41st Commencement of Eckerd College Held Under the Big Top
Eckerd College's 41st Commencement took place on Saturday, May 22, at 9:00 a.m. on the South Beach Field of the campus. This year's graduation ceremony marked a return to the campus grounds after fourteen years in the college's gymnasium and two years at Tropicana Field. Surrounded by Florida palms and waterfront views, 566 graduates received their bachelor's degrees in arts and sciences. Dr. Blenda J. Wilson, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, was the commencement speaker.
The 330 graduates from the Residential Program and the 236 graduates from the Program for Experienced Learners (PEL) hailed from 41 states ranging from Maine to New Mexico and Wisconsin to Washington and 21 countries including Israel, the Philippines, Kenya, Bulgaria, Jamaica, India, the Republic of South Africa, and Germany.
Award Recipient Notables
The Philip J. Lee Honor Award is presented to the senior student whose scholarly achievements at Eckerd College have demonstrated both exceptional accomplishment and superior promise.
April Crabtree of Knoxville, Tennessee, recipient of the Philip J. Lee Honor Award, is an anthropology major with a 4.0 GPA and one of only 13 students inducted into Eckerd's newly instituted Phi Beta Kappa chapter. She is the first of her family from to ever receive a college education. In addition to a long list of academic honors and campus leadership positions, she won the competition to participate in the March of Remembrance and Hope in Eastern Europe and has served as an intern and docent at the Florida Holocaust Museum for the past 2 years. Her experiences contributed to a research project that she presented at the national meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology this past spring and resulted in an invitation to apply for work in evaluation studies of the Holocaust Education Mandate. April was recently awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study in Poland next year where she will continue her studies of Holocaust education. Shortly after graduation she will spend a month in Cambodia to continue her work on comparative genocide aftermath approaches and education.
The Irving G. Foster Award is presented to the graduate of the Program for Experienced Learners who demonstrates excellence in overall academic achievement.
Christal Coleman of Palm Harbor, Florida, recipient of the Irving G. Foster Award, has excelled in both her majors, American Studies and Business Management, earning honors on both of her comprehensive exams. She has been active in the Humanities Student Organization, and received the ACE award for Collegiality this year for "demonstrating exceptional cooperation and leadership in furthering intellectual pursuits inside and outside of the classroom." After graduation she plans to relocate to Kentucky, where she will pursue a graduate degree.
The James A. Robinson Award is presented to the senior student who has by leadership and example contributed significantly to the minority experience at Eckerd College and to a fuller appreciation of cross-cultural values throughout the whole Eckerd community.
Raequel Gadsden of Tampa, Florida, recipient of the James A. Robinson Award, has excelled as a Communications major with a minor in Human Development. She has contributed significantly to the enrichment of the minority experience through her two years of service as Vice President of the Afro-American Society. She has completed internships at the St. Petersburg Housing Authority and with the Tampa Bay Bucaneers, as an assistant to Coach Gruden. She also served as student assistant manger of the Eckerd College MenŐs basketball team for four years. She has a positive disposition and is described by those who know her well as an outstanding student and an intelligent, caring and energetic professional. She is currently working full time as an admissions counselor for Florida Metropolitan University.
The David and Blanche Colgan Memorial Prize is presented to a graduate of the Program of Experienced Learners who has demonstrated extraordinary determination and perseverance in achieving a solid academic record and who exemplifies the spirit of life-long learning. The award is provided through the generosity of Eckerd College trustee Mary Miller, a 1997 PEL graduate herself, in memory of her parents
Brenda Medina of Sarasota, Florida, recipient of the David and Blanche Colgan Memorial Prize, was a full-time PEL student, a full-time Family Advocate with Children First (Head Start), and a full-time single mother of two sons, ages 7 and 18. A native of Puerto Rico, Brenda was responsible for crisis intervention and managed a case load of 54 families at Children First while enrolled in PEL. Graduating with a major in Human Development, she has been promoted to the position of Children's Services Coordinator for Health and Nutrition. She recently became a foster parent for two African-American siblings, ages two and three, who needed refuge from a highly abusive home. Brenda's goal is to earn an advanced degree in School Development and open a charter school in Sarasota.
The Robert A. Staub Distinguished Teacher Award was presented to Anne J. Cox, associate professor of physics. She was recognized for her skill as a teacher of physics, including fundamental physics, electronics, classical and quantum mechanics, and electromagnetic theory. She has taken a leadership role in redesigning the laboratory exercises for the physics discipline and has fostered an interactive approach to teaching that makes use of the latest techniques in educational technology. Professor Cox was responsible for introducing the use of web-based "warm-up questions" not only in her own classes but by her colleagues in many other disciplines. Her contributions as teacher, mentor, plenary lecturer, and helper to colleagues in the general education program have been valuable and her publications, presentations and grants in the field of physics education have been noteworthy. Professor Cox received her Ph.D. from the University of Virginia.
Scott Roedersheimer of North Parkersburg, West Virginia, graduated with a double major in both History and American Studies. He has contributed to the life of the Eckerd community as well as the larger community in numerous ways. He served as a member of the Council of the Letters Collegium and was selected as the delegate to the Expanded Faculty. In the local community he has served as a volunteer for Equality Florida, the Sierra Club, and the Colonial House Assisted Living Facility for the elderly. Scott is a Presidential Scholar, the highest honor the College confers on entering students, and he is a member of the Honors Program, as well as Omicron Delta Kappa and Phi Beta Kappa.
Arturo Rios of St. Petersburg, Florida, recipient of The Clifford F. Griggs Award for Excellence in Pre-Law Studies, graduated from the PEL program with distinction with a degree in business management. A resident of St. Petersburg, Arturo is currently enrolled at Stetson University College of Law where he was elected to represent his class in the Student Bar Association. He is one of only two law students chosen nationally to implement the student list serve for the National Immigration Project.
Honorary Degree Recipients
Dr. Blenda J. Wilson, president and CEO of the Nellie Mae Education Foundation, was the commencement speaker and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Dr. Wilson leads one of the nationŐs most prestigious foundations and the largest foundation focused solely on education, in promoting educational quality and effectiveness for students of all ages and especially for under-served populations. Visit the Nellie Mae site for Dr. Wilson's complete biography. Click here for the complete text to Dr. Wilson's honorary citation.
Dr. George H. Atkinson '67, Department of State Science and Technology Adviser under Secretary of State Colin Powell, and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science degree. An Eckerd alumni of 1967, Dr. Atkinson was Professor of Chemistry at Syracuse University until 1983, when he joined the University of Arizona as Chairman of the Chemistry Department. Dr. Atkinson founded Innovative Lasers Corporation in 1992. Click here for the complete text to Dr. Atkinson's honorary citation.
Mr. Loren Pope, director of the College Placement Bureau and author of "Colleges That Change Lives" and former education editor for "The New York Times," and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree. Eckerd College is one of only 40 schools listed in "Colleges That Change Lives." Click here for the complete text to Mr. Pope's honorary citation.
Dr. Andreas Georg Schapowal, founder and president of the Swiss Academy of Medicine and Ethics, and senior lecturer and head of the Unit of Allergology and Environmental Medicine at Hanover Medical College, Germany, and recipient of an honorary Doctor of Science degree. Click here for the complete text to Dr. Schapowal's honorary citation.