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Michael DiBerardinis
5/24/2010 —

To order photos from Commencement, go to http://www.digiproofs.com/thirdeyepro/ and enter 0051510 in the password field.

Hugs and high fives were the order of the day on Saturday, May 15, when more than 100 students received their diplomas from Penn State at the Brandywine campus’ commencement ceremony.

Michael DiBerardinis, commissioner of the Department of Parks and Recreation for the city of Philadelphia and a University trustee, gave the commencement address.
“A Penn State degree is a privilege,” he told the crowd of students, families, faculty, staff and friends, “not one that comes to you as a birthright, but borne in hard work, and made possible by the teaching excellence of your faculty and staff.”

He praised the graduates for the sacrifices made along the way.

“You’ve put in hard work, juggled jobs and family responsibilities, and you have succeeded,” he said. “You have earned the privilege of a Penn State degree, and you are an American success story.”

He exhorted the graduates to “be curious about the world around you. There are always new things to learn. Always look for courage in yourself in tough times.”

Students enter the gymnasium prior to the ceremony.

In what has become a Penn State Brandywine tradition, the graduates were given an open mic to utter a few words of gratitude or other sentiments as they crossed the stage. Most expressed thanks to their families and their professors.

“I want to thank this great campus for giving me a great education,” said Daniel Iacovella, of Media.

“I want to thank myself!” said Suzanne Berg, also of Media. "It took 30 years but I did it!”

Speaking to faculty in the English department, Kate Sowinksi, of Plymouth Meeting, said, “I’m leaving here inspired to do great things, and for that I am grateful.”

Grads with their families get their picture taken at the Nittany Lion Shrine.

Also in a show of gratitude to faculty, Thomas Hurley, of West Chester, said, “Thank you for teaching me lessons not just in my business classes, but in life as well.”

“Thank you to my mom,” said Ashley McBride, of West Grove. “I’ve become a strong, independent, ready-for-anything woman, just like you.”

Perhaps the most memorable moment came when septuagenarian Shake Jebejian, of Newtown Square, said, “Thank you for this opportunity. I ended up with a healthy mind and a healthy body at the age of 78.” She was regaled with thunderous applause and a standing ovation from the new graduates.

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