December Commencement 2013: Creative Success and the Big Guava

Published: Dec 17, 2013
There were 334 bachelor's degree candidates and 101 master's candidates.
There were 334 bachelor's degree candidates and 101 master's candidates.
Of the 436 graduates, 34 countries were represented, and 59% of the graduates are from Florida.
Of the 436 graduates, 34 countries were represented, and 59% of the graduates are from Florida.
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Of the 436 students who received their diplomas at UT’s December commencement on Dec. 14, 34 countries were represented. What the diverse crowd shared was an enthusiasm and joy for the hard work and accomplishment of their friends and family walking across the stage.

Jack King, professor of art, was the speaker for the ceremony. King is the recipient of the 2012-2013 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.

King recalled advice he received from one of his professors as a graduate student, advice he’s carried with him throughout his career. He said that hard work and deep passion really are the keys to success.

“The sculptor suggested the solution to creative problem solving was directly related to hard work, but implicit in this assertion is that you possess the drive, the determination, the courage and the passion to undertake such a creative quest, for a quest this surely is,” King said. “Unlike a journey, there is no map for a quest; the path is never marked; you blaze the trail for the first time, and most frequently you'll be blazing this trail alone.

“To be honest with you, many times you're not even sure what it is you’re seeking,” King continued, “but you know it's there, and it draws you forth as surely as a magnet draws iron.”

While being encouraged to mount creative quests by King, Nicholas Vecchio ’13 assured his fellow graduates that despite the bumps that might come along the way, success is still possible. Vecchio, a Master of Science in finance candidate from Shelter Island, NY, delivered the commencement challenge.

Vecchio cited the history of Tampa and the city’s moniker as the Big Guava. The name gives notice to an unsuccessful businessman who thought the key to Tampa’s growth in the 19th century was with wild guava trees. Despite this error in judgment, Tampa is now a thriving economy and vibrant city.

“It goes to show that now, with your degree in hand, you will set off on some “Big” ventures, in the hopes of fame, fortune, happiness or all of the above,” said Vecchio, “but if your endeavors fail, like the wild guava trees that were supposed to inhabit Tampa, there’s a good chance you will still emerge victorious when you finally discover the right path; just as the city of Tampa has emerged today.”

UT Graduates by the Numbers:
Total graduates = 436
Countries represented = 34
% of graduates from Florida = 59%

Undergraduates
Total bachelor’s degree candidates = 334
Summa cum laude (GPA 4.0) = 0
Magna cum laude (GPA 3.75 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 18
Cum laude (GPA 3.5 or higher, but less than 3.75) = 40
Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors in this class = Accounting, Communication, Finance

Graduate students
Total master’s candidates = 101
With honors (GPA 3.9 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 5
With highest honors (GPA 4.0) = 2
MBAs awarded = 52