Graduate Degree Students Focus on Success

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.

Graduate Degree Students Focus on Success

By Robert C. Jones, Jr.
More than 870 students received master's and Ph.D. degrees at UM's graduate degree ceremony, where outgoing UM President Donna E. Shalala urged them to apply what they have learned to serve others.

With their theses successfully defended, the University of Miami’s newest graduating class of master’s and doctoral students were ready to start applying their skills in the workforce before Thursday’s graduate degree ceremony at UM’s BankUnited Center had even begun.

“This puts me a giant step closer to entering my field and achieving my dream,” said Angela Davis, as she sat quietly in the BankUnited Center Fieldhouse lineup area, waiting for the moment when she would shake her dean’s hand and receive her master’s degree in music therapy.

Davis, whose mother and father flew in from Saginaw, Michigan, to see her graduate, wants to use her knowledge to help premature infants and older people with dementia to cope. “There are so many others who benefit from music therapy,” Davis said. “I’m anxious to help them."

Onome Uwhubetine, a first generation Nigerian, posed for pictures with fellow students shortly before Thursday’s ceremony. But running through his mind all the while were thoughts of how he plans to put his master of business administration degree to use in the real estate development field. “Workforce housing is the area I want to go into,” Uwhubetine said, adding that graduate degrees have become “almost a necessity in today’s society, a necessity that can’t be ignored.”

Already a teacher in the Miami-Dade Public Schools system, Kathleen Hagan said her master’s degree in educational and social change will allow her to become “an even better teacher for my students.” She has taught eleventh grade chemistry at Miami’s Central High School, but now mostly trains other teachers. She credits her advanced degree from UM’s School of Education and Human Development for exposing her to a range of issues in her field, from charter schools to teacher pay.

The three were among more than 870 students who received degrees at Thursday’s ceremony, an occasion that outgoing UM President Donna E. Shalala said marked graduates’ “right of passage into a distinguished community of scholarship and service.”

Shalala urged them to apply what they have learned to serve others and reminded them their success would not have been possible without the faculty, advisors, mentors, and family members who supported them.

“Your time here has not only changed you, you’ve changed the University,” she said.

While students received degrees in a variety of disciplines, they will all be faced with having to make difficult decisions in life, M. Brian Blake, outgoing vice provost for academic affairs and dean of the Graduate School, said in his advice to graduates.

“Life is a series of doors, and you’ll have to make decisions about which doors to go through,” said Blake, noting that he was recently faced with the difficult decision to leave UM for a new position as provost and executive vice president for academic affairs at Drexel University.

He urged students to “go through doors that give them the most options in life.”

UM’s celebration of its newest ’Canes continues Friday, when three undergraduate ceremonies will be held at the BankUnited Center, starting at 8:30 a.m. with a graduation exercise for 815 students from the College of Arts and Sciences and the Division of Continuing and International Education.

For extensive coverage and information on UM’s 2015 commencement, view the Commencement Special Report, which features profiles of graduating students, a slideshow of photos from the graduation exercises, and an outlook on what graduates will face in the job market.