9 A.M. Ceremony Order of Exercises
College of Education & Human Services
For your convenience, speaker scripts are listed below the order of exercises.
Daniel A. Wubah, Ph.D., President Presiding
MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY WIND ENSEMBLE
“Pomp and Circumstance”, Sir Edward Elgar
Joseph Cernuto, D.M.A., Conductor
GAIL E. GASPARICH, Ph.D.
Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs
*THE NATIONAL ANTHEM
LED BY CHRISTINA FLORES ’23
Words by Francis Scott Key
Arranged by John Philip Sousa
INTRODUCTION OF PLATFORM GUESTS
GREETINGS FROM FACULTY
KELLY M. BANNA, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Psychology
President, APSCUF – MU
GREETINGS FROM STUDENT GOVERNMENT
MS. LINDSAY GRIFFITHS ’23
President, Student Government Association
PRESENTATION OF SENIOR CLASS GIFT
MS. TANIA L. TURNER ’23
DANIEL A. WUBAH, Ph.D.
INTRODUCTION OF COMMENCEMENT SPEAKER
MR. PATRICK LEAHY ‘97
Advisor for Government Affairs and Public Policy, United States Election Assistance Commission
PRESENTATION OF ASSOCIATE AND BACCALAUREATE DEGREE CANDIDATES
CONFERAL OF DEGREES
PRESENTATION OF CANDIDATES FOR COLLEGE OF EDUCATION AND HUMAN SERVICES AND SCHOOL OF SOCIAL WORK
LARA WILLOX, Ph.D.
Dean, College of Education and Human Services and School of Social Work
WELCOME FROM THE ALUMNI ASSOCIATION
MS. JOYCE KING ‘83
President, Millersville University Alumni Association
*THE ALMA MATER
LED BY ELISE EGGLESTON ‘23
Words by Esther E. Lenhardt, Class of 1910 and Sanders P. McComsey, Class of 1917
Music arranged by Melzer R. Porter
Millersville University Wind Ensemble
MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY WIND ENSEMBLE
The Lords of Greenwich
THE AUDIENCE WILL REMAIN IN PLACE UNTIL ALL GRADUATES HAVE RECESSED.
MACE BEARER: Len Litowitz, Ed.D.
GONFALON BEARER: Laura Granruth, Ph.D.
COMMENCEMENT MARSHALS: Stacey Irwin, Ph.D.; Karen Rice, Ph.D., Elizabeth Powers, Ph.D.; Bertha De Jesus, D.S.W.
READER: Shaun Cook, Ph.D.
*Audience will stand, participation is voluntary.
GREETINGS FROM FACULTY - KELLY M. BANNA, Ph.D.
On behalf of the Millersville University Faculty, I’d like to welcome today’s guests of honor—our graduates—and to extend a warm welcome to your friends and family, who have joined us today to celebrate you and your accomplishments.
Ten years ago, during my faculty orientation, one of us asked a tenured faculty member, what is the best thing about working at Millersville. Her answer? “The students.” I remember thinking, “geez—she can’t think of anything good about working here, so she’s just saying ‘the students,’ because that’s an easy answer.” I was a little worried about what I had gotten myself into.
After about a year of teaching, though, it became clear to me that her answer was an honest one—our students really are delightful to work with. There are a few here and there that are… well, not delightful… but they are few and far between. The majority of our students are earnest, hard-working, and motivated. More than that, they are kind. They are thoughtful. And they are compassionate.
I’d like to share with you a personal story about just how kind and compassionate Millersville students are. Last summer, my best friend—who happened to be a rat terrier named Colby—was diagnosed with Cushing’s Syndrome and then with cancer. The tumor was successfully removed in October, but over the course of the following five months, he suffered a series of seemingly unrelated life-threatening infections and medical conditions that eventually ended with me having to make a very difficult decision at the end of March.
As anyone who has ever cared for a sick family member knows, times like these are often stressful and unpredictable. There’s the emotional distress, yes, but then there are the logistical challenges. Scheduling veterinary appointments follows the same “hunger games” rules as scheduling medical appointments for humans—you take what you can get, whenever you can get it—and then there are the myriad emergency visits that always seem to pop up at the worst time possible. But life happens, and you deal with it.
