University of Pennsylvania’s Veterans Upward Bound (Penn VUB) program held its 40th commencement ceremony on August 29th at Houston Hall on the Penn campus in Philadelphia. The program prepares area veterans for college through a rigorous academic curriculum that includes cultural and arts experiences funded by the Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC).
The evening in the Bodek Lounge began with a catered dinner and a warm welcome from Penn VUB’s newly appointed director, Col. Kenneth M. DeTreux, USMC.
“As the new director, this is my first VUB graduation and I now see first-hand the incredible impact the program makes on our students,” said DeTreux. “Their demonstrated commitment and dedication to successfully completing the program speaks to their self-determination and resiliency in their pursuit of post-secondary education and bettering their lives overall.”
Many of the veterans in the program are first generation college students who are currently experiencing poverty or other life challenges. The training provided by Penn VUB builds important skills necessary to succeed academically, delivered within a supportive community of fellow veterans.
The 40th commencement ceremony included a processional, students reflections, and the awarding of certificates.
“VUB’s staff and faculty don’t walk ahead of you, nor behind you, they simply walk right beside you, every step of the way,” said Frank Lopez, Jr., one of the graduating veterans, in his commencement speech.
“I’ve had so many amazing experiences at VUB but one of my fondest memories is when we took a trip to see two plays by August Wilson — that will always stay with me,” said Lopez.
For many participants, the PHC-supported trips to theaters and other cultural experiences are a first and provide context and insight to their studies.
Pennsylvania Congressman Dwight Evans (PA-03) attended the ceremony, helping to pass out certificates and taking photos with the graduates and their guests.
The veterans will now be going on to colleges throughout the region, including Chestnut Hill College, Temple University, and Community College of Philadelphia.
For a full gallery of photos, visit University of Pennyslvania’s web site