Penn State student-athletes from 11 sports approved to graduate

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UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. – Eighteen Penn State student-athletes have been approved to graduate on Saturday, Aug. 16, with commencement ceremonies being held in the Bryce Jordan Center. Also approved to graduate are two members of Penn State’s cheerleading and dance teams.

Student-athletes representing 11 Penn State squads are on the approved to graduate list, including four members of the football team and four members of the women’s lacrosse squad. Men’s swimming (two), women’s golf, softball, women’s tennis, women’s outdoor track and field, men’s fencing, men’s gymnastics, men’s lacrosse, and men’s outdoor track and field round out the teams represented in the list of 18 student-athletes.

Among the Penn State student-athletes approved to graduate on Saturday are Ryan Keiser, C.J. Olaniyan, Devin Pryor and Deron Thompson (football); Avery Curley, Mackenzie Cyr, Evan Foulsham and Shannon Lechner (women’s lacrosse); Chris Cipolla and Thomas Mershon (men’s swimming); Christina Vosters (women’s golf); Elizabeth Presto (softball); Carmen Sandor (women’s tennis); Brittany Howell (women’s outdoor track and field); Jeffrey Miller (men’s fencing); Ingvar Jochumsson (men’s gymnastics) Kessler Brown (men’s lacrosse); and Brandon Bennett-Green (men’s outdoor track and field). 

Kaitlin Stanilka (cheerleading) and Ashley Hand (dance) are also approved to graduate.

The four additional football student-athletes who are approved to graduate raises to nine the total of  2014 returnees with their degrees. Brad Bars, Jesse Della Valle, Miles Dieffenbach, Mike Hull and Zach Zwinak graduated in May.

Penn State student-athletes, who captured a conference-best 16 Big Ten Championships and four NCAA titles the past two years, consistently are among the nation's most successful in earning their degrees and academic achievement. A sampling of recent academic accomplishments includes:

-- A spring semester school record 461 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2014 spring semester. A spring semester record 205 student-athletes, the second-highest overall total, earned dean’s list honors by posting a GPA of 3.50 or higher;

-- A school record 73 Penn State student-athletes received Distinguished Scholar Awards for the 2013-14 academic year. The total bettered last year’s (2012-13) record number of 68;

-- A school record 136 Penn State student-athletes were honored as Academic All-Big Ten selections in the conference’s 2014 Spring/At-Large announcement. The announcement brought Penn State’s 2013-14 total to 285, second-highest all-time for Penn State student-athletes;

-- A record total of 387 awards were presented to Penn State student-athletes at the 27th annual SAAB Academic Achievement Awards Banquet on April 15. The figure topped last year's record of 356;

-- A school record 468 Penn State student-athletes earned a grade-point average of 3.0 or higher during the 2013 fall semester, with 197 earning dean's list recognition;  

-- The NCAA's annual study of institutions nationwide in October revealed that Penn State student-athletes at the University Park campus earned a Graduation Success Rate (GSR) of 88 percent compared to an 81 percent average for all Division I institutions for students entering from 2003-04 through 2006-07;

-- NCAA data last October also showed the four-year federal graduation rate average for Penn State student-athletes was 78 percent, significantly higher than the national average of 65 percent, and tied for second among Big Ten Conference institutions;

-- Penn State's Katie Slay (women's volleyball), David Taylor (wrestling/At-Large) and John Urschel (football) earned first-team Capital One/CoSIDA Academic All-America honors in 2013-14, with Slay being selected the Academic All-American of the Year for women's volleyball. Penn State has had 186 all-time honorees, the third-highest total among Division I institutions, with 40 Academic All-Americans honorees the past six years.

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