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Rafoth’s Commencement Address to Feature Stories of Graduating Seniors

Ben Rafoth at outdoor event

Ben Rafoth, English professor and IUP’s 2010–2011 University Professor, is taking a different approach with his keynote speech at the upcoming undergraduate Commencement ceremony.

His address—part of the ceremony Sunday, December 19, 2010, at 1:30 p.m. in Memorial Field House—will focus on the stories of IUP’s graduating seniors.

For the past several weeks, Rafoth has been interviewing seniors about the years they’ve spent as IUP students. He has met one-on-one with twenty seniors, he said, and listened as they talked about the friends they’ve made and sometimes lost; the challenges they’ve had to overcome to stay in, and pay for, school; and their relationships, jobs, and favorite activities.

“I’ve learned some amazing things as I’ve listened to these graduating seniors,” Rafoth said. “Their stories are silly, sad, strong, and inspiring.”

Rafoth said he considered writing a traditional, follow-your-dream type of speech. “I’ve heard that kind of speech many times,” he said, “and it often sounds the same from one graduation to the next.”

Instead, he decided to focus the address on the members of the Class of 2010, using their own words and stories about college life, the future, and what they will take with them or remember when they leave IUP.

“After hearing what the seniors have shared with me, I think everyone will agree that, despite the obstacles life throws in your path, our graduates can look forward to a bright and promising future.”

The undergraduate Commencement ceremony will also feature student speaker Amy Raabe, a Food and Nutrition major from Butler.

Speaking at the graduate ceremony will be Jack Wagner, Pennsylvania auditor general and a 1974 graduate of IUP, and student speaker Dawn Fels, an August graduate of the doctoral program in Composition and Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL).

The graduate ceremony will take place December 19 at 10:30 a.m. in Fisher Auditorium.

For more information about the midyear Commencement ceremonies, see “Commencement Ceremonies to Feature Auditor General Wagner, Professor Rafoth as Keynote Speakers” or the Commencement website.

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