SARASOTA, Fla. (April 28, 2016) – The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will hold its spring graduation exercise on Monday, May 9, at 6:30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto.
Of the 294 candidates set to graduate, about 200 from USFSM’s four colleges – Arts & Sciences, Business, Education and Hospitality & Tourism Leadership – are expected to attend the commencement. Of those, 38 will be master’s degree candidates.
Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone will represent USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF System President Dr. Judy Genshaft will preside. Dr. Bonnie Jones, assistant vice president for institutional research and effectiveness, will serve as ceremony reader.
Faculty Senate President Dr. Patricia Hunsader will bear the university’s mace. Jay Riley, program director of student alumni engagement, will serve as processional announcer and Sarah Bradtmueller, a student in USFSM’s College of Education, will perform the national anthem and USF alma mater.
Special awards will be presented during the commencement to the following:
Golden Bull Service & Outstanding Leadership Award
The Golden Bull Award is sponsored by the USF Sarasota-Manatee Student Government Association and given to the student who has excelled in leadership, academics and community and university involvement.
Stewart Carrier, College of Arts & Sciences
Popular with USF Sarasota-Manatee students and faculty alike, Stewart is an exceptional student committed both to academic studies and service toward others.
In addition to serving as an honor society member, Stewart is a member of Student Government, president of the Box Office Bulls film club, vice president of Students Together and Naturally Diverse, chairman of the University and Community Government Affairs Committee, a student member of USFSM’s Diversity Advisory Committee and a Service Saturday volunteer.
“I’ve never been the guy who will sit back and roll with it,” said Stewart, 30. “I try to make positive changes.”
A native of Sarasota, Stewart has been making positive changes at USFSM since spring 2015 when he transferred to the campus. Recently named “Outstanding History Student” by the College of Arts & Sciences, Stewart hopes to continue his academic pursuits at graduate school.
Stewart will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in history. This fall, he is set to enroll in New York University’s much-respected Gallatin School to pursue a master’s degree.
Outstanding Graduate Award
The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee Outstanding Graduate Award is presented at each commencement by the USF Alumni Association. This prestigious award recognizes the graduating senior who exemplifies scholarly commitment, leadership, character, school spirit and dedication to community service.
Lauren Henry, College of Business
The USF Alumni Association is pleased to announce Lauren Henry as Outstanding Graduate for spring 2016.
A member of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s first freshman class in 2013, Lauren is as much a committed, driven student as she is a well-rounded one. She is a member of four honor societies, including Beta Gamma Sigma, the honor society for business students, and serves as a student ambassador representing USFSM at functions on- and off-campus.
Additionally, Lauren works at a clothing store, practices ballet five days a week as a member of the Sarasota-based School of Russian Ballet and volunteers at a local Rotary Club and Habitat for Humanity.
“It’s been a phenomenal experience at USF Sarasota-Manatee,” she said, summing up. “The business program has been outstanding and I’ve been so fortunate to have been part of so many exciting things here.”
Lauren will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in general business administration. This fall, she will pursue an MBA at Liberty University.
Outstanding Professor Award
Honorees for Outstanding Professor at USF Sarasota-Manatee share a close connection with their students, passion for the university and its mission, and a commitment to excellence through education. Presented by the Student Government Association on behalf of the graduating seniors, this award is the highest campus-level honor for a USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty member. It recognizes exceptional accomplishments, leadership and service to the campus and community.
Jean Kabongo, Ph.D., College of Business
This marks the second consecutive semester in which Dr. Kabongo has won this honor. Dr. Kabongo is an associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship in the College of Business. Prior to joining USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2010, Dr. Kabongo was an assistant professor at Millersville University in Millersville, Penn. He also taught at Virginia State University.
Dr. Kabongo graduated in 1990 with a BA in philosophy from the Institut Saint Augustin, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and earned an MBA in 2001 from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City. He received his doctoral degree from the Université Laval, Canada, School of Business, in 2006.
Admired by students and colleagues alike, Dr. Kabongo is passionate about education, entrepreneurship, economics, the environment and international affairs. He has traveled extensively, including as a representative of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), an organization that promotes sustainable management of natural resources in western equatorial Africa.
Closer to home, he has encouraged students to develop entrepreneurial projects within the local community. This award, given by students, recognizes Dr. Kabongo’s outstanding contribution to USF Sarasota-Manatee.
King O’Neal Scholars
A tradition since 1988, King O’Neal Scholars are recognized each semester by the Alumni Association in honor of charter graduates Lucas King and Evelyn O’Neal. Graduating seniors with the highest cumulative Grade Point Average, 4.0, are identified as King O’Neal Scholars. Four King O’Neal Scholars will be recognized for this commencement exercise. They are:
Brendan Bennett, College of Business
A graduate of Pineview School for the Gifted in Osprey, Brendan earned such high marks that he qualified for a Bright Futures Scholarship when he enrolled at USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2013 as a member of the first freshman class.
