Lea Tarzy '24 poses in a blue dress in the stands of a soccer field.

Meet the Student Speaker and Soloist for Bucknell's 174th Commencement

April 25, 2024

by Brooke Thames

In her speech, accounting major Lea Tarzy '24 will reflect on the ways Bucknell has encouraged her to explore every avenue. Photo by Emily Paine, Marketing & Communications

With an alumni network 56,000 strong, it's not uncommon to run into a Bucknellian virtually anywhere. For Lea Tarzy '24, a chance encounter with an alum made all the difference in her college plans.

Tarzy was a freshman in high school when she visited campus as a soccer recruit. In the airport, while chatting about Bucknell with her parents, a stranger cut in.

"He said he majored in English here before going to medical school. He spoke so highly of his time at Bucknell, specifically how the liberal arts education broadened his mind," says Tarzy, an accounting major from Medford, N.J. "Everyone I talked to through the admissions process emphasized that this school doesn't make you choose one path, and you can pursue so many different things."

Tarzy's four years have embodied that sense of exploration. In addition to her management studies, she pursued a minor in legal studies through the College of Arts & Sciences and conducted independent research — all while maintaining a cumulative 4.0 GPA. She also served as a tour guide within the Office of Admissions, worked as a teaching assistant in classrooms, and played outside back on the women's soccer team — which won three consecutive Patriot League Championships during Tarzy's time. The final role she'll take on before earning her diploma: Class of 2024 student Commencement speaker.

Following an open audition process, Tarzy was selected by a committee of students, faculty and staff to share a parting message with her fellow graduates.

"Over winter break, I was looking back on all of my college experiences and how it was all coming to a close," Tarzy says. "Bucknell has given me so much. I thought it would be nice if I could give back by talking about how much the school has meant to me."

In her speech, Tarzy will reflect on the ways Bucknell has encouraged her — and other members of the graduating class — to explore every avenue, and how these invaluable experiences have prepared them for what lies ahead.

"You can be a star player on the team and the star of the musical. You can be a teaching assistant, on the dance team, involved in research and the president of your sorority … It is now up to us to take all we’ve acquired and apply it on our own."

Tarzy's future plans include a position at the accounting firm RSM in New York City, working in transaction advisory services and pursuing CPA certification, before attending law school.

The Soloist

Joining Tarzy on the Commencement stage will be biology major Alexandra Slofkiss '24, whose rendition of the national anthem will open the ceremony.

Like the student speaker, the soloist is also chosen through an audition process by a committee of students, faculty and staff.

Slofkiss began vocal lessons through her childhood dance school in Marlboro, N.J., before taking leading roles in musical theatre productions like Grease and Peter Pan. She went on to attend the Fine and Performing Arts program at Howell High School through the Freehold Regional High School District, where she concentrated in acting.

"I just took singing and ran with it," Slofkiss says. "I had lots of opportunities to perform from when I was little, all the way through high school, which served me really well."

Alongside her passion for performance, Slofkiss fostered an interest in the natural sciences but was unsure of where she wanted to pursue collegiate studies — until she toured Bucknell.

Alexandra Slofkiss '24 poses outdoors among cherry blossom trees in bloom.

Slofkiss began vocal lessons through her childhood dance school in Marlboro, N.J., before taking leading roles in musical theatre productions like Grease and Peter Pan. Photo by Emily Paine, Marketing & Communications

"I got to attend a biology class and a lab during my tour, and everyone was extremely friendly. The professors actually made an effort to have me engage in what the students were learning," she says. "Here, you're not just one of 200 people in a lecture hall. I loved it so much that I submitted an Early Decision application on the car ride home."

While at Bucknell, Slofkiss has continued to dabble in artistic expression through the annual choreographer’s showcase, singing on her church’s worship team, and even starring in a fellow student's self-written musical. She owes each exciting experience to her family, whose support has made it all possible, Slofkiss says.

"Music is something that can connect communities, and I've seen how it touches people, especially my parents. So singing at graduation is my way of honoring my family for all the time and support they invested in me."

Commencement is far from Slofkiss' swan song. She'll return to the stage as a finalist in the Miss New Jersey USA pageant in June, where she'll draw from her vocal performance experiences during the interview portion. Slofkiss then plans to translate her biology degree into a career in biotechnology sales.

Bucknell's 174th Commencement

This year's Commencement, celebrating the Class of 2024, is scheduled for Sunday, May 12, 2024, at 10 a.m. Tickets are not required for Commencement if held outside on Malesardi Quad.

As in past years, the ceremonies will be livestreamed on Bucknell's Commencement webpage and Facebook page.


See all that's happening at Commencement 2024