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Miss America to speak

Miss America, Katie Harman, will be the keynote speaker for this year’s spring commencement ceremony on Sunday, June 16.

“Katie was selected because of her position, title and role,” said Jeanie-Marie Price, director of marketing and communications.

According to Price, Portland State University’s executive committee is the deciding faction for commencement speaker. The executive committee consists of Daniel Bernstine, the university’s president, in addition to vice presidents and provost.

Harman is a junior at Portland State University completing her bachelor’s degree in speech communication with concentration on voice studies. Harman is taking a leave of absence from school this year as she fulfills her duties as Miss America.

Price addressed the fact that Harman herself has not yet completed her own education. Price said that the president and the executive committee would not have chosen Harman if they felt that it was an issue.

Price pointed out that Harman’s experience representing the country puts her in a very unique position to contribute to the day’s celebrations.

Harman has plans to get her master’s in bioethics. Her goal is to ultimately work in health care management.

Harman will receive $50,000 scholarship assistance and an estimated $200,000 in promotional fees from her current position as Miss America.

Price said that Harman was chosen as the keynote speaker because she brings a unique experience to share with students, family and friends at commencement.

“I think Katie will bring a spirit and message to people that will be inspirational to people,” Price said.

Price added that Harman was also chosen to be the keynote speaker because of her role in helping Sept. 11. Price said that Harman has had direct exposure to the victiMiss

According to the Miss America Web site, Harman is a spokesperson for United Way’s fund for victims of Sept. 11. Harman is also involved in the United Service Organization (USO), which entertains U.S. troops around the world.

Harman’s Miss America platform issue was breast cancer in America. Harman currently tours the country informing people about breast cancer awareness and education.

The Gresham-born Harman became the first Oregonian ever to win the Miss America crown.

The 2002 spring commencement ceremony will be at the Rose Garden. The event is ticketed. Students may request up to eight tickets each.

Joshua Tabor, the commencement coordinator, made a definite distinction between graduation and commencement. To graduate, students must apply and go through the degree certification process. Commencement is the formal ceremony for those who have graduated.

“It is the capstone ceremony for the entire year,” Tabor said.

Tabor pointed out that Portland State University has two commencement ceremonies; one in spring and one in summer. Summer commencement is a less formal ceremony.

Tabor said that an anticipated 2,100 students will participate in spring commencement. Students must register to attend in advance. To register, students can go to The event will last 2 1/2 to 3 hours.

Background and accomplishments

-Source-The Miss America Web site (

-Oregon Laurels Scholarship, for musicians pursuing education

-Portland State University Dean’s List – three trimesters

-President’s Award for Educational Excellence

-Oregon Scholar designation among graduating high school seniors

-Selected as an apprentice in trauma surgery at Oregon Health Sciences University

-Winner of the 2001 Statewide Young Artists Concerto Competition (Oregon)

-Recipient of the Oregon Music Educators Association Gold Award