More than 1,000 graduates will receive their diplomas in ceremonies to be held on Friday, Aug. 10, at the Carole and Barry Kaye Performing Arts Auditorium in the Student Union on the Boca Raton campus. Three ceremonies will be held; if you can't be there in person be sure to watch it live at www.fau.edu/webcast.
The ceremony for the College of Architecture, Urban and Public Affairs, the Charles E. Schmidt College of Science. the Charles E. Schmidt College of Biomedical Science and the College of Engineering and Computer Science will take place at 9 a.m. The ceremony for the Barry Kaye College of Business will be held at 1 p.m. And the ceremony for the Dorothy F. Schmidt College of Arts and Letters, the Christine E. Lynn College of Nursing, the College of Education and the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College will be at 5 p.m.
The more than 1,600 members of the graduating class (some elect not to attend the graduation ceremonies) reflect the wide range of students who pursue degrees at FAU:
- The oldest graduate is 81 years old.
- The youngest is 20 years old.
- Seventy graduates are over the age of 50 and five of them are over the age of 60.
- A total of 92 graduates have GPAs of at least 4.0 at FAU.
- Nearly 70 countries will be represented by the graduating class, and seven graduates will also celebrate their birthdays on Aug. 10.
Here's a glimpse into what earning a degree means for three graduates participating in this year's ceremonies:
Setting an Example
Enrique Carmona, 42, is a dedicated father who decided to return to the classroom and finish his degree to set an example for his two sons, Enrique III, 19, and David, 16.
“I do not want my sons to make the same mistakes I did at their ages,” he said. “I tell them that my diploma will soon be hanging on the wall in a nice frame, but that is not what is important. It is what you do with it and the wisdom with which you do it.”
"It is what
you do with it
and the wisdom with which
you do it."
Like many of his classmates who are also working parents, Carmona was challenged by balancing work and family during his time at FAU. However, his biggest setback came in December 2006, when he was faced with emergency spinal surgery due to a worsening back injury.
“I was scared to death,” said Carmona. “I was looking at possible paralysis, and my thoughts were racing about how I was going to do everyday things, like throw the baseball with my kids.” After undergoing successful surgery, Carmona jumped right back into the classroom to finish his degree. “The medications I was prescribed made it very difficult to concentrate,” he said. “If I had a class exam, I would just skip my pills and endure the pain.”
Carmona, who will graduate on Friday with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice, overcame his physical challenges with strong determination. “If I had dropped out of FAU, then I would have failed my sons and not lived up to all I had taught them.”
His parents and nephew will be traveling from his native country, Puerto Rico, to join the rest of his family at FAU’s commencement ceremony. When asked what philosophy he lives by, he quickly responded, “When you have a dream or a goal, do whatever it takes to achieve it.”
Sometimes the toughest opponent in life is yourself. For Bathsheva Weinstein, conquering her own fear of failure allowed her to earn her college degree.
Not your typical college student, the 81-year-old grew up in a household where women weren’t allowed to get an education. Weinstein’s father expected her to work, so she dropped out of school to work.
"Live every day
as if it’s
“I always wanted an education,” said Weinstein. “I also knew I wanted my kids to have one, so my husband and I put them through school. When they all graduated from college, I felt I was living in their shadow. So I told my husband, ‘I am going back to school.’”
It would not be an easy road. First, Weinstein obtained her GED. Then, she spent the next five years at Broward Community College earning an associate of arts degree.
“I was very motivated to learn, but I was nervous,” said Weinstein. “All that time off without being in a classroom is daunting. Once I got used to the kids and into the textbooks, I knew I could do it.” Weinstein started at FAU when she was 76. She took the bus every day to and from FAU’s Davie campus.
Weinstein still needed some coaxing from an FAU advisor to finish her bachelor of arts degree. “Sherry Jolly really talked me into it,” she said. “I was nervous. That fear of failure kept creeping back in, but Sherry motivated me to continue.”
Weinstein said the younger students—and they were all younger—would notice her walking around campus and greet her, though she had never met them before. She said the students would notice her because she always sat in front of the class taking notes and never missed a class.
“I missed two classes due to religious reasons,” said Weinstein. “Otherwise, I didn’t want to miss out on learning. For example, I took a Holocaust class with Dr. Rita Botwinick, which was fascinating. She was born in Germany during that time and her stories were amazing. Why would anyone want to miss a class like that?”
All three of her children, their spouses and her grandchildren will be at FAU’s summer commencement ceremony to witness her walk across the stage and see her be true to her motto, “live everyday as if it’s your last.”
A Sea of Opportunity
The partnership between Florida Atlantic University and Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution offers a training ground for many future researchers. One product of this partnership is Elizabeth Whitehill, who is graduating this summer with a master’s degree in the biological sciences from FAU.
Whitehill was first attracted to FAU because of the HBOI partnership and the graduate work she could do with some of the top researchers in the field.
"It’s truly been
a collaborative effort with the professors and researchers"
“I originally found out about FAU through my undergraduate advisor at Illinois-Wesleyan,” said Whitehill. “I met with Dr. Tammy Frank at HBOI, who has been a wonderful advisor and teacher.” Whitehill is working on vision in deep-sea shrimp and how the changing water temperature affects their habitat. She noticed in her research that the shrimp live in shallower water when they are young and, as adults, migrate deeper into the ocean where it is much darker.
“The shrimp can visually adapt to the darker environment as they move down,” said Whitehill. “But we are not sure if they can adapt to rising ocean temperatures, since they will be highly affected because their vision is specialized for the environment they live in.” Whitehill plans on studying the effects of ocean temperature on shrimp at Clemson University for her Ph.D.
“I would like to become a college professor,” she said. “It’s truly been a collaborative effort with the professors and researchers. The professors have shown me the real world experience outside of textbooks. Learning at HBOI has been a challenging and rewarding opportunity.”
Thanks to Andrew LaPlant, information and events coordinator for the Office of the Provost for these profiles.