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Commencement 2021

We are thrilled to celebrate the Class of 2021 with an in-person Commencement Ceremony on Friday, May 21, 2021 at 10AM at the PPL Center in nearby Allentown.

We are committed to hosting an event that honors our graduates and allows them to celebrate with family members in a context that respects the safety guidelines to protect us from the coronavirus.

Because our in-person commencement ceremony has limited seating, we are also producing an exciting virtual commencement ceremony that will be streamed in a way graduates and families can enjoy from the safety and comfort of their choosing.

Dozens Honored at Student Life Award Celebration

by Paige Hawk May 14, 2021

Higher education has faced unique challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that didn’t stop the individuals recognized at the annual Student Life Award Celebration from making a difference.  

The event honored student leaders, faculty, and staff who excelled at demonstrating the DSU community’s core values of gentleness, humility, gratitude, hospitality, and wisdom, this year and last. The ceremony was held in person for honorees, while their loved ones watched safely and comfortably from their homes via Zoom. 

“During the last 14 months our student leaders have displayed patience, resiliency, and perseverance in times that no one could have predicted. We honor those students, faculty, and staff who have gone beyond the call of duty and have displayed great leadership to the DeSales University community.”

 Nick Luchko, assistant dean of students for engagement and leadership

One group that went beyond the call of duty was the COVID-19 team. In a break from tradition, the award for “Outstanding Staff Member of the Year” was presented to team members for their excellent work keeping the DSU community healthy and safe throughout the pandemic.

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized at this event and thank you for your dedication to the DSU community. 

2020 and 2021 Student Life Award Winners: 

The John A. Hanley Spirit of DeSales Award

  • 2021 - Christian Bryson ’21
  • 2020 - Sophia Cipriano ’20

This honor is awarded to an individual whose actions, positive attitude, and exemplary spiritual life have influenced DeSales University.

Dr. Jerry Joyce Student Engagement and Leadership Award

  • 2021 - Sabrina Ricciardi ’21
  • 2020 - Emily Jacobson ’20

This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in student activities, engaged other students through clubs and organizations, and has dedicated himself/herself to enhancing the school spirit of DeSales University to his/her peers and the community.  

Dr. Gregg Amore First-Year Experience Award

  • 2021 - Morgan Landau ’24
  • 2020 - Mohammad Asad ’23

This honor is presented to a first-year student who has exemplified the Golden Council traits within his/her personal and academic life, has demonstrated these character traits throughout the campus community, and has exhibited these traits and strengths in a way that has inspired character growth in his/her peers. 

Parent Association Award for Outstanding Individual Service

  • 2021 - Margaret O’Brien ’21 
  • 2020 - Claudio Velardo ’20

This honor is awarded to the student who has portrayed a strong willingness to work within the community in an effort to strengthen and improve the lives of others. 

Rev. James Finnegan Community Service Award for Outstanding Individual Service 

  • 2021 - Marlee Dillon ’21 
  • 2020 - Maria Pawlowski ’20

This award is presented to an individual who dedicates himself/herself to the betterment of his/her fellow students both on and off the DeSales University campus.

Rev. James Finnegan Community Service for Organization Service Award

  • 2021 - Special Olympics 
  • 2020 - Girls on the Run

This honor is presented to a group that is committed to giving back to the community through time and acts of kindness.

Troy Bauer Career Ambassador Award 

  • 2021 - Adrian Anatalio ’21
  • 2020 - Jennifer Abraham ’20 

This award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated exceptional leadership in advising his/her peers to explore, experience, and achieve their professional goals and follow their passions. Furthermore, this is presented to an individual who has gone above and beyond his/her scheduled duties to promote the Career Development Center and enhance his/her own career growth and development.   

Helen Danko and Jean Maurer Wellness Award

  • 2021 - Ray Horchos ’21
  • 2020 - Caitlyn Newsom ’21

This honor is awarded annually to a student who has contributed to the overall wellness of the DeSales student body.

