May 8, 2020

FMU celebrates class of 2020 At the end of an unusual year

FMU celebrates class of 2020 At the end of an unusual year

The end of the spring semester is usually marked by a special milestone at Francis Marion University.

For FMU’s class of 2020, it marks the end of one of the strangest periods of their life.

The coronavirus outbreak led to an executive order closing the university in mid-March. Classes were completed online, and most students never returned to campus after spring break.

Seniors still graduated — they’ll receive their diplomas by mail in the next few weeks — but the May commencement ceremony, the signal event of FMU’s year, was postponed. It was just … strange.

“The last two months have been very odd,” says Amie Hutchison, a sports management major from Fakenham, England. “Going from having a routine and staying active to doing nothing and having all the time in the world has been extremely difficult to comprehend.”

Moe Abdullah, a sports marketing major from Charleston, S.C., says that while the low-key end to his undergraduate career was disappointing, he was inspired by the creativity and hard work of the faculty in moving quickly from in-person to online instruction.

“Adapting was difficult, but it was worth the experience and it wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance and reassurance of the faculty and staff at FMU,” says Abdullah

The absence of a set schedule was one of the more difficult aspects of adjusting to the new way of study for Dante Ahquin, an Industrial Engineering graduate from Ridgeville, S.C.

“Motivation is the hardest part,” Ahquin says. “I love having a set schedule, which is why normally I enjoy having timely courses and jobs. To adapt, I tried to keep some schedule going with an hour of film studies, and an hour of research with a break followed by another two hours of quality control. This helped me stay focused and keep up in the courses.”

University officials are planning a fall commencement celebration for the class of 2020. It’s scheduled for the evening of Sept,. 12 at Florence’s Memorial Stadium, an outdoor venue that will allow all the necessary social distancing. The Class of 2020 will receive invitations and additional information about the event soon.

In the meantime, the FMU will celebrate the 343 graduates in the spring class from a distance. It is one of the 10 largest graduating classes in school history and includes FMU’s first-ever graduates in sports management and sports marketing, and Speech-Language Pathology (masters degree). Forty-two graduates are receiving master’s degrees, the most ever at a spring graduation.

Seventy-four students  graduated with Latin honors and 11 students earned University honors.

Graduating Summa Cum Laude (“With Greatest Praise”), meaning they attained a cumulative graduate point average of 3.9 to 4.0 were: Rebecca Alexander, Zachary Cagle, Sierra Cartano, Caleb Cooper, Emma Driggers, Caleb Fulmer, Kaitlyn Harndon, Latia Harvin, Ashley Krause, Sarah Lindholm, Tiffany McKenzie, Jenna Nance, Melayna Neupert, Tiffany O’Neal, Loni Picariello, and Alacia Witherspoon.  

Graduating Magna Cum Laude (“With Great Praise”), meaning they attained a cumulative graduate point average of 3.75 to 3.89 were : Emily Blackburn, Jessica Cassidy, Shikar Chodha, Aaron Fulmer, Beaty Garrison, Aubrey Johnson, Hallsy Kellar, Rachael Kerr, Ashton Kirby, Felicia Kirkland, Angelica Littlefield, Macy McIntyre, Margaret Middleton, Hannah Moore, Deannah Neupert, Christian Owens, James Parra, Fredrika Regner, and Shane Turnage. 

Graduating Cum Laude (“With Praise”), meaning they attained a cumulative graduate point average of 3.5 to 3.74 were: Vanessa Abaraca, Rian Avin, Margaret Barnes, Ashlee Bell, Mary Bernal, Franz Broeseler, Destini Campbell, Robert Collins, Ivonna Cooper, Heather Cox, Madison, Cox, James Docherty, Jessica Gainey, Carli Gauthier, Kennedy Glasgow, Mark Goodall, James Griggs, Alexis Haley, April James, McCrae Jones, Ashley Jordan, Cassie Jordan, Caroline Lawson, Alex Ludwig, Paul Meuwissen, Zachary Middleton, William Mitchum, Garriss Moseley, Elizabeth Norris, Shayla Osborne, Eira Sabido, Donovan Sansbury, Brenda Shelton, Amber Smith, Alexis Sutherland, Emily Thornell, Ivy Watts, Jacquara Willingham, and Patricia Witherington. 

Eleven students graduated with University Honors, which is awarded to students who achieve an overall grade point average of 3.25 or above and complete 21 hours in Honors courses with a grade point average of 3.25 in all Honors courses taken. Honors courses are reserved for students in FMU’s Honors Programs, and feature unique topics and formats. Graduating with University Honors were: Dante Ahquin, Ashlee Bell, Sierra Cartano, Emma Driggers, Elizabeth Floyd, Kaitlyn Harndon, Ashley Krause, Sarah Lindholm, Angelica Littlefield, Avonlea Samuel, and Thomas Stanley.