Commencement Anecdotes 2012

Florida Institute of Technology was recently lauded by Bloomberg Businessweek as “Best College for Return on Investment in Florida.” Nationally, Florida Tech ranks No. 161 among 853 schools for annualized ROI.

It is easy to see why; the results from our main campus graduation follow-up survey of the classes of December 2010 and May 2011 showed that 94% of respondents are employed, in the military or enrolled in graduate school. In fact, up to 89% of those who said they were employed are working in their major. In this economic climate, that’s pretty darn good!

 We had about 400 students receive their bachelor’s degree at an on-campus commencement ceremony this spring. These students came from around the world to attend our university, from Argentina to Zimbabwe. Some of student’s family members made the journey to Melbourne, Fla. from as far away as Saudi Arabia and India!


Four students tie for being our youngest spring 2012 graduates—all born in the latter half of 1991, making them just 20 years old. They are Amber Thomas, Bruce Gavin, Tyler Miller and Shelby Afflerbach. Amber, the first member of her family to go to college, has been accepted with full funding to do her Ph.D. work at Indiana University. These young graduates all have a good head start!

The oldest at 54 years old, is Jacqueline Griffin of Cape Canaveral, one of our four B.S. graduates to earn faculty honors. She is proud to point out that she is about the same age as the university—just one year older—and wants to tell everyone here today that “It is NEVER too late.” She says, “Getting my education was a dream come true and being able to attend this wonderful institution was a pleasure.” Though Jacqueline worked full time, she earned her bachelor’s degree in just four years and is on her way to finishing her master’s degree by May 2013.

Florida Tech is proud to be military friendly and to have commissioned 12 cadets through our ROTC program this year. They are Matthew L. Cooper, Field Artillery Corps, Christopher M. Park, Signal Corps, Adam N. Paulauskas, Medical Service Corps Shane A. Winnings, Quartermaster’s Corps,   Dane R. Wright, Field Artillery Corps, Joshua A. Chambers, Infantry Corps, Jeremy A. Deorsey, Quartermaster Corps,   Aaron J. Globeck, Air Defense Artillery; Chelsea H. Heath, Field Artillery Corps,  Joshua B. Lantrip, Adjutant General’s Corps, John A. Temple, Engineer Corps,  and John A. Vetter Jr., Field Artillery Corps.


 Allison Metzger earned her B.S. in mechanical engineering and was named an Outstanding Senior in her department. She also was captain of the Lunabotics team, which developed a robot for lunar mining and was one of four students who recently delivered a keynote address at the National Space Club. Allison can leave academics behind for now because she is Boeing bound; she was hired last January by Boeing in Seattle!

The sky’s the Limit for Juan Pablo Villa-Navarro, he is not only receiving a bachelor’s degree in aviation with flight, but he completed his Type Rating for a captain’s license in the Airbus A320 just last month. This is the first time in collegiate aviation history that a flight student has attained this large jet airliner certification prior to graduation.

Heather Frystacky worked with the Hungarian exchange students here for the Atlantis Project, a student exchange between Florida Tech and the BME institute in Hungary. She earned her degree in environmental science with a minor in computational mathematics. She is mulling over her choice of graduate schools, which includes Florida Tech, UC Berkeley and MIT.

Our athletes make us very, very proud. Florida Tech was one of only 24 Division II institutions selected to receive the first Division II President’s Award for Academic Excellence. This prestigious honor recognizes athletics programs with four-year Academic Success Rates (ASR) of 90 percent or more. The Academic Success Rate measures graduation rates for virtually all Division II student-athletes, including transfers and those not receiving athletically related financial aid.

 Simon Cummings and Edgars Eglitis, who represent our SSC Championship men’s basketball team, both earned their bachelor’s degrees this spring.  They certainly ended their Florida Tech undergraduate experience on a high note. Simon was featured on ESPN SportsCenter’s Top 10 Plays for making 10 consecutive three-pointers last season.

A scholarly graduate who plays volleyball is Janelle Branch, winner of the Donald R. Mason Award for excellence in chemical engineering and named an outstanding senior in that department. Janelle is now getting ready for graduate studies at Vanderbilt University.

Roderick Blevins, a four-year soccer player, has been accepted into Cambridge University’s engineering graduate program.

Briauna Hagins became Florida Tech’s all-time leading rebounder this past season. She was named an All-American by two organizations and earned her degree in psychology.

Ryan McChesney earned his degree in civil engineering and was named a three-time All-American for baseball.

Jennie Larmore earned her bachelor’s degree in interdisciplinary science and has probably spent more research hours in our lab and other labs than any other undergraduate. She had three summer internships at the National Institutes of Health researching genetics, cancer and aging, and this semester had a co-op experience at Kennedy Space Center studying the behavior of bacterial life in space. She also attended the NASA/ Space Florida Undergraduate Academy. She’s now considering her options for doctoral studies.

No less than 11 students from all 5 Florida Tech colleges graduated with a sustainability minor. These students have participated in several projects to meet their academic capstone requirements that will make our university “greener.” Their work has helped give us more sustainable buildings, moving us toward LEED certification on new facilities, saving energy and water; improved land-water use in our Botanical Garden; saved university van fuel; and has advanced our recycling programs.

One of these students, Helmut Martinez Kohler earned his degree in interdisciplinary science with a minor in sustainability and in management. He was selected as the undergraduate Student of the Year in the Department of Education and Interdisciplinary Studies. A 28-year-old, non-traditional student, he returned to college after leading and owning a successful graphic design firm. He was also a professional motorcycle racer and the owner of a road-racing team. As team leader for the senior design project for his Sustainability Minor, Helmut has led a student-driven taskforce to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for existing buildings on campus. Helmut did a month-long internship program in Dubai and is now returning to Dubai to head a new division for an American company doing energy-efficiency projects in the region.

Before they even graduated, science and math education seniors Kelsey Clayton, Melissa DiTucci, Courtney Treubert and Crystal Woodard were offered jobs as teachers starting this fall in the local school district, Brevard Public Schools. This makes 5 straight years of a 100% hire rate for our teaching programs, but the first year that students were hired before graduation!

Wade Dauberman, who earned his bachelor’s degree in astrobiology, will be the first-ever to earn this new degree at Florida Tech. Additionally, he has earned quite a bit of media attention lately. He will be spending his summer trekking 4,700 Miles in honor of his father who died of the rare disease, Sclerodoma. He will cycle across America to raise Scleroderma awareness and research funds, starting from the Clemente Center.

This is only a few examples of our student success stories. Share yours!

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