conferred, and 232 were doctoral degree candidates.

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