Graduates include a 75-year-old civil rights activist earning a degree more than 55 years after starting at USF, a 23-year-old earning a doctorate in engineering and a veteran who overcame PTSD and a traumatic brain injury
TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 1, 2022) – The University of South Florida will award more than 2,700 degrees during summer commencement scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 6. The ceremonies include recipients of 1,789 bachelor’s, 755 master’s, three educational specialist, and 170 doctoral degrees.
The group features 15 undergraduate students earning a perfect 4.0 GPA, 68 student veterans and includes graduates from 41 states and 70 nations. At 18 years old, the youngest graduate is earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. The oldest graduate, who is 75 years old, is receiving a bachelor’s degree in general studies.
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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- Askia Muhammad Aquil, formerly Otha Favors, is earning a bachelor’s degree in general studies after first enrolling at USF in 1966. At the time, he was pursuing a degree in world languages and cultures with a concentration in French and Russian, and interning for the former St. Petersburg Times and Evening Independent newspapers, with dreams of becoming a foreign correspondent or a diplomat. Then Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, and everything changed for him. He founded the One to One Group, which brought together students and faculty to discuss race relations and social justice issues. Inspired by King’s vision, their work in collaboration with the Black Student Union, resulted in the creation of a Department of Africana Studies at USF. Through USF Student Government, he also recruited USF students to tutor struggling Black students from Hillsborough County schools to join the fight against poverty. Aquil ended up leaving the university his senior year, but his activism in the community continued. In 2021, he was presented with the key to the City of St. Petersburg for his work to create quality affordable housing and reduce poverty while exuding peace, kindness and compassion in everything he does. It was always his intention to return to USF and complete his undergraduate degree. More than 50 years, and several grandchildren and great grandchildren later, Aquil is graduating at the age of 75. He has always considered himself to be a lifelong learner with aspirations for higher scholastic achievement and plans to pursue a master’s degree in liberal arts with a concentration in Africana studies.
- Five years after being the youngest member of his graduating class at USF, Youssef Mohamed is earning his doctorate in biomedical engineering at age 23. During his final year of the program, he simultaneously was completing his first year of medical school at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine. As only the second USF student to pursue this undefined dual degree track, it was not an easy task. Mohamed had help from the two colleges to build a timeline that would allow him to balance the programs. Even with a packed schedule, Youssef still made time to play on an intramural volleyball team, routinely sail and compete in regattas and was heavily involved in the scouting program where he earned his Eagle Scout and Quartermaster ranks. Mohamed is still deciding which area of medicine he wants to specialize, but ultimately he hopes to work on improving the quality of existing medical devices as well as developing new tools that are cheaper and more portable to help increase health care delivery around the world. Mohamad, who immigrated to the United States from Egypt at age 7, comes from a highly successful academic family. He and his three brothers all graduated high school by the age of 14 or 15.
- After serving in the Marine Corps for 12 years, Cliff McAfee had a difficult time finding his purpose and has overcome numerous challenges to earn his bachelor’s degree. McAfee moved to Florida from Pittsburgh to be closer to his three children. After a few discouraging experiences in other academic programs, McAfee obtained his associate degree at Pasco-Hernando State College. His professors encouraged him to continue his education, and based on his passion to help and care for others, recommended he major in interdisciplinary social sciences with concentrations in sociology and anthropology. McAfee transferred to USF, but had a difficult time juggling classwork with his responsibilities as a single parent, in addition to suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and a traumatic brain injury that stemmed from his time serving the Marines. He struggled with his self-confidence and felt like he didn’t have anyone to turn to because he didn’t fit in as a veteran and non-traditional student. Then, he found the support and camaraderie he needed through a group of veterans he met in the USF Office of Veteran Success. McAfee started to thrive, becoming the vice president of the USF Student Veterans of America chapter, and discovering a perfect career fit in student affairs. He also conducted undergraduate research with the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and Student Accessibility Services, regarding online classes and recording devices. McAfee aims to reduce the stigma often associated with accessibility services and student veterans. He is proud to show his kids that it doesn’t matter how long it takes, just never give up and finish what you started. In the fall, McAfee will pursue a master’s of education in curriculum and instruction with a concentration in college student affairs.
Saturday, August 6
- 9 a.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the colleges of Arts and Sciences and The Arts and the Office of Undergraduate Studies (approximately 560 graduates expected to attend).
- 1:30 p.m.: Bachelor’s degree recipients from the colleges of Behavioral and Community Sciences, Muma College of Business, Education, Engineering, Nursing and Public Health (approximately 520 graduates expected to attend).
- 7 p.m.: Master’s, educational specialist and doctoral degree recipients from all colleges: Arts and Sciences, Behavioral and Community Sciences, Muma College of Business, Education, Engineering, Patel College of Global Sustainability, Graduate Studies, Marine Science, Morsani College of Medicine, Nursing, Taneja College of Pharmacy, Public Health and The Arts (approximately 610 graduates expected to attend).
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.