WILKES-BARRE, PA (May 18, 2013) – Some 746 doctoral, master’s and bachelor’s degrees were awarded as Wilkes University for the first time held separate commencement ceremonies for graduate and undergraduate students. The 10 a.m. ceremony for graduate students and a 2 p.m. ceremony for undergraduates were held in the Arnaud C. Marts Sports & Conference Center. Graduates marched down South Franklin Street and entered the center to the music of bagpipers leading the procession.
The commencement address for both ceremonies was delivered Ronald Rittenmeyer, chairman, president and CEO of Expert Global Solutions Inc. Rittenmeyer, a Kingston, Pa., native now living in Plano, Texas, graduated from Wilkes in 1972 with a degree in commerce and economics. At the afternoon ceremony, he received an honorary degree, the doctor of humane letters, honoring him for his leadership and distinguished contributions to the fields of business and industry.
At the morning ceremony, Wilkes awarded an honorary doctorate to Pauline Montgomery, pharmacist, community activist and owner of Montgomery’s Pharmacy in Hughesville, Pa. She has served on town council, as mayor of Hughesville for 20 years and as county commissioner. In each of these positions, Montgomery was the first woman to serve in these capacities in Lycoming County.
The student speaker at the morning ceremony for graduate students was Eugene T. Lucas Jr., a student in the first graduating class of the University’s doctor of nursing practice program.
Attendees at the afternoon ceremony for undergraduates were addressed by Melanie Nolt of Manheim, Pa., who is the recipient of the Alumni Award for Leadership, presented by the Wilkes Alumni Association to the student who has made the strongest contribution to student life and student activities. The daughter of Karen and Dale Nolt, Nolt graduated with two degrees, a bachelor of science in accounting and a bachelor of business administration with a major in finance, both awarded summa cum laude.
She is the recipient of the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Finance and the Academic Achievement Awards for both accounting and finance. She was named the Athletic Department’s female Scholar-Athlete of the Year and for the third year in a row was the Female Athlete of the Year. Nolt is a Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants Outstanding Senior. Her campus activities include captain of the women’s tennis team, writing editor of the Amnicola yearbook, senior coordinator for the volunteer income tax program, an E-Mentor and orientation leader. She completed an internship with Price Waterhouse Coopers, where she has accepted a position as a tax associate in its Harrisburg, Pa., office.
Four students were recognized with the Wandell Award, presented to the male and female undergraduate students with the highest grade-point average in the graduating class. The two male students who tied for the honor are Christopher M. Bartlow of Muncy, Pa., the son of William and Luann Bartlow, and Nicholas J. Watkins, of Courtdale, Pa., the son of Walter and Colette Watkins. Both men had 4.0 grade-point averages.
Bartlow earned the bachelor of science degree with a major in biology. Active in research in the biology department, Bartlow received the Fenner and Howard Hughes fellowships that allowed him to pursue research for three summers. His work in the area of the affects of natural gas drilling on songbirds has been presented at two national and one international meeting. He is entering the MD/PhD program at Syracuse University.
Courtdale earned the bachelor of science degree with a major in electrical engineering. He conducted research at Northeastern University in Boston in 2011 and 2012. His independent research paper was awarded third place in the IEEE Morton paper contest. Courtdale will enter the graduate program at the Pennsylvania State University in the fall.
The two female recipients tying for the Wandell Award are Jacquelyn H. Gallo of Waynesboro, Pa., the daughter of Gary and Margie Gallo, and Abigail Kaster, of Mountain Top, Pa., the daughter of Tracy and Mark Kaster. Both women had a 3.96 grade-point average.
Gallo earned the bachelor of science degree with a major in biology. During her time at Wilkes, she has worked in the lab throughout the academic year and in the summer. She spent fall 2012 in a clinical semester for the Penn State Hershey pre-medical scholars program. In April, Gallo presented a poster, for the third time, at the Annual Drosophilia Conference, where she presented to graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and professors.
Kaster is graduating with a bachelor of science degree with a major in elementary education, a concentration in special education and minor in mathematics. She taught mathematics to students in fourth and fifth grades in the Sri Utama International School in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. During the second half of her student-teaching experience at the West Hazleton Elementary and Middle School, she taught reading and language arts to students in third, fourth, and fifth grades in an emotional support setting. Kaster is a member of Alpha Chi and the Wilkes University Chapter of Kappa Delta Pi, an international education honor society. Her campus activities included serving as secretary of Inter Residence Hall Council, as vice president of the Math and Computer Science Club and as a member of the Education Club.
About Wilkes University:
Wilkes University is an independent institution of higher education dedicated to academic and intellectual excellence through mentoring in the liberal arts, sciences, and professional programs. Founded in 1933, the university provides its students with the experience, mentoring and education necessary for career and intellectual development as well as personal growth. Recently named one of the fastest growing universities in the United States by The Chronicle of Higher Education, Wilkes offers the doctor of nursing practice, doctor of education and doctor of pharmacy degrees and more than a dozen master’s degree programs, including the master of business administration and master of fine arts in creative writing.