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USF Spring Commencement by the Numbers

The recent Spring Commencement Ceremonies at the University of South Florida were certainly big on numbers, according to this week's University Beat.

Over 6,400 hundred degrees were awarded at seven ceremonies - Five exercises were held at USF's Tampa campus, and one each at USF St. Petersburg and USF Sarasota-Manatee. It's the most degrees ever conferred in a single commencement by the USF System.

63% of students receiving their diplomas within six years of enrolling - That's another record.
"We’ve really focused on that, realizing that we owe it to the students, we owe it to their parents, we owe it to the state of Florida, and future employers to move our students along a focused path to graduation," said Provost, Dr. Ralph Wilcox.

Graduates came from 45 states and 90 countries.

One of five graduates was the first in their family to receive a college degree.

Read about Dr. Stuart Silverman, who was honored at USF Commencement as he retires after 44 years. See some of the best decorated caps from USF Commencement by clicking here.

Three students were named Outstanding Graduates - USF Alumni Association names one winner at each campus, honoring a graduating senior "that has demonstrated exceptional achievements in the following: leadership, community service, work experience and school spirit."

Erik Richardson took the honors at USF St. Petersburg and U.S. Army veteran Christopher Davis did the same at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News
WUSF 89.7 News
Modern Dance major Dazaun Soleyn was named Outstanding Graduate on the USF Tampa campus by the USF Alumni Association

At the Tampa campus, the award went to Modern Dance major Dazaun Soleyn, the first in his family to graduate from high school, let alone college. In addition to a 3.5 GPA, Soleyn took part in a number of extracurricular activities, including the Upward Bound program, where he passed his love for USF on to high school students who want to follow in his footsteps and be the first in their family to get a degree.

"It’s an environment that will support you in everything that you want to do. So, as long as you’re passionate and you’re willing to work hard and fight for it, I want them to understand that this is a safe environment to take risks. And, the benefits of them are unbelievable," Soleyn said.

19 year old Joann Gold was the youngest degree recipient, taking home two undergraduate degrees in biomedical sciences and psychology.

Credit Mark Schreiner / WUSF 89.7 News
WUSF 89.7 News
Douglas McArthur, 69, was the oldest graduate at USF's Spring Commencement. He received his Masters of Arts in English.

69 year old Douglas McArthur was the oldest graduate, receiving a Master of Arts in English. The former lawyer, who now teaches English as a second language at Manatee Technical Institute, says he’s not done learning just yet.

"I did my Master’s thesis on integrating reading and writing for ESOL students. So I’ve got some ideas—I’ve kind of pointed out all the problems, and now I am kind of hoping that I can find some solutions to the questions I raised," he said.

And three members of the Turner family graduated together - Father David Turner received his Executive MBA from the College of Business, the same school his son Matthew received his undergraduate degree from (Matthew studied marketing). Daughter Kathryn graduated with honors with her bachelor's degree in speech pathology from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences.

"I would always text them, call them anytime anything went wrong, whether it’s a computer problem, I’m freaking out about my GPA, I’d call them and they would always support me," Kathryn said. 

"I have to agree with that. If we had anything we needed, dad was there, and kind of back us up. Give us some support, and same way with him," Matthew added.

"It’s just a crazy coincidence and it was something that I kind of hoped would happen because it felt like it was going to but then there were times when maybe (Matthew) didn’t need to take a certain class and he was going to graduate in the December or something," David said. "I didn’t imagine any of this would ever happen. So it’s just such a memorable occasion that we will remember for the rest of our lives."

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