At the autumn commencement, Florida State University celebrates academic achievements and bright futures.

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Class of 2019 students become M.D.s - Florida State University News

At Friday, December 15, fall commencement at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, Florida State University’s newest graduates were urged to have faith in their own abilities and their potential to change the world.

Ed Burr, a former chair of the FSU Board of Trustees, spoke to the graduates in the afternoon, while Lilian Garcia-Roig, a well-known artist and the 2023–2024 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Award recipient, spoke to them in the evening.

Every ceremony, including the PhD hooding ceremony on Friday morning, was presided over by President Richard McCullough.

To each and every one of you, congratulations. We are happy to have you as a Florida State University alumnus. I want to remind each of you that even after you leave Florida State, you will always be Seminoles.

— Richard McCullough, President

3,047 degrees were awarded by FSU on Friday. These degrees included 1,909 undergraduate, 885 master’s and specialist’s, 127 doctorate, 17 Juris Doctor, 101 Juris Master, and 8 LLM degrees. About two thousand graduates showed up for the festivities.

During the doctoral hooding ceremony, Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Jim Clark gave a special speech to the newly graduated Ph.D. candidates.

Friday, December 15, 2023, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, is the autumn doctoral hooding ceremony. Florida State University President Richard McCullough congratulates a graduate. (Photography Services at FSU)

In the autumn doctoral hooding ceremony held Friday, Dec. 15, 2023, at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center, a faculty member of Florida State University bestows the hood on a doctorate graduate. (Photography Services at FSU)
According to Clark, “each of you has significantly advanced and contributed in your respective fields.” “I implore you all to embrace your esteemed role as highly respected scholars and leaders, as the new torchbearers of our great university.”

Burr, a prominent figure in the real estate sector who earned an accounting degree from the FSU College of Business, reassured the graduates during the ceremony on Friday afternoon that it was normal to be experiencing a mixture of excitement and apprehension about what lay ahead.

Burr remarked, “You are more prepared than you realize.” “You have the knowledge and skills to succeed in any field you choose thanks to the education and experiences you received at Florida State.”

During the afternoon ceremony, former FSU Board of Trustees Chair Ed Burr gave a speech to the graduates. (Photography Services at FSU)
Founder and CEO of Jacksonville’s GreenPointe Holdings, Burr chaired the FSU Board of Trustees from 2015 to 2021 during his ten-year term on the board. Burr explained to the graduates that the real measure of success is in the trip – in the knowledge gained, the connections formed, and the influence created along the way.

“The world faces enormous challenges today,” Burr remarked. “However, as Florida State University alums, you possess the abilities to meet life’s obstacles and make a constructive contribution to the society.”

Mark Ziegler excitedly declared, “He beat the Gators,” as Tate Rodemaker, the backup quarterback for the Seminole football team, came across the stage to applause from the audience.

Tate Rodemaker is the backup quarterback for the football team at Florida State. (Photography Services at FSU)

At the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center on Friday, December 15, 2023, during the fall commencement ceremony, Florida State University President Richard McCullough congratulates a graduate. (Photography Services at FSU)

On Friday, December 15, FSU awarded 3,047 degrees. About two thousand graduates showed up for the festivities. (Photography Services at FSU)
Garcia-Roig, an artist born in Cuba and an adjunct professor in the FSU Department of Art since 2001, urged the graduates to embrace inquiry and pushed them to persevere through and learn from life’s inevitable setbacks at the evening ceremony.

Garcia-Roig remarked, “We are all going to fail at many of the things we try.” “You will fail many times before you get endurance; the failures themselves do not cause the issue. The issue lies in failing to get back up, assess why you “failed,” modify your strategy, and press on.

