A special day for Tebow, other grads
Published: Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 3:43 p.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 20, 2009 at 3:43 p.m.
Saturday was another in a long line of big days for Tim Tebow.
The O'Connell Center crowd erupted in cheers when the Gator quarterback strolled across the stage at Saturday morning's fall commencement ceremonies at the University of Florida.
But Saturday was big for so many others at UF. Take Krishna White, for instance.
White became the first member of his family to graduate from college - on the same day of his parents' wedding anniversary.
Two family celebrations falling on the same day was enough to make White dance, and that is exactly what he did when his name was called. Borrowing moves from the signature "stroll" of his fraternity, Phi Beta Sigma, White danced across the stage of the O'Dome in front of a crowd of thousands before shaking the hand of a somewhat stern-faced University of Florida President Bernie Machen.
"This has been anticipated for two years," White, 23, said of his not-so-impromptu dance after the commencement ceremony.
Indeed, after four years of hitting the books, there was plenty of celebrating Saturday. Several students danced across the stage when it was their time to have their degrees conferred upon them.
The crowd broke out in loud applause whenever the name of a certain graduate of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences was uttered.
Tebow graduated from UF with a degree in family, youth and community sciences on Saturday after a stay in Gainesville that included two national championships, a Heisman Trophy and a 3.66 grade-point average.
Tebow received more accolades during Saturday's commencement as the outstanding male leader for the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. Tebow received the honor for his strong academic record and the more than 700 hours in volunteer community service he logged during the year.
Once UF Alumni Association President Jeffrey Jonasen uttered Tebow's name, the crowd erupted in applause and they cheered loudly again when he was called to walk across the stage as a new graduate.
But the loudest applause of the ceremony was not for Tebow. That came when the graduating seniors who had just been commissioned as officers in the United States military were asked to rise and the crowd rose with them in a standing ovation.
In many ways, Saturday ended a chapter in the graduates' lives but also marked a new beginning. White said he is the first person in his family to graduate from high school, let alone college.
Now that he's graduated with honors and a degree in health education behavior, he plans to become the first person in his family to graduate from medical school.
To him, college was not about studying and partying, although he said he did plenty of each, but maturing into an adult.
"It builds character more so," White said. "It's for building a person more than building an education. I feel my trials and tribulations made me the person I am today."
When Alana Rawls, 23, graduated with a degree in family, youth and community sciences on Saturday, she wore a wedding veil under her cap.
Today, the new UF grad will have another celebration: her wedding ceremony.
For her, college was indeed a life-changing experience. She met her husband-to-be, Ron Rawls, while both were students at UF. Rawls said she'll also remember college for the football games, for her sorority sisters in Theta Nu Xi and for her graduation ceremony - when she walked across the stage right before a fellow graduate named Tebow.
"I met a lot of people here," Rawls said.
"I made a lot of connections for the future."
Danielle Thiemann, 21, who graduated with honors and a degree in communication sciences and disorders, said she would remember college for her close-knit group of friends, the excitement of home football games and the hustle and bustle of campus.
"I lived in the dorm all four years, and I really enjoyed that - living on campus," she said.
Thiemann plans to attend graduate school and become a teacher.
Anay Suarez, 22, graduated with honors from the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. She said she will remember college for "the professors that ... made me grow as a person and expand my mind."
Suarez said her plan is to continue her studies in graduate school and one day be that professor who inspires students.
"I want to help others along their way," she said.
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