Matt Maslowski was basking in the sunshine and blue skies that greeted the crowd of family, friends and well-wishers assembled outside Penn State’s Eisenhower Auditoriumon Saturday. The fact that he would be graduating in the next 45 minutes was just icing on the cake.
Until very recently, Maslowski was a senior in the College of Information Sciences and Technology, where he studied security and risk analysis, and even though he was surrounded by swarms of fellow IST graduates posing for photos and seeking shade — sometimes simultaneously — he was still in a bit of denial regarding his impending commencement.
“It still doesn’t feel like we’re graduating today. It’s kind of slowly rolling out,” Maslowski said.
If the blue cap and gown he was sporting didn’t sell it, maybe his impending move to Seattle will. In the next few weeks, Maslowski will relocate across the country to begin a job with The Boeing Co., a position he secured last October.
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He has no qualms about moving on, but said that he will miss the community feeling of Penn State.
“It’s like it’s its own little family. Everybody knows everybody and connects with everybody,” Maslowski said.
He spent the better part of the hour before the ceremony being pulled by friends into several scrapbooks worth of photographs, a fairly common pre-graduation motif judging by the number of cameras and family members being passed around campus.
Gary and Jody La Pointe were taking a few last minute photos with their son Cole before he had to join the other graduates inside the auditorium. This is their first graduation ceremony as parents.
“I’m a high school teacher. I’ve sat through many graduations but not at this level,” Jody La Pointe said.
She still remembers dropping her son off at Penn State for the first time like it was yesterday and now, four years later, he is preparing for his first adult job.
In two weeks he will move to Philadelphia to work at a consulting firm. He was slightly apprehensive about living in a big city for the first time, but felt that Penn State had prepared him well.
“I definitely enjoyed my four years here and I’m excited to move on to another chapter in my life,” he said.
He joined the other IST graduates seated in the front rows of Eisenhower, where commencement speaker David Rusenko, CEO and co-founder of Weebly, made his remarks.
Both Rusenko and his business got their start at Penn State.
Rusenko was in class when he wrote the first line of code for Weebly, a website creation service that he said stagnated for the first few years of its life.
The experience provided him with a life lesson that he passed on to the graduates seated before him — be relentless.
“You can’t succeed if you quit,” Rusenko said.
He encouraged students not to be afraid of failure, but to instead celebrate the act of having tried and use it as an opportunity to learn something new.
“Right now is the best time to take a risk on what you love doing. Sorry, parents,” Rusenko said.