George S. Salzmann SGA Award 

  • 2021 - Joseph Freemont ’21 
  • 2020 - Samantha Mullin ’20

This award is presented to an individual whose leadership through the Student Government Association has made outstanding contributions to the DeSales community.

James F. Kilcur SGA Class Leadership Awards


  • 2021 - Nidhi Kumar ’24 
  • 2020 - Michael Robinson ’23


  • 2021 - Caitlin McNamara ’23
  • 2020 - Nicole Somers ’22


  • 2021 - Nolan Beck ’22 
  • 2020 - Christian Bryson ’21 


  • 2021 - Aislinn Roth ’21 and Jacob Metzger ’21 
  • 2020 - Matt Beard ’20 and Sydney Amato ’20 

This award is given to a first-year student, sophomore, junior, and senior who has exemplified outstanding leadership through academics, extracurricular activities, and who has served as a positive role model for others during the academic year.

SGA Program of The Year

  • 2021 - Special Olympics Polar Pop Challenge
  • 2020 - Ideas Club Holiday Tree Lighting 

This award is presented to an individual or group who has executed the most outstanding campus program to benefit the University. Outstanding programs include programs that contribute to the development of a diverse culture on campus and appeal to a varied audience.

SGA Student Organization of The Year Award

  • 2021 - Be You Alliance and Works of Mercy 
  • 2020 - Black Student Union 

The Student Organization of the Year is presented to a group who has benefited the community through their outstanding programs, leadership on campus, and dedication to the mission of DeSales University.

SGA Outstanding Staff Member of The Year

  • 2021 - COVID-19 Team (Jerry Joyce, Marc Albanese, Brian MacDonald, Wendy Kalamar, and Alex Knop)
  • 2020 - Eric Hagan

This award is presented to a staff member who has shown outstanding service to the student body of DeSales University.

SGA Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year

  • 2021 - Dr. William Hamant and Dr. Carrie Ellis 
  • 2020 - Dr. Andrew Essig 

This award is presented to a faculty member who has shown outstanding service to the student body of DeSales University.

In addition to the Student Life Awards, DeSales recognizes the following individuals for their tremendous achievements:

2021-2022 Student Government Association Executive Cabinet

  • Executive President - Matthew O’Neill
  • Vice President of Mission - Nolan Beck 
  • Vice President of Campus Resources - LeeAnn Markwalter 
  • Vice President of Event Planning - Ashlee Jopp 
  • Vice President of Treasury - Travis Fenstermacher 
  • Vice President of Communications - Catherine Miller 

2020-2021 Student Leadership Challenge Participants

  • Brianna Holodinski
  • Xavier Gordon
  • Whitney Madill
  • Justin Poccia 
  • Samantha Martin

The 2020-2021 DSU Experience Graduating Class 

The DeSales Experience is a co-curricular program that combines several University programs, career development, and academic classes to link character formation, service, and leadership with student leaders' academic pursuits.

Students who have completed Character U participate in University-approved leadership experience, 40 hours of community service, a career-related experience, one three-credit course, and the Senior Success Series. 

  • Fatmeh Abdelaziz 
  • Adrian Anatalio 
  • Margaret Arnold 
  • Austin Boyer 
  • Wesley Carroll 
  • Olivia Craig 
  • Danielle DuBois 
  • Franki Kaspar 
  • Brianna Lonergan 
  • Ira Patel 
  • Kelsey Smith 
  • Nicole Somers 
  • Olivia Sopko 
  • Maria Tran 
  • Mason Trauger 
  • Elizabeth Wantz 

Need to Know Info

Student Commencement Countdown

  • ✅Step #1 — Apply for Graduation

    Your application for graduation must be completed by April 1, 2021 even if you do not plan to walk in the ceremony. This is the process that results in completion of your transcript and the conferring of your degree.