In this case, “dealing with it” sometimes involved asking a colleague to cover a class for me. It sometimes involved last-minute changes to class assignments or having to reschedule office hours or student meetings. It sometimes meant longer-than-usual delays in getting feedback to students (and my usual delays are long enough) or bringing Colby to class because it was the only way to be on time after leaving the vet clinic. In other words, “dealing with it” meant inconveniencing my students and sometimes, falling short—way short—of what I thought they deserved.
I waited for the emails. I waited for the (justified) complaints. I waited for the long line of students outside of my office asking for their marked-up rough drafts. They never came.
What came instead was grace. It was kindness. It was compassion. Rather than expressions of irritation or frustration—which would have been understandable—they expressed concern, both for Colby and for me. When he came to class with me, my students—or as I like to think of them, Colby’s classmates—welcomed him with open arms, always stopping to pet him on their way out the door or in the hallway or in my office.
And when I had to say goodbye to that perfect little stinker, they wrote emails and gave me cards expressing their condolences. They brought me flowers and Oreos. One student even knitted a little dog-bone with Colby’s name for me. Absolutely none of this was expected, but it was so incredibly thoughtful and so incredibly appreciated. And it lightened the load more than they could possibly know.
It was also emblematic of the type of human beings our students are. You know, when universities design marketing materials, they often—and rightfully—focus on what they can offer you. Recruitment events are designed to persuade prospective students that getting a Millersville degree is worthwhile; that coming to here will teach you to think critically and prepare you for a job. And it is. And it does. And it will.
But that isn’t all that makes coming to Millersville worthwhile. That tenured faculty member who spoke at my orientation was right—more than anything, it’s our students that make this a great place to be. Not just because of your academic prowess in the classroom, but because of the people you are and the way you treat others. What makes Millersville a worthwhile place to be is the vibrant, engaging, and caring community that you help create.
So... yes, congratulations, on all of your academic accomplishments—you have earned it. But also, thank you for spending the past four (-ish) years of your lives with us, and for showing us grace and kindness when we’ve needed it. I wish you all health, happiness, and success as you move on to whatever comes next.
Annually, the Educator of the Year Award is presented to a single faculty or staff member as a recognition of their exceptional teaching, counseling, mentoring, and advising efforts. Given that there are many forms of outstanding teaching and advising, it is difficult to provide an exhaustive list of award-worthy characteristics. The individual who has been chosen by their peers as the Educator of the Year for the current academic year has been instrumental in co-founding a new Action Research Conference for student teachers to showcase research conducted in their classrooms. Additionally, she provides students with learning opportunities outside the classroom, such as organizing a trip to Italy to learn about the Regio Emilia approach and leading an Assistive Technology Conference where students and colleagues design low tech assistive technology that is donated to the IU 13. Collaborating with colleagues like Drs. Jason Petula, Beth Powers, and Sharon Brusic, she works on projects that offer culturally responsive professional development opportunities to other educators. I am delighted to present the Millersville University Educator of the Year award to Dr. Deborah Tamakloe.
GREETINGS FROM STUDENT GOVERNMENT - Lindsay Griffiths
Friends, family, special guests, President Wubah and most importantly the class of 2023, today is the day! Congratulations class of 2023!! We have reached the day we have waited for over the past 4 years! I bet you could all agree this is not the exact journey you thought you would take to arrive at today. Let’s take 30 seconds to reflect on your journey. Graduates look at your friends and peers around you and think of a memory that has happened in the past four years, I hope to see some laughs and smiles.
Thank you for that moment of reflection. Over the past few weeks, I have done a lot of reflection on all four years, and my two years as your student body president. The past four years have been how do I put this simply? Absolutely crazy...We as a class came into college in the fall of 2019 with the expectation that these would be the best years of our lives. We are going to live on campus, attend classes, make friends and then spring finals came and it all stopped. We were sent home and told to have an amazing two-week spring break. And then three days later it was nope see you in the fall and then July rolled around and the COVID pandemic kept us at home one more year. Finally, in the Fall of 2021 we returned to campus as Juniors. We have to now run our student organizations, go to classes, figure out what campus was like because we were here for what - a few months? But do you know what we have done in the past two years? Overcome. We overcame everything thrown at us; we overcame the struggles of not only the global pandemic but also the results of it as college students. Our campus may not be back to the precovid campus it once was, but it is Millersville, the campus we loved when we chose to come here and now, we walk the stage. Where did the time go? Where did the late nights in the SMC go, the club meetings we have attended or ran? They are over now but we came, we overcame and now we go out and take on the world with the many EPPIIC lessons of Millersville University in our pockets.
