Published: May 12, 2008
On Saturday, May 10, more than 900 students were honored in The
University of Tampa’s 124th Commencement ceremony, including 66
students expected to graduate with Honors Program distinction. The
three Honors graduates profiled here represent some of UT’s best,
carrying with them a tradition of educational excellence as they pursue
different post-graduate goals.
Nicole Ortega – Prattville, AL
As one of three summa cum laude graduates in the Class of 2008, Nicole
Ortega’s list of academic achievements is eye-catching even compared to
those of her fellow Honors students. A double major in marine science
and marine biology with a minor in chemistry, Ortega has received
numerous academic awards and honors throughout her time at UT. This
includes, most recently, the outstanding senior in biology and life
sciences award from the College of Natural and Health Sciences.
In her final year at UT, Ortega spearheaded a research assistantship
concerning the exchange of parasites between Cuban treefrogs, an
invasive species to Florida, and the native amphibians. Her
presentation of the research earned her an award earlier this year from
the Florida Academy of Sciences in Jacksonville, FL.
just exceptional all around,” said Wayne Price, dana professor of
biology, who supported Ortega’s research. “There is no doubt that she
is one of the best students I’ve had in class and as a research
assistant in my more than 30 years of experience.”
receiving her degrees, Ortega plans to continue her research with Dr.
Price while exploring the possibility of teaching high school-level
chemistry classes. She also plans to pursue a master’s degree in
Adam Kemp – Mexico Beach, FL
Arriving at UT as a transfer student in his junior year, Adam Kemp
quickly joined the Honors Program and also quickly made the most of
what it had to offer. In his two years at UT, Kemp twice attended the
Harvard Model United Nations as well as the Southern Regional Honors
Conference. Both experiences, he said, greatly enhanced the value of
the education he received in the classroom by putting him in touch with
fellow Honors students and other high caliber individuals from all over
Time spent studying abroad in Germany, Austria
and the Czech Republic also provided a unique global perspective to his
studies as a double major in finance and international business.
“Adam exemplifies what we want in our students at UT,” said Cheri
Etling, associate professor of finance. “He not only works hard to
learn the concepts and skills for himself, he is also willing to work
patiently with other students to help them master the information as
A magna cum laude graduate, Kemp was one of two
student speakers at UT’s commencement on May 10. A member of the Beta
Gamma Sigma business honor society and recipient of an award for
outstanding graduate in international business, Kemp’s post-graduation
plans will take him for five months to Milwaukee, WS, for training with
Marshall and Ilsley Bank. He will then be assigned to the bank’s
Sarasota branch as a business banker. Plans to pursue an MBA and a law
degree are also on the distant horizon, he said.
Steve Knauss - Allentown, PA
For Steve Knauss, the Honors Program not only enhanced the value of his
studies as a sociology major at UT, but also was key in securing his
post-graduate plans at one of the world’s most prestigious universities.
In the fall of 2006, Knauss spent a semester in England as part of the
Honors at Oxford program, earning credit toward two courses in
sociology and history. The courses consisted of a regular one-on-one
presentation of research to one of Oxford’s professors. It was at the
conclusion of his semester abroad that an Oxford professor strongly
encouraged Knauss to apply to the university for graduate school.
In the fall of this year, that idea will become a reality as Knauss was
recently granted a full scholarship at Oxford in order to pursue as
master’s degree in sociology.
“In the Honors Program, you
get out what you put into it,” Knauss said. “It challenges you to push
yourself in ways in which you aren’t aware you can succeed. I never
would have applied to Oxford without the Honors Program.”
magna cum laude graduate, Knauss’ time at UT has also included a year
as editor-in-chief of UT’s student newspaper The Minaret, participation
in an Honors symposium on American public discourse, and membership in
the Alpha Chi and Alpha Kappa Delta honor societies.