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Commencement includes first ASPIRE scholarship; list of graduates; photos

Amy Kudranski
Penn State New Kensington's first ASPIRE scholarship recipient, Amy Kudranski, is about to receive her bachelor's degree in business from Chancellor Kevin Snider.
5/12/2014 —


Seventy-eight degrees conferred;
Amy Kudranski earns $500 award for
completing new student initiative

Chancellor Kevin Snider conferred degrees to 78 graduates on May 10 at the 55th spring commencement exercises at Penn State New Kensington. Suzette Schultz, senior project manager for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals and former campus student, delivered the commencement address, “The Things You Didn’t Learn in College – Skills to be Successful in the Real World.”

The commencement address featured ten things that graduates didn’t learn in college that will help them succeed in the real world. Mixing humor with sage advice, Schultz prepared the new Penn Staters for life after college. She stressed to the new alumni that the real challenge begins now,  and there are many additional lessons to learn, life lessons, and lessons on how to have a successful career. She also encouraged them to take advantage of the many resources of the Penn State Alumni Association.

Tim Oberlin, president of the Alle-Kiski Society, inducted the new alumni into the Penn State Alumni Association. Chelsea Leake, president of the Student Government Association, spoke to the graduates, and Andrew Lee, a senior in the Psychology program, sang the National Anthem and the Alma Mater.

Three undergraduate students were awarded degrees with high distinction and distinction, based on their cumulative grade-point averages. The graduate with high distinction was Jessica Nowland, who received a bachelor’s degree in information sciences and technology. Rebecca Piazza, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and Josh Swinehart, a recipient of a bachelor of science degree in psychology, graduated with distinction.

Amy Kudranski’s new degree earned her the campus’ first ASPIRE scholarship. In a twist on the traditional scholarships that are awarded to undergraduates, Kudranski received a $500 ASPIRE scholarship as a graduate. Believed to be the first of its kind at any Penn State campus, the ASPIRE (A Scholarship Program Inspiring Responsible Economics) program was established in 2012 as a support system to educate students on the importance of making healthy financial decisions.

“The focus of the program is to learn about finances, spending responsibly and borrowing wisely,” said Jennifer Marino, financial aid coordinator and ASPIRE coordinator. “Our goal is to help students to save money while attending college and to graduate with less debt.”

Students in the program have the opportunity to learn from financial professionals during on-campus workshops that are held twice during each semester and to get advice from Marino throughout the year. The workshops are designed to help students make informed decisions about their finances while they are attending school and after graduation. Topics included budgeting money while in school, the importance of saving, dangers of debt, explanation of interest rates, and loan repayment strategies.

“The sessions have certainly made me become more aware of my spending habits in general as a college student,” said Kudranski, a product of Plum High School. “Proper money management by differentiating between needs and wants is the key.”

The ASPIRE program is open to students in the campus’ nine four-year programs and five two-year programs. Enrollment begins in the fall. Undergraduates who complete the program, and earn a degree from the campus, are awarded $1,000 for a bachelor’s degree or $500 for an associate degree to help pay down debt after graduation. The program began when Kudranski was a junior, so she qualified for $500.

“What I learned will help me in future situations that come after graduation, such as when school loans begin and need to be paid off,” said Kudranski, a recipient of a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing. “Aspire has certainly been beneficial to me.”

Kudranski helped keep her education costs under control by working as a server at the Hall of Fame Club at PNC Park. At one point, she was working three jobs.

“I attempted to save as much money as I could to pay out of pocket for tuition,” said Kudranski, whose sister graduated from the campus’ Radiological Science program in 2009. “I have taken loans out each year to cover the rest of tuition."

Between studying and working, Kudranski managed to participate in extra-curricular activities at the campus. She was a member of the THON committee for three years and an orientation leader for two years. During her time with THON, the campus raised more than $177,000 for the Four Diamonds Fund and the fight against pediatric cancer.