I hope you take these lessons, go out in the world and be the amazing humans that I have had the honor to serve this year. Remember to explore, be professional), strive to help others, be inclusive, have integrity and carry your heart with compassion. I will leave you this one last quote that I choose to put on my graduation cap but something I have carried with me over the years, “Be bold enough to use your voice, be brave enough to listen to your heart and be strong enough to live the life you have always imagined!” - Winne the Pooh.
Once again congratulations class of 2023!! It has been a ride and I cannot wait to see where you all go! I am so proud of you! Thank you!
SALUTATION - DANIEL A. WUBAH, Ph.D.
Good morning. Welcome to our graduating students, faculty, staff, family members, friends and distinguished guests. This morning, we have gathered to celebrate the achievement of our graduates. And at this time, we have arrived at the part of the program commonly described as the president’s salutation. This is not the commencement speech, because that will come soon. At that point some of you may wonder:
- How much of these remarks will I remember tomorrow morning?
- Why does this speech seem longer than the line at Chic fil A?
Don’t worry, we are here to celebrate you.
Before we start the celebration, let’s recognize those who have made it possible for you to get to this point in your lives.
First, let’s thank your families and your friends for the role they played in getting you here. Family and friends, kindly rise, or wave to be recognized. Let’s give them and those who are watching online a round of applause.
We are fortunate to have loyal alumni, many of whom are proud to have their children, grandchildren, nieces, and nephews attending their alma mater. A special thank you to all our legacy families and their graduates here today.
Second, I want to thank our faculty members who walked beside our graduates on their educational journey. They have guided and assisted you in the acquisition of a holistic education that is firmly rooted in the liberal arts and sciences as well as various professions. Faculty, kindly stand up to be recognized.
I mentioned earlier that we are here to celebrate you today and you may be wondering why? Well, it is because you are receiving your degree from Millersville University after overcoming challenges that no one could have imagined when you first enrolled at this university.
Some of you may be apprehensive about what comes next in your life. You may be asking yourself what your next steps in life might be? And that is okay because most graduates feel the same way during commencement.
While some of you have already landed jobs or have been admitted to graduate or professional schools, I am aware that others are now going to figure out your next steps. With your degree from this university, you have the skills and competence to succeed at wherever you land.
As you leave the confines of the Ville, you are entering a world of transformation, especially brought about by technology. And I want to spend the next few minutes to share my thoughts about one of the current technological shifts requires our attention. I am talking about artificial intelligence (AI).
So, what is AI? Demis Hassabis, co-founder, and CEO of DeepMind, describes AI as “the science of making machines smart.” For example, I can assume that majority of us at this ceremony have cell phones. Well, each time your cell phone has suggested a word to you when texting, that is AI in action. So, it’s not a matter of whether or even when AI will impact our lives. But rather how it would affect us as it continues to evolve and becomes more and more incorporated into the tools that influence our daily lives.
This technology has revolutionized the way we live, work, and interact with each other. It has created numerous opportunities for innovation and growth in various industries, from healthcare through finance to education. You, our graduating students, are entering a world where AI is becoming an integral part of the workforce, and it is essential that you understand the impact that it will have on your future careers in education and human services. Let’s look at a few practical examples:
Personalized Learning: Chat GPT has made it possible for teachers to provide personalized learning experiences for their students. Through chatbots or other conversational AI systems, teachers can offer students individualized support, feedback, and guidance, making learning more accessible and enjoyable.
Content generation: AI has made it easier for teachers to generate content for their lessons. With the ability to generate text in various formats and styles, teachers can create engaging and informative material that caters to their students' needs and interests.
Language Learning: AI has also had an impact on language learning. For example, students can use Chat GPT to practice speaking and writing skills in a safe and supportive environment. Chat GPT can provide feedback and corrections, helping students to improve their language proficiency.
Accessibility: AI is making education more accessible to students with different abilities and learning styles. Chatbots can provide audio or visual prompts, making it easier for students with visual or hearing impairments to participate in class.
Availability: Chat GPT is available 24/7, making it possible for students to access learning materials and support outside of regular class hours. This can be especially beneficial for students who work or have other responsibilities that prevent them from attending traditional classes.
