Behrend celebrates Class of 2021 with in-person commencement programs

A Penn State Behrend graduate exits the commencement stage after receiving his diploma.

Penn State Behrend celebrated the Class of 2021 with two in-person, outdoor commencement ceremonies at the college's soccer stadium.

Credit: Penn State Behrend

Penn State Behrend awarded 669 undergraduate and graduate degrees at two outdoor ceremonies on Saturday, May 8. The ceremonies were held at the Behrend soccer stadium, with COVID safety protocols in place for the duration of each program.

The graduates also were honored during Penn State’s virtual commencement program. A recording of that program can be viewed at

At Behrend, in chairs spaced six feet apart, the graduates heard from Chancellor Ralph Ford, who discussed the unique circumstances of this academic year and the perseverance of the Class of 2021.

“You should never doubt that you are prepared for whatever comes next in your careers,” he said. “You persevered through a pandemic. You are ready to be the leaders of tomorrow – the ones who will help us move past this pandemic, to solve today’s challenges and those to come. You will be the ones to build a brighter future.”

The college’s faculty was represented by Courtney Nagle, associate professor of mathematics education and chair of the secondary education in mathematics program. She found inspiration in the messiness of the last year.

“You showed you could persist, reflect, adapt and grow to find success, even amid the mess,” she said. “You have grown and learned in ways that you never anticipated. A hallmark of a successful person is that they persist in the face of obstacles, and often, these obstacles are blessings in disguise.”

The 2021 graduates were led onto the field by student marshals – the students with the highest cumulative grade-point average in each school. This year’s marshals were:

  • Katherine Rose Braund, of Bemus Point, New York, who represented the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. She earned a degree in psychology.
  • Kristie Ferrick, of McKean, who represented the Black School of Business. She earned a degree in accounting.
  • John LaRoche, of Union City, who represented the School of Engineering. He earned a degree in mechanical engineering technology.
  • Joshua Slayton, of Venango, who represented the School of Science. He earned a degree in mathematics.