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For USF grads, 'It feels good'

The tassel has been turned and a new chapter begins for 3,100 students. St. Petersburg seniors will graduate today.

[Times photo: Toni L. Sandys]
Criminology majors Domenique Jacoves, left, and Ben Meister and history major Dan Hinson, right, celebrate their graduation at the University of South Florida in Tampa on Saturday.

By SUSAN THURSTON

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2001


TAMPA -- Forget about talk of a climbing unemployment rate and a shrinking job market.

For now, new graduates of the University of South Florida would rather celebrate their achievements and move on with their lives.

"I'm not too worried about it," said Shawn Daniels, a 2001 graduate who has an internship lined up this summer at a law firm in Washington, D.C. "I've just been worrying about school."

Daniels, 25, was one of about 3,100 students who took part in commencement ceremonies Saturday at USF's Sun Dome in Tampa. About 250 students from the St. Petersburg campus graduate today, followed by another 180 from the Sarasota and Lakeland campuses this week.

Many felt relieved to put the books down and start a new chapter in their lives.

"It feels good," said Colin Brown, who graduated summa cum laude with a bachelor's degree in chemistry and plans to go on to medical school. "I'm looking forward to next fall."

Candice Henry will start looking for a job in biology research in a few weeks -- after she takes some time off.

"I'm sure it will take a while, but I'm intelligent and willing to work," said the 23-year-old from St. Peterburg.

Many students said they intended to start internships or summer jobs before jumping into permanent positions. Others planned to keep their current jobs while looking for new ones in their field of study. A large number of the spring class of 2001 was headed to graduate school.

USF President Judy Genshaft said their achievements reflect the success of the university as a whole, its professors and its staff members. Founded in 1956, USF has more than 35,500 students, making it the state's second largest university.

"As I look at this graduating class, I know we have done our work well," she told the audience.

More than 10 percent of the students -- 429 in all -- graduated with honors. Many received awards.

Tampa students Gus A. Stavros and Mandell "Hinks" Shimberg earned the President's Distinguished Citizen awards, as will Lee Arnold and Les Tuttle in St. Petersburg. Nikole Alberta Collins received the outstanding senior award for her leadership, school spirit, community service, character and academic achievement. A Tampa resident, she plans to apply to law school.

Genshaft urged graduates to return often and to spread the good word about their alma mater.

"The University of South Florida is a great university," she said. "Every graduate knows they've been a part of something special."

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