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      Point of Pride

      Widener Awards Diplomas to More Than 1500 Graduates

      Heather Penney, Undergraduate Commencement

      Heather Penney

      Maj. Heather "Lucky" Penney tells the class of 2018 that heroism is inside all of us. Penney is widely recognized for her heroic service on Sept. 11, 2011 when she received orders to deploy that morning as an F-16 fighter jet to bring down United Airlines flight 93.

      Widener University buzzed this weekend as more than 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students celebrated commencement and started their journey as Widener alumni.

      Ceremonies were held on Main Campus on Friday for graduate students and Saturday for undergraduate students.

      "Your Widener education gave you the tools to be a game changer not only in your profession, but in your community, across the country, and around the world," said President Julie E. Wollman. "I know you will put these tools to work in ways that will continue to make us all exceptionally proud. Just as Widener is now part of your personal life story, you are now part of the rich fabric of Widener's nearly 200-year history."

      At the undergraduate ceremony, Maj. Heather "Lucky" Penney told the class of 2018 that heroism isn't something possessed by only a chosen few, but instead is inside all of us.

      Penney is widely recognized for her heroic service on Sept. 11, 2001 when she received orders to deploy that morning in an F-16 fighter jet to bring down United Airlines flight 93. A former Air Force pilot, she now serves as senior resident fellow at the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies at the Air Force Association.

      "We all have that hero inside of us," she said. "Inside of normal, perfectly average people. Don't wait for some major crisis, some accident of history, to bring that hero out. You can all be a hero to somebody. You all have the capacity to change someone's life, to make a difference, to make this world a better place."

      Penney received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree during the ceremony. An honorary doctor of public service was also given to Thomas H. Bown, II, a distinguished Widener alumnus and an honorary member of the Widener Board of Trustees.

      Tulsi Patel, who was selected as the President’s Award recipient and graduated with a bachelor's degree in biomedical engineering and computer science and a minor in mechanical engineering and mathematics, reminded her classmates in a speech Saturday about the remarkable changes they went through in four years.

      undergrad commencement

      Undergraduate Commencement

      Audrey Rucker, who graduated with a degree in communication studies, celebrates at the undergraduate commencement ceremony on May 19.

      "Class of 2018, we will continue to learn and change – not just our fashion sense, but our interests, our goals and passions, our overall mindset," Patel said. "Look to your left and your right, you are sitting here with your mini family, the ones who you shared four years of your life with. Now, it's time to share our Widener experience with others. Proudly tell your Widener story."

      During the graduate commencement, Jeffrey Rosen, president and CEO of the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, highlighted the importance of continuing to learn, a philosophy embraced by the American founders.

      “The best thing about lifelong learning is that it’s the most satisfying thing you can do,” Rosen said. “Every day you learn something new is a day you rise higher toward enlightenment and fulfillment. It’s my honor to welcome you to the company of lifelong learners. The American founders expected no less.”

      Addressing her classmates at the graduate ceremony, Christine Aiello, RN, who received a master’s of science in nursing, shared a personal experience that underscored the importance and adaptability of the lessons learned at Widener. She encouraged her classmates to take those lessons and others with them as they continue in their careers and lives.

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