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Welcome to the Next Chapter of Your Lives, Spartans, Where 6 a.m. Is the New 9 a.m.

Published: May 08, 2018
The University of Tampa honored nearly 1,400 students at its 146th commencement on May 5. Thomas Graham ’82 gave the address at the morning ceremony, starting his speech with a dose of reality. “Congratulations and welcome to the next chapter of your lives Spartans, where 6 a.m. is the new 9 a.m.: so get those alarm clocks set!”
The University of Tampa honored nearly 1,400 students at its 146th commencement on May 5. Thomas Graham ’82 gave the address at the morning ceremony, starting his speech with a dose of reality. “Congratulations and welcome to the next chapter of your lives Spartans, where 6 a.m. is the new 9 a.m.: so get those alarm clocks set!”

Graduates' social media story

Aislinn Sroczynski ’18 looked out at the crowd seated in the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall and said, “Millennials ruin everything.”

It was a tongue-in-cheek introduction as her challenge to the class of 2018, citing sentiments she’s heard adults say but feels confident millennials have more than made up for the “ruin” in their own way.

“Our generation is more ethnically and racially diverse than any other generation. We are the most confident, connected and open to change. We are also currently on track to be the most educated generation in history, and that starts here at The University of Tampa,” said Sroczynski, citing the Pew Research Center. “As we part ways and enter the real world, we can all look back at one common denominator. No matter where we are from, what we look like, we will always be able to call ourselves Spartans. We will remember that as we transform into the most educated generation to date, we can look back and thank this university for helping us become a part of that process. Let’s show the naysayers wrong and show the world what millennials are made of.”

Between two ceremonies, The University of Tampa honored nearly 1,400 students at its 146th commencement on May 5. There were 1,214 bachelor’s degree candidates and 159 master’s degree candidates — 1,373 in all.

Millennial Daniel Holahan ’18 challenged his peers to make change by starting in their own communities.

“I have had the honor of spending nearly 700 hours of my undergraduate time working with communities around the country and the world; nothing in my life has yielded greater personal growth and a sense of connection,” said Holahan, an entrepreneurship major, who in the fall was selected as the winner of the 2017 Florida Campus Compact Award in the Student Excellence in Service Sector. “What I have learned is that a community is — no matter how small, big or troubled with problems — what builds a better, more inclusive and stronger world. It is the ground floor of the global citizens we produce, and if we want to see a change in this world then it begins in our community.”

Thomas Graham ’82, former vice president, special projects at Pepco Holdings, gave the address at the morning ceremony for graduates of the Sykes College of Business and the College of Arts and Letters.

“My final word to you, fellow Spartans, is there are people that at great emotional and/or financial sacrifice provided you the opportunity to receive this priceless experience,” Graham said. “Make sure you tell them how much you love them and will strive to make them proud. Whether on the athletic field, boardroom or at home, true success is not an individual achievement.”

Graham said his mother, Olive C. Graham, was his driving force and in her honor, he established an endowed scholarship in her name.

“I say this to you because I was once told, ‘to live a good life is to do something for someone who can do nothing for you,’” Graham said. “I may never meet the students who benefit from this scholarship, but I know without financial aid, I could have never finished my education. Without the support of alumni, the buildings where you studied, dorms you slept in and facilities you competed on would not have been possible. Whether your time, intellect and/or resources, don’t ever forget our great institution.”

Scott Charbo ’86, vice president, information technology and digital services at Nutrien, was the speaker for the afternoon ceremony for graduates of the College of Social Sciences, Mathematics and Education and the College of Natural and Health Sciences.

“In those four years this institution provided me the foundation and the confidence to experience life and take risks,” Charbo said about his time at UT. “It provided me with the confidence to reinvent myself if needed in the rapidly changing world. It gave me the confidence to just go ‘do.’”

Charbo said college changed his life and thinking and prepared him for the experiences that happened over the following 32 years, and hopefully more to come.

“Go to graduate school; go to medical school; be a health care provider; start that business; be a CEO; volunteer; write that book; start your military career; marry that partner; raise that family; work from home; work abroad; embrace your faith; travel the world; take some time off; start your career; start a movement; change the world. But please go do. Go experience things, experience life and have a passion.”

To see images from the graduates, view our social media story.