Former orphan earns college degree from Penn State Lehigh Valley

John Lahutsky did not start school until he was 9 years old

May 7, 2019

“I’m a story teller,” said John Lahutsky. And John has quite the story to tell—his own.

He graduated with a degree in corporate communication on May 4 with 110 of his classmates from Penn State Lehigh Valley (PSU-LV) at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

John has had an eventful and, at times, challenging road to earning a college degree. There were times in his life when going to college seemed impossible.

a woman and a man with a walker on stage
PSU-LV Chancellor Tina Q. Richardson and John Lahutsky posed for a photo after Richardson awarded Lahutsky his degree at the 2019 Commencement ceremony held May 4 at ArtsQuest Center at SteelStacks in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Image: Dan Z. Johnson
A thirst for knowledge
John spent the first nine years of his life in Russia. He was born early at 24 weeks with cerebral palsy. He uses a walker to get around. John and his sister were abandoned by their birth parents when John was 18 months old. He spent his early years in a Russian orphanage, known as a baby house, with 15 other babies and one staff member. He received limited interaction from adults and had no life experiences. Due to his birth defect, the baby house staff had low expectations for John, and they did not allow him to go to school in Russia….(continued)
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