In summary, AI has already started to transform the world in which we live, and it will continue to do so in the future. As the technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more innovative applications in the fields of education and human services.
It is indeed an exciting time to be entering the workforce, and this technology will present you with new opportunities and challenges. As you go forth into the world, I urge you to continue learning and adapting to both the challenges and opportunities it presents.
In closing, remember that your faculty have equipped you with the skills and competencies that you need to succeed at the next stage of your lives. It is your responsibility to use them.
Congratulations to each and every one of you, our graduates, and we look forward to seeing the amazing contributions you will make in the world.
COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS - Patrick Leahy
Good Morning, fellow Millersville University graduates. Congratulations on this achievement. I know that it took a lot of hard work to get here. I am sure that your family and friends are tremendously proud of you.
I want to start by extending a thank you to President Wubah for the opportunity to speak today. The Millersville community has been incredibly important to me - from launching me on a fulfilling career to introducing me to new pursuits. This is truly an honor.
As you’ll soon realize, graduating from the ‘Ville stays with you for life. A few weeks ago, I attended a Millersville alumni reception on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The alums spanned several decades – from the 1960s to a few years ago. Yet, there was an instant connection. At the event, I also had the chance to speak with President Wubah and Mr. Ramos. I should note that I perform stand-up comedy as a hobby, so I wanted to reassure them that I wouldn’t get too carried away in my remarks but might work in a few jokes. They suggested I tell you my story and offer tips for your post-graduation journey.
I grew up in Timonium, Maryland, and have been blind since birth with just a little bit of peripheral vision. So, in true stand-up comedy fashion, I get to tell you that you are a good-looking crowd.
People are always curious as to how being blind affects my life. Indeed, it comes with unique challenges, but life presents us with obstacles, and I strongly believe there is always a way to prevail. I’ve had some hurdles, but I choose not to let them define me.
There are some benefits to being blind. One perk is that I spend all day with a close buddy – a guide dog. This is Hogan.
Along this path, I’ve also been fortunate to have the love and encouragement of my parents, brother, extended family, girlfriend, Christa, and friends. Their support helps me throw myself into life with a passion. I graduated from Millersville in 1997, majoring in Political Science and History. With enthusiasm for public policy, I then went on to work for several Members of Congress and a Cabinet Secretary. I currently work for the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, ensuring our elections are secure and accessible. Throughout, I’ve remained committed to athletics, whether wrestling at MU or competing as an amateur bodybuilder.
I want to offer you four takeaway points. These are life lessons that I’ve gathered from firsthand experiences. I hope you find them helpful.
First, I’d like to touch on the importance of seeing people for who they are instead of the differences they may have. My recent encounter with a group of kids in my neighborhood illustrates this best.
It was late October last year, and Hogan was leading me on our walk home from the office. He’s a quick fella, so these jaunts are pretty lively. I imagine him woofing to me in his happy-go-lucky way on the commute home. I’ll do this in Hogan’s voice, “Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, I love this guide dog gig, but we need to get home for dinner.”
On this beautiful evening, we turned down a lane near my house, making a hard right for home. A few steps down the sidewalk, I hear some kiddos in front of us calling out, “Can we take pictures of your dog? Could you please stop?” They were around eight years old. Hogan and I are both fans of children, so we were happy to oblige.
Hogan bounced up and down as the camera shutters clicked around us. It turns out we stumbled upon a kids’ photography group from the local art workshop down the street. They invited me to join them for a future class, and I happily accepted.
A few weeks later, in class, the students greeted Hogan like a returning hero and had lots of questions for both of us. We walked around the neighborhood so they could see Hogan in action and then spent about an hour in the classroom chatting about guide dogs and photography.
Out of the gate came a great question from Emma. During our walk, Emma skipped beside us to keep up with the fast-paced Hogan. As we scooted down the sidewalk, Emma asked, “Do people ever think of you as just being blind, you know, like that blind guy?”
I considered for a moment and replied, “Yes, I think sometimes they do,” Emma responded, “Yeah, I understand, and that bothers me. There’s so much more to you than that. We shouldn’t think of people that way; it’s not right.”
I smiled, and Emma continued, “Yeah, I think of you as this friendly guy with a cool dog.”
How awesome is that? She was spot-on. Here are a few more nuggets from the group.
Q: What’s your job, and does Hogan help out?