Armed with a degree, the newly minted alumna is ready to join the workforce. She already has a job lined up as a financial adviser for AXA Advisors, a multi-national investment, retirement and insurance company. After a few years, she plans to head back to Penn State and work on an MBA degree. She credits her experience at the New Kensington campus for the prospects of a bright future.

“I feel I have become a well-rounded individual thanks to all the professors who have contributed to my education,” said Kudranski, who also credits her family for their support. “The challenges faced, let alone the experiences I have had at Penn State New Kensington, have been just wonderful.”

The Penn State New Kensington class of 2014 is a continuation of a tradition that began in 1960 with 28 men earning associate degrees. It has evolved into men and women receiving bachelor's and associate degrees. Since that inaugural class, more than 11,000 alumni have attended Penn State New Kensington and have earned a Penn State degree.

For photos of the commencement ceremony, visit http://psnk.smugmug.com/


List of Graduates

PSNK grdautes
Shaheeda Wilkes waves to her family during recessional at Penn State New Kensington's 55th commencement exercises.


College of Engineering, Bachelor of Science, Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology: David I. Buss,
Nathan J. Davis, James C. Hawkins, Justin M. Kerchensky, Jeremy D. Lester, Charles M. May, Mac S. McGowan, He Mei, Joseph A. Suders, Joshua D. Takosky, Kevin T. Turner, Corey T. Zell

College of Health and Human Development, Bachelor of Science, Communication Sciences and Disorders:
Rachel J. Kotvas

College of Information Sciences and Technology, Bachelor of Science, Information Sciences and Technology: Jessica M. Noland ??

College of Liberal Arts, Bachelor of Science, Biological Anthropology: Elizabeth J. Bogaty

Bachelor of Science, Organizational Leadership: Rebecca J. Gipson, Tajma Juklo, Wendi L. O'Brien, Brian D. Oyenik, Steven R. Warhola, Shaheeda R. Wilks

College of Nursing, Bachelor of Science, Nursing: Keith E. Claypool, Michael A. Dixon,
Alyssa N. Kanuch, Rebecca A. Piazza ???

Eberly College of Science, Bachelor of Science, Biology: Jeffrey A. Richards

University College, Bachelor of Science, Administration of Justice: Kelly A. Buggy, Eric N. James* , Tarra L. Oravec, John J. Ramsey *, Cristina M. Umbel

Bachelor of Science, Information Sciences and Technology: Stephanie N. Decarlo, Justin M. Genta,
Eric L. Gmerek, Adam J. Moore, Ashutosh Pandey *, Christopher F. Rago, Kaleb E. R. Relich, Jesse L. Vulgris,
Cody J. Weible, Eric J. Wojnar

Bachelor of Science, Psychology: Brianna M. Klems, John R. Maholic, Joshua B. Swinehart ???

Bachelor of Science, Business: Amy C. Kudranski, Zacharia M. Rayan *, Kimberly D. Smith

Bachelor of Arts, Communications: Stacey L. Ansell, Casey B. Domski, Dylan R. Schaeffer


College of Engineering, Biomedical Engineering Technology: Joseph Dobies *, Alexander J. Herchuck *,
Jacob J. Hetu *, John E. Lamb *, Andrew J. Lansberry *, Samantha N. Muhhuku *, Galen J. Nelson *,
Christopher A. Repko

Mechanical Engineering Technology: Ryan J. Malarik

University College, Information Sciences and Technology: Stephen J. Artman, Patti J. Dinwiddie

Letters, Arts, and Sciences: Marie A. Burton, Caitlyn F. Cody, Kathryn L. Davis

Radiological Science: Branden G. Ewing *, Bhawani Y. Harrell *, Morgan N. Henderson *, Beth Ann, M. Hollinger *, Anastasia N. Hyskell *, Rachel L. Kwiatkowski *, Kristine A. Meister *, Kelsey T. Nulph *, Heather R. Pranskey *,
Brittany L. Rathmann *, Jennifer L. Sekowski *, Jacalyn T. Thomas *, Michelle A. Veronesi *, Jennifer R. White *,
Cody A. Wikert *

? Highest Distinction ?? High Distinction ??? Distinction

*Intends to fulfill degree requirements during summer 2014

Commencement Address

Commencement speaker
Former campus student Sue Schultz is about to deliver the commencement address to
Penn State New Kensington's 55th graduating class.


