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FMU graduates encouraged to make a difference

May 5, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Nearly every seat in the Smith University Center gymnasium was filled for the spring 2019 commencement ceremony Saturday morning at Francis Marion University.

Francis Marion conferred 308 degrees, which included 290 undergraduate and 18 graduate students. Of the spring 2019 graduates, 69 students graduated with Latin honors and nine students with university honors.

Fred Carter, president of Francis Marion, praised the graduates for their dedication to their education, calling graduation day a day they will never forget.

“Nothing better identifies educated people than the care with which they speak and the precision with which they write,” Carter said.

Carter also recognized students’ parents for their role in their children’s education.

“You share in the frustrations and challenges along the way. Every graduate here knows the role you play in making today possible,” Carter said.

Finally, Carter recognized the role the faculty and staff play in making students’ education possible, including three professors – Jacqueline Campbell, associate professor of history; Ken Williams, professor of chemistry; and Marsha Taylor assistant professor of English – who will retire after a combined 83 years of service.

Presley Hucks and Courtney Smith received the William H. Blackwell Award, which is the highest academic award students can receive.

Francis Marion awarded honorary degrees to S.C. Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, retired Francis Marion University professor of English Ted Whisnant, and FMU Vice President for Business Affairs John J. Kispert, who is retiring in July.

Rep. Cobb-Hunter was the commencement guest speaker. Cobb-Hunter encouraged graduates to take what they’ve learned at Francis Marion and to use it to make a difference in the world.

“What I hope is that you will look upon your education received here at Francis Marion as helping you to be sincere,” Cobb-Hunter said. “I hope these four years have been a series of deliberate decisions.”

Among the 308 graduates, Connor Graham, the 2018-19 Francis Marion student body president, said she knows she will come back to visit.

“I’m sad I’m leaving, but I know I’m coming back,” Graham said. “I feel like it’s so close to home because my mom also went here so we come back for homecoming. I’ll come back just to say hi. I feel like I’m not necessarily really leaving.”

Graham said her time at Francis Marion has prepared her for her next step, attending the Medical University of South Carolina for a Ph.D. program in biomedical sciences this fall.

“Ultimately, my experience has prepared me for the next step so I couldn’t have asked for anything more,” Graham said.

Graham graduated with university honors and magna cum laude.

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