EduGator Class of ’09 perseveres to celebrate well-earned degrees

Posted May 4, 2009 


May 15, 2009



Posted May 4, 2009 

Members of the UF EduGator Class of 2009 will be remembered for many reasons, but especially for their perseverance and strong will as fighters and survivors. The ’09 classmates endured three straight years of substantial college budget cuts, the threatened elimination of core undergraduate programs, the prospect of a tight job market in teaching after graduation, and even a nationwide swine flu scare that threatened their graduation ceremony.

None of that seemed to matter, though, to the 130 undergraduates who marched across stage May 2 to receive their bachelor’s degrees at the College of Education’s commencement ceremony at the Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. Smiles, handshakes and hugs were the order of the day for these graduating seniors—with no sign of hand sanitizers or surgical masks that were evident at other UF commencement ceremonies over the weekend. Swine flu? What swine flu?

Education Dean Catherine Emihovich reminded graduates why education is such a rewarding career—and why their survival instincts could come in handy once they embark on their teaching careers.

“It’s true a teacher’s pay is nothing to write home about,” Emihovich said. “It’s true that teachers, administrators and counselor educators are often asked to do too much with too little. It’s true that students are often a tough audience, that video projectors always fail at the worst possible moment, and that standing all day will make your feet hurt.”

“Even so, teaching is the best career in the world,” she continued, “because after a few years, or a decade, or two or three decades, you can look back and see that you’ve made a genuine difference in the world. After a career in teaching, you will be able to look back and recall names and faces of people you’ve helped in a very real way. Hundreds, maybe thousands of them. A lifetime in education is truly a lifetime of achievement.”

The featured speaker was Rudy Crew, former Miami-Dade County school superintendent and chancellor of the New York City Public School District. He urged graduates not to lose sight of their true purpose in teaching children not just to make a passing test score, but to “aim for their hearts.”

“The day you aim for a number is the day you forget about that child,” Crew said. “Build it, love it, cherish it, hold it. They will come back to you.”

Erica McCray (Special Education) and Jane Townsend (Teaching and Learning) were recognized as College Undergraduate and Graduate Teachers of the Year, respectively, and Robin Rossie as Adviser of the Year. Two former longtime faculty members—James Archer (newly retired from Counselor Education) and Cecil Mercer (Special Education)—received Lifetime Achievement Awards for professional accomplishments and leading their respective departments to national prominence during their tenures. Lesley Hull, a three-time EduGator in Counselor Education and still an adjunct instructor, received the Alumnus Achievement Award.

Julianne Scherker’s name was called most often for student laurels, receiving two campuswide honors for Outstanding Undergraduate Leadership and Outstanding Four-Year Scholar. Scherker also is the third College of Education student in five years to be inducted into the UF Hall of Fame, for both her academic achievements and her leadership in campus and community service activities.

More than 300 COE graduate students—including 111 in teacher preparation programs—received their degrees at a separate ceremony for all UF graduate students held earlier in the day.

For a complete summary of year-end awards for COE students, faculty and alumni, click here.

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Writer/Photographer: Larry Lansford, COE News & Communications; 352.392.0726, ext. 266;