“And while you learned a lot from your professors, and your peers, there are many additional lessons to learn, life lessons, lessons on how to have a successful career and how to be seen as a team player and one worthy of moving up through the organization. In short, the things you didn’t learn in college but the skills needed to be successful in the real world.
-- Susan Schultz, Commencement Address, 10 May 2014,
Penn State New Kensington

"The Things You Didn’t Learn in College – Skills to be Successful in the Real World"
Delivered by Suzette Schultz

I am truly excited to be here today. I never could have imagined, 30+ years ago, sitting where you are, that I would be here giving the commencement speech. I am truly humbled and honored.
I’m sure that when you saw who the commencement speaker was, the first words out of your mouth was “Who?” And then the next thought was, “Man, why can’t we get good commencement speakers?”
Obviously, you aren’t alone in your thinking. When I excitedly told a fellow graduate I was doing this, he sent me an article from Onward State titled “Why do Penn State’s Commencement Speakers Suck?” Well, I was feeling a little anxious about creating a meaningful commencement speech, one with impact and that would be remembered for at least a little while. And that article just added to my anxiety level. But then I read the article, and thought about it for a moment, and I realized the writer had a point. And that is that Penn State does not bring in commencement speakers with name recognition like Oprah, Michelle Obama or Mark Zuckerberg. And while these individuals could certainly share their world view, there is something that I bring to the party that they never could, and that is the shared experience of being at this campus. I am a graduate of the New Kensington campus and, as such, I have done a lot of the same things you did:
• Bought the obligatory Penn State T-shirts
• Purchased overpriced books in the book store
• Sat through classes
• Struggled through exams
• Written lab and research papers
• Shot hoops in the gym
• Done research, studied and even slept in the library
• Worked with fellow students on projects in the common areas
• Met with my advisor to try to figure out what major I should pursue, what classes I should take, and tried to figure out when I would actually graduate

I have walked these hallways and have done all these things that neither Oprah nor Michelle Obama nor Mark Zuckerberg can claim. I am one of you, only a little older. I have walked in your shoes and uniquely know the challenges, joys and opportunities that await you.
OK, now you’ve done the work, learned the lessons, passed the test, and got to this point, the culmination of all that hard work. But this is not the end -- it is the beginning. Now the real challenge begins -- using those skills that you learned at this campus. And while you learned a lot from your professors, and your peers, there are many additional lessons to learn, life lessons, lessons on how to have a successful career and how to be seen as a team player and one worthy of moving up through the organization. In short, the things you didn’t learn in college but the skills needed to be successful in the real world.
So let me help you out. I have made mistakes, or have seen them being made, and can give you advice from someone who has been there. Hopefully, if/when you are faced with these challenges, you will remember what I said and you can avoid at least one or two hard lessons in life.
And so, in honor of David Letterman’s Top Ten, I give you the top ten things you didn’t learn in college that will help you succeed in the real world.

