Graduates Urged to Reach for Financial Security One Latte at a Time

Published: May 13, 2013
There were 1,008 bachelor’s degree candidates and 164 master’s degree candidates.
There were 1,008 bachelor’s degree candidates and 164 master’s degree candidates.
There were 1,172 degree candidates, including August graduates.
There were 1,172 degree candidates, including August graduates.
The Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors were communication, psychology and criminology.
The Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors were communication, psychology and criminology.
2013 Spring Commencement Photo Gallery
View the 2013 Spring Commencement Storify social media collage.

Four years ago, on a 16-hour flight from Dubai to Tampa, Chadi Hamdan ’13 never imagined he’d be giving the commencement challenge to hundreds of people in a language other than his own.

“However, at UT, we were presented with many resources that aided us in adapting to a new way of life,” Hamdan told the crowd gathered for UT’s 134th commencement at the Tampa Bay Times Forum on May 11. “From the friendly faces in the admissions office to the helpful tutors in the ACE center, it was just the right mix to provide us with all the help and guidance we needed.”

Hamdan was one of the 1, 172 degree candidates at Saturday’s ceremony, and he told his classmates to be resilient.

“Today, we enter the real world faced with multiple challenges. Unemployment rates are off the charts, and the competition we are facing is fierce,” said Hamdan, an accounting major. “It is our chance to prove to our nation that we are capable of making a difference.”

Dorothy Estrada, an environmental science major from Farmingdale, ME, introduced the main speaker, Rick Thomas, a 1972 UT alumnus, member of the UT Athletic Hall of Fame and CEO of Thomas Financial. His speech focused on goal setting and what to do when life derails those goals.

“In my experience, setting, pursuing and tracking goals are critical to the success of anything. Vision is an important piece of the goal-setting puzzle. When you imagine yourself attaining your goal — give yourself the best possible outcome and then persevere,” Thomas said, adding that knowing how to respond if those outcomes aren’t met is equally important.

“Whatever you think is keeping you from your destiny may actually help you find your destiny,” Thomas said. “Be flexible, be resilient and be aware.”

He then offered a practical, foolproof financial idea, the concept of which he learned in a UT economics class. Though it’s decades away, he said the new graduates needed to be planning for retirement and harnessing the power of time and compound interest.

“If you set aside the equivalent of one venti latte a day, you’ll have a million dollars by the time you retire,” said Thomas, noting that grads could live to be 120. “As soon as you start your job, start saving money. It will make a major difference in your life.”

In addition to the conferral of degrees, the ceremony included two special awards.

Gene and Patsy McNichols received the Champion of Higher Independent Education (C.H.I.E.F.) Award. Gene McNichols is chairman and CEO of McNichols Company and is the immediate past chair of the UT Board of Trustees. The National Alumni Association Young Alumnus Award was given to Travis Milks ’00, a vice president for Stonehenge Growth Capital in Tampa.


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