That early success turned out to a harbinger of things to come.
Over the next three years, Brendan would go on to earn a perfect 4.0 GPA as a student in the College of Business. “I’m just a driven person,” the 20-year-old says.
Brendan will receive his Bachelor of Science degree in finance.
He said he’s unsure what the future may hold, but he hasn’t ruled out graduate school or pursuing a career as a financial advisor.
For now, he’s headed to Huron, S.D., to help his grandfather run a medical clinic. “I want to be close to my grandparents,” he said.
Amanda Burns, College of Arts & Sciences
Like many students at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Amanda has worked hard to achieve her goals. A student attending classes full time, she also worked two jobs, as a bookkeeper and retail clerk.
“A degree is something nobody can take away from me,” says the 29-year-old first-generation college student.
That determination has carried over into her studies. Arriving at USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2014, Amanda retained her winning ways by earning a 4.0 GPA after achieving similar scores at a community college.
This self-proclaimed “driven person” will earn a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology.
Amanda isn’t “100 percent sure” about what she’ll do next, but says graduate school is definitely part of the plan. Ultimately, she wants to work as a middle school psychologist.
“Middle school is a troubling time and a lot of crises can happen at that age,” she said. “I’ve always been comfortable with helping others and I think I could be helpful in providing guidance to some students.”
Lauren Henry, College of Business
Lauren has been called an “over-achiever” and “perfectionist,” but this dedicated student isn’t afraid of labels, particularly when they describe her commitment to academic excellence.
A member of four honor societies, including Beta Gamma Sigma, the prestigious honor society for business students, Lauren has achieved a perfect 4.0 GPA throughout her entire college career.
But she isn’t all about hitting the books. Lauren also serves as a USFSM ambassador, volunteers at Habitat for Humanity and dances for the Sarasota-based School of Russian Ballet. Recently, she performed at the Sarasota Opera House and Venice Performing Arts Center.
She attributes her success to hard work and effective time management.
“I really strive to do my very best at whatever I’m doing,” the 21-year-old says. “I try to be very organized and have goals and have everything laid out in advance so I know what I need to do to get it done.”
Lauren will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in general business administration. Not one to sit on the sidelines, she plans to enroll in Liberty University’s online MBA program after graduation.
Ultimately, “I’d love to start my own business,” she said. “I want to be an entrepreneur.”
Kallie Minnick, College of Education
This future teacher was drawn to USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Education because of its small class sizes and strong internship program.
Arriving at USFSM in 2014, Kallie set out to make the most of her time here. “I wanted to make something of myself and have always strived to do the best that I could in my classes,” she said.
Inspired by her second-grade teacher at Phillippi Shores Elementary School, Mrs. Scheckner, Kallie resolved early in her life to become a teacher. Working part time as a pharmacy technician, she took classes at a community college and later at USFSM.
She will graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree in elementary education.
“I want to eventually go back and get my master’s degree,” the 24-year-old says. “I feel that the elementary years are the most important in children’s lives. If I can make them love school, then perhaps they will become lifelong learners and, hopefully, go to college themselves.”
Regional Chancellor’s Award for Leadership & Service
The Regional Chancellor’s Award is presented to individuals who make a substantial positive impact on the quality of life in the local community. It is the most prestigious award granted by USF Sarasota-Manatee and recognizes the institution’s strong ties to the community.
The Honorable Nancy Detert
For more than two decades, state Sen. Nancy Detert has worked diligently as a member of the Florida Legislature to support increased access to higher education, including to USF Sarasota-Manatee, for residents across our region and Florida.
A true friend to USF Sarasota-Manatee, Sen. Detert was among those area lawmakers in 2004 and 2005 that were instrumental in securing necessary state funds to help USFSM construct its Crosley Campus Center building, which opened in 2006.
Sen. Detert was elected to the Florida Senate in 2008 and represents Sarasota and Charlotte counties.
She chairs the Commerce and Tourism Committee in the Senate and, as a result, has served as a board member of Enterprise Florida, the group that encourages business and trade growth in Florida.
She previously served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives, from 1998 until 2006, and has previously served as a Sarasota County School Board member. She is passionate about education.
Sen. Detert moved to Venice from Chicago in 1978. Her three sons graduated from Venice High School. They and their families, nine grandchildren in all, currently reside and work in Venice.
On behalf of our community, congratulations Sen. Detert on your years of dedicated public service and thank you for your support of USF Sarasota-Manatee!
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, Venice and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.