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UT Arlington Commencement Week 2013 features Graduation Celebration with Kal Penn, more than 4,500 graduates

Friday, April 26, 2013

Media Contact: Herb Booth, Office: 817-272-7075, Cell: 214-546-1082,

News Topics: College Park Center, students

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UPDATE: Graduation Celebration, UT Arlington's annual celebration of the graduating class, will take place inside College Park Center, 601 Spaniolo Drive (formerly Pecan Street) in Arlington tonight at 7:30 p.m.

Originally planned outdoors at Levitt Pavilion, the event is moving indoors because heavy rains have saturated the pavilion grounds and more inclement weather is predicted throughout today and this evening.

The event is free and no tickets are required. Free parking available in all campus lots and the parking garages just north of College Park Center. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.


The University of Texas at Arlington will award a record number of degrees during Commencement Week 2013, which features a free, Friday night festival with fireworks and remarks by actor, producer and former White House aide Kal Penn.

Graduation Celebration begins at 7:30 p.m. Friday, May 10, with live music and free food at the Levitt Pavilion in downtown Arlington, 100 W. Abram St. Graduates, families, friends and supporters are encouraged to attend. The formal program starts at 8 p.m.

A full schedule of Commencement Week activities is available online at Commencement ceremonies will be held May 11 and 12 at College Park Center, 601 Spaniolo Drive.

UT Arlington will confer more than 4,500 degrees this spring, a 14 percent increase compared with the Spring 2012 semester.

The University’s outdoor, end-of-the-year celebration is open to the public. Also on the Friday evening program are President James D. Spaniolo and Rene Grimes, a graduate student from the College of Education and Health Professions who will speak on behalf of the Class of 2013.

Penn, 35, is well known for his starring roles in “House,” “24” and the popular “Harold and Kumar” franchise. He interrupted his acting career midstream to work full-time in politics, though he has since returned to his acting career.

In 2009, he joined the Obama administration as an associate director in the White House Office of Public Engagement, where he focused on work related to increasing financial aid for college students and other related initiatives.

Among the compelling stories from this spring’s graduating class:

  • Padmini Veerapen will earn her doctoral degree in mathematics from the College of Science. She already has secured a tenure-track position teaching algebra at Tennessee Tech University. While completing her degree, Veerapen received a National Science Foundation-funded fellowship to work in Arlington high schools, engaging students and teachers in mathematics research. The math department was recognized nationally this spring for its success in boosting enrollment in its doctoral program.
  • Tania Sederdahl has worked closely with the special needs community for a long time – her youngest sister has special needs. She continued that volunteer service at First Baptist Church of Arlington where she teaches in special ministries. Sederdahl, who earned a master’s degree in taxation, converted her internship last summer with PricewaterhouseCooper into a fulltime position she starts this summer.
  • Josh Sidin, Andrew Maddox – Sidin and Maddox hail from opposite ends of the planet –Australia and Cleburne, respectively. But both share a passion for helping high school students learn to love science, technology, engineering and math. The mechanical engineering graduates created a tutoring program for at-risk, pre-college students that pairs college mentors with those students and helped implement their program at Arlington’s Lamar High School. Sidin and Maddox had been developing the idea when Jeb Bush, an education advocate, spoke last year during the Maverick Speakers Series. Bush’s passion about education fueled Sidin and Maddox to get the program started.

Media representatives may call the UT Arlington Media Relations Office at 817-272-2761 to arrange interviews with 2013 graduates or to make arrangements to cover Graduation Celebration.

The University of Texas at Arlington is a comprehensive research institution of nearly 33,800 students in the heart of North Texas. Visit to learn more.


The University of Texas at Arlington is an Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action employer.