A: I work for the Election Assistance Commission. We help people vote. Hogan certainly assists me around the office. He likes to try to grab my coworker’s lunch sometimes, though. He’s got big fans at the office.
Q: Did you name Hogan?
A: Nah, Hogan’s guide dog school, Guiding Eyes for the Blind, named him. It’s important in the training for the dogs to know their names from the start. You can change the name to something close to it though.
This obviously had to be tested.
Q: If you wanted to change his name, could you have said his name is Hugo?
A: Sure, why not? Hogan loves his name, but maybe we’ll chat about a nickname.
I would encourage you always to try to see people for who they are. We can learn so much from each other. I love it when a friend might ask, “Hey Pat, did you see that remodeled house down the street, or can you take up my blue trash can?” Vision-related questions are not a strength. Good friends lend a helping hand when needed, but they see the person. I hope you can do the same with everyone you meet.
Point number 2 is simple but so important. In your professional life, work hard. It’s a competitive environment out there no matter the field you choose.
My first internship was after my junior year of college for Congressman Bob Walker in Lancaster. Initially, we encountered a few hurdles in making the office technology function with my voice software. After many hours of research, we devised a solution and I seamlessly integrated into office operations. A recently retired Millersville professor, Charlie Greenawalt, helped me get the internship. We are friends to this day.
I lived in Brookwood and traveled to Lancaster on the bus. I arrived at the office before it opened. I figured this would help me hit the ground running when the first staffer arrived. After a few weeks, the chief of staff gave me a key to the office. He said, “Since you are here early, before all of us, we’d like you to open the place and get the mail.” This set a great tone for my internship. The job was a fantastic experience and helped me land on Capitol Hill following graduation. A final thought on this. While you’re working hard, have lots of fun, too.
Next, I’d like to discuss a point you already know, but I think it is worth emphasizing—the importance of working through adversity. The past few years presented challenges, but you have overcome and excelled.
You will run into obstacles in your life. As best you can, try to meet them head-on with strength and an open mind, thinking of possibilities.
Let me give you a quick story about some adversity that made its way into my life a few years ago. For background, the guide dog before Hogan was named Galahad. I think this story works better from his perspective.
In late 2014, in the middle of Galahad’s guide dog career, a serious connective tissue disorder put me in the hospital for three weeks. Thankfully, I’m feeling fine these days, but it took several months for me to get back on my feet and a few years to fully recover physically. I kept working and hitting the gym the entire time. I started stand-up comedy then because laughter is good medicine.
My family and friends were always there for support. Galahad spent practically every second at my side. His unconditional love and devotion were instrumental to my recovery. Many mornings when I didn’t feel like getting out of bed, Galahad would playfully run up to the bed and start licking my face, pawing me to check if I was awake. If I didn’t respond, this hoss of a dog would come flying through the air and land on top of me. I know he wanted breakfast, but I also think he was trying to get his good friend up and moving for work.
Those days taught me about the beauty of life and the need to celebrate each moment. Do your best to look for how you can learn from the challenges in your life and then grow from them.
You will face both minor and major adversity from time to time. Keep moving forward, seek solutions, and never give up. Reach out to friends and family for support. I find strength in praying for grace on tough days.
My fourth point. Remember to give back to others and organizations. We all have a responsibility to make our world a better place, and by serving others, you will find fulfillment and purpose.
Over the years, I’ve been drawn to causes such as helping kids with disabilities in athletics, assisting my guide dog school, and serving on various boards. When you give back, you’ll lift up lives and, in the process, find more meaning in yours.
This past weekend, I returned from Hogan’s guide dog school, in Yorktown Heights, New York, where I serve on the School Council. It was great to hang with my fellow council members and learn how we can help our fellow graduates. There was plenty of dog butt sniffing by our furry friends and, most importantly, collaborative work to help guide dog teams across the country.
Please seek out that area of passion in your life. There’s great satisfaction in working together to help others. You should consider volunteering at the ‘Ville.
There are many ways to give back: join the MU Alumni Board of Directors, lend a hand at Homecoming, or mentor students in your field. It’s been rewarding to serve the college that offered so much in the way of experience and education. That’s Hogan and I nudging you to give back.
Enjoy the day. We look forward to all your successes. For now, this is your neighborhood “friendly guy and cool dog” extending heartfelt congratulations on your accomplishments!