The nearly 800 degrees awarded on Saturday brings Wilkes University’s 2017-18 total degree conferral to 1,585. Only five other private universities in Pennsylvania with Wilkes’ program mix can boast this figure.
Wilkes University awarded 781 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at its 71st spring commencement ceremonies on May 19. The ceremony for graduate students receiving doctoral and master’s degrees was held at 10 a.m., while the ceremony for undergraduates receiving bachelor’s degrees was held at 3 p.m. Both ceremonies were held in a new location, the McHale Athletic Center in the University Center on Main, 169 S. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.
Before both ceremonies, the traditional procession of graduating students led by bagpipers progressed from the Karambelas East Campus Gateway to the McHale Athletic Center.
The speaker at the 10 a.m. ceremony for graduate students was Rear Adm. Scott F. Giberson, an assistant U.S. surgeon general. Giberson has been an active duty officer in the commissioned corps for 24 years and currently serves as deputy director of human capital at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. He has served with multiple U.S. government departments, including as a founding member of the Department of Homeland Security, as well as serving with the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and the State Department.
Wilkes University President Patrick F. Leahy addressed undergraduate students at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Student pharmacist Cody Morcom of Scott Township, Pa. delivered remarks on behalf of the graduating senior class. He also was the recipient of the University’s Alumni Leadership Award for his contributions to campus.
The following awards were presented to students at the ceremonies:
Mabel Scott Wandell Award and Sterling Leroy Wandell Award
The Mabel Scott Wandell and the Sterling Leroy Wandell awards are presented to the women and men in Wilkes University’s graduating class with the highest grade-point averages. Five women and four men were recognized.
Kelly Kempa, Old Forge, Pa., earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, summa cum laude. She received the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy Academic Achievement Award, the Mylan Excellence in Pharmacy Award, the Lackawanna County Pharmacists Association Academic Achievement Award and the Lackawanna County Pharmacists Association Jurisprudence Award. She will begin a position with the Geisinger Health System in Wilkes-Barre as an ambulatory care clinical pharmacist. At the time she earned her Bachelor of Science degree in May 2016, Kempa earned a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Since then, she went on to finish her six-year career at Wilkes with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. She is the daughter of Deborah and Raymond Kempa.
James Steigerwalt, Orangeville, Pa., earned the Doctor of Pharmacy degree, summa cum laude. He served as president of the Pharmacy Student Government and was Vice President of the American Pharmacists Association. He received the School of Pharmacy Academic Achievement Award, the Dean’s Outstanding Student Award and the School of Pharmacy Community Service Award. Steigerwalt will be a pharmacist with Weis Markets. At the time he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in May 2016, he earned a 4.0 cumulative grade point average. Steigerwalt went on to finish his six-year career at Wilkes with a perfect 4.0 cumulative grade point average. He is the son of Sara and Kenneth Steigerwalt.
Amanda Bialek, Fleetwood, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Arts degree, summa cum laude, with a major in communication studies. She graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0 and earned her bachelor’s degree in just three years. Bialek was also a member of the university’s inaugural class of the honors program. She was awarded the outstanding communications studies student award. Bialek is a member of the Lambda Pi Eta and Alpha Chi honor societies and the National Society of Leadership and Success. She served in leadership roles for various student-media organizations, including the student newspaper and the student-run public relations agency. She is the daughter of Pamela and Brian Bialek.
Cassidy Clement, Hazle Township, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Business Administration degree with a major in marketing. She graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. Clement received the academic achievement award in marketing from the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership. She was a Kirby Scholar, an officer in the marketing club and a member of the Dean’s Student Advisory Council for the Sidhu School. She is the daughter of Lisa and Carmen Clement.
Sarah Hughes, Lake Ariel, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, on her way to graduating with the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May 2020. She graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. Hughes was the president of Rho Chi, an international pharmacy honors society, and served as the chair of Operation Heart for the American Pharmacist Association. She was a research associate for assistant professor of pharmacy, Ajay Bommareddy. She is the daughter of Casey and Robert Hughes.
Cassandra Papp, Sugarloaf, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, with a major in earth and environmental sciences. She graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 4.0. Papp received the outstanding academic achievement award for earth and environmental sciences. Papp was a member of the GeoExplorer Club. She is a member of Alpha Lambda Delta National Honor Society and Students for Sustainability. She is the daughter of Donna and Steven Papp.
Joshua Evans, Palmerton, Pa., earned his Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, summa cum laude. He graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 3.95. Evans was a member of Sigma Theta Tau and Alpha Chi national honor societies. Evans was a two-time member of the National Wrestling Coaches Association Academic All-American Team and represented Wilkes at the NCAA national tournament. He is the son of Adele and Brian Evans.
Daniel Frack, Danielsville, Pa., earned a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering. Frack graduated with a cumulative grade point average of 3.95. He received the academic achievement award for mechanical engineering. Frack has been a member of the geo-explorer club and a member of Wilkes’ mini-baja team. He is the son of Darla and Michael Frack.
Steven Lee, Duryea, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, with a major in mechanical engineering. He graduated with a 3.95 cumulative grade point average. Lee received the award for outstanding academic achievement in mechanical engineering. He was the president of the Wilkes chapter of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, a member of the Alpha Lambda Delta Honor society and a four-year member of the commuter council. He is the son of Shuk and Tin Lee.
Teresa Jordan and Frank Mehm Prize – Nancy Ramirez, Scranton, Pa.
The Mehm Prize is awarded annually to the undergraduate who most nearly represents the ideal respecting moral courage, unselfishness, and noteworthy extracurricular participation significantly advancing the University on and off campus. It was awarded to Nancy Ramirez, of Scranton, Pa., for her noteworthy contributions. She has served as a resident assistant and an e-mentor, aiding freshmen in their transition to college. She was also president of the BACCHUS club and founder and president of the campus UNICEF Club. Ramirez served as an intern in the university’s center for global education and diversity, as a student aid in the office of international engagement and as the lead ambassador in the admissions office. She also used her bilingual skills as a document translator at the Voluntary Action Center of NEPA.
Ramirez graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree with a double major in criminology and sociology. Following graduation, she will be working as an economic and housing advocate for the Women’s Resource Center in Scranton. She is the daughter of Virginia and Alfredo Ramirez.
Alumni Leadership Award – Cody Morcom of Scott Township, Pa.
The Alumni Leadership Award is given by the Wilkes University Alumni Association to the member of the graduating class considered to have made the strongest contribution to student life and the student activities program of the University.
Cody Morcom, Scott Township, Pa., graduated magna cum laude with the Bachelor of Science degree on his way to earning the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in 2020. In 2017-2018, Morcom served as president of student government, having previously served as vice president and treasurer. During 2014-15 academic, he was president of the class of 2018. He served as the president of the Nesbitt School of Pharmacy class of 2020, treasurer for the Wilkes chapter, Pennsylvania Pharmacists Association, and was a resident assistant and e-mentor. He is the son of Kathy and Ronald Morcom.