1. Email is not the only mode of communication. Sometimes the best mode of communication is still a phone call or a meeting to hash through details. I can’t tell you how many times I have seen people use email as the sole method of communication. Don’t get me wrong – email has its place, especially if you are dealing with people around the globe and in different time zones. But emails can be completely misinterpreted as the reader will insert their tone in the message that wasn’t your intent and now the recipient got the wrong message. And especially, don’t send an email written in anger. This email could potentially end up in places you couldn’t even imagine and people who have never met you will form an impression of you. An angry tirade email will not make you look good, or professional, and it doesn’t really matter if you are wrong or right. So, if you have to craft the email, do it, but don’t send it. Wait a few days, let cooler heads prevail, and then delete it.
2. Work out conflicts with co-workers by yourself. You will encounter difficult people. Chances are good you already have; it’s the nature of the working world. Sometimes people are just jerks. But don’t expect the boss to intervene when you have a problem with a difficult colleague. You need to work it out. Have a private conversation with the difficult co-worker, letting them know how you “feel”. No one can invalidate your feelings. Say “I feel bad when you….” and let them know what they do that makes you feel uncomfortable. Tell them you wish to have a good working relationship but these bad feelings are getting in the way. I had this conversation with a really difficult person and we ended up as friends. Becoming friends is rare. The least you can hope for is a cordial professional working relationship and sometimes, that’s as good as it gets. You don’t have to like everybody – just get along with them.
3. Don’t go to your boss with problems – go with solutions. The boss doesn’t have time to solve all your problems, and that really is why you are there, anyway. If there is a problem, show the boss you have evaluated several options and talk through your logic and how you decided which course of action to pursue. They will have a much better opinion of you as a reliable worker who can handle problems as they arise.
4. Volunteer for new job assignments especially if they are outside your comfort zone, or things that no one has ever done before. Continue to expand your “tool kit”, also called your “skill set”, to make yourself more valuable to any organization. What you learn today may not apply to your current job, but, the world is a changing, dynamic place and you never know what industry will be created. If you would have told me when I graduated that I would be able to talk to people around the globe, or find out a sports score, or get the latest celebrity news from my phone, I would have told you that you were crazy. So learn new things and keep abreast of the changing world so you can react.
5. Just because you got an education doesn’t mean you are educated. You’re not done learning. Education is a lifelong endeavor. Education doesn’t have to be structured, like getting a degree, but could be on-the-job training or something as simple as watching a TV show on how things are made. Everything you learn could be applied later; you just don’t know it yet. As my father used to say “Be careful, you may learn something.”
6. Be nice to everyone from the janitor, food service personnel and the landscaping crew. And especially be nice to the secretary. She can make or break your career. A few bad words from her to the boss could sink your career. And how you treat underlings shows a lot about who you are as a person and as an employee.
7. Don’t gossip. We all love gossip but don’t be the person people come to for their daily dose. Don’t do it. Trust me.
8. Join a professional society and attend a few meetings now and then, even if you don’t want to. This may be surprising to people who know me, but I am innately shy. I think most of us are. I have to drag myself to meetings and networking events, especially if I don’t know anyone. I look around for the other person in the room that looks just about as alone and miserable as I am. And I go over to them and start talking, asking them their name, where they work, what they do, where they’re from, etc. It’s also a good way not to look stupid as a wallflower. And before long, we find another miserable-looking person and invite them to join, and so on and so on. Before long we have a whole group of shy, formerly miserable people. You’ve met some new people. This is networking. And don’t forget your business cards. Always.
9. Find a mentor, preferably someone higher up in the organization that can show you the ropes. Sure, there are procedures and normal ways of getting things done, but a mentor can help with those behind-the-scenes rules and hierarchy that is not written down. They can also provide candid feedback and can help mold how others perceive you. Take all feedback as constructive and try to see their perspective; they may see something you don’t. And don’t naively assume that a boss somewhere will know how much you are contributing to the organization and that wonderful job assignments and fame and fortune will follow. YOU need to get your name out there.
10. Thank people who have helped you – every day. You got to this point today with support from friends, grandparents, siblings and, most importantly, your parents. They took care of you when you were sick, tried to instill values in you, maybe dragged you to church, and supported you through your entire life. They have watched you grow and are intensely proud of you. You owe them. Let them know how much you appreciate all they have done. And, as a quick reminder, it is understandable to have today’s focus be on you, but I wanted to give you a heads up that tomorrow is Mother’s Day. For those of you lucky to still have your mother around, you have about 12 hours to come up with something. It doesn’t have to be grandiose or expensive – a card, some flowers, a box of chocolates, just let her know how you feel about her. Just a gentle reminder…

