Notable graduates include a student who suffers from a rare disorder attempting to abandon his wheelchair to walk across the stage, and three brothers raised by migrant farmworkers who will become the first in their family to graduate from college. Director of the National Science Foundation among those who will receive special recognition.
TAMPA, Fla. (May 1, 2017) – Approximately 6,000 University of South Florida System students will earn degrees during commencement ceremonies May 5-8. USF System President Judy Genshaft will preside over a total of nine ceremonies, marking the university’s 111th commencement convocation.
USF in Tampa will award approximately 5,700 degrees, 500 degrees will be conferred at USF St. Petersburg and nearly 300 at USF Sarasota-Manatee. The graduating class represents all 50 states, more than 100 nations and includes over 200 student veterans. Thirty-four students will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. The youngest graduate is an 18-year-old receiving a bachelor’s degree in biomedical sciences, while the oldest graduate is a 78-year-old earning a master’s degree in liberal arts.
A 4.0 student, Natalie Soyster will be recognized with the USF Alumni Association’s Outstanding Graduate Award. Soyster, who graduates with bachelor’s degrees in psychology, as well as cell and molecular biology, plans to start medical school in the fall.
Graduates and anyone attending the ceremonies are encouraged to use #USFGRAD on all social media posts. More information on commencement is available at usf.edu/commencement.
Other notable graduates
-Sam Bridgman, a student who is currently living with Friedreich’s ataxia, will earn two graduate degrees from the USF Muma College of Business on Saturday, May 6. At age 15, Bridgman was diagnosed with this rare neuro-muscular disease that is progressive, life-shortening and also causes loss of coordination from the toes to the fingertips. It has confined him to a wheelchair since the age of 18. Bridgman, now 25, raises funds for the Friedreich’s Ataxia Research Alliance and works as a resident for the Tampa Bay Lightning during his pursuit of an MBA and master’s degree in sport and entertainment management. With the help from two friends, he plans to abandon his wheelchair and walk across the stage during the 6 p.m. commencement ceremony. His successful walk across the stage during his 2013 graduation ceremony at the University of Portland received national media attention.
–Three brothers will earn undergraduate degrees on Saturday, May 6. Rogelio, Daniel and Jose Guzman-Ramos are the first members of their family to graduate from college. Raised by farmworkers in a socio-economically disadvantaged area of Immokalee, Fla., the trio overcame significant challenges and long odds to make it to USF. Through their education, all three hope to be able to earn enough money to take care of their parents and allow them to stop working in the fields. The middle brother, Daniel, will earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering. Daniel is the recipient of a prestigious Gates Millennium Scholarship, a program originally funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Daniel’s scholarship covers his undergraduate and graduate school education. He plans to work for one year as an analyst at Accenture in Washington, DC, before returning to pursue a master’s degree. The oldest brother, Rogelio, and youngest brother, Jose, will each graduate with a bachelor’s degree in exercise science. Both plan to attend graduate school. Daniel graduates during Saturday’s 9 a.m. ceremony, while Rogelio and Jose will participate in the 1:30 p.m. ceremony on Saturday. Their family plans to attend both ceremonies.
Full commencement schedule (all held at the USF Sun Dome, unless otherwise noted)
*Friday, May 5, 9 a.m. ceremony includes undergraduates from the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Phillip Furman, vice president of biological sciences at Pharmasset, Inc., will receive an honorary doctorate of science.
*Friday, May 5, 1:30 p.m. ceremony includes undergraduates from the College of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Ibrahim Gambari, who was the first under-secretary-general and special adviser to the secretary-general on Africa, will receive the President’s Global Leadership Award.
*Friday, May 5, 6 p.m. ceremony includes bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degree recipients from USF Health. Dr. Julio Frenk, president of the University of Miami, will receive an honorary doctorate of public health.
*Saturday, May 6, 9 a.m. ceremony includes undergraduates from the Muma College of Business and College of Engineering. Dr. Patricia Flatley-Brennan, director of the National Library of Medicine, will receive a dual honorary doctorate of engineering and nursing.
*Saturday, May 6, 1:30 p.m. ceremony includes undergraduates from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences, College of Education, Undergraduate Studies and the College of the Arts. Dr. Michael Gessler, professor and chair of the Institute for Technology and Education at the University of Bremen in Germany, will receive an honorary doctorate of education.
*Saturday, May 6, 6 p.m. ceremony includes master’s and doctoral degree recipients. Dr. France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation, will receive the President’s Global Leadership Award.
*Sunday, May 7, 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. ceremonies for USF St. Petersburg at the Mahaffey Theatre.
*Monday, May 8, 6:30 p.m. ceremony for USF Sarasota-Manatee at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.
About the USF System
The University of South Florida System is a high-impact, global research system dedicated to student success. The USF System includes three institutions: USF; USF St. Petersburg; and USF Sarasota-Manatee. The institutions are separately accredited by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. All institutions have distinct missions and their own detailed strategic plans. Serving over 49,000 students, the USF System has an annual budget of $1.6 billion and an annual economic impact of $4.4 billion. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference.