Penn State commencement ceremonies feature Schreyer Honors College connections

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- The Schreyer Honors College will be well represented at the commencement ceremonies for the Penn State Class of 2015, with more than 450 scholars who will graduate this May as well as three individuals who have been selected as commencement speakers.

Scholar Katherine Rhodes, distinguished as the student marshal for the College of Liberal Arts with the highest grade point average among the college’s spring graduates will deliver the address for her college. 1990 scholar alumna Kelly Ayotte, a U.S. senator from New Hampshire, will speak to Dickinson School of Law graduates on May 16, and 2003 alumnus David Rusenko, co-founder and CEO of, will make his remarks at the College of Information Sciences and Technology commencement on May 9.

Rhodes will graduate with dual bachelor of science degrees from Penn State in May with plans to attend graduate school and pursue a doctoral degree in evolutionary anthropology and human genetics. She paired her major in biological anthropology with a minor in Spanish from the College of Liberal Arts, with a major in biology, with an option in genetics and development, from the Eberly College of Science. The South Hadley, Massachusetts, native has served as an undergraduate research assistant in the laboratory led by Distinguished Professor of Anthropology Joan Richtsmeier, where she studies human evolution and development and is particularly interested in normal and pathological development of the skull and evolutionary genetics.

The recipient of an Undergraduate Discovery Grant for her research, Rhodes has participated in an array of international academic experiences including study abroad at Oxford University and paleoanthropology fields schools in Spain and the Republic of Georgia.

In addition to Rhodes, six Schreyer Scholars were named as student marshals for spring 2015 commencement ceremonies, each possessing the highest grade point average for graduating seniors in their respective colleges. Leah Frederick, of Manassas, Virginia, was selected as the student marshal for the College of Arts and Architecture; the College of Agriculture recognized Amy Rutter of Stevens, Pennsylvania, as its student marshal; Dale Peterson of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, was honored as the Smeal College of Business student marshal; Katharine Maisel, of Lancaster, Pennsylvania, was named the student marshal for the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences; the College of Health and Human Development identified Kathleen Rodden, of Ardmore, Pennsylvania, as its student marshal; and Peter Hohman of Erie, Pennsylvania, will represent the Eberly College of Science as its student marshal.

Undergraduate commencement ceremonies begin on May 8 and continue through May 10. Additional information on individual college and Commonwealth ceremonies and speaker information is available here. Detailed information specific to the commencement ceremonies at University Park is available at

Ayotte, elected to the U.S. Senate in 2010, serves on the Armed Services, Budget, Commerce, Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, and Small Business and Entrepreneurship committees, and chairs the Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and the Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations. Sen. Ayotte earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in political science from Penn State and holds a juris doctorate degree from Villanova University.

A prosecutor at heart, Ayotte served as attorney general of New Hampshire from 2004 to 2009, after serving as counsel to the governor in 2003. She also held a number of other positions in the New Hampshire Department of Justice.

Rusenko was twice named to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list and is the youngest recipient of the Penn State Alumni Achievement Award. His start-up company,, which attracts more than 100 million visits per month, enables individuals to create a high-quality website with no HTML experience. Rusenko, the youngest member of IST’s advisory board, has established the largest scholarship fund in the college’s 12-year history, the David Rusenko Emerging Entrepreneur and Entrepreneur-in-Residence Scholarships. He also plays a major role in the concept and growth of IST’s signature annual event, Startup Week.

Schreyer Honors Scholars, including Gateway Scholars admitted after their first year of enrollment, total more than 1,800 students at University Park and six Commonwealth Campuses. They represent the top two percent of students at Penn State who perform well academically and lead on campus.

Last Updated May 12, 2016