Penn State New Kensington confers 44 degrees for fall graduates

The fall commencement address, “The New Classroom,” delivered Dec. 21 by Lisa Veitch to the fall Class of 2013 at Penn State New Kensington, is now posted on the campus website.

Mixing humor with sage advice, Veitch, a former New Kensington student, prepared the new Penn Staters for life after college. A research staff member for the Institute for Defense Analyses in Alexandria, Va., Veitch earned her bachelor's degree at Penn State University Park and a doctorate in materials engineering from Purdue University. She stressed to the new alumni that their learning continues and that the world is their new classroom.

“Your degree is a license to learn,” said Veitch, a native of Plum Borough. “You’ve been taught how to find answers, solve problems, work through issues, communicate to others, etc. But you have a whole lot more to learn. Keep an open mind, don’t be afraid to try something that is totally out of your area of expertise or comfort zone.”

Veitch's words resonated with Lauren Essel, who earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing. A registered nurse, Essal works at UPMC East in Monroeville. She plans to use her degree “as a stepping stone to someday increase my education and become a nurse practitioner in women’s health.”

Forty-four graduates earned their baccalaureate and associate degrees. Kevin Snider, chancellor, and Andrea Adolph, director of academic affairs, conferred the four- and two-year degrees. The new graduates were inducted into the Penn State Alumni Association (PSAA) by Tim Oberlin, president of the Alle-Kiski Society, the local chapter of the PSAA.

Although a new classroom awaits the new graduates, the old classroom holds many memories, and the New Kensington campus holds special place in the hearts of the new Penn Staters. Armed with a bachelor’s degree in business management and marketing, Tayla Bernard is eager to test the job market and put that degree to work but will “miss the friends, staff and faculty that I have grown close with over the past three and a half years.” The 21-year-old Pittsburgh resident graduated a semester early.

Heather Lach, who had the honor of singing the national anthem and the alma mater at her own commencement ceremony, said that her favorite thing about a small campus like New Kensington is “you get to build a relationship with your professors; they actually know you by name.” Lach, who was raised in Glenshaw, earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology and plans to continue her education in graduate school.

For a list of graduates, the full text of the commencement address and photos of the ceremony, visit

For photos of the graduates, visit 

Chelsea Markle, a senior communications major and intern in the Alumni and Public Relations office, conducted the interviews and contributed to the story.

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Last Updated January 08, 2014