Browser warning

2016 Graduates: Appreciate Others and Find Courage

Published: December 19, 2016
The ceremony included 518 graduates, including 391 bachelor’s degree candidates and 127 master’s degree candidates. Photo courtesy of Stephen Norris, M.S. ’16
The ceremony included 518 graduates, including 391 bachelor’s degree candidates and 127 master’s degree candidates. Photo courtesy of Stephen Norris, M.S. ’16
The University of Tampa held its 143rd commencement on Saturday, Dec. 17. Photo courtesy of Danielle Kissel ’16
The University of Tampa held its 143rd commencement on Saturday, Dec. 17. Photo courtesy of Danielle Kissel ’16
» Read about it from the graduates' perspective in the December Commencement Storify.

A couple months ago Cristina Muyshondt ’16 was having a moment of crisis about her future. Fast forward several weeks and Muyshondt was confidently giving the class challenge at UT’s 2016 December Commencement.

What changed in the weeks in between? She consulted with her mother who she said, “Told me it was time to look inside myself and find courage, not bravery but courage.”

Bravery, she said, is facing adversity with no fear or self-doubt, but courage is facing that adversity by exploring those fears and self-doubts.

“It’s about moving through those emotions and pushing yourself to achieve a goal,” said Muyshondt, an international and cultural studies major from El Salvador. “At UT we are pushed to have the courage to explore life outside our comfort zone and to grow from it.

“So I am here to tell you to take that Spartan courage with you, in the face of fear, in the face of doubt and in the face of the unknown” she said. “Walk out of here today with your head held high knowing that your Spartan roots will take you anywhere you need to go in life. Know that you have the courage inside you to face your future head on.”

Jeff Skowronek, associate professor of psychology and director of undergraduate research and inquiry, was the speaker for the ceremony and was introduced by Jacob Van Loon ’16, of Simsbury, CT. Skowronek is the recipient of the 2015-2016 Louise Loy Hunter Award, which is given annually by its previous recipients to a UT professor for excellence in teaching and cumulative contributions in service and scholarship.

Skowronek emphasized the need for the graduates to treat everyone with respect and appreciation. While everyone may have his or her own version of success, the common denominator is a collaborative spirit.

“I do believe that our institution has given you the tools you need to know how to maximize your strengths and minimize your weaknesses as you shape and create environments that’ll lead to the success you seek,” Skowronek said. “All I hope is that you’ll always appreciate each and every person along the way, because, no matter how you define it, you cannot and will not be successful alone.”

UT Graduates by the Numbers:

Total graduates = 518
Countries represented = 41
% of graduates from Florida = 48

Undergraduate students
Total bachelor’s degree candidates = 391
Summa cum laude (GPA 4.0) = 2
Magna cum laude (GPA 3.75 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 27
Cum laude (GPA 3.5 or higher, but less than 3.75) = 56
Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors in this class = Accounting, Management, Communication and Human Performance (tie for third)

Graduate students
Total master’s candidates = 127
With honors (GPA 3.9 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 8
With highest honors (GPA 4.0) = 11
MBAs awarded = 52