May 18, 2021
On May 15, Florida Southern College marked its 137th year of commencements with a modified in-person ceremony to honor the academic successes of the Class of 2021 and the Class of 2020, whose members were invited to come back to campus for special recognition after their graduation ceremonies were held virtually because of COVID-19.
“Today is a special and unique occasion,” said Dr. Anne B. Kerr, president of Florida Southern College, in her welcoming statement. “It marks the first opportunity that we have had to gather in person to celebrate the educational achievements of graduates since the coronavirus pandemic began a little more than a year ago.”
Approximately 125 graduates from 2020 returned to FSC to participate in the commencement ceremony, and more than 500 graduates earned their degrees in spring 2021. Dr. Kerr praised the extraordinary talents and resilience of both groups: “The graduates in the Classes of 2020 and 2021, in varied ways and by many means, will have a transformational impact on society.”
Senior Speaker Jillian Kurtz of Longwood, a graduating communication major, served as editor-in-chief of the campus newspaper, The Southern, and as an anchor and reporter for FSC-TV. She also was a resident advisor and cheerleader, served as president of Lambda Pi Eta, and was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha. Following graduation, Kurtz will work as digital media coordinator for Zeta Tau Alpha’s international office in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Former NASA astronaut Dr. Mae Jemison was the distinguished guest speaker for FSC’s 2021 Spring Commencement. Dr. Jemison also is well known for her prolific accomplishments as a scientist, physician, educator, author, and entrepreneur. She founded the non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence and established its international science camp for students age 12 to 16, The Earth We Share. Dr. Jemison holds an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from Florida Southern, conferred upon her in 2019 when she spoke at Florida Southern’s Founders Day Convocation and served as the College’s Honorary Chancellor.
The commencement ceremony also highlighted several outstanding graduates who were awarded special student honors:
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