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Commencement Exercises on May 6

April 19, 2012

Saint Francis University will hold its Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 6, 2012, on the Loretto campus.

Saint Francis University will hold its Commencement Exercises on Sunday, May 6, 2012, on the Loretto campus. There will be two commencement ceremonies that day; the graduate ceremony will be held at 10:00 a.m. and the undergraduate ceremony will be held at 2:00 p.m. Both ceremonies will take place in the Stokes Athletics Center. This year approximately 540 students will earn both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Saint Francis.

Dr. James Burke will be the speaker for the graduate ceremony. Dr. Burke works in the Department of Specialized Surgery at Altoona Regional Health System in Altoona and is Chief of Neurosurgery, as well a member of the medical staff. He is also part of the medical staff at HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in Altoona. Dr. Burke is a diplomat of the American Board of Neurological Surgeons. In 1988, he was graduated summa cum laude with departmental honors from Saint Francis University, with a B.S. degree in biology. He earned his Ph.D. in physiology and biophysics from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, completing his dissertation on “Control of Neocortical Excitability by Metabotropic Glutamate Receptors,” and he received his M.D. from the University Of Alabama School Of Medicine. When he returned to Pennsylvania in 1996, he worked for a year as a surgical intern in the Department of General Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh. In 1997, he began his residency, and in 2000, was given an intra-residency Fellowship in Spinal Disorders.

Dr. Burke received many awards and honors as a student, and as a professional is affiliated with organizations such as the Pennsylvania Neurosurgery Society, the North American Spine Society, and Congress of Neurological Surgeons, as well as many others. He is a Physician Assistant Student Supervisor and a member of the President’s Cabinet at Saint Francis. He volunteers as a job shadow for Bishop Guilfoyle Catholic and Hollidaysburg high schools. Dr. Burke has published articles, chapters, abstracts, and has given presentations around western Pennsylvania and the country.

Dr. T. Allan Comp will be the speaker for the undergraduate ceremony and will receive an honorary degree at the ceremony. He is the founder and coordinator of the Appalachian Coal Country Watershed Team (ACCWT) and the Western Hardrock Watershed Team (WHWT). He works through these teams to support the efforts of small community watershed groups in the mining communities of Appalachia and the Rocky Mountains. The ACCWT serves communities in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama. The team’s goals are to monitor water quality, enhance community outreach and education, develop local communities, and build the local capacity to fix problems.

Dr. Comp holds a Ph.D. in history, and worked for several years in cultural resources with the National Park Service. He left that career to work as a developer of historic properties and consultant to historic preservation projects. He then worked for a regional heritage commission in western Pennsylvania where he created AMD&ART, an organization devoted to turning acid mine drainage sites into beautiful landscapes. His work attracted the attention of other watershed and community improvement projects leading to the development of the ACCWT and the WHWT. Dr. Comp now leads the Office of Surface Mining/VISTA Team for the U.S. Department of Interior.

Sr. Paula Delgrosso will receive an honorary degree at the undergraduate ceremony for her work directing the St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen and in Altoona. Sr. Paula, with the help of some 100 community volunteers, serves a hot meal to those in need every weekday. Her soup kitchen started small, serving about 25 people a day. However, through her tireless work and love, the generosity of the community, and increasing need, she now feeds about 160 to 200 people every day. The St. Vincent DePaul Soup Kitchen is dependent on private donations and does not receive government funding. Sr. Paula, a graduate of Saint Francis University, has been recognized for her work by the Blair County Chamber of Commerce, the Altoona Rotary, the Altoona Area Christian Coalition and the Blair-Bedford Labor Council. She is the winner of the Kiwanis Club Distinguished Citizen Award, the John Riley Human Relations Service Award and the Prince Gallitzin Cross. Sr. Paula has her Master degee in counseling from Duquesne University.

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