The Class of 2013 walked across the stage to cheers from family, friends, faculty and staff on Saturday, May 11, for Philadelphia University’s 129th Commencement ceremony.
Carson Kressley inspired undergraduate students with a heartfelt speech that challenged students to be true to themselves and pursue their passions.
Kressley, an Emmy Award-winning fashion celebrity known for his roles on hit TV shows “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” “How to Look Good Naked,” “Dancing with the Stars,” and “Carson Nation” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters.
“I could tell you that when I sat [at my graduation] in the May sun holding my diploma 22 years ago, I knew where I was headed and exactly how to get there. But I would be totally lying,” Kressley said.
“But if you live your life only following the path you think is approved or acceptable, or the one you think is expected of you, you’ll be making a huge mistake,” he said. “Not a single successful person… has ever done great things because they played it safe. You’ve got to be true to yourself.”
Earlier in the day, Robert Nydick ’78 gave the graduate Commencement address and was awarded the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. Nydick, professor of management and operations at Villanova University and a Philadelphia University trustee, spoke about choosing to go the extra mile.
“Be prepared. Be committed. Be passionate, and don’t be afraid to fail,” Nydick said in an entertaining speech.”It doesn’t matter how many times you fall down, as long as you get up one more time.”
Nydick is a professor at Villanova University, where he teaches business to undergraduate and MBA students. Earlier in his career, Nydick was an assistant professor at Philadelphia University, and he currently serves on the University’s Board of Trustees.
More than 800 undergraduate and graduate students received their diplomas at the 2013 Commencement ceremonies on May 11.
President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D., celebrated the achievements of the graduating class in his commencement address and challenged them to seize opportunities.
“You leave this campus to engage in a world rife with change. And yet, this chaos may be your greatest stroke of luck yet,” President Spinelli said. “When the circumstances of civilization are in flux therein lays the greatest opportunity to live a productive and fulfilling life, to make the proverbial ‘difference’ in a world desperate for leadership.”
Eileen Chambers ’91, vice president and portfolio manager at the Haverford Trust Company, gave the Alumni Welcome address at the ceremony, welcoming the Class of 2013 to the University alumni community.
Stacey Van Dahm, assistant professor of literature and writing, was recognized for receiving the President’s Award for Teaching Excellence and Susan Frostén, assistant professor of architecture, was recognized for receiving the Lindback Distinguished Teaching Award. The teaching awards were announced at the faculty reception on May 3.
Megan Freeman, a graduate of the College of Science, Health and the Liberal Arts with a degree in psychology, was honored as the Class of 2013 valedictorian. President Stephen Spinelli Jr., Ph.D. presented the President’s Award for Excellence to Marisa Cooper for undergraduate studies, Katherine Bogash for graduate studies and Zachary Quinter for continuing and professional studies.
Cooper, a graduate of the pre-medical studies program and Christina Jakucs, graduate of the Masters in Business in Administration program, were the winners of this year’s student speaker competition for the undergraduate and graduate Commencement ceremonies, respectively. Both students reflected on their time at PhilaU and urged their classmates to make the most of their degrees and pursue their future with passion.
Closing her speech, Jakucs said, “Abraham Lincoln once said that the best way to predict the future is to create it. We are empowered to do what’s next, so let’s go and be creative.”
Cooper said, “We need to enjoy our future, even if it means taking risks; even if it means going from here without a plan; even if it means that we still don’t know what we want to be when we grow up.”
“Because you know, in the back of our minds, just like we succeeded to get to this point of graduation, we know we will succeed again,” Cooper said. “And however we succeed, each and every time, we will be marked as Philadelphia University alumni.”