    1. By April 1: Complete application for graduation on WebAdvisor 
    2. By March 26: Order your cap and gown order your cap and gown from Joston's
      Note: any caps and gowns ordered after that date will not be guaranteed receipt by May 21. 
      If shipping cap and gown to yourself on campus please use:
      DeSales BOOKSTORE, 2755 Station Ave, Center Valley, PA 18034


  • ✅Step #2 — Commencement Clearance

    To be cleared to graduate, you must satisfy all obligations to the University. The following must be completed by 12:00 p.m. on Monday, May 10, 2021:
    • Business Office 
      Second floor - Dooling Hall
      Payment of any outstanding balances.
    • Financial Aid Office
      First floor - Dooling Hall
      Where appropriate, completion of exit interview.
    • Library
      Return of all books and payment of any outstanding fines.
    • Career Development Center
      Fill out the First Destination Survey 
  • ✅Step #3 — Submit your photo & shout out / favorite quote

    Since our in-person commencement ceremony will have limited seating, we’re putting together a special keepsake virtual ceremony to help ALL of your loved ones celebrate your big day!

    Submit your photo and a special thank you shout out to someone special or a favorite inspirational quote by April 28, 2021.

    Don't have your cap and gown yet?
    Take a celebratory selfie using one of our filters to be included on your slide! (Open the following links with your mobile device to enable the filters.) 


    Submit your photo and shout out 

  • ✅Step #4 — Celebrate at Baccalaureate & Commencement!

    • Baccalaureate
      Thursday, May 20, 2021 at 5PM 

      DeSales Campus
    • Commencement Ceremony (In-person)
      Friday, May 21, 2021 at 10AM - gates open at 9:15AM

      PPL Center 701 Hamilton Street, PA 18101
      NOTE: The ticketing email from the PPL Center has been sent to your DSU account with your three guest tickets and parking pass (please check your spam folder). If you have not received the email, please contact: by 5/17/21.
    • Virtual Ceremony
      Posted online following the in-person event

    Note: Academic attire is required for Baccalaureate and Commencement

  • Step #5 — Receive your official diploma!

    Diplomas will be mailed to the address provided by students on their application for graduation application approximately six weeks after the ceremony.

  • Honor Cords Policy

    It is University policy that honor cords are only for students who have been inducted into honor societies. Cords associated with honor societies are given out at honor society inductions; therefore, students are not to purchase any separate cords. Latin honors (summa cum laude/magna cum laude/cum laude) are not designated by any cords; however, they are noted in the Commencement program. 
  • Senior Class Gift

    Part of the tradition of graduating is participating in your Senior Class Gift. This act of giving back and strengthening the future of DeSales University is a time-honored tradition since 1965. The Office of Institutional Advancement would like to honor your gift with a special thank you – a Class of 2021 donor pin for you to wear at commencement.

    Make Your Senior Class Gift Today

Guests’ Guide to Commencement

  • Area Lodging

    Area Hotels

  • Tickets, Parking, & Designated Entrance Gates

    Up to THREE guests are permitted per graduate.

    Guest ticketing

    • The PPL Center is employing a pod-seating policy in order to meet the state requirements for strict social distancing
    • Each graduate will receive an email to their DeSales student email address from the PPL Center ticketing department containing an individual link for ticket ordering for their three guests
    • Graduates must take all the tickets in their pod, even if they don’t fill the seats. There can be no trading or borrowing of tickets/seating from one group to another, and there can be no combining of pods or sitting together, even if the two groups know each other, are family or feel comfortable doing so. The PPL Center is enforcing these guidelines to ensure compliance with state regulations.
    • Tickets can be printed or shown on a mobile device. Tickets will only scan once, and per the PPL Center, any guests using a duplicate ticket will be denied entry.
    • There is no cost for guest tickets. Graduates do not require a ticket to enter the arena.
    • One parking pass per guest pod will be provided
    • Graduate/student parking is free of charge
    • This event will be live streamed for those unable to attend

    Parking & Designated Entrance Gates

    *Gates open at 9:15am

    Because PPL only has a limited number of spaces, students will be issued one (1) parking pass to be used by the student OR the guest. Additional cars will pay $3.

