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Penn President Amy Gutmann speaks to the DP editorial board on Jan 29, 2004, prior to her inauguration. | DP File Photo

As the Class of 2015 prepares to mark a new period in their lives, Penn administrators will be there to confer degrees and honor the accomplishments of these students. However, while these administrators lead the ceremonies amid the "Pomp and Circumstance," they will remember their own graduations. Here, some Penn administrators reflect on when they too were motivated young adults ready to conquer the world. 

Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel (Nazareth College, 1978)

“I remember vividly my baccalaureate graduation. I graduated from Nazareth College in Kalamazoo, Mich., a small school — a total of about 120 people in my class. The dean of students had worked hard on pronouncing my last name; he got it right during graduation rehearsal. However, when he read my name at the actual ceremony, he called me Antonio (which implies male) — versus Antonia (female). To this day, I cringe when anyone calls me Antonio!”

President Amy Gutmann (Harvard-Radcliffe College, 1971)

“At my undergraduate commencement in 1971, two memories stand out most clearly for me: just how proud my mom was, and that it was the second ever joint Harvard-Radcliffe Commencement. At that time, there wasn’t equal access to admission to Harvard for women. Instead, the norm was a four-to-one ratio of men to women. So, on commencement, all of my friends wore badges of solidarity on their robes to show the time had come to change the status quo.

"It was such an exciting day for me, no doubt because of the sheer celebratory energy of the event, but also because I was preparing to leave the country for the very first time for a year-long fellowship in London. A wonderful day, and one that I only wish my father could have been alive to see.”

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From left to right: Nursing Dean Antonia Villarruel, Provost Vincent Price, President Amy Gutmann.

Provost Vince Price (Santa Clara University, 1979)

“Thinking back on my own college graduation, my most vivid recollection is of the visible delight and pride shown by my parents and family. Having experienced many commencements since then, I am often reminded that the ceremony honors not only the accomplishments of the graduates but also the community that supported them — the family, friends and classmates who shape who we are, and who give particular meaning to the idea of commencing an exciting new phase of life.”

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