Campus graduates brace for next chapter

Excitement was in the air for 275 Penn State Altoona students Saturday afternoon at a half-filled Jaffa Shrine Center.

The Class of 2013 was greeted by loud cheers, horns and whistling as they entered the arena for the college’s spring commencement ceremony.

Penn State Altoona Chancellor Dr. Lori Bechtel-Wherry left a challenge for the graduating class.

“Now it is time to set new and higher goals, she said. “We challenge you to continue to learn and to excel throughout the rest of your life.”

Bechtel-Wherry told students to continue to reach for the goals they set even if they face adversity.

One of the students who graduated was St. Augustine native Megan Riner.

“I’m so excited,” Riner said. “I’ve been waiting for this day for four years.”

Riner graduated with degrees in communications and integrative arts and was a student marshal for the event.

James Nielsen of Rockaway, N.J., was also happy to see his college years come to a close. He graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering technology.

“It’s been way too long,” he said. “I’m glad I’m finally graduating with a Penn State degree.”

The commencement speaker was Roger L. Williams, the executive director of the Penn State Alumni Association. He left the graduating students with a challenge to use their talents when embracing future challenges.

“Your energy, your brain power, your imagination, your creativity, your work ethic, your care and compassion, how will you use your character to move Pennsylvania forward?” he asked.

“It’s your turn, it’s your time.”

The ceremony ended with the singing of the Penn State alma mater, and some of the students locked arms. After the ceremony, Riner said she felt that she is ready to move on to the next chapter, but was thankful for the lessons Penn State Altoona taught her.

“They did a very good job preparing me for life,” Riner said. “This campus is so much smaller, we got to know the professors, got more hands on, and I’m ready to go out and live my life.”