Distinguished artist and 2023–2024 Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professor Award recipient Lilian Garcia-Roig gave the keynote speech at the 7 p.m. ceremony. (Photography Services at FSU)
Throughout her career, Garcia-Roig has amassed a sizable body of work that is featured in the collections of prominent museums all over the world. She has also won a number of important and highly competitive accolades, such as the Joan Mitchell Award in Painting in 2006 and the Guggenheim Fellowship in Fine Arts in 2021. She was the first visual artist to be awarded the Robert O. Lawton Distinguished Professorship, the greatest honor that FSU faculty members may bestow upon one of their own, earlier this year.

Garcia-Roig underlined the need of stepping outside of comfort zones, encouraged the graduates to be curious about topics they had never seen before, and underscored the need for them to have faith in their capacity to have an influence.

“Aim high, be curious, look closely and deeply, be persistent, and cultivate endurance, be as resilient as the Seminoles our university has the privilege of honoring as its namesake,” she said to the graduates. “You should always be brave and kind to yourself and others.”

At the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center on Friday, December 15, 2023, at autumn commencement, a graduate of Florida State University celebrates. (Photography Services at FSU)

At the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center on Friday, December 15, 2023, during commencement, President Richard McCullough congratulates a graduate. (Photography Services at FSU)

At the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center on Friday, December 15, 2023, at autumn commencement, a graduate of Florida State University celebrates. (Photography Services at FSU)
Highlights for graduates
According to recent graduates, FSU has given them friendships, knowledge, and lifelong memories that will influence their futures.

Justice Omeke, a native of Nigeria, intends to use AI technology to tackle challenging issues.
Justice Omeke, a native of Nigeria, chose FSU because of the College of Communication and Information’s extensive curriculum and the lively, energetic campus environment.

Omeke declared, “I adore FSU because of its diversity, active campus life, and the faculty members’ unwavering support.” “A healthy social scene and demanding academics have been a great combination for my development.”

Omeke intends to use artificial intelligence (AI) to address challenging issues and improve society. He claimed that for the remainder of his career, he will live up to the Seminole spirit and he encourages his peers to do the same.

Omeke remarked, “To my fellow graduates, let’s carry the FSU spirit with us as we step into the world, striving for excellence and making a difference wherever we go.” “I am glad to call myself a Seminole, and I will always treasure my time spent at FSU.”

Since she was a teenager, Katarina Daniels has had her sights set on a future in social service. Her home town of Huntersville, North Carolina, was irresistibly drawn to FSU by the allure of its esteemed College of Social Work.

“Having had excellent social workers in my life sparked my interest in social work,” the woman remarked. “When I was three years old, I was adopted internationally from Ukraine, and I saw the impact of a lack of resources for children’s mental, behavioral, and health needs.”

Huntersville, North Carolina resident Katarina Daniels intends to continue her studies at FSU in order to obtain a master’s in social work.
Daniels intends to continue his studies at FSU to obtain a social work master’s degree.

“My goal is to obtain a doctorate in social work so that I can conduct research on adults who have been adopted, adopted children, and people who have worked in foster care and orphanages,” she stated. “I believe that significant policy reforms are required for post-adoption care. Every step of the adoption process is thoroughly watched over, with people checking in. But there aren’t many checkups after the adoption is finalized. It is my goal to conduct research that influences policy.

According to Daniels, her time at FSU has exceeded her expectations.

She remarked, “Coming to Florida State was the best decision that I’ve made.” She had other possibilities for schools. “It’s turned into a home away from home, a school where I have friends who help me.”

Cindy Evans received her doctorate from the Department of Art History, focusing on modern and contemporary art from throughout the world.

Evans will serve as an assistant professor in Southern Utah University’s Department of Art & Design in Cedar City, Utah, upon graduation.

Cindy Evans will be employed by Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, as an assistant professor in the department of art and design.
“For the past few years, FSU has been my home; it has given me friends who have become family and a community that inspires me to be the best historian I can be,” Evans said. “My education at FSU has expanded my vision of how art can impact our understanding of our global community and strengthened my foundation in art history.”

Molly Creel is a native of Tallahassee and has always supported FSU. She was motivated to enroll, nonetheless, by Florida State’s illustrious history and her desire to play for the Marching Chiefs.

