Speakers Announced for December 2013 Commencement Ceremonies at IUP

Posted on 12/11/2013 12:16:48 PM

Indiana University of Pennsylvania’s graduate and undergraduate commencement ceremonies will take place Saturday, December 14, with nearly 800 students eligible to receive degrees.

The ceremony for graduate students will be at 9:30 a.m. in the IUP Performing Arts Center’s Fisher Auditorium. The undergraduate ceremony will be at 1:00 p.m. in the Kovalchick Convention and Athletic Complex.

This December, the university will award four associate degrees, 540 bachelor’s degrees, 209 master’s degrees and 45 doctorates. Students who completed their master’s or doctoral work in August or who are completing it this month are invited to participate in the December ceremony.

Lauren K. Dwyer, an early childhood and special education major from Mill Hall, will be the student speaker for the undergraduate ceremony. Christina L. Smith, a school psychologist and a school psychology doctoral student from Brookville, will speak at the graduate ceremony.

Stephen Jude Krestar Jr. will be commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army following the conferral of his criminology degree. Four students will be recognized for achieving a perfect 4.0 grade point average, including Luke Andrew Prutznal, of Punxsutawney, a student in the College of Education and Educational Technology.

Joshua Acosta, a biology/pre-medical major with a minor in chemistry, will present the senior class gift. Acosta, of Seward, is president of the Senior Class Gift Committee and co-founder and chapter president of Men of God Christian Fraternity. He is also president of the Student Philanthropy Council.

Victor Garcia, professor of anthropology and director of the Mid-Atlantic Addiction Research and Training Institute, IUP’s 2013-14 Distinguished University Professor, will serve as the keynote speaker for both the undergraduate and graduate ceremonies. The Distinguished University Professorship is an annual award presented to an IUP faculty member based on outstanding teaching, research and scholarly activity. Recipients retain the title for life.

Garcia, who joined the faculty in 1991, is known internationally as an expert on the study of Latino immigrants and migrants, the educational plight of Latinos and substance abuse problems among transnational workers from Mexico and Central America.

Much of his work has been conducted in southeastern Pennsylvania among Latino workers in the mushroom industry. His work has been featured in a 2008 PBS documentary series, “Unnatural Causes: Is Inequality Making Us Sick?” in the “Becoming American” episode.

Garcia has secured 19 grants totaling close to $1.5 million, including a $750,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health. He is a sought-after presenter who has offered 50 research papers and seven posters at national and international conferences and has served as a session organizer, chair or discussant at 24 conferences. He has written 13 research reports and 27 publications, five book chapters and three papers in conference proceedings.

He is co-author of a 2013 book, “Barriers Faced by Hispanic Students Transferring from Community Colleges to the University: An Ethnographic Approach.”

Garcia also works to increase awareness of social issues and promote activism through research and community work. He continues to serve in leadership roles on many university committees and has been active in helping to recruit Latino students to IUP by developing community-based outreach and recruitment measures. He has developed and implemented an on-campus retention program for Latino students, Caring About Latino Student Achievement, the first of its kind for a Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education university.

As director of MARTI, he has been responsible for garnering external funds to complement the operational budget and has been successful in securing 17 different grants. MARTI’s focus is on addiction-related research, which includes domestic violence, veteran readjustment issues, and alcohol and drug abuse.

Garcia has a bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Davis, a master’s degree in Latin American studies from Stanford University and master’s and doctoral degrees in anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

In addition to his Distinguished University Professor honor, he received the Outstanding Researcher Award from IUP’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences in 2008 and the Outstanding Achievement in Research Award from IUP’s School of Graduate Studies and Research in 2001.

Find out more about Commencement.