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Published: December 18, 2023

Messages to New Graduates: Seek Happiness, Work Together

On Friday, The University of Tampa graduated 1,015 students from the University.

Messages to New Graduates: Seek Happiness, Work TogetherOn Friday, The University of Tampa graduated 1,015 students from the University.

Among the messages at commencement, students were encouraged to work together and define what makes them happy. 

Student challenge speaker Emma Triano, who graduated with a degree in elementary education, and featured commencement speaker Stephanie Thomason, professor of management and associate director of the TECO Energy Center for Leadership, touched on the challenges the class of 2023 faced in previous years, like the covid-19 pandemic. 

Triano challenged students to seek true happiness and make a difference in the lives of others. 

“The question we face today is not which path to choose, but rather, what will make us truly happy?” she asked the crowd.  

“What ignites the fire within us, the passion that propels us forward, and the purpose that sustains us?” 

Thomason encouraged students to work hard and not fear the possibility of failure.  

“Before embarking on the next phase of your life, thoughtfully consider your strengths and passions, and match your job accordingly. You’ll never stop loving what you do,” she said.  

She went on to tell the graduates to value people over things and to express gratitude daily. 

Thomason said we could choose to have an attitude of nothing matters, only I matter, or “we could live by truth and make sacrifices in our lives for the betterment of those around us. Others matter. Together, we all matter,” she said. 

Triano also spoke about togetherness. 

“In a world that sometimes feels divided and disconnected, your acts of kindness can be the bridge that brings people together. A simple gesture of support, a listening ear, or a helping hand can make a world of difference in someone else's life,” Triano said. 

“We have the power to uplift and inspire, to bring hope to those who may be struggling, and to be a beacon of light in times of darkness,” she added. 

The ceremony marked UT’s 157th commencement. It included 1,015 graduates, 670 bachelor’s degree candidates and 345 master’s degree candidates.  

UT Graduates by the Numbers 

Total graduates: 1,015 
Countries represented: 8 
Percent of graduates from Florida: 55 

Undergraduate students 
Total bachelor’s degree candidates: 670 
Summa cum laude (GPA 4.0): 5 
Magna cum laude (GPA 3.75 or higher, but less than 4.0): 73 
Cum laude (GPA 3.5 or higher, but less than 3.75): 125 
Most popular undergraduate majors: allied health, finance and marketing  

Graduate students 
Total candidates: 345 
With highest honors (GPA 4.0): 42 

With honors (GPA 3.9 or higher but less than 4.0): 29
MBAs awarded: 48


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