Campus Life

UWF Commencement boasts more than 1,100 students

By Lauren Haggett, University Communications

The University of West Florida held its spring commencement on April 30 and graduated more than 1,100 students. Graduates eagerly awaited their entrance into the Pensacola Civic Center on Saturday, as some of them have been looking forward to this day for a long time.

“I knew that if I wanted to be successful I needed a college degree to put me one step ahead of everyone else,” said Hope Bradford, an advertising graduate from the Communication Arts department. “I’m excited and anxious. From this point on, it is my responsibility to make things happen in my life.”

Since the number of graduates has grown so much over the years, UWF recently started holding two separate ceremonies the day of commencement to accommodate them. The morning ceremony filled the Civic Center with more than 900 graduates; more than 200 graduates attended the afternoon ceremony.

Carlene Anderson, superintendent of the Walton County School District, took the stage following the graduate welcome by President Judith A. Bense, and provided encouraging words to the new graduates.

“UWF has prepared me to move on to the next chapter of my life,” said Bradford.

Kathryn Coseo, a registered nurse, received her Bachelor of Science in nursing online while working full-time. She advised future students working full-time to take advantage of the online resources UWF has to offer.

“It’s not impossible to earn a degree while working full-time,” said Coseo. “Teachers always responded quickly when I had questions and the materials for classes are easy to access online.”

Nick Powers, who earned a degree in marketing, anxiously awaited graduation on Saturday morning. He landed a job with an industrial supply company in Ormond Beach, Fla., as a sales representative and was excited to move and start his new job.

“The campus and the nature trail are two things I’m definitely going to remember about UWF,” said Powers.

Many students that graduated on Saturday will continue on to complete their post-graduate degrees. Shawn Thomas, who earned his degree in music, plans to jump right into a master’s program in music.

Family and friends watched with excitement, cheering and clapping in encouragement as the graduates entered the Civic Center and, shortly after, walked the stage to receive their diploma. As they turned their tassels, the students became UWF graduates after many years of hard work and dedication.

“Take risks, make new friends and don’t be afraid to try new things,” said Bradford. “Always go with your gut, and you will succeed.”