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Area college commencements scheduled

It’s the season of hope on college campuses as hundreds of local grads prepare to receive their diplomas.

Among them, 81-year-old Rose Burke is set to receive a Bachelor’s in English Literature from USF Sarasota-Manatee on Sunday.

Burke will be the oldest new grad in the crowd at the USF commencement at the Manatee Convention and Civic Center, 1 Haben Blvd., Palmetto. The ceremony begins at 2 p.m., with doors opening for grads and guests at 12:30 p.m.

Christine Manring, director of communications at USF Sarasota-Manatee, said the 299 students scheduled to receive diplomas have good reason to be optimistic, considering how tough the economy has been.

“We’ve had real good success with the inquiries through our career services center,” Manring said. “They (employers) are coming to us with job openings for our grads. That’s very encouraging.”

State College of Florida Manatee-Sarasota will have its Spring 2010 commencement exercises at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday in Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF Bradenton, 5840 26th St. W.

Two ceremonies are planned for the 288 graduates expected to participate out of 693 eligible students.

A highlight of the SCF graduation is the Outstanding Graduate Award presented to a student who has shown superior leadership, academic achievement and community service. Finalists are Ashley Cranston, Samantha Gillen, Biyun Huang, Rachel Roach and Crystal Wilson.

Tickets are required to attend the SCF ceremony and are available through graduating students.

New College of Florida is bringing in a distinguished alumnus as guest speaker for its May 21 commencement.

William Dudley, a 1974 graduate of New College, now serves as president of the New York Federal Reserve Bank.

The New College graduation is set for 7 p.m. on the bayfront behind College Hall.

Dudley succeeded Timothy Geithner at the Federal Reserve Bank in January 2009, when Geithner became Secretary of the Treasury.

“Needless to say, Bill has tremendous insight into our nation’s current economic woes, a topic I’d expect him to touch on in his commencement remarks,” said New College President Mike Michalson in a press release.

About 160 students from throughout the United States are expected to receive B.A. diplomas at New College.

One of those new grads, Corrie Etheredge, of Portland, Oregon, said she hopes to ultimately work in early childhood education policy. After graduating from New College, she plans to teach English in South Korea for a year and then return to the United States to attend graduate school.

“I’m sad to leave New College. It’s been a wonderful experience. And it’s prepared me for the next steps I am taking. I am looking forward to taking everything that I have learned here and moving on,” she said.

USF’s Rose Burke said she also enjoyed her experience, and interacting with the younger students.

“I love to hear new ideas and learn from them. Our points of view differ sometimes, but that’s to be expected with our difference in life experiences. I’ve enjoyed every class,” Burke said in a statement released by USF.

James A. Jones Jr., East Manatee Editor, can be contacted at 745-7021.

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