Summer Graduates Number Over 2,700

Morning and afternoon ceremonies will be held Saturday, Aug. 7 at the Sun Dome.

By Barbara Melendez News Writer


TAMPA, Fla. (July 29, 2010) – More than 2,700 students are expected to receive degrees in the summer commencement exercises for the University of South Florida System that will be held Saturday, Aug. 7. Graduates hail from 70 nations and 41 states.


The Tampa campus will involve about 2,324 graduates, including 1,523 bachelor’s degrees, 701 master’s degrees and 124 doctoral and specialist degrees.


The Tampa ceremonies take place at the USF Sun Dome at 9 a.m. and 1:30 p.m., both presided over by USF System President Judy Genshaft. Current USF Board of Trustees member and former USF Board Chair Rhea Law, CEO and Chair of the Board of Fowler White Boggs Attorneys at Law, will receive the President’s Fellow Medallion award at the morning event. Dr. Stuart Silverman, Dean of the Honors College, will be the ceremony announcer at both.


The morning ceremony will recognize all graduates from the Colleges of Arts and Sciences and Business. About 800 graduates are expected to attend the morning ceremonies.


The afternoon ceremony will recognize all graduates from the Colleges of Behavioral and Community Sciences, Education, Engineering, Marine Science, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, The Arts and Undergraduate Studies. More than 500 graduates are expected to be on hand for this event. 


Three students have been identified as King O’Neal Scholar candidates, having earned a cumulative grade point average of 4.0.  The USF Alumni Association has named Ashley Sims, an English Education major in the College of Education, this semester’s outstanding senior.


The youngest person in this graduating class is 18-year-old Laura Topalli, who earned a bachelor’s degree in political science from USF St. Petersburg. She started at USF at 17 and completed her junior and senior credits within a year.  She is now headed to law school.


At the other end of the age spectrum this time around is Judith Belle Camp Smolk, who at the age of 71 is receiving a master’s of science degree in nursing from USF Tampa. She entered the master’s program when she was over 65 and already retired from a full-time nursing career.


“I felt that there was no better way to use my time than to fulfill a life-long dream,” Smolk said. “I felt committed to attend a well-respected and fully credentialed nursing school such as USF’s.  I am keeping an open mind about what to do next and have no special plans. I am sure that an intriguing offer or plan will come to the forefront. Whatever happens, I am happy to represent women and the older generation, to the best of my ability. We have so much to offer. We are healthy, energetic and interested in the world around us.”


Other notable graduates (morning) include:


·         Christopher Scirerisichella made the memories of his life playing in the USF Herd of Thunder marching band for four years.

·         Rachel Cruce contributed to student life by starting a student group, the Humanities and Cultural Studies Organization, which won the distinction of best new organization on campus.

·         Volleyball player Pamela Luiz was named a Big East Tournament All-American.

·         Untilla McCall-Davis, the mother of five children, is the first in her family to graduate from college.


Notable graduates (afternoon):


·         Pamela Lozano founded the first Masters Student Nursing Organization in the College of Nursing.

·         Jocelyn Nieves became a Student Government senator and was involved in many student organizations.

·         Jessica Weber is the third of three siblings to graduate from USF’s College of Engineering and is graduating today with her doctorate.

·         Shannon Geesaman called working full time during Graduate School a trial of her character and says, “The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet.” 

·         Mohamed Radwan is another engineering graduate who said, “USF has transformed me from an engineer that only knew numbers and formulas to an engineer who can lead.”

·         Michel Renard says a professor once told him that he chose the hardest major at USF – electrical engineering. He thought at first that the professor was trying to scare him but now he thinks the professor might have been right.


For additional information call the commencement hotline:  (813) 974-9406 or (813) 974-1816 or visit