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Family of Grads, Retiring Announcer among USF Commencement Highlights


In addition to the "to selfie or not to selfie" debate, there are a number of other stories making news at this weekend's University of South Florida Spring Commencement - including a family of graduates, a former migrant worker turned educator, and a USF professor whose voice is recognizable to thousand of alumni.

A record number of degrees will be conferred across the USF System - over 6,400 at seven different ceremonies. University officials say such a performance is due to efforts to improve the school's six-year graduation rate, which is also up to a record level of 63 percent.

One family is responsible for three of those degrees.

David Turner is receiving his Executive MBA from the College of Business, the same school his son Matthew is receiving his undergraduate degree from (Matthew studied marketing). Daughter Kathryn has earned her bachelor's degree in speech pathology from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.

David told USF News that it's an unbelievable feeling to graduate with his children.

“I am overwhelmed with pride and appreciation,” David said.“As a parent of two graduates, I take great pride in their accomplishments.They have both worked hard and I know that USF has prepared them for a great future. “As a fellow student, I am grateful to them for accepting me into the Bulls community and taking the time to attend various sporting events with me.It has been a lot of fun taking this trip together as a family!”

Credit Aimee Blodgett / USF News
USF News
Georgina Rivera-Singletary, district supervisor of migrant education for Hillsborough County Schools, with one of her mentors, USF Professor Ann Cranston-Gingras, chair of the College of Education Special Education Department and director of the Center for Migrant Education.

Another graduate, Georgina Rivera-Singletary, will receive her PhD in Special Education from the College of Education.

What makes her story unusual is that the first generation college student earned a GED at the age of 21 while she was also a migrant worker toiling in the fields and raising two children.

Rivera-Singletary, who's currently the district supervisor of migrant education for Hillsborough County Public Schools, told USF News that her own experiences help her push the students she works with on to better lives.

“I guess you can say I was a bird with underdeveloped wings, but once I was provided the opportunity to grow those wings, I became an eagle and have soared to new heights. I admit that there are still times when my inner migrant worker/student insecurities try to invade my thoughts, but I turn it around and I use my experiences to reach the migrant students and families I advocate for on a daily basis.”

And someone who's been intimately familiar with graduation at USF will hang up his cap and gown after this weekend's festivities.

Credit Aimee Blodgett / USF News
USF News
Honors College Dean Stuart Silverman reads one of the estimated 80,000 to 100,00 graduates' names at a USF commencement ceremony. He'll hang up his cap and gown this weekend after a quarter century serving as the graduation announcer.

Stuart Silverman is retiring after 44 years at USF. He's served as Dean of the USF Honors College for the last 27 years, the longest anyone has led an academic program at the university.

He's also been the announcer at commencement exercises on the Tampa campus for the last 26 years, reading the names of between 80,000 and 100,000 graduates. He'll read his last set of names at the 1:30 p.m. ceremony today, where he'll also receive the President's Fellow Medallion.

More than 5,500 degrees will be conferred (over 4,200 Bachelors, over 1,100 Masters and almost 200 Doctoral degrees) at five commencement ceremonies today and tomorrow at the USF Sun Dome on the Tampa campus:

*Friday, May 2 1:30 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from the College of Arts & Sciences, only from departments beginning with A-E.  More than 800 graduates are anticipated. *Friday, May 2 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from the Colleges of Arts & Sciences - only from departments beginning with G - W.  More than 850 graduates are anticipated. *Saturday, May 3 9 a.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from College of Behavioral and Community Sciences and College of Business.  More than 900 graduates are anticipated. *Saturday, May 3 1:30 p.m. ceremony will recognize undergraduates from Colleges of Education, Engineering, Medicine, Nursing, Public Health, The Arts and Undergraduate Studies.  More than 950 graduates are anticipated. *Saturday, May 3 6 p.m. ceremony will recognize graduate students from all colleges.  More than 850 graduates are anticipated.

The Tampa campus commencement ceremonies can also be viewed live on the USF Netcast webpage.

USF St. Petersburg's commencement ceremony is at 6 p.m. on Sunday at the Mahaffey Theatre, while USF Sarasota-Manatee will hold its ceremony at 6: 30 p.m. at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. 

Mark Schreiner is the assistant news director and intern coordinator for WUSF News.
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