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May 15, 2013 | updated May 18, 2013

KUTZTOWN, Pa. - Kutztown University officials awarded an honorary doctorate to the Honorable Arenda L. Wright Allen '82, federal United States District Court Judge for the Eastern District of Virginia, at the Spring 2013 Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, May 18 in the Michael O'Pake Fieldhouse.

At the 2 p.m. ceremony for the Colleges of Liberal Arts and Sciences and Visual and Performing Arts, Philadelphia-native Wright Allen received a Doctor of Public Service, doctor beneficiorum publicorum, honoris causa, for her exceptional contributions to justice throughout her distinguished career.

The first African American woman to serve on the federal bench in Virginia, Wright Allen was nominated for her seat by President Barack Obama in December 2010 and January 2011. During the nomination process, Wright Allen received an outstanding Senate Judiciary Committee Report, which commended her profound integrity and professionalism. Virginia Senator Mark Warner recommended her by citing her impressive record as a federal prosecutor and a federal public defender. With a unanimous vote, the United States Senate confirmed her nomination in May 2011.

Wright Allen graduated from Kutztown University in 1982 with a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice and received her law degree from North Carolina Central University School of Law in 1985. Between 1985 and 1990, she served as a judge advocate officer in the United States Navy and as a United States Navy Reserve Officer between 1992 and 2005, retiring at the rank of Commander.

In 1990, Wright Allen began serving as an assistant United States attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, prosecuting persons charged with violating federal criminal statutes. She joined the Federal Public Defender's Office in 2005, serving as supervisory assistant federal public defender in the Eastern District.

Wright Allen has been a guest lecturer on a variety of academic topics at several college campuses, including Old Dominion University, Regent University School of Law, and William & Mary Law School. She is active in the community and at her church, has worked with high schools and at-risk children, served on the board of directors for Park Place Family Life Center in Norfolk, Virginia and volunteers for charitable causes.

Currently, Wright Allen resides with her husband, Delroy Allen and two sons, Yanni and Nyle, in Virginia.