With pomp and circumstance Thursday night, five LifeLink PSU students walked across the stage, taking giant steps to becoming independent young adults.
The LifeLink PSU 2017 graduation ceremony was held at Penn State’s Alumni Hall with a distinguished audience celebrating these students accomplishments. As Daniel Tracy, Luke Stashak, Simone Datcher, Hannah Gray and Anjali Regan moved on from the program, Penn State Executive Vice-President and Provost Dr. Nicholas Jones and Superintendent Dr. Bob O’Donnell watched with pride.
“Their speeches tugged at each of our hearts. Those voices reflect personal growth and confidence nurtured by their parents, teachers and mentors, and echo the importance of this program,” O’Donnell said.
LifeLink PSU is a partnership between the State College Area School District and Penn State. This ceremony marked the 15th class graduating from the program, which provides students with special needs between the ages of 18 and 21 an opportunity to interact with mentors of their own age in an environment that is socially and academically conducive to continued growth.
Program Coordinator Marla Yukelson couldn’t have been more proud. “There is so much growth that takes place in this process,” she said. “Each student travels a different road but all their paths are ultimately leading to independence. Seeing that personal transformation is immensely gratifying to me.”
Almost 200 people attended the event, a testament to the power of this collaboration between SCASD and Penn State.
All five graduates gave a speech, telling their stories with reflections about what the program meant to them. “This program has brought out a person in me that I didn’t know existed,” Regan said. “Everyday I would come home with some funny story, or something great that happened. I did not like the early dismissal, the 2-hour delay and any snow days. If I was sick, I would be mad that I couldn’t be at school. I wanted to be at school every day all day.”