Retiring Dean Barbara Korner encourages graduates to 'let your life speak'

May 09, 2019

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State College of Arts and Architecture welcomed approximately 200 new graduates into the alumni ranks at its commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 4, at Eisenhower Auditorium. Dean Barbara Korner, who is retiring on June 30, gave the commencement address, titled “Let Your Life Speak.”

“My basic definition of a professor is someone who went to college and never got out. I entered Missouri State University as a freshman in the fall of 1968. I’m thrilled that 50 years later I am finally graduating with the 2019 class of Penn State’s College of Arts and Architecture,” said Korner.

The 2019 graduates included college marshal Ilyse Aber, of Warrington. Aber earned her bachelor of music education degree with a cumulative 4.0 GPA. A clarinetist, she was active in numerous Penn State ensembles, including the Philharmonic Orchestra, Symphonic Wind Ensemble, Symphonic Band, Fall Athletic Band, and the Clarinet Choir. 

In her address, Korner highlighted some graduates who let their lives speak through their academic pursuits, extracurricular activities and other efforts, such as returning adult student and Navy veteran Tom Wert, who earned a degree in landscape architecture and plans to pursue a career designing military bases, and visual arts graduate Lindsey Kircher, whose many activities included volunteering for the nonprofit organization Potters for Peace, where she assisted with translating interviews with indigenous ceramic artists in Nicaragua.

Korner noted that letting your life speak includes listening to “that still, small voice, which is the essence of who you are.”

Letting your life speak to you, before you determine how it will speak to others, requires some stillness in the midst of social media and YouTube, she said, highlighting some of the advice penned by graduating students in their senior surveys.

“Be yourself. You’re the only you out there, and you have something unique to bring to the table,” wrote one student, adding, “Breathe. You are enough. You are talented and don't need to work so hard to try to make sure everyone likes you. Stay true to you, your work ethic and your drive. Also sleep more, PLEASE.”

Korner concluded by encouraging the graduates to let their lives speak through their practice as artists and designers.

“Listen to that still, small voice and let your life speak to you. Let your life speak in ways that matter most to you. Let your life speak through your art, no matter what your career journey might be.” 

Last Updated May 09, 2019