Spring 2014 Commencement
Penn State Altoona's spring 2014 commencement ceremony will be held on Saturday, May 10, 2014 at 10:00 a.m. in the Jaffa Shrine in Altoona.
GRADUATES, click Commencement Details on the menu to find out more about the ceremony.
Because of the large number of seats available at the Jaffa Shrine, no tickets are required for guests to attend the ceremony. Likewise there is no limit on the number of guests per graduate.
To commemorate this milestone occasion, a professional photograph will be taken of each graduate being congratulated by the chancellor. No pre-orders will be taken. Rather, photos can be viewed and ordered after commencement by visiting the Film Center's Web site.
In order to avoid congestion and to maintain decorum during the ceremony, we ask that family and friends refrain from approaching the platform when taking pictures or using a video camera.
About the Jaffa Shrine
Altoona’s Jaffa Temple was chartered on July 9, 1903; the dedication of the Jaffa Mosque at Chestnut Avenue and Seventeenth Street occurred on August 29, 1920. Rapid growth of membership resulted in the establishment of larger headquarters.
Thus, on September 25, 1930, the present Jaffa Shrine was dedicated and opened, celebrating twenty-seven years of growth and development.
Although the Jaffa Shrine has not changed since its dedication, through efforts of the trustees and the Jaffa Improvement Association, thousands of dollars have been expended each year to update and improve the building. Various activities, both social and philanthropic, have been the source of the Shrine’s success over the years.
The Shrine Circus each spring is the biggest and most successful activity at the Shrine, hosting nearly 6,000 persons, including hundreds of school children. The Jaffa Shrine also is host to concerts, seminars, trade shows, banquets, and other events throughout the year. Penn State Altoona celebrated it seventieth anniversary at the Jaffa Shrine on October 25, 2009, with a concert by the Doobie Brothers.
Commencement Speaker: Darren Miller
Born and raised outside Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Darren Miller began swimming at Murrysville Swimming Club in 1987, along with Franklin Area Swim Team and Franklin Regional High School. He competed for Penn State Altoona for two years; however injury to his back and shoulders caused him to quit competitive swimming in 2003. He continued to help coach Big Cat Aquatics at University Park until graduation in 2005.
In 2008, he developed a love for distance running after a few years of bulking to a 260-pound bodybuilder. Miller ran his first marathon in June 2008 - an event which triggered a passion for long distances despite being a sprint swimmer his whole life. Miller competed in four marathons, including a Boston Marathon qualifying time at the 2009 Pittsburgh Marathon. Six weeks later he completed the Mohican Trail 50-mile trail race, despite suffering a broken metatarsal in his right foot three weeks prior.
While recuperating, Miller asked his friend, Cathy Cartieri Mehl, if she would be interested in sponsoring an attempt to swim the English Channel during the summer of 2010, after being inspired by Lynn Cox’s novel, Swimming to Antarctica. Mehl accepted, and the two started the Forever Fund at the UPMC Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh. The fund is in honor of Mehl’s father, Anthony Frank Cartieri, who passed away from open-heart surgery in 1997. Miller completed the English Channel swim on July 19, 2010, raising over $25,000 that year for the Forever Fund, which helps families afford the incidental costs incurred while caring for their children at the hospital.
In the fall of 2010, Miller enrolled his name among the open water swimmers around the world taking on the “Ocean’s Seven” challenge. After the English Channel, he completed the Catalina Channel (California) in August 2011 and the Moloka'i Channel (Hawaii) in October 2011. In 2012, Miller completed the Strait of Gibraltar (Spain) and the Tsugaru Channel (Japan). He finished the Cook Strait (New Zealand) in March 2013, and the North Channel (Northern Ireland) in August 2013. Miller became the fourth swimmer to complete the challenge, and first in the world to complete it on all first attempts. Peter Dochinez with Trustmont Financial Group in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, sponsored the remaining six swims, and allowed for 100 percent of every donation to go to the Forever Fund.
Miller has been a licensed financial advisor since 2006 with Federated Investors, Merrill Lynch, and is currently employed at PNC Bank in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. He is passionate about building his professional speaking business to motivate and inspire others to find their calling in life by living to the fullest every day.