News Channel

USF Celebrates First Graduating Class Since Being Designated as a Preeminent State Research University

Nearly 3,000 University of South Florida System students will be awarded degrees during the 115th commencement convocation Aug. 4-5.

This is the first class to graduate since the Florida Board of Governors declared USF a Preeminent State Research University in June. The prestigious designation follows significant improvements made to USF’s graduation and student retention rates as well as other key measurements, such as research expenditures and the number of patents awarded.

The USF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate Award will be presented to Barbora Skopalova, who will graduate with bachelor's degrees in international studies and English with a concentration in literary studies. Four students in the USF System have been identified as King O’ Neal Scholars, earning a cumulative grade point average of 4.0.

McKenzie McIntyre – Bachelor's in Public Health
McKenzie McIntyre wasn’t your typical undergraduate student. In fact, she was only sort of an undergrad since she was also a high school student while taking classes to earn her bachelor’s degree. About a month ago, McIntyre was on the graduation stage as Hillsborough High School’s valedictorian. Now, at just 18-years-old, she’s set to graduate once again – this time with a degree from USF Health’s College of Public Health. McIntyre, who is this summer’s youngest graduate, first began taking dual enrollment courses at USF her junior year of high school. It was a practical decision based off her want to pursue a career as a firefighter and paramedic immediately after high school but still earn a bachelor’s degree. Over time, McIntyre ended up finding a passion for biostatistics, thanks to a course offered through Moffitt Cancer Center. She now plans to pursue a master’s degree at USF and hopes to one day work as a biostatistician, applying statistical principles to manage data for a variety of health care and public health issues.

Credit: Tylor Belshe

Jodie Sweezey – PhD in Anthropology
After spending more than a decade in the United States Marine Corps, Jodie Sweezey (Capt, USMC) knew she wanted to make a difference in the lives of fellow veterans. Sweezey, who is graduating from USF this summer with her PhD in Anthropology, rejoined the Marine Corps reserves after 9/11 and served two tours in Iraq. Now, as a researcher in USF’s applied anthropology department, Sweezey studies the lived experiences of veterans suffering from a variety of combat-related health issues, like auto-immune disorders and cancer. Her work is also personal. Sweezey was honorably discharged from the Marines after being diagnosed with some of the same health issues she now studies. It’s a focus she plans to continue with the hope to make a positive difference in her life and the lives of countless other veterans.

Carissa Alinat – PhD in Nursing
Carissa Alinat is a Bull through and through. Having grown up in the Tampa Bay area, she's spent many years at USF and is graduating this summer with her fourth degree from the university - a PhD in Nursing. As a first-generation college student, Alinat received her first bachelor's degree from USF in English. Years later, the birth of her daughter and her stay in a neonatal intensive care unit inspired her to take a different path; this one in the medical field. She then attained a bachelor's and master's in Nursing, and now a doctorate. Today, Alinat is an Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioner and owns two successful businesses including a medical clinic. With experience in research that she attained while working as a Graduate Research Assistant at USF and a newly earned PhD, she plans to combine her clinical and genetic research skills to focus on precision medicine targeting the obesity epidemic.

Barbora Skopalova – Bachelor's in International Studies & English
As the USF Alumni Association’s Summer 2018 Outstanding Graduate, Barbora Skopalova embodies what it means to be a Bull. A student in USF’s Honors College, Skopalova has received numerous awards throughout her university career, including the USF Scholars Award and the History of Achievement Award. She has also been an active member in a number of student organizations and served as the president of USF’s chapter of the Phi Eta Sigma National Freshman Honor Society. But, even with her double major and a pile of extracurriculars, Skopalova also found time to volunteer outside of campus. With a passion for volleyball, she has worked as a volunteer coach for several local clubs, teaching young girls the game she loves while also teaching them skills like teamwork, trust and cooperation. They’re experiences both on and off campus that have not only enriched her life but the lives of many others.

Facts about the Summer 2018 graduating class

-Total USF System degrees: 2,806

-U.S. states represented: 45

-Nations represented: 80 nations

-Youngest graduate: Age 18

-Oldest graduate: Age 71

Full ceremony information
Saturday, August 4, 2018: Yuengling Center

Sunday, August 5, 2018: Mahaffey Theatre

Graduates, friends and family attending the ceremonies are encouraged to use #USFGRAD on social media posts. More information is available at

USF News is produced by University Communications and Marketing.

To submit content, please review our Editorial Plans.