USF St. Petersburg Celebrates Diverse Student Achievements of more than 500 New Graduates at Commencement

Commencement celebration.(May 1, 2018) – In front of family, faculty and the greater St. Petersburg community, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg will celebrate the diverse accomplishments and confer degrees to 507 new graduates during its Spring Commencement. USF St. Petersburg will host two ceremonies to accommodate nearly 400 graduates who elected to walk – representing 36 undergraduate and graduate academic disciplines – on Sunday, May 6 at the Mahaffey Theater. Graduates from the College of Arts and Sciences will walk at 1 p.m., and those graduating from the Kate Tiedemann College of Business and the College of Education will walk at 5 p.m.

“The educational experience at USF St. Petersburg has enriched our students’ intellect and character, giving them the tools and judgment to succeed in their chosen careers and follow their passions in life,” said USFSP Interim Regional Chancellor Martin Tadlock. “We are proud of their hard work and their civic mindedness and can’t wait to see what they achieve next.”

At every commencement, the university recognizes an outstanding graduate. The award, given by the USF Alumni Association, identifies a graduating senior who embodies leadership, school spirit, character and scholarship. Alexandra Kuchta is the Spring 2018 Outstanding Graduate.

Kuchta is graduating with an overall GPA of 3.96, receiving a degree in political science with a minor in geospatial science. During her time at USF St. Petersburg, she has involved herself in some of the most rewarding internship experiences a student can have.

For four consecutive summers, she has worked at the U.S. Embassy in London, putting to practice the knowledge she gained from USF St. Petersburg political science courses while further solidifying her passion for public service. She attained the responsibility and performed the tasks of a Junior Foreign Service Officer, where she drafted, edited and prioritized content in the Embassy’s Daily Report, a time-sensitive list of vital news as it relates to the relationship between the U.K. and U.S. Her work ethic and leadership skills resulted in the Embassy giving her increasingly complex tasks, such as being the site officer for official state visits by Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Secretary of State John Kerry and First Lady Michelle Obama.

Kuchta is currently studying for the Foreign Service Officer test, which she intends to take over the summer. This will be the first of many steps along her path to become a Foreign Service Officer with the U.S. Department of State.

“The last four years I have spent at USF St. Petersburg have been extraordinary and helped to shape me into the person I am today, a woman of substance wanting a life of meaning,” said Alexandra. “This university empowered me to strive for more than I initially thought possible.”

Two King O’Neal Scholars will also be recognized during Commencement. The award, created by the USF Alumni Association in honor of charter graduates Lucas King and Evelyn O’Neal, is bestowed upon outstanding students who have completed their USF coursework with a 4.0 GPA. Honorees receive a certificate recognizing their accomplishment and a gold medallion of the university seal. USFSP’s King O’Neal Scholars for Spring 2018 are Daniel Adams and Catherine Taunton.

Adams is receiving a Bachelor of Science in Biology with a concentration in Biomedical Sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences. While at USF St. Petersburg, Daniel worked at the Johns Hopkins Children’s Research Institute. His research investigated the function of a protein connected to causing metastasis of prostate cancer cells. After graduation, Adams hopes to continue his research and pursue a degree in medicine and one day become a physician.

Taunton is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Health Sciences from the College of Arts and Sciences. While at USF St. Petersburg, she was a member of The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi Chapter 126 and of the Tau Sigma National Honor Society, all while maintaining a part-time job. After graduation, Taunton will pursue a Doctorate of Physical Therapy.

USF St. Petersburg graduates have gone on to careers in many notable organizations and government institutions, including the National Institutes of Health, the State Department, Coca-Cola, Apple and The Huffington Post. They also are highly sought by local corporations such as C1 Bank, Jabil and Tech Data. For two straight years, alumni have received the prestigious Pulitzer Prize award, one in investigative journalism for a series of articles about the opioid crisis in West Virginia and the other on a history of the Gulf of Mexico.

This is the 62nd USF St. Petersburg Commencement celebration.