305 graduate in winter commencement! Students become alumni, celebrate achievements


Photo by: Austin Kemmerlin

Graduates listen to the Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives, James H. “Jay” Lucas, as he congratulates them on their accomplishments and encourages them to live with integrity.

Lauren Cole, Staff Writer

On Dec. 13, Francis Marion University (FMU) handed out 305 degrees to graduates in the Smith University Center.

The commencement began by having the professors walk in and take their seats in their graduating university’s regalia.  The graduating students then walked in and took their seats beside the professors.  Both groups dressed the same, symbolizing a divide between faculty and student that no longer exists.   The graduates are now able to enter their respected fields well equipped to handle any challenges presented to them.  The black hats and tassels worn by the graduate symbolize an end to preparation and the beginning of a future.

In addition to the 305 degrees conferred to the graduates, three honorary doctoral degrees were also handed out.  In coordination with the mission of FMU to educate South Carolinians, 91 percent of the graduates were from South Carolina.

The fall commencement also saw the graduation of FMU’s first class of nurse practitioners and nurse educators.  Of these two programs, 69 degrees were conferred.  The university also graduated 17 with Latin honors and two with university honors.

The commencement address was given by Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives James H. “Jay” Lucas.  Lucas received his education at the University of South Carolina and is currently serving his fourteenth term in office.  Growing up in South Carolina, Lucas also shares FMU’s passion for educating the people of South Carolina and bringing jobs to the state.

Lucas began his speech by saying that he was the last obstacle standing between the graduates and their degrees.  Lucas drilled home the fact that the graduates should be proud of where they are and what they have accomplished.  A large portion of the graduates are first generation college students.

“Throughout your training at Francis Marion and in your future careers,” Lucas said.  “The most important skill you will learn is integrity.  Rely on your values and live with integrity and you can accomplish anything with respect and dignity.”

Lucas quoted several brilliant minds in his address including Albert Einstein, Theodore Roosevelt and Voltaire.  A quote by Einstein that he used to reiterate his stance on integrity was “Try not to be a man of success, but rather a man of value.”

Lucas then shared his opinions to the graduates about how important the people around you are.

“The greatest accomplishment in life does not come from your successes in your career, but instead they come from who you share it with,” Lucas said. “It’s not what you have in life, it’s who you have in your life that matters the most.”

After the commencement address concluded, the graduates walked across the stage to receive their degrees and shake the hand of the university’s president Dr. Fred Carter.  While the traditional etiquette of commencement is to remain quiet until all names are called, most of the audience found it impossible to contain their excitement about their graduates.

After all of the names were called and the ceremony hand concluded, each graduate rushed to find the professors that had helped them along the way and thank them personally.  In addition to thanking their professors, each graduate hugged their family members and thanked them for all of the years of motivation and support.

FMU offers two graduation dates each year: December and May.  Each time a graduation class leaves FMU, there is a sense of pride and confidence that they are going to go out into the world and make a difference fully prepared and fully equipped to handle anything thrown their way.