PhilaU Celebrates Extraordinary Class of 2014 at Commencement

“I’m ready to take what I’ve learned here, at PhilaU, into the professional world,” said architecture student David Trapp. “I can’t wait to see what’s next!”

More than 760 undergraduate and graduate students shared in Trapp’s excitement at Philadelphia University’s 130th annual Commencement at the Mann Center for the Performing Arts in Fairmount Park on May 17.

The Class of 2014 included a Fulbright Scholar, entrepreneurs and a third-generation legacy student.

President Stephen Spinelli Jr. shared secrets to success with the graduating class. “Brush your teeth, shine your shoes, be on time for every meeting and appointment, and work hard,” Spinelli said in his metaphor for a disciplined and committed life. “Believe in something more important than yourself.  It will force you to be humble, especially when you achieve great things. It will calm you when life chaotically swirls around you, and it will make you grateful for the love and support of family, friends and colleagues during your journey.”


Journalist Jeffrey Selingo delivers the 2014 PhilaU Commencement address.

Journalist Jeffrey Selingo, former top editor of The Chronicle of Higher Education and author of “College (Un)Bound: The Future of Higher Education and What it Means for Students,” delivered the 2014 PhilaU Commencement address.

Selingo told the graduates that the world needs them to begin solving its toughest problems. “We all need you—your innovative spirit, your ideas and your optimism about the future,“ Selingo said. “You can take a rest, today. You can take the rest of the weekend to celebrate, but we need you to get started—to launch into your lives and into your careers.”

He encouraged the Class of 2014 to take risks, travel in search of innovation and always question why. Selingo reminded the graduates to remain adaptable because “learning never stops.”

Selingo is a professor of practice at Arizona State University and one of today’s leading voices in higher education.

The University awarded Selingo the honorary degree Doctor of Humane Letters. The University also bestowed honorary degrees on Vito Pantilione, president and CEO of Parke Bank, and William C. Whitmore Jr. ’82, member of the PhilaU Board of Trustees and chairman of AlliedBarton.

Accounting major Nicholas Christian delivered the student Commencement speech. As the team captain of the 2013-14 men’s basketball team, he led the Rams to the NCAA tournament. During his time at PhilaU, Christian was a part of the National Honor Society and had impressive internships with Verizon and Comcast. This summer, he will begin his accounting career with Comcast in Miami.

“Our destiny is greatness!” Christian said in his speech, which drew a standing ovation by his classmates and general audience.

Three exceptional students received the 2014 President’s Award for Excellence:

Undergraduate Award went to Thomas Joseph Burghart, architecture
Continuing and Professional Studies Award went to Shell Foster, information technology
Graduate Award went to James Alec Burney, MS. in Industrial Design

President Spinelli concluded the Commencement by taking the #bestselfieever of the Class of 2014 on his cell phone. “I want the world to get a good look at your faces,” Spinelli said. “You are the men and women who will be innovating your industries and shaping the future.”

Here’s where a few of the Class of 2014 are headed:

Melanie Andreasen, fashion design
Assistant designer, Target, Minneapolis, Minnesota

Didier Barjon, law and society
Congressional assistant, United States Congress, Washington D.C.

Donald Bradley, construction management
Estimator, Liberty Mechanical, Trainer, Pennsylvania

Nicholas Christian, accounting
Accountant, Comcast, Miami, Florida

Kathleen Gasper, industrial design
Industrial designer, Bear Archery, Evansville, Indiana

Xavier Johnson, animation
Animator, Tank Design Company, Newtown, Pennsylvania

Vincent Keegan, fashion merchandising and management
Licensing department, Tommy Hilfiger, New York

Heather Mishon, interactive design and media
Javascript engineer, Monetate, Philadelphia

Philip Rivera, architecture
Junior architect, Kling Stubbins, Philadelphia

Emma Rosenwinkel, interior design
Interior designer, Blackney Hayes Architects, Philadelphia

Jaclyn Stoner, fashion merchandising and management
Assistant buyer, Destination Maternity, Philadelphia

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