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News from the Dean: May 2016

Spring is an almost indescribable time on a college campus. It’s a busy yet bittersweet period when graduating students are scrambling to complete exams and final projects while looking to the next stage of their lives with both apprehension and excitement. It’s also a time for gratitude. Every April, we recognize donors at our annual endowment and awards luncheon, a very special occasion where we do our best to express how much we appreciate their support.

Each year we invite two student scholarship recipients to say a few words. For many students, a scholarship is essential for them to attend college. It’s what allows them to devote sufficient time to their studies instead of holding down multiple jobs. It is, quite literally, the key to their success.

Jerrie Johnson is one of those students. In her remarks at the luncheon, she talked about how she has lived by the motto of “a dollar and a dream” (her complete remarks). The first person in her immediate family to attend college, she shared both the financial and emotional challenges she has faced—and overcome—because she never lost sight of her goals. Scholarships allowed her to study acting at Penn State, where she became a leader and activist on campus. This fall she will attend the American Conservatory of Theater in San Francisco to pursue her M.F.A.

Valeria Ayala Cucalon also spoke at the luncheon, sharing how scholarship support has allowed her to pursue her dreams of becoming an architect that helps those in need, and traveling the world (her complete remarks). She studied abroad in both China and Rome, experiences that, she said, opened her mind. She plans to attend graduate school to earn a master’s degree in real estate development.

Jerrie and Valeria were two of approximately 215 undergraduate students to receive their degrees at our commencement ceremony on May 7, where a fellow graduating senior, Lisa Rogali, gave the commencement address. An award-winning soprano, Lisa received her degree in music education and will attend the University of Cincinnati’s College-Conservatory of Music this fall to pursue a master’s degree in voice and opera performance. In her address, which earned a standing ovation, Lisa talked about how the arts give us reason to “go on” (her complete address).

Now that the tassels have been turned, life at Penn State and in the College of Arts and Architecture will go on, and we will continue our work of educating the artists and designers of tomorrow. We will also continue our work to promote the college’s performing and visual arts offerings, which help to make the Centre Region a premier cultural destination in Pennsylvania. This summer marks the fiftieth anniversary of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, which the College of Arts and Architecture was instrumental in founding. We are proud of the role the college played in developing one of the top arts festivals in the country.

Thanks, as always, for your support, and please keep in touch!