Kutztown University to Celebrate 2022 Spring Commencement May 13-14
KUTZTOWN, Pa. – More than 1,200 students will be awarded degrees during Kutztown University's spring commencement ceremonies May 13-14, at O'Pake Fieldhouse. Dr. Kenneth S. Hawkinson, university president, and Dr. Lorin Basden Arnold, provost and vice president for Academic Affairs, will preside.
Graduate students will receive their degrees at 5 p.m., Friday, May 13, including 13 doctoral candidates. Paul Walsh, an education major, will serve as the graduate student speaker and Dr. Catherine McGeehan, professor of education, will represent the faculty.
Undergraduate students in the Colleges of Education and Liberal Arts and Sciences will graduate at 9 a.m., Saturday, May 14. Madison Brzozowski, a special education and secondary English education dual major, will represent the student body and Dr. Georgeos Sirrakos, professor of secondary education, 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 14. Kerolos Akraz, a business administration major, will serve as the student speaker and Dr. Peg Speirs, professor of Art Education, will serve as the faculty speaker. KU will present an honorary doctorate to Richard Wells at Saturday afternoon's ceremony.
Paul Walsh of Bethlehem, Pa., will graduate with a Doctor of Education in Transformational Teaching and Learning. Walsh received his undergraduate and graduate degrees from KU. In 2011, he received a bachelor's degree in secondary education with a concentration in English. In 2018, he obtained his master's degree in English.
During his time as an undergraduate student, Walsh served as vice president of the Presidential Ambassadors as well as president of Bonner Hall council. He also worked in Housing and Residence Life as a freshman mentor. During his senior year, Walsh was awarded the Outstanding Student Teacher Award in English Education from the university. His master's thesis focused on a four-year intensive creative writing program for high school students which he developed as artistic director of the Literary Arts at his former place of employment. His doctorate work focused on strengthening the racial competency of white teachers to create more antiracist and equitable spaces in educational settings.
Currently, Walsh is an English and creative writing instructor at Liberty High School. He serves as a co-chair of the district-wide equity audit task force, where he focuses specifically on student achievement across the district. After graduation, Walsh plans on spending time with his wife, Ashley, his son, Paul, and his newborn baby girl, Emerald. He aims to continue to strengthen his passion for equity in education through research and creating professional development opportunities for educators. Walsh is excited to have more time to engage in two other passions of his: coaching baseball and writing children's books.
Dr. Catherine McGeehan is a professor in the College of Education and coordinator of the graduate Reading and Instructional Coach Endorsement program. She holds a B.S. in elementary education from Penn State University, a Master of Education with reading specialist certification from Cabrini College and a Doctor of Education in reading education from Widener University.
Before making the transition to higher education, McGeehan held many K-12 positions in both the Radnor Township School District and the School District of Philadelphia. Her last K-12 position was literacy coordinator for Radnor Township. McGeehan has also served as a building and district wide instructional coach, as well as teaching first, third, fourth and eighth grades, in both Radnor and the School District of Philadelphia.
McGeehan is a board of director and executive secretary for the Association of Literacy Educators and Researchers, a national literacy organization. She is also the past president of the Pennsylvania Literacy Teacher Educators and the Delaware Valley Reading Association. Additionally, she is a long-standing member of several other literacy organizations.
McGeehan's research has been published in several national and state journals: The Reading Teacher, Literacy Research and Instruction and the Journal of Digital Learning in Teacher Education. She has presented at dozens of international, national and state conferences. McGeehan conducts numerous professional development sessions and facilitates curriculum development for local school districts.
Madison Brzozowski of Mickleton, N.J., will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in education in the dual certificate secondary education English and special education program, with a minor in women and gender studies. Brzozowski served as vice president of membership for Delta Zeta Sorority and is the current president of KU Above and Beyond the Language of the Ear, a sign language club. For more than three years, she has served as secretary for the Golden Bear Village South Hall Council. She also has worked as a private one-on-one tutor to help children throughout multiple grade levels improve their virtual learning skills.
During her time at KU, Brzozowski has made the Dean's List multiple times and received honors from the National Society of Leadership and Success and the Delta Zeta National Sorority. Brzozowski received the Outstanding Clinical Experience Award for her latest student teaching placement at Kutztown Middle School. She plans to teach special education in New Jersey and advocate for people with disabilities.
Dr. Georgeos Sirrakos is a professor in the Department of Secondary Education at Kutztown University. Before his arrival to Kutztown in 2013, he worked as an educational consultant with the Institute for Student Achievement and taught science in both New York City and Dresden, Germany. In 2018, Sirrakos was awarded KU's John P. Schellenberg Award for Excellence in Teaching and Learning. He teaches courses in education psychology, methods of science instruction, school leadership, hip-hop and multicultural education and he supervises student teachers. Sirrakos' research interests include fostering equity in education, creating opportunities for students to inform the teaching and learning process, cross-national studies of learning environments and the intersections of hip-hop and education. Currently, he serves as the principal investigator for a three-year National Science Foundation grant to better understand the barriers and challenges for success faced by underrepresented high school students in computer science, namely females, underrepresented racial minorities and/or students of low socioeconomic status.
Sirrakos has presented his work on issues of culture, equity and education at several regional and national conferences. He has written for and contributed to numerous academic journals and edited volumes in the United States and internationally, including his co-edited book "Between the World and the Urban Classroom."
Sirrakos holds a Ph.D. in education from the Curtin University of Technology, a master's degree in science education from Lehman College and a bachelor's degree in biology from Stony Brook University.
Kerolos Akraz of Lansdale, Pa. will graduate with a Bachelor of Science in business administration with a concentration in marketing. Akraz, born in Egypt, interned with the Brenntag Solution group in the summer of his sophomore year and studied abroad in London during his time at KU. He also interned as a customer service logistics coordinator at Penske Truck Leasing, where he served as the first line of contact for major customer accounts. In 2020, he served as the United Greek Council representative for Kappa Delta Phi Fraternity.
Since March 2017, Akraz has volunteered at St. Mary and St. Kryillos Coptic Orthodox Church as the video production director and fundraiser marketing planner. He fills his free time by engaging in his passion for filmmaking, video production and live broadcasting. Akraz plans on pursuing a career in the pharmaceutical industry, where he can put his business degree and work experience to use.
Dr. Peg Speirs is a professor of Art Education and has been at Kutztown University since 1998. Speirs has taught in higher education for 27 years at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. She is coordinator of the graduate certification program in art education and developed the intern program to certify practicing art teachers. Speirs also served as interim associate dean in KU's College of Visual and Performing Arts for more than five years. Her research interests include feminist art, theory and pedagogy, issues-based art education and digital storytelling.
Speirs co-edited the textbook, Contemporary Issues in Art Education, and authored or co-authored articles and essays on teaching art for social justice, art and ritual, feminist art education and a national study investigating the curricular influences of new art teachers. Speirs later co-authored The Dinner Party Curriculum Project, an online resource for K-12 teachers. Speirs is an artist, exhibition curator and co-developer of Random Oaks Studio, a creative research community and artist residency program in Kensington, Ohio. Currently, she is screenwriting and editing a documentary on women and tattoos.
Speirs earned a Bachelor of Arts in studio art at Hiram College, a visual arts teaching certificate at Westminster College, a Master of Arts in art education from Miami University of Ohio and received her doctorate in art education with a minor in women's studies at The Pennsylvania State University. Before her doctoral study, Speirs taught K-12 art for 10 years in Southern Local School District in Ohio.