April marks the ending of a chapter in the lives of Pitt-Greensburg seniors. Graduation day for the Class of 2015 is Saturday, April 25, at 11 a.m., on Ridilla Field (or inside Chambers Gymnasium if the weather is uncooperative).
This year’s commencement speaker will be Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze. She has served for more than two decades for the Westmoreland County Court of Common Pleas and is a member of the Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, and American Bar Associations , as well as the Pennsylvania Conference of State Trial Judges.
Judge Pezze’s community service includes six years as a member of the Advisory Board of Greensburg Central Catholic High School, her alma mater. She was the President of the Board of Trustees of Catholic Charities and chairperson of the Diocese of Greensburg’s Campaign for Human Development. She is cosponsor of the Greensburg Cultural Council Scholar Artist Award. Judge Pezze also is a member of the Advisory Board for the University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg.
The student speaker this year is Cayla Lyn Ray. Ray grew up in Derry, PA, about 30 minutes from the Pitt-Greensburg campus. She majored in biology and minored in psychology and graduated early in December 2014.
“Although I am the first female in my family to go to college, the men in my family have a history of going to Pitt, and I wanted to continue that tradition,” Ray said.
The Pitt-Greensburg campus gave her a chance to continue the legacy while enjoying the smaller class sizes and the ability to play tennis at a collegiate level.
During her four years at Pitt-Greensburg, Cayla played on the tennis team, playing mostly second singles and first doubles. She served as captain for three years.
“The girls on the tennis team were not only my first friends [in college], but they became my second family,” Ray said.
Though the adjustment was hard at first, she misses the familiar faces and opportunity to be a part of various groups on campus. She was a member of Beta Beta Beta (Biology Honor Society), Phi Eta Sigma (Freshman Honor Society), Gamma Sigma Epsilon (Chemistry Honor Society), and Chi Alpha Sigma (Athletic Honor Society).
“As hectic as these types of things make the semester seem, I look back now and realize that those are the moments I cherish the most,” Ray said.
Since she graduated early, Ray has a full-time job at a local pediatric dental office where she helps with receptionist duties. When she isn’t working, she spends time with family, volunteers, and takes trips to Arizona to get things ready for when she starts graduate school at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health in Mesa, Arizona. She hopes to specialize in pediatric dentistry.
Ray hopes, through her graduation speech, to encourage others to be “go-getters” and achieve various levels of success. She wants to remind future students to “stay open to everything that Pitt-Greensburg has to offer.”
“Pitt-Greensburg has everything you need to be successful, if you work hard and use your resources,” Ray said.