FSC Holds Winter Commencements

Dec 17, 2018

by FSC Staff

Florida Southern College conferred 45 undergraduate degrees and 82 graduate degrees at two separate winter commencement ceremonies on Saturday, December 15, 2018. Of the graduate degrees, one was a doctorate in Education. Both ceremonies took place in Branscomb Auditorium.

During the 10:30 a.m. ceremony for undergraduates, Senior Speaker Hannah Whisman shared lighthearted reflections about endless nights spent in the library, the importance of coffee, and the changing look of the College's mascot, Mocsie. She also challenged her fellow soon-to-be alumni to follow their passions and "to make this a better world for succeeding generations.

Commencement speaker for the morning ceremony was U.S. Army Lt. General Donald L. Kerrick (Ret.), a 1971 FSC graduate and former trustee. He served in the White House as Deputy National Security Advisor to President Bill Clinton and was a principal negotiator on the U.S. peace delegation that negotiated an agreement ending the Bosnian War. Describing the important role FSC had played in his life and career, Lt. Gen. Kerrick joked "I barely got in; I barely got out. But look at me now!" Describing his main message as simple and straightforward, he exhorted the graduates never to give up on their character or values, but "to be willing to give up on a plan in favor of a better approach." He also discussed the timeless and character-building words that inspire the military – duty, honor, country – which can teach all individuals they are part of something larger.

Dr. Sherry Magill, recently retired president of the Jacksonville-based Jessie Ball duPont Fund, was honored by Florida Southern with the degree of doctor of humane letters during the morning commencement. Dr. Magill, who led the Fund for 25 years, is a highly regarded leader in the national philanthropic community, a founding member and past chair of the Florida Philanthropic Network and past chair of the board of directors of the national Council on Foundations.

Graduating senior Olivia Smith of Lakeland, who earned both a bachelor of science in Accounting and a master of Accounting degree, was presented the 2018 President’s Medal. During her undergraduate years at FSC, Olivia had maintained a perfect 4.0 grade point average. She also flourished as an accomplished violinist and violin teacher, she has served as concert master while a member of the Florida Southern Symphony Orchestra, and traveled with conductor Dr. Kira Omelchenko to Bulgaria to perform with the Vidin State Philharmonic Orchestra. The President’s Medal recognizes a student whose academic standing is in the top 1 percent, who exemplifies the values of the College and who has a demonstrated commitment to scholarship, student leadership, and service.

At the 2:30 p.m. ceremony for graduate programs, the commencement address was delivered by Walter Manley II, a 1969 FSC graduate and attorney, professor, author, and philanthropist. He began by sharing advice he said his own parents had given him, meant to teach their son "how to avoid making the world any worse than it already is." Mr. Manley then encouraged the graduates to make sure their lives are filled with genuine and robust social connections based on civil, reasoned discourse "without cutting out half the population." Offer sincere compliments at every opportunity, Mr. Manley said, and always look for ways to build bridges and friendships, especially in the course of political conversations. "Censorship often just preserves bad ideas favored by those already in power," he cautioned.

Laura VanderStarre
Winter 2018 graduate Lara VanderStarre of Holland, Michigan, wore a mortarboard featuring flowers to match a favorite photo of her dog, Oreo. Its message seemed to evoke advice from commencement speaker Lt. General Donald L. Kerrick (Ret.): "Be the person your dog already thinks you are." For Laura, however, the mortarboard message was more personal. "When I was in high school, I decided I needed to go to college to pay for my dog." she said.
graduates posing with sidecar motorcycle
male graduates posing together
female graduate giving remarks
Dr. Kerr presenting graduate with degree
graduates preparing for ceremony
female graduate hugging parents
faculty member holding award
speaker giving remarks at graduation