    To allow for proper social distancing, guests will be required to enter at a designated entrance based on their seating location.

    • Sections 102-105, 203-204 : NJM Gate
      Parking at the Spiral Deck (8th & Linden) is recommended
    • Sections 106-110, 205-210: Air Products Gate
      Parking at the Arena Deck, or Spiral Deck is recommended
    • Sections 111 – 118, 211: WFMZ Gate
      Parking at the 6th & Linden Garage (Morning Call Deck) is recommended

    Please see "PPL COVID-19 Fan Code of Conduct" section below for additional information.

  • PPL COVID-19 Fan Code of Conduct

    To help ensure your safety, PPL Center requests all guests to comply with the following policies and procedures:

    • Nose and mouth coverings will be required at all times with the exception of while guests are actively eating or drinking.
    • Clear 12" x 12" x 6" bags, clear one-gallon resealable (Ziploc style) bags, or small clutch bags are required to minimize contact and expedite the security screening process.
    • Pods of seats have been strategically set to maintain a proper social distance between guests. While seated, guests must remain within their designed pod and seat, assigned via mobile ticket, at all times.
    • Capacity restrictions will be enforced in all elevators (limited to 4) to maintain social distance.
    • No large gatherings will be permitted on the concourse or in The Morning Call Club.
    • Repeated failure to comply with the COVID-19 Fan Code of Conduct may result in removal from the event.

    Enhanced Safety Measures

    • Guests will be able to scan their own tickets at the aforementioned entrances using new, state-of-the-art ticket pedestals allowing for contactless entry, with event staff on standby to assist as needed.
    • Existing cleaning procedures have been amplified and additional routine sanitizing of all high touch surfaces and areas has been implemented for all events using CDC-recommended disinfectant and electrostatic sprayers.
    • PPL Center features a state-of-the-art HVAC system allowing for double filtration and maximum outside air circulation, and utilizing filters of nearly hospital grade that are highly efficient in removing infectious aerosols and virus particles from the air.
    • Hand sanitizer stations have been placed at each entrance and throughout the arena for guest use at any time.
    • Plexiglass dividers have been installed at all security screening checkpoints, concession stands, merchandise stands, guest services desk, and cashiers.
    • Upgraded point-of-sale systems have been installed at all concession and merchandise stands featuring tap-and-go pay options, Apple Pay and Google Pay, to encourage contactless and cashless transactions where possible.
    • All restrooms are equipped with touchless sinks, toilets, and soap and paper towel dispensers.
    • Floor markers and signage have been placed throughout the arena to remind guests to maintain a safe social distance from one another.
    • Smoking and re-entry are prohibited, including previously designated smoking areas.

    Venue Policies


  • Place an Ad in the Yearbook

    What better way to honor your student than with an ad in the yearbook? Creating your ad is easy, and can be done from anywhere with our online ad builder.

    Here’s how to create the perfect message for your son, your daughter, or your squad:

    1. Visit the DeSales University Yearbook Ad webpage 
    2. Fill out the first name, last name, and grade fields, then click the "shop for this student" button. (You DO NOT need to enter a yearbook code)
    3. Choose the size you want to purchase
    4. Watch this video to learn how to create your ad
    5. Create an account on
    6. Look for an email within 1 business day confirming your ad workspace is available
    7. Log into your account and look under "My Orders" to design your ad
    8. When you’re ready, choose "Submit Your Ad" to send it to the yearbook staff

    Have Questions? Call Balfour at 1-800-944-5930



See Photos from Commencement on Flickr

Full album

See Photos from Baccalaureate on Flickr

Full album

"The beginning of good things is good; the progress, better; the end, best."

- St. Francis de Sales (T II 19)