Creel declared, “I genuinely think that FSU is the best university in the world, and choosing to come here was the best decision I could’ve made.”

Being a member of the Marching Chiefs, serving on the executive board of the music sorority Tau Beta Sigma, and working as a social media associate for the Office of University Communications were among Creel’s finest achievements while she was an undergraduate at Florida State.

Creel graduated with honors from FSU in the spring of 2022 with a bachelor’s degree in media and communication studies. She then went on to acquire a master’s degree in integrated marketing. This will be a memorable ceremony, she remarked.

Molly Creel earned her integrated marketing master’s degree.
“This commencement ceremony holds great significance for me as it marks not only my second degree from Florida State University, but also my first master’s degree graduation as the first person in my family,” the speaker remarked.

Creel thinks her community and the knowledge she gained at Florida State will help her after graduation.

“I’m really passionate about social media management and digital marketing,” Creel remarked. “In this new chapter of my life, I’m excited to use the talents that FSU helped me develop.”

Sean Newby, who earned a doctorate in geology, is now witnessing the fruits of his labor after years of arduous struggle.

“This commencement will serve as the pinnacle of everything I have worked hard for during my entire stay here,” Newby declared. “It was all worthwhile because I was able to defend my dissertation, which included all of the research I had done over the previous six and a half years, and I got praise from my committee.”

Newby published papers and manuscripts, acquired new connections, and developed his professional expertise as a researcher and instructor at FSU. He will now pursue a postdoctoral position at the University of Hong Kong to advance his academic career.

“I have taught a wide variety of courses, worked with many amazing people, many of whom I now consider close friends, taken on leadership roles, and published a paper in a prestigious research journal,” he remarked.

In geology, Sean Newby received his doctorate. (Photography Services at FSU)

Zeinab Elmi, a doctorate graduate in civil engineering, intends to enhance infrastructure projects’ sustainability, efficiency, and safety by leveraging her knowledge in operations research and transportation engineering.
From the FAMU-FSU College of Engineering, Zeinab Elmi received her doctorate in civil engineering. She collaborated with Associate Professor Maxim Dulebenets, her mentor at FSU, to publish eight works that have received over 160 citations. Additionally, she participated to projects for the National Science Foundation, the Florida Department of Transportation, and the US Department of Defense in addition to presenting her research at other academic conferences.

Mariana Vlieg, an international student, received awards from the FSU Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship.
Elmi intends to increase infrastructure projects’ efficiency, sustainability, and safety by utilizing her knowledge in transportation engineering and operations research.

“I am excited about commencement because it is the result of years of hard work, growth, and determination,” the woman remarked. It’s a time of great pride and happiness for me, my family, my advisor, and everyone else who has supported me throughout. I’ll always cherish the recollections of studying late into the night, the excitement of achieving academic success, and the friendships I made. This is a motivating beginning to a new journey where I can change the world and my field.

Mariana Vlieg, an international student, received awards from the FSU Jim Moran College of Entrepreneurship.

Originally from Panama City, Vlieg attended FSU-Panama for two years of undergraduate studies before transferring to the university’s main campus in Tallahassee. This program, known as the 2+2 scholarship, enables students from Latin American and Caribbean nations to study for two years at FSU’s branch campus in the Republic of Panama before transferring to finish their degree in Tallahassee.

Vlieg stated that this moment had great significance for her family, who traveled from the Republic of Panama to Tallahassee for the graduation ceremony.

“It is an emotional and thrilling milestone for me because it represents the culmination of four years of hard work,” the woman remarked. “Because they gave me the chance to study in the United States, I am also mentioning the hard work of my parents. I wouldn’t be here without them.

After graduating, Vlieg plans to return to her native Panama, but she added that her favorite aspect of her time at FSU has been the people.

She remarked, “I know that the friendships I have made at FSU are for life.” “I also adore the sense of community and camaraderie at school. Being a Nole makes everyone here proud! My closest friends are the ones I will miss the most when I graduate.

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