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Published: December 17, 2019

¡Felicidades a la Clase de 2019!

Speaking to the crowd of family and friends gathered to celebrate the 675 gradutes in UT’s 149th commencement on Dec. 13, James López began his commencement address with, “¡Felicidades a la Clase de 2019!” 

A crowd of family and friends gathered to celebrate the 675 degree-seeking candidates in UT’s 149th commencement on Dec. 13 at the Florida State Fairgrounds Expo Hall.

“Congratulations to you all in whatever language you speak,” said López, a Spanish professor and recipient of the 2018-2019 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. “Today we all speak Spartan.” 

Kaeli DiCola ’19, who earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science (with a concentration in American politics) and a Bachelor of Science in criminology and criminal justice, in her challenge to the graduating class reminded them that as they embark on their new lives, they are not alone. 

“All of our courses here have taught us how to learn,” DiCola said. “The world is constantly evolving and improving, and we now have the skills to continue to adapt and move with the changes as they come.”

The top 3 most popular undergraduate majors in this class are finance, marketing and management.

López, who co-directs UT’s Center for José Martí Studies Affiliate, used the address to speak of his hero, Jose Martí, and how his journey as a revolutionary leader can serve as a lesson for UT’s newest grads. 

“You see, Martí, like his hero Ralph Waldo Emerson, believed that intellectual pursuits could only get you so far. The greatest gift a liberal arts education bestows on you is the knowledge that you are not alone, that humans since time immemorial have struggled with the same issues; and all the books and art and concepts and ideals you have been exposed to will forever provide you with an inexhaustible treasure house of models of how to understand our plight and come to terms with it,” López said.

“Martí believed that it was not enough for those fortunate enough to have received a higher education to observe the world, to describe the world, to analyze the world; he believed you also have an obligation to exercise your intelligence by acting in the world, by creating a world that is in accordance with your truth,” López said. 

The candidates represented 55 countries, with 48% hailing from Florida. 

Martí’s lesson, López said, was less about what the students choose to do in their lives, as long as what they do is useful to others and comes from a place of love. 

“And no matter what life confronts you with, always, always, always defend your dignity above all things,” López said. “The future of our country, the future of our society, your future and that of your children will depend on your ability, from this day forward, to love and to create the world of tomorrow. Let’s get to work.”


UT Graduates by the Numbers:

Total graduates = 675 
Countries represented = 55 
% from Florida = 48 

Total who earned a bachelor’s degree = 525 
Summa cum laude (GPA 4.0) = 1 
Magna cum laude (GPA 3.75 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 39 
Cum laude (GPA 3.5 or higher, but less than 3.75) = 70 
Top 3 most popular undergraduate majors in this class = Finance, Marketing and Management 

Graduate students 
Total who earned a master’s degree = 150 
With honors (GPA 3.9 or higher, but less than 4.0) = 14 
With highest honors (GPA 4.0) = 19 
MBAs awarded = 33



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