Kutztown University to Celebrate 2024 Spring Commencement May 10-11

Stack of maroon Kutztown University diplomas

KUTZTOWN, Pa. – More than 1,130 students will be awarded degrees during Kutztown University's spring commencement ceremonies May 10-11, at O'Pake Fieldhouse. Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, university president, and Dr. Lorin Basden Arnold, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will preside.

Commencement coverage (pictures, video, links)

Graduate students will receive their degrees 5 p.m. Friday, May 10, including 14 doctoral candidates. Rachael VanDoren, school counseling, will serve as the graduate student speaker and professor Vicki Meloney, art and design, will represent the faculty.

Undergraduate students in the Colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences will graduate at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 11. Ella Mahon, social work and sociology, will represent the student body and Dr. Carol Mapes, professor of biological sciences, will serve as the faculty speaker.

Undergraduate students in the Colleges of Business and Visual and Performing Arts will graduate at 2 p.m. Saturday, May 11. Solomon Johnson, sport management, will serve as the student speaker and Dr. Soojin Kim, professor of sport management, will serve as the faculty speaker.

Rachael VanDoren of Phillipsburg, N.J., graduates with a Master of Science in school counseling. VanDoren's academic journey is augmented by a rich tapestry of practical experiences that underscore her commitment to the well-being and development of school-aged children. Her internship at Greenwich Lenhartsville Elementary School, Lenhartsville, Pa., has provided her vital individual and group counseling sessions, focusing on the academic, social and emotional needs of students. VanDoren's adept use of evidence-based counseling techniques has made significant strides in promoting positive behavior and emotional well-being among her charges.

VanDoren's tenure as a clinical therapist at CONCERN, Fleetwood, Pa., showcases her proficiency in creating and implementing client treatment plans, underlining her dedication to fostering therapeutic goals through innovative methods such as meditation and play therapy. She served as a graduate assistant in the Office of Extended and Lifelong Learning and as an assistant at the Career Development Center. She earned a Bachelor of Science in psychology with minors in case management, social work and sociology from KU and an Associate of Arts in liberal arts and sciences from Warren County Community College. Her involvement in organizations such as the Leo Club Harmony Chapter, the National Society of Leadership and Success, Alpha Epsilon Lambda and Chi Sigma Iota speaks volumes about her leadership qualities and her proactive engagement with her community.

Vicki Meloney is an award-winning graphic designer and professor at Kutztown University. She received her Master of Fine Arts from Temple University and has worked in the Philadelphia area for more than a decade before becoming an inspiring educator.

She is one of the founders of communication design’s annual Designation, a 24-hour extravaganza where students, faculty and alumni come together to donate 24 hours of their time to create pro-bono design work for area nonprofit organizations, which has raised more than $1 million of design services for area nonprofit organizations.

Meloney co-created Replace the Hate, a non-partisan, grassroots effort to build communal ties, renounce hate and rejoice in diversity through creative expressions and community art-making workshops. Prior to teaching, Meloney worked with clients from local non-profit organizations to international global brands. Her specialties include image-making, concepting and all forms of print media with a special emphasis on Design for the Greater Good. She also owns and operates a freelance design business and enjoys traveling the world to experience different sights, sounds and flavors.

Ella Mahon of Clarks Summit, Pa., graduates magna cum laude with a Bachelor of Social Work and a minor in sociology. During her undergraduate journey, Mahon distinguished herself through a myriad of roles, demonstrating exceptional leadership and a profound commitment to service. As a legislative intern for State Senator Judy Schwank, Mahon crafted letters supporting non-profits organized events advocating for social justice and assisted constituents with their state government related needs. Her dedication extended into academia as a supplementary instructor in the mathematics department, where she enhanced the learning experience for students in courses such as financial math and probability and statistics.

Mahon's academic accolades are noteworthy, including presentations at KU’s Social Work Community Forum and recognition as a Dean's Scholar for two consecutive years. Her involvement extended beyond academics as she contributed to the university and community through various volunteering efforts, such as serving as an English as a Second Language instructor and supporting refugee resettlement. These experiences underscore her commitment to leveraging education for societal impact as she sets her sights on advancing her education.

Dr. Carol Mapes is a professor of biology and has taught at Kutztown University since 1990. She has served as coordinator of the KU Environmental Science program, chair of the biology department, president and vice president of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Biologists (CPUB) and as a long-standing chair of the CPUB Student Grants Committee. She also served on the executive committee of the PASSHE Faculty Professional Development Council. Mapes was appointed to the Board of Governors of the Pennsylvania Consortium for Interdisciplinary Environmental Policy and was coordinator of Greening Colleges and Universities Student Involvement for Eastern Pennsylvania. She also managed the KU Satellite Office of the Pennsylvania Center for Environmental Education. Mapes was elected as a College of Liberal Arts and Sciences representative to the Strategic Planning and Resources Committee and has served on the University Senate and the APSCUF Representative Council.

Mapes has taught courses in the plant sciences, environmental science and biology at KU. She has mentored more than 50 undergraduate students in student/faculty research. She has taken many students to regional, national and international conferences to present research findings, including recent conferences in Taiwan and Vancouver. Mapes recently presented at the International Congress of Entomology in Finland and has been invited to present at the International Congress of Entomology in Japan and at the Annual Meeting of the Entomological Society of America later this year. She has co-authored numerous publications with students and is working on additional student co-authored manuscripts. She strongly believes in the value of involving students in hands-on research experiences; her work with students was recognized by her being a 2022 recipient of a KU Faculty Mentorship Award. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in biology/environmental studies from Williams College and a Ph.D. from Cornell University in plant physiology with minors in entomology and ecology.

Solomon Johnson of Philadelphia, Pa., graduates with a Bachelor of Science in sport management and a minor in coaching/athletic administration. Johnson’s academic and extracurricular endeavors at KU have carved a path of exceptional leadership and dedication to sportsmanship. As a student coach and intern with the Golden Bear men's basketball team, Johnson contributed to developing strategies and fostering an environment of excellence and determination. His involvement with the Philadelphia Youth Basketball Summer Program as an assistant coach further showcased his commitment to nurturing young talent and advocating for the importance of sports in personal development and community engagement.

Johnson's tenure at KU was also marked by significant volunteer work within the Golden Bear athletic department, demonstrating his well-rounded contributions to the university's athletics community. His active participation in the AIMS Club and Kutztown Christian Fellowship club underscored his leadership and commitment to fostering a supportive and inclusive campus environment.

Dr. Soojin Kim is a professor and department chair of sport management. Kim joined Kutztown University in 2009 and is an active scholar, presenting her research findings at national and international conferences. She continues to pursue her scholarly agenda and has been published in the top-tiered business and sport management journals.

Kim also serves as the director of business development of the Kutztown University Sport Business Institute (KUSBI), where she provides extensive market research for various sport settings and engages student learning by supporting their research. Kim earned a Bachelor of Science in sports and leisure science from Ewha Womans University, South Korea, in 1999, a Master of Arts in sport marketing from Dankook University, South Korea, in 2002, and a Ph.D. in sport administration with a minor in applied statistics and research method from the University of Northern Colorado in 2007.