Valedictorians and Salutatorian
2015 Co-Valedictorian Brenden Overton
Brenden Overton of Exton, Pa., is co-valedictorian of Widener University’s Class of 2015. Overton will graduate summa cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering on May 16.
The recipient of this year’s Outstanding Mechanical Engineering Graduating Senior Award, Overton was on the Dean’s List every semester. Last year he also received the Subba Rao Nadig Memorial Scholarship, which is given to a mechanical engineering rising senior who has the highest GPA and is involved significantly on campus.
Overton was also a member of the Honors Program in General Education and served as president of the Widener chapters of the American Society of Mechanical Chemical Engineers and the American Helicopter Society.
Overton pursued a minor in electrical engineering, which caused him to take 22 credits one semester as a sophomore, and he still excelled. He attributes his success due to the one-on-one relationships he had with professors at Widener.
“The relationships I built at Widener not only provided for my development intellectually, but also helped forge the person I have become today,” Overton said. “The amazing experiences and lessons learned are ones that I will be sure to carry with me for the rest of my life.”
Outside of the classroom, Overton has participated in study abroad service trips to both Mexico and Honduras where he worked on service learning projects in the communities, as a way to diversify his college experience. He has also served as a tutor for math and engineering and was a mentor in the Honors Program for freshmen students.
Overton, a Bishop-Shanahan graduate, held a co-op at ERIN Engineering in West Chester, Pa. and he is currently narrowing down, which job offer he’d like to accept. Upon graduation, he is looking forward to spending additional time with his family and friends and eventually using what he learned at Widener to teach at the collegiate level and even start his own business.
2015 Co-Valedictorian Viraga Perera
Viraga Perera of Colombo, Sri Lanka, who currently resides in Chester, Pa., is co-valedictorian of Widener University’s Class of 2015. Perera will graduate summa cum laude with two degrees – a bachelor’s of science in both electrical engineering and physics. Perera also pursued a minor in mathematics.
The recipient of this year’s President’s Award, Perera will address the class during the undergraduate commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 16 at Widener University.
Perera, who was on the Dean’s List every semester, was named a Newman Civic Fellow among 200 other students from colleges and universities by Campus Compact, a national coalition committed to fulfilling the civic purposes of higher education, earlier this spring.
As a member of the Presidential Service Corps at Widener, Perera committed over 300 hours of community service in the city of Chester. He dedicated much of this time to leading recruitment and coordination of volunteers at the College Access Center in Chester, where he also volunteers as a tutor.
He was also enrolled in the Oskin Leadership Program, which offers a select group of students leadership training and coaching that guides them through a project that has potential to make a great impact. Perera’s project was a diversity certificate program for students offered through the Office of Multicultural Student Affairs at Widener.
Outside of classroom, Perera served as founding president of the debate society, as well as a member of the Omicron Delta Kappa National Leadership Honor Society and Sigma Pi Sigma National Physics Honor Society. He was a member of LOGOS Student Ministries, Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity, and the Men’s Rugby team. Perera also spent time pursuing his passion for the arts, as he performed with the Widener Chorale and Widener’s Freshbaked Theatre Company.
Coming to Widener from a different country Perera prepared himself for a major cultural shock once he arrived on campus, however to his surprise, his biggest shock was that he never had one. “The Widener community has been so supportive,” Perera said. “Everyone has always been so welcoming during my time here. Letting go has been really tough, as I recall the memories I’ve made at Widener.”
Perera is a graduate of Royal College (high school) in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He recently accepted a position as a software engineer with Harman Audio in Michigan and plans to pursue graduate school.
2015 Salutatorian Margaret Karmeris
Margaret Karmeris of Wilmington, Del., has been named salutatorian of the class of 2015 at Widener University. She will graduate on May 16 with a bachelor of science degree in biology.
An outstanding student-athlete, Karmeris has excelled in the classroom and on the field of competition despite being enrolled in a challenging, six-year accelerated program that saw her begin studies toward her doctorate degree in physical therapy during her undergraduate senior year.
As a freshman, she was named to the Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society, the nation’s oldest and largest honor society for first-year student in all disciplines. She was a member of the Honors Program in General Education, and was selected to the first cohort of the Oskin Leaders Program.
As a member of the field hockey team, Karmeris was named to the Student-Athlete Advisory Committee and was selected to participate in the NCAA Career in Sports Forum in Indianapolis, Ind. as a sophomore. In April, she received the Blue and Gold Female Student Athlete Award. She also received several conference, regional and national awards for her academic accomplishments as a student athlete, which included becoming the 48th student-athlete in school history recognized as Academic All-America her junior year.
During her senior year, she was named president of the of the doctor of physical therapy program class of 2017, and was named community relations officer for the Chester Community Physical Therapy Clinic, a pro bono, student-run physical therapy clinic.
“I am proud to be recognized as Widener University’s salutatorian of the class of 2015,” Karmeris said. “I appreciate the support and personal attention of my professors that were instrumental in helping me balance rigorous academics, including a year of graduate classes, while participating in all four years of competitive athletics.”
Karmeris will resume her second year of classes toward her doctorate in physical therapy this summer and plans to receive her degree in 2017. In August, she will travel to China with some of her classmates and professors on a service trip.
A graduate of Wilmington Christian School, she is the daughter of Mark and Mona Karmeris.