Celebrating 2018 graduates

“We hope you will seek to make meaningful contributions to your communities and country through your work and volunteering,” President Kent Fuchs told the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Class of 2018.

Celebrating 2018 graduates

Let me begin by asking for a show of hands from the Machen Florida Opportunity Scholars Class of 2018.

How many of you came here for the welcome reception when you arrived as entering students?   Welcome back!   I wasn’t at UF when you began your journey … but I am so happy to be here to celebrate you reaching your destination!   Congratulations!

Next, I want to welcome the faculty and staff who were invited by these students to accompany them this evening.  You shared in their struggles and triumphs, and you share in their success today, and I applaud you.

Machen Scholar students of the Class of 2018, you have been some of our highest academic achievers and our best student leaders.  We are so proud of you and all you have done at UF. We also know you’ve completed only the first chapter of your amazing stories.

I’m told that this class includes graduates who are headed to …

  • Teach for America
  • Nursing in the burn unit at UF Health
  • Becoming a Peace Corps volunteer in Paraguay
  • And many prestigious graduate schools, including medical school at UF, dental school at the University of Louisville and numerous others

Students, when you earn your diplomas, you will join over 2,400 alumni since we started this program in 2006.

These alumni have law, medical and pharmacy practices.  They’re running their own companies and climbing the ladder at major corporations and global nonprofits.   They’re earning MBAs and PhDs at Ivy Leagues and great public universities.

I am a strong believer in the value of need-based financial aid for students who cannot afford to pay for college.  There could be no better argument for this aid than the Machen Scholars program and what you and our alumni have achieved.

As you follow in the footsteps of previous graduates by striving for stellar careers and rewarding lives, we hope you will also seek to make meaningful contributions to your communities and country through your work and volunteering.

We especially want you to remain connected to the University of Florida and the Opportunity Scholars program.  We hope you will help us recruit and support other students like you, and that you will give back to this program when you reach the right time in your careers.

Because the truth is that our highest achievement as people … and as Gators … is not reaching our own aspirations and ambitions, but in helping others reach theirs.  Thank you and congratulations!   It is great to be a Florida Gator!