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Different Venue, Same Impact for Class of 2017

Published: May 03, 2017
Among the two ceremonies, there are 1,209 bachelor’s degree candidates and 288 master’s degree candidates — 1,497 in all.
Among the two ceremonies, there are 1,209 bachelor’s degree candidates and 288 master’s degree candidates — 1,497 in all.

The stress of final exams, the rush to get the last project done and the planning — of what to do next — all happens on UT’s campus each December and May, and this year is no different. The countdown to the 144th commencement has begun.

On Saturday, May 6, UT will honor nearly 1,500 graduates and for the first time, they will be honored in two separate ceremonies at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall. While the venue is different, the impact these graduates will have on the community — as accountants, entrepreneurs, researchers, educators, nurses, athletic trainers and more — is just as powerful. Here are the stories of just a few of UT’s Class of 2017 graduates.

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Daniela Delvescovo was inspired by the two health sciences and human performance professors, Jennifer Wortham and Abraham Miller, she collaborated with on research during her four years at UT. She earned several fellowships and grants for research that has resulted in two peer-reviewed publications and numerous conference presentations. Her topics have included human hair color preference in males and females, and happiness in college students.

“I loved sharing what we were doing with others and hearing their excitement. I also loved collecting data and interacting with different people. I think it made me a better student and let me get ahead in a lot of my classes,” said Delvescovo. “I just loved finding answers to questions no one had ever asked before. I like trying to figure out how the human mind works; it’s fascinating.”

Delvescovo, an honors student who was named the Spring 2017 Outstanding First-Year Experience Peer Mentor, is a psychology major from Riverview, FL. She will be attending the University of Louisville for a Master of Arts in teaching. She wants to be a college professor.

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Bianca Lopez, a journalism major from Miami, was inspired by her involvement on campus with the student newspaper, The Minaret. She worked all four years for the campus news source, ending her senior year as managing editor. She made it her mission to make sure everything that was published was fact-checked and accurate, which gave her a passion for the field of media law. She heads to law school with her UT diploma in hand.

“The law is expanding for online content. Daily they have to come up with ways to revise laws that have been around, because they were crafted for printed text, not this multimedia platform. I think it’s so interesting,” said Lopez, who is also a resident assistant. “This is a field I see expanding in the near future. People aren’t trusting media anymore. It’s the job of media attorneys to come in and show them how to be the kind of journalists that should be respected and believed.”

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Samantha Fitzmaurice, an advertising and public relations major from Linden, NJ, was inspired by her involvement with the Office of Student Leadership and Engagement, beginning with her first year as OSLE’s student coordinator of event services.

“It’s what kick-started my interest in event planning,” said Fitzmaurice, who has landed a full-time position with Disney in its department of Cast Activities, Recognition and Experience Special Events. “The University of Tampa’s location and networking resources are key to why I will be graduating with experiences stemming from six different work opportunities within the event industry or with the Walt Disney Company.”

Fitzmaurice described her new position as a “magic maker.”

“On a day to day basis I’ll have the opportunity to direct what is called ‘magic backstage,’ which is surprising cast members with free items or events to make their day a little more special,” she said. “I’ll also be assisting with planning service celebrations and some of the more popular cast member annual events such as Goofy’s Mystery Tour and Canoe Races of the World. Needless to say, each day will be filled with a different adventure!”

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Another UT graduate who has daily adventure in her future is Ashley Peiffer, who is heading to Africa to serve as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer in Tanzania. She’ll be working as a teacher in secondary science education focusing on biology, physics or chemistry.

“My first memory of the Peace Corps was when one of my grandparents said it was for rebels, because back in their day it was a bunch of hippies who left the country and did rebellious things,” said Peiffer, a marine science-biology major from Myerstown, PA. “I don’t know why that stuck with me; maybe because I was a rebellious kid growing up.”

She said she’s always been active as a volunteer, especially through her high school and college careers. At UT she was involved with the Environment Protection Coalition, Beta Beta Beta and the Student Government environmental committee. She interned with Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful in the spring of 2016 and 2017.

“It just seemed like the natural progression of things,” she said about her decision to apply to the Peace Corps. “And I just had a feeling about it.”

It will be the first time she’s left the country, though she’s traveled all over the U.S. While she’ll be teaching in English, she’ll learn Swahili in order to interact with her community on a daily basis. It’s a 27-month commitment, and she is ready to go.

“I’m so excited.”

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William Smith, a chemistry major with a minor in physics, will be attending Washington State University's chemistry doctoral program and working on a Department of Energy project called IDREAM (Interfacial Dynamics in Radiation Environments and Materials). The project aims to support the cleanup/recycling of nuclear waste that has been buried for the last several decades. 

Andrea Roche, Student Government vice president, is graduating with a degree in human performance. She is headed to Boston to get her EMT certification while applying to schools to be a physician assistant and work in pediatric emergency medicine.

Roche’s interest in emergency medicine was sparked after taking Allison Kaczmarek's emergency medical response course. She followed that up with a two-week summer course in Colorado where she became Wilderness First Responder Certified.  

Chris Grisby, a communication major with a minor in journalism, is heading to Fort Myers to be a general assignment reporter for CBS affiliate WINK.

“Each day will be different, which is why I love the field that I'm getting into,” Grisby said. “One day I could be doing a story about algae blooms affecting the water supply, and the next day it could be one of those only-in-Florida stories, like a snake getting inside of a dryer vent.”

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UT’s commencement ceremonies will be held at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall.

The ceremony for graduates of the Sykes College of Business and the College of Arts and Letters will take place at 9:30 a.m., and the ceremony for graduates of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education and the College of Natural and Health Sciences will follow at 2 p.m.

Among the two ceremonies, there are 1,209 bachelor’s degree candidates and 288 master’s degree candidates — 1,497 in all.

To view a webcast of the commencement ceremony, go to www.ut.edu/commencementlive. Share your experience on social media using #utampa, and look for the special Snapchat geofilter during commencement.