The fall class includes a graduate making university history, a husband and wife graduating together and a 19 year old only one year removed from high school
TAMPA, Fla. (Dec. 7, 2020) – The University of South Florida will hold virtual commencement ceremonies for more than 5,000 graduates on Saturday, Dec. 12. This marks the third time USF has recognized students in this unique way due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The class includes 31 students earning a bachelor’s degree with a perfect 4.0 GPA, 223 student veterans and graduates from 49 states and 91 nations. At 19 years old, the youngest graduate is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The oldest graduate, who is 68 years old, is receiving a doctoral degree in education.
USF President Steven Currall will preside over all ceremonies, which will also include remarks from Provost Ralph Wilcox, student body president Claire Mitchell and college deans. In addition, the Outstanding Graduate Award winner and undergraduates who earned a 4.0 GPA will receive special recognition. The ceremonies will be available for viewing beginning at 9 a.m. on Dec. 12 through the USF commencement website.
The fall 2020 ceremonies will also provide an engaging opportunity for graduates, as they can submit a photo, video and written message to appear on screen during their ceremony.
Like spring and summer 2020 graduates, USF’s fall graduates have been invited to participate in a future, traditional in-person commencement ceremony when COVID-19 conditions allow for large gatherings to resume.
Student stories for media consideration
- Shamaria Engram – doctoral degree in computer science and engineering: Engram is making USF history as the first Black woman to graduate with a doctorate from this program. It’s an accomplishment the Tampa native doesn’t take lightly and one she hopes will inspire other Black women to pursue their passions. Engram says she will always be grateful for the support and encouragement she received from the entire USF community. She has already accepted a position at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory.
- Michael and Jacqueline Ray – bachelor’s degrees in finance: This husband and wife are graduating together, after both returned to school to pursue their higher education goals. The Rays’ journey started eight years earlier at different community colleges in different states. Having known each other in high school, they kept in touch throughout the years, got married and shortly after, enrolled at USF. After graduating, Michael will start Geico’s Management Development Program for the Claims Department while Jacqueline hopes to continue her work with the Darden Restaurant company in a managerial role.
- Jourdan Rapaport – bachelor’s degree in psychology: At 19 years old, Jourdan Rapaport is the youngest graduate in fall 2020. After attending St. Petersburg College’s Early College Program, Rapaport graduated from Osceola Fundamental High School just last year with her associate degree. After graduation, Rapaport says she plans to take a semester off before applying to graduate school at USF. She aspires to one day become a board-certified behavior analyst, working to help those struggling with a variety of disorders.
- Vladimir Lut – bachelor’s degree in nursing: Born in Ukraine and trained at the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Vladimir Lut dedicated himself to dance. He spent more than two decades training and performing around the world. After a foot injury forced him to retire from dance, Lut set out to find a new path. With his background in performance and a desire to help others, he looked to pursue a new career in health care. Now, Lut is graduating from the USF College of Nursing’s accelerated second degree program and says he is excited to see what opportunities lay ahead.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida is a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success. Over the past 10 years, no other public university in the country has risen faster in U.S. News and World Report’s national university rankings than USF. Serving more than 50,000 students on campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee, USF is designated as a Preeminent State Research University by the Florida Board of Governors, placing it in the most elite category among the state’s 12 public universities. USF has earned widespread national recognition for its success graduating under-represented minority and limited-income students at rates equal to or higher than white and higher income students. USF is a member of the American Athletic Conference. Learn more at www.usf.edu.