LEMONT FURNACE, Pa. — Chancellor and Chief Academic Officer Charles Patrick conferred academic degrees on 113 candidates for graduation May 6 during the 47th commencement ceremony at Penn State Fayette, The Eberly Campus. The event’s honored guest speaker was Richard Trumka, a Fayette campus alumnus who is president of the AFL-CIO, the largest organization of labor unions in the country.
Patrick said, “We are honored to welcome Richard Trumka to the Fayette campus to share his thoughts and advice with our graduates and the community. His story is a great example of how education positively affects individuals. Mr. Trumka's start at Penn State Fayette has helped carry him far beyond southwestern Pennsylvania, to a career and life that are not just successful but noteworthy and impactful,” he said.
Taking the podium, Trumka, who followed his father and grandfather into the coal mines, noted that he, like Patrick, was the first in his family to get a college degree. The native of Nemacolin, Pennsylvania, gave credit to the Penn State campus where his higher education began, saying, “And Fayette made it possible.”
Trumka’s address was filled with fond memories of his college days, which were not easy for him. “I attended classes here while working the midnight shift in the mines,” he remembered. “I’d finish work about 8 a.m. and be on campus shortly thereafter. I drank a lot of coffee.”
Trumka told the audience that, even in his most exhausted moments, he was learning and growing. He explained, “Fayette helped give me a foundation for life. I learned about what it means to be a citizen. I learned the importance of community. I learned how to listen and engage and understand.”
After eventually earning a bachelor’s degree from the Smeal College of Business and a juris doctor from Villanova University, Trumka then joined the United Mine Workers of America’s legal staff and rose quickly through the union’s ranks. In 1982, at age 33, was elected as its youngest president. Moving to the AFL-CIO, Trumka, in an insurgent campaign, was elected as its secretary-treasurer in 1995 and president in 2009.
In concluding his address, Trumka told those who were about to be conferred with academic degrees that he suspected they had learned the same lessons about life as he had at Penn State Fayette. “I can tell you from firsthand experience that these tools will serve you throughout your life,” he said, adding, “To this day, I take Fayette with me everywhere I go.”
Following Trumka’s address were remarks by Mercedes Mancera, one of the eight candidates graduating magna cum laude. The others included Danny Bolbecker, Andrew Charnovich, James Garlick, Matthew Howrylak, Logan Lemley, Michael Mullen, and Daniel Sparks. Two other students, Bradley Adams and Emma Lewis, graduated cum laude.
The following candidates for graduation, arranged by degree, participated in Penn State Fayette’s commencement ceremony:
Bachelor of Arts in Administration of Justice
Bachelor of Science in Administration of Justice
Associate degree in Business Administration
Bachelor of Science in Business Administration
Bryan Kibe Jr.
Associate degree in Electrical Engineering Technology
Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering
Associate degree in Mining Technology
Associate degree in Information Sciences and Technology
Bachelor of Science in Information Sciences and Technology
Bachelor of Science in Human Development and Family Studies
Bachelor of Science in Psychology
Associate degree in Nursing
Bachelor of Science in Nursing
Associate degree in Physical Therapist Assistant