3,800 New Graduates

TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2009) – Dec. 12 the University of South Florida will grant more than 3,800 diplomas to students at the fall commencement ceremony.  Many an interesting life story can be found among members of the graduating class including the oldest student, Delia Anderson, who at 67 is receiving a Master of Arts in reading education, and the youngest student, Atalie Ashley-Gordon, who at 18 is receiving a bachelor’s degree in psychology. 


It is also a very diverse group of students coming from 41 states and 83 nations.  At Saturday’s ceremony there will be 18 graduates who will join hundreds of other USF grads in serving as commissioned officers in the armed forces. 


Ceremonies will take place at the USF Sun Dome:  at 9 a.m., the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Behavioral and Community Sciences; at 1:30 p.m., the colleges of Business, Education, Engineering, Nursing and The Arts; and at 6 p.m., graduate students from all colleges. 


Stories to look out for include:


9 a.m. ceremony

- Matt Grothe: USF’s beloved quarterback who will be graduating with a degree in criminology.


- Glenn Fowler: two-time Big East champion in the 400 meter hurdles, who also set a record in the 100 meter hurdles.


- Luisa Ojeda: with 14 siblings, she is the first in her family to graduate with a college degree.


1:30 p.m. ceremony 

- Kaneile Thomas: a four-year member of the USF women’s soccer team.


- Raynea Warren: came to USF in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans as part of a special program for displaced students.


6 p.m. ceremony

- Samuel P. Bell, III, Esq.: The highly-respected veteran public official will receive an honorary Doctor of Public Health degree.  While a member of the Florida House of Representatives, Bell was instrumental in pushing the 1984 legislation that created the College of Public Health, the state’s first and longest-standing public health college.  Bell has introduced and enacted some of the most important pieces of legislation concerning public health and health care issues in the past 50 years, most focusing on the needs of children and families.


- Diane McNerney: the first Neonatal Nurse Practitioner to complete USF’s doctor of nursing program. 


- Lynn Pedraza: a first-generation graduate, and mother of 10. 


The ceremony also includes an area called a “Get it Together Tent” hosted by the USF Alumni Association who help graduates calm their jitters, fix their hair, arrange their gowns and put their hats and tassels on in the proper direction.  The tent offers a great location to visually capture the excitement of the day. 


The students aren’t the only story.  Stuart Silverman, dean of the Honors College, has read the graduates’ names at every USF graduation ceremony since 1988.  He hasn’t missed one ceremony at USF in the past 17 years because, “I see the students carry the dreams and aspirations of their entire family on their faces, across that stage.  It’s very rewarding.  I plan to officiate over every graduation until I retire or until they make me stop,” said Silverman.  After crunching the numbers, it appears dean Silverman has read the names of approximately more than 100,000 graduating students, including his own daughter, twice. 


To get more facts on the ceremony, or to watch commencement, go to www.usf.edu/commencement.  For more stories or information about commencement, contact Vickie Chachere at (813) 974-6251.


For all USF commencement ceremony schedules, click here.



The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching.  USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.