OK, so before I start to sound like one of your professor’s boring lectures, let me leave you with a couple of key thoughts as we celebrate your graduation from The Pennsylvania State University. You are graduating from a university that is, by almost any measure, among the top 50 universities in the world. And considering there are about 9,000 universities in the world, being in the top 50 is incredible! Penn State has the largest dues paying alumni association with almost 174k strong. Of those, 110k are life members. Think of that – almost 2/3rds thought enough of our university to be life members of the alumni association. Don’t let this valuable resource go to waste. Tap into this vast alumni network and connect with others, not just for your first job, or your last, but also for the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences. Join a local section and network. We have a lot in common. We have all made it through and are now forever connected as fellow Penn Staters.
This university’s graduates are #1 by employers seeking employees. Why? Because this university focuses on preparing graduates for the working world. You have the skill set, you have the support, you have the contacts and you have the backing of a world-class university -- now go out there and make an impact. Make us all Penn State proud!
We are!

Penn State has the largest dues paying alumni association with almost 174k strong. Of those, 110k are life members. Think of that – almost 2/3rds thought enough of our university to be life members of the alumni association. Don’t let this valuable resource go to waste. Tap into this vast alumni network and connect with others, not just for your first job, or your last, but also for the camaraderie that comes from shared experiences. Join a local section and network. We have a lot in common. We have all made it through and are now forever connected as fellow Penn Staters.
-- Susan Schultz, Commencement Address, 10 May 2014,
Penn State New Kensington.

About Suzette Schultz
Suzette Shaffer Schultz, senior project manager for AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals, attended the New Kensington campus before earning bachelor’s degrees in chemical engineering and chemistry at University Park. In her current role at AstraZeneca, a global biopharmaceutical company headquartered in Wilmington, Del., Schultz oversees the product launch process for drugs across the company’s key therapeutic areas: cardiovascular and metabolic disease; oncology; and respiratory, inflammation and autoimmunity.

Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Schultz began her career in chemical engineering at Bristol-Myers Squibb in Indiana where she was a production foreman, supervising all aspects of pharmaceutical production from raw material delivery to packaging and distribution. During her time at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Schultz contributed significantly to developing an aqueous-based coating for a prenatal product that resulted in major cost and environmental savings.

A chemical engineer with more than 30 years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry, Schultz recently became the second woman to receive the Engineer of the Year award from the Engineers’ Club of Philadelphia. Established in 1953, Engineer of the Year award is an annual award that recognizes an individual who has pursued a career of achievement and leadership in the engineering profession.

Schultz connection the New Kensington campus includes philanthropic activity. Last year she pledged $50,000 to create the Shaffer Family Trustee Matching Scholarship at the campus. Undergraduates and incoming freshmen at the New Kensington are eligible for the Shaffer scholarship.

In March, Schultz was inducted into the campus’ Arch Recognition Society at the annual dinner at Oakmont Country Club. The donor society's membership is reserved for campus supporters who have contributed a total of $25,000 to the campus. There are 31 members in the society.

The Shaffer-Schultz family’s Penn State bloodline runs through the New Kensington and University Park campuses. Her brother, David Shaffer, took the same New Kensington-University Park route in earning his bachelor’s degree. Her daughter, Katherine Schultz, graduated from University Park in 2012, and is now a Fulbright teaching assistant in Vienna, Austria.

In addition to her professional accomplishments, Schultz is also involved in a number of organizations that help to give back to the community and promote Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) fields to future engineers. She has been a member of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) for more than 30 years, providing her the opportunity to direct programs at the pre-college and college level to encourage and mentor young men and women in the engineering field. As the immediate past president of Girls Inc. of Delaware, a non-profit organization that works with 1,400 disadvantaged girls throughout the state to help encourage them to overcome challenges through research-based initiatives, Schultz shares her passion for the engineering field with the young women in the program. She has even hosted girls from the program at AstraZeneca’s corporate headquarters for a first-hand look at the industry.

Schultz is a resident of Thornton, Pa., which is, located 36 miles west of Philadelphia, During her leisure time, she enjoys traveling, especially visiting her daughter, Katherine.

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