Wilkes University awarded 797 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees at its 72nd spring commencement ceremonies on May 18. 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 the McHale Athletic Center in the University Center on Main, 169 S. Main Street in Wilkes-Barre.
The nearly 800 degrees awarded on Saturday brings Wilkes University’s 2018-19 total degree conferrals to 1,600. Wilkes President Patrick F. Leahy presided over both ceremonies, marking his last commencement as president.
Before both ceremonies, the traditional procession of graduating students led by bagpipers progressed from the Arnaud C. Marts Sports and Conference Center on South Franklin Street to the Campus Gateway, where graduates entered the McHale Athletic Center.
Anne Skleder, Wilkes senior vice president and provost, addressed the graduates at the 10 a.m. ceremony. This marked Skleder’s last commencement before she departs the University this summer to become president of Brenau University in Georgia.
Two honorary degrees were awarded at the 3 p.m. ceremony. Robert Bruggeworth, a 1983 Wilkes graduate, and Ronald W. Simms, a 1960 Wilkes graduate, each received an honorary doctorate of business. Bruggeworth, who majored in electrical engineering at Wilkes, is president and chief executive officer of Qorvo, a global communications chip maker headquartered in Greensboro, N.C. Simms, a Shavertown, Pa., resident, earned his Wilkes degree in commerce and finance. He is chairman of the board of Petroleum Service Co., an international distributor of petroleum products, and president and chairman of the board of
Mountain Productions, a national leader in stage design and construction. Both companies are based in Wilkes-Barre.
Kya Lewis, a Philadelphia resident, delivered remarks on behalf of the graduating senior class. She was also the recipient of the University’s Alumni Leadership Award.
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 woman
and man in Wilkes University’s graduating class with the highest grade-point averages.
Lauren Bezek, Kingston, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, with a major in mathematics. She graduated with a 4.0 cumulative grade point average, the 63rd graduate in Wilkes history to do so. She received the Outstanding Secondary Education Student Award, the James DeCosmo Memorial Award from the mathematics and computer science program and was named the Outstanding Graduate from the School of Education. She is the daughter of Marilyn and John Bezek.
Cole Walters, Mifflintown, Pa., earned the Bachelor of Science degree, summa cum laude, on his way to graduating with the Doctor of Pharmacy degree in May of 2021. He graduated with a 3.99 cumulative grade point average. He was a four-year member of the wrestling team and served as captain this year. Walters is a member of the Rho Chi and Alpha Chi Honor Societies. He served as a medical anatomy and physiology teaching assistant and was a Pharmacy Team Leader. He is the son of Heather Rossman and Robert Walters.
Teresa Jordan and Frank Mehm Prize – Romeo Rosario, Allentown, 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.
The activities and contributions of Romeo Rosario, Allentown, Pa., are noteworthy. He has served as head drum major for the Wilkes University Marching Colonels. He also served as an e-mentor at orientation for first-year students and was a resident assistant. Rosario was the president of BACCHUS, a campus organization focused on student health and wellness. Last fall, he was selected as homecoming king. He received the Music Award from the Division of Performing Arts.
Rosario graduated with the Bachelor of Arts degree with a major in psychology. Following graduation, he will be attending graduate school in the field of counseling. He is the son of Anita Rosario.
Alumni Leadership Award – Kya Lewis, Philadelphia, 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.
Kya Lewis, Philadelphia, Pa., graduated with the Bachelor of Business Administration degree, magna cum laude, with a major in management. Lewis is a two-term president of programming board, the student activities organization on campus. She was also the hip-hop director for the student-run radio station, WCLH. She served as a resident assistant and as orientation coordinator. Last fall, Lewis was selected as homecoming queen. After graduation, she will pursue her MBA at Wilkes and serve as a graduate assistant in the Admissions office. She is the daughter of Sharon Lewis-Gregg and Wesley Gregg.