Graduates include a 68-year-old going into the nursing field and the university’s first-ever Rhodes Scholarship finalist
TAMPA, Fla. (May 2, 2022) – The University of South Florida will award more than 6,400
The group features 95 undergraduate students earning a perfect 4.0 GPA, 224 student veterans and includes graduates from 50 states and 100 nations. At 18 years old, the youngest graduate is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The oldest graduate, who is 68 years old, is receiving a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
USF President Rhea Law will preside over all ceremonies, which will be held at the Yuengling Center on the Tampa campus.
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- At the age of 68 years old, Charlene Barnes is the spring semester’s oldest graduate. Before attending USF, Barnes led a full career as an information technology professional in finance. In 2015, her son contracted meningococcal disease and died within 24 hours of his first symptoms. Haunted by the experience, Barnes, set out to better understand the disease and dedicated herself to trying to make a difference. After almost 45 years since graduating with a bachelor’s degree in management science from the University of California San Diego, Barnes enrolled in the Accelerated Second Bachelor’s Degree program through the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus to become a registered nurse. After graduating, she plans to pursue epidemiology research and hopes to volunteer for the Manatee County Health Department.
- Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Wren Kasper Orteneau completed her first year at USF solely online. She transferred to the St. Petersburg campus as a junior psychology major after simultaneously graduating from high school and earning her associate in arts degree at 16 years old. As a competitive Highland dancer and young academic high-achiever, Ortenaeu’s experiences gave her a special perspective about mental health and her coursework helped her understand the relationship between anxiety and stress. At 18 years old, Ortenaeu is the spring semester’s youngest graduate. She plans to earn a master’s degree in occupational therapy and wants to apply her experience with dance, fitness and mental health to work with children.
- As a dance major with a minor in psychology, Samantha Kedziora turned inward during her final year and left an impression on the College of The Arts’ stage. Kedziora’s final choreography highlighted her struggle managing an eating disorder. She used film and dance to recreate the different stages of her reflection and recovery processes with the hope of promoting awareness among her dance peers and audiences. After graduating, Kedziora plans to tour with dance companies in Europe and will join the USF dance exchange program in Paris.
- In 2015, Tyra Brown suffered a traumatic brain injury from a car accident and had to relearn everything from breathing to walking and eating. Once she recovered, Brown challenged herself further by adding writing and studying to her list. Led by her spirit and determination to make a difference in the community, Brown decided to pursue a degree that would lead to a career in social work. She takes pride in doing everything possible to help whoever is in need, which includes an internship working with teens aging out of foster care. She plans to pursue a career working with the elderly and continue to learn from their wisdom.
- Alexander Mercier is the recipient of this year’s Outstanding Graduate Award. Mercier made USF history as the first Rhodes Scholarship Finalist for his academic achievements and well-rounded interests. As a student in the Judy Genshaft Honors College, his undergraduate studies led him straight into epidemiology research with the integrative biology research department. He was first intrigued by the study of diseases when he was seven years old and his mother suffered from an undiagnosed illness, later identified as Lyme disease. Mercier plans to attend Harvard in the fall where he will pursue a doctoral degree in public health science with a concentration in epidemiology.
Friday, May 6
- 10:00 a.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the Muma College of Business (approximately 620 graduates expected to attend). * Richard Gonzmart will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Business Administration.
- 2:30 p.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the colleges of Behavioral and Community Sciences, Education and the Office of Undergraduate Studies (approximately 580 graduates expected to attend).
- 7:00 p.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the colleges of Engineering and The Arts (approximately 570 graduates expected to attend).
Saturday, May 7
- 10:00 a.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the following departments of the College of Arts and Sciences: Zimmerman School of Advertising and Mass Communications, Anthropology, Communication, Economics, English, History, Humanities and Cultural Studies, School of Information, School of Interdisciplinary Global Studies, Journalism and Digital Communication, Philosophy, School of Public Affairs, Religious Studies, Sociology, Women’s and Gender Studies, and World Languages (approximately 750 graduates expected to attend).
- 2:30 p.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the following departments of the College of Arts and Sciences: Chemistry, School of Geosciences, Mathematics and Statistics, Physics, and Psychology (approximately 890 graduates expected to attend). *Leemor Joshua-Tor will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Science and Alexander Mercier will receive the Outstanding Graduate Award.
- 7:00 p.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the colleges of Nursing and Public Health, and the following departments of the College of Arts and Sciences: Cell Biology, Microbiology, and Molecular Biology and Integrative Biology (approximately 840 graduates expected to attend). *Wilton Simpson will receive the President’s Fellow Medallion.
Sunday, May 8
- 10:00 a.m.: Master’s and educational specialist degree recipients from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Behavioral and Community Sciences, Muma College of Business, Education, Engineering, Patel College of Global Sustainability, Graduate Studies, Marine Science, and The Arts (approximately 830 graduates expected to attend).
- 2:30 p.m.: Master’s and doctoral degree recipients from the colleges of USF Health: Morsani College of Medicine, Nursing, Taneja College of Pharmacy, and Public Health (approximately 350 graduates expected to attend).
- 7:00 p.m.: Doctoral degree recipients from the colleges of Arts and Sciences, Behavioral and Community Sciences, Muma College of Business, Education, Engineering, Marine Science, and The Arts (approximately 130 graduates expected to attend). * David Satcher will receive an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters.
About the University of South Florida
The University of South Florida, a high-impact global research university dedicated to student success, generates an annual economic impact of more than $6 billion. 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.