USC awards degrees at summer commencement
Columbia lawyer I.S. Leevy Johnson told the University of South Carolina’s newest graduates Saturday to remember who they are and where they came from – and never stop learning.
“You are your parents’ dream,” said Johnson, who received an honorary doctor of laws degree at the Saturday morning ceremony at the Colonial Life Arena. “You have the talent to be a major factor in improving the quality of life for all mankind. You are champions. You are our hope, our leaders for a better tomorrow.”
The university awarded 1,055 degrees from the Columbia campus at the summer commencement exercises, along with 375 from the university’s regional and four-year campuses.
Johnson is a Midlands native who was among the first African Americans elected to the S.C. General Assembly since Reconstruction. Johnson, who earned his law degree from USC, has practiced law for more than 40 years and was the first African-American president of the S.C. Bar. He told the graduates they came to USC as raw material, and the university has helped form and empower them to compete in the global economy.
“There is no perfect formula for success. But you must realize you live in an information-oriented society. The more you learn, the more you earn,” he said. “You cannot stop learning just because you are getting this degree today. Keep on studying, researching and engaging in activities that will increase your knowledge. When best is possible, good and better are not enough.”
Rosa Jones is one of those graduates who understood the importance of continuing her education. The 51-year-old grandmother earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing Saturday from USC-Upstate. She started working as a certified nursing assistant and moved up to a licensed practical nurse. She then received her associate’s degree before deciding a few years ago to go back to school for her bachelor’s degree in nursing.
“It’s always been my dream. It’s been an uphill battle sometimes, but I was determined to get my four-year degree,” said Jones, whose parents, children and grandchildren were there to watch her walk across the stage.
David Roughton of Wilmington, N.C., was graduating with a bachelor’s degree from the College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management. He was ready to hit the coast – and start his career.
“I’m planning to do something in the surfing field,” he said. “I had an internship in California this summer, making surfboards there, and really enjoyed it. I’d like to get involved in the clothing and retail side of surfing.”
Roughton’s mother is a graduate of USC’s pharmacy school and was instrumental in his decision to come to Columbia.
“She told me all about it, and I came here and saw the campus and I liked it,” he said. “I had an excellent, excellent time here.”
Megan Mulligan of Belton has a job waiting for her next week. She starts Thursday as a teaching assistant in a first- and second-grade classroom at Pontiac Elementary School in Richland County. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a minor in education at Saturday’s commencement.
“I’m excited, nervous and relieved it’s finally here,” Mulligan said. “I’ve loved every aspect of it.”
Sitting on the same row was Shanovia Owens of Allendale, who earned her bachelor’s degree in sociology. She spent her first two years at USC-Salkehatchie before transferring to Columbia and plans to go to graduate school in professional counseling.
“I’m the first in my family to receive a bachelor’s degree,” Owens said. “My family’s all here. They’re pretty proud of me.”
USC President Harris Pastides welcomed the graduates, calling them the first class to graduate following the baseball team’s national championship earlier this summer. He spoke of the team’s inspirational march through the College World Series, playing in multiple elimination games – at one point down to its last strike – before rallying to win.
“The lesson for me was how much you can still do with your back up against the wall,” Pastides said.
He said he learned a similar lesson during a visit to Israel, a country with little agriculture, land, water or security, yet it has built an economy that has made great strides.
“Israel invests mightily in its people by investing mightily in education,” Pastides said. “Education is the answer. It is the answer for South Carolina, and it is the answer for the United States.”
Degrees awarded from the Columbia campus included one associate’s degree, 552 baccalaureate degrees, eight law degrees, one pharmacy degree, 10 graduate certificates, 388 master’s degrees, five specialist’s degrees and 90 doctoral degrees.
Also receiving degrees were graduates of the university’s regional and four-year campuses: Aiken – 61 baccalaureate and two master’s degrees; Beaufort – 38 baccalaureate degrees; Lancaster – 14 associate’s degrees; Salkehatchie – five associate’s degrees; Sumter – 10 associate’s degrees; Union – eight associate’s degrees; and Upstate – 239 baccalaureate degree and four master’s degrees.
2010 Summer Commencement
- Who: Columbia lawyer I.S. Leevy Johnson delivered address
- What: Graduation ceremony for all eight USC campuses
- When: Saturday, Aug. 7, 2010
- Where: Colonial Life Arena
- How many: Columbia campus -- one associate’s degree, 552 baccalaureate degrees, eight law degrees, one pharmacy degree, 10 graduate certificates, 388 master’s degrees, five specialist’s degrees and 90 doctoral degrees; Aiken campus – 61 baccalaureate and two master’s degrees; Beaufort campus – 38 baccalaureate degrees; Lancaster campus – 14 associate’s degrees; Salkehatchie campus – five associate’s degrees; Sumter campus – 10 associate’s degrees; Union campus – eight associate’s degrees; and Upstate campus – 239 baccalaureate degree and four master’s degrees.