Stories of Gator Courage

For his December 2017 commencement speech on courage, President Fuchs emailed UF alumni seeking stories of times in their lives, after college, when they were thankful they were able to be courageous – or when courage failed them. He received over 100 replies. Here is a selection:

A Child’s Courage Lloyd Behrendt

“Mom always taught me and my sister that there are good and bad in all groups, and not to judge anyone by the color of their skin or the place of their birth.”


Courage When Starting Out After College Kimberly Bissell

“I had no money, still no paycheck, no credit cards, none of my personal belongings and no cat.”


Courage is meant to be shared Christy Brandon

“I thought I knew what courage was, but after my undergrad and while pursuing my master’s degree I was diagnosed with cancer.”


Courage to take a risk on a new business Michael DelCharco

“I am plenty busy and I didn’t need something else to do. I didn’t need to have people laugh at me and my idea. But I did it.”


The Courage to Plead Your Case Dr. Patti Dolan

He told me, “You have 24 hours to get a plan.”


The Courage to Run for Your Life Dr. Phillip A. Fields

“My plan is for my 100th marathon with leukemia to be the Boston Marathon.”


The Courage to Trust an Old Man Dennis Flanagan

“Too often in life today we see our leaders and media emphasize the wrong things and not talk about the right things, like three children who had the courage to believe in their father as he cared for their mother …”


Courage to Start a Business in College Danielle Gertner

“My story is about the courage to get off the bandwagon, get off the conveyer belt that so many students find themselves on and start my own journey.”


Courage to care for someone else Keith Gouin

“If I had shrunk back in fear I would have missed out on many important and meaningful experiences with my brother and my entire family.”


The Courage to Tell the Truth Thomas C. Greenawalt

“I called my wife and suggested that she dust off my resume!”


Courage to Fight Cancer Again and Again Paul Hale

“Every day, since Bret moved on, I try to find the courage to battle as hard as the children fighting this insidious disease must in order to survive.”


Courage to keep working through cancer treatment Jim Harrison

“Looking back it was terrifying, as only an intimate dance with one’s own mortality can be.”


A woman’s courage in working in a male-dominated field Pam Hyatt

“They thought it would put more burden on the rest of the crew having a girl out there working and I would refuse to wade through swamps and cut line with the rest of the guys.”


Courage to change for the better David Irwin

“I was in a jail cell facing, at best, 5-10 years in prison, and I lacked the courage to face any of it…”


Courage in a crisis Sharon Jones

“The most courage I have ever been forced to show was when I climbed the steps to the aircraft knowing that it was possible that I would never see my husband again.”


Courage during 9-11 Kevin Maher

“I was in the second building to be attacked, but the first building to fall.”


Courage to adopt a child Cindy Malin

“Everyone told me it was crazy – because, they would say, you never know what you are going to get.”


Finding the courage to speak out Annie Muscato

“I made a cowardly mistake and it’s one that we can’t afford for me to make again. We can’t afford for you to make it either.”


Courage to pursue MBA while fighting Hodgkin's Lymphoma Jonathan Santana

“I have a fighter personality and I knew that I was not going to pause or quit on the program.”


A Vietnam Veteran’s Courage Barry Smith

“At my age, now 74, it’s a rare day that goes by that I don’t reflect back and wonder, “’Why did I make it and so many of my friends and others didn’t?’”


Courage to start a business Chuck Steinmetz

“For all those who leave the stability and security of a corporate job, this is for them.”


Courage to do the right thing Jim Subers

“I can remember praying at the end of my bed at the Radisson Slavyanskaya hotel in Mosco, and asking God for wisdom. The next morning I resigned my position and flew back to the United States.”


The Courage to Start Over James Thompson

“I moved up the ladder and did not pay much attention to the debris I left behind. I pushed and pushed and pushed, and in many ways, became someone I did not really know.”


Courage to Stay True to Your Principles Victor Vallo

“…I remember being asked by a member of the faculty if I would be interested in serving on a search committee to hire his wife …”


A Daughter’s Courage for her Mother Katie Vogel Anderson

“As a pharmacist, I’d helped my patients figure out what to do with these same medications millions of times. As a daughter, these medications were much scarier than I’d ever imagined.”


The Courage to Expose Plagiarism Jon Wiles

“To my amazement some of the material was word-for-word identical in both sources.”


Courage to Dream Big Joe Zubi

“We pitched alone. We won.”