Abington valedictorian: ‘Be young at heart as you pursue your passions’

Penn State Abington valedictorian Meredith McLaren asked the Class of 2014 to heed the wise advice dispensed by the “panel of experts” she met at her student teaching practicum this spring.

“I want to share their words of wisdom. Always keep your stomach full. Never lick the floor – it has germs on it,” she said at the spring commencement exercises. “Never throw a party on a Monday because you might forget what you need to know all week.”

McLaren smiled broadly as she continued, “These amazing second graders showed me that in this complex and chaotic world, all we need to remember is a few simple things. Be young at heart as you pursue your passions – unless your passion is licking the floor.”

And Chancellor Karen Wiley Sandler, who officially unleashed more than 260 freshly minted Abington alumni into the world, echoed McLaren. She reminded them that basics such as knowing they always have a home at Abington are vital to their happiness.

“You leave us forever connected to Penn State Abington,” Sandler told the audience in the athletic building. “We will be here to offer support and encouragement throughout your life. Spread the spirit of Penn State service to those in need.”

"These amazing second graders showed me that in this complex and chaotic world, all we need to remember is a few simple things. Be young at heart as you pursue your passions – unless your passion is licking the floor.”

             -- Meredith McLaren, Abington Class of 2014 valedictorian

The Class of 2014 was studded with academic achievers including Jacquelyn D. Nguyen and Bryan C. Choy, recipients of Schreyer Honors College medals for scholarly achievement, integrity of purpose and intellectual curiosity.

Among the other noteworthy academic accomplishments of the Abington Class of 2014:

-- Carlos N. Muños Mendoza earned two degrees, a bachelor of arts in history and a bachelor of science in administration of justice.

-- Carter M. Bowman and Christian R. Herder each earned bachelor’s degrees with dual majors.

-- Barbara and Edward Hall earned their bachelor’s degrees in nursing. The couple, who work the same shift at an area hospital, attended all of their classes for Abington’s R.N. to B.S. degree in nursing program together.

-- The first cohort of Childhood and Early Adolescent Education majors completed their degrees

-- Twenty-three graduates earned academic honors.

Traditionally, the ceremony closes with the graduates giving back to Abington. Senior class President Fallyn Maleski disclosed that Michael Bernstein, assistant professor of psychology, received the Chief Ogontz Award for making the campus community stronger. 

A huge cheer erupted when Maleski presented Gina Kaufman, associate director of student affairs, with the Lion Heart Award. 

“Gina is truly the mother figure of Abington,” Maleski read from one nomination. “She is so passionate and excited about everything. She is someone I aspire to be like.”

Maleski’s final announcement, the Class of 2014 gift, drew laughs. The seniors voted to purchase an outdoor shuttle bus shelter to “help protect our students from the elements during the times – like this winter – when the weather wasn’t quite on our side.”

Many graduates were surprised to learn that commencement speaker Risa Vetri Ferman shared their emotional connection with Abington. The Montgomery County District Attorney told them she was raised near the campus.

“My school bus stop was across the street," Ferman, known for her dedication to protecting victims of child and elder abuse, said. "This campus with its pond and woods was my playground growing up.”

To see additional images from Abington’s spring 2014 commencement go to https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10152393558812528.1073741920.1....

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Last Updated May 13, 2014