College Holds First 'Lavender Graduation'

Published 04.20.2015

Alumni News
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G. Patrick Butler, a 2007 computer information systems graduate now working for Amtrak in Philadelphia, recounts what attracted him to Penn College in the first place: the people, the personal interaction and the positive attitude of a clerk in the Wildcat Express convenience store.Sara H. Ousby (left), the college's associate director of student activities for diversity and cultural life, congratulates Bethany M. Reppert for her selfless campus/community activism. "She doesn't do things for the credit," Ousby said. "She simply does what she thinks is the right thing to do."PC Alliance President Wesley G. Ginnick honors his organization's partners.The keynoter (center) is reunited with Student Affairs personnel from his Penn College days. From left are Kimberly R. Cassel, director of student activities; Elliott Strickland, chief student affairs officer; Katie L. Mackey, coordinator of off-campus living and commuter services; and Timothy J. Mallery, assistant director of residence life.Penn College's first Lavender Graduation – celebrating the contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and their allies – was held Friday evening in the Thompson Professional Development Center. Alumnus G. Patrick Butler, a student during the founding year of the PC Alliance organization, was the guest speaker for the event. "I was proud to be there at the beginning and even more proud to be here tonight," he said. "And I'm proud to see my alma mater moving with the times." Such events, now held at nearly 50 colleges and universities nationwide, are an educational opportunity for the entire campus community, Butler said. "We are all people and expect to be treated as such. We live in a very interdependent world; do we go through life with fists up or open hands?" The graduation paid tribute to Bethany M. Reppert, of Minersville, who will receive her Bachelor of Science degree in applied human services in May. In welcoming remarks by President Davie Jane Gilmour and in the keynote address, the senior was reminded of the personal and professional resource that Penn College represents. "Your education is a framework, a starting point, a running start to your career," Butler told her. "Put your degree to work – not just for you, but for the betterment of society." The night included honors for a number of others that have supported PC Alliance in its advocacy. Receiving kudos from organization President Wesley G. Ginnick, a construction management student from Altoona, were Sigma Pi fraternity, the Wildcat Events Board, Student Government Association, Equality Central PA and The Planet Bar in downtown Williamsport. The graduation was the culmination of Pride Week, which included campus speakers, films and a symposium.