Number of graduates: 230
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Speakers: Sandra Stone, regional chancellor; Judy Genshaft, USF System president; and Alexander Benishek, president, Student Government Association
Most inspiring sight: USF Sarasota-Manatee graduate Angad Singh, who is from New Delhi, India, and a Sikh, wore a brilliant green turban to graduation. "I feel proud wearing my Turban as well as my sash from India, which are my national colors," he said. Singh is the nephew of USF alum Dr. Anila Jain of Bradenton. Singh earned his bachelor's degree in Hospitality.
Best quote: "Now I will make money!" So says Alberony Denis. who was born in Haiti and grew up in Palmetto. He graduated with a bachelor of science degree in finance. It was a long road, he said. He is the first person in his family to earn a bachelor's degree. Fifty friends and family cheered him. "My parents didn't have much," Denis said. "They helped me in a lot of ways but I also did a lot myself. I am very happy today. I'm proud of myself. Now I will make money!"
Shining moment: At age 55, William Mariotti of Lakewood Ranch walked across the stage to get his bachelor of science in general business administration. Mariotti is already a successful businessman as president and CEO of Bill Mariotti Site Development Co. But he left USF Tampa in the early 1980s when his father was injured on a project. Mariotti was five classes short of getting his degree. Friends and family encouraged him to go back and he did 18 months ago. "I did it one class a semester so it took 18 months," Mariotti said. "It feels nice. It's an accomplishment." The biggest difference between college in the 1980s and these days? "The biggest challenge was that everything is computerized now," Mariotti said. "You don't get your schedule on paper. You don't get your assignments on paper. You have to look at a website for students, and everything is on there. You get your grades that way and everything."
-- Richard Dymond