TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – An unprecedented global situation has led to unprecedented circumstances at Florida State.
But the Covid-19 pandemic won’t stop the FSU students set to graduate this weekend from celebrating their achievement.
That group includes 68 current or former Florida State student-athletes who did what they set out to do when they chose FSU as the place to pursue their athletic and academic goals.
No, there won’t be a packed house at the Donald L. Tucker Center, and they won’t walk across a stage to shake hands with President John Thrasher. But FSU’s spring 2020 graduates will still be part of a virtual commencement ceremony streaming live (Saturday, 2 p.m.) on the university’s website, Facebook page and YouTube channel.
Thrasher will preside over the ceremony, and Mark Zeigler, a longtime professor in the FSU college of communication and information – and himself something of a university institution who has had hundreds of student-athletes in his classrooms – will give the commencement address.
“Congratulations to all our graduating student-athletes,” FSU athletics director David Coburn said. “It is a life-changing accomplishment, and they will find that receiving their diploma will be invaluable throughout their lives.
“I feel badly for each student-athlete who has had to experience the changes brought on by Covid-19 over the last few months. But it is our graduates who can’t enjoy the formal ceremony for whom I feel particular sympathy. My hope is they will not allow the changes to take away from the joy of this great occasion, which they richly deserve.”
This, of course, will hardly be the first time that FSU students have adjusted to a new normal in recent times.
In response to the global crisis, the university moved exclusively to remote learning on March 23.
For FSU’s student-athletes, that meant balancing a new way of attending classes and completing tests and assignments while also dealing with massive disruptions in their sports.
Men’s and women’s basketball, for example, saw their seasons stopped just days before the start of the NCAA tournament. Football called off spring practice after only three sessions. Baseball had just earned an emphatic victory at rival Florida. And women’s tennis was in the midst of maybe its best season in program history.
Regardless of where each sport was in its schedule, each of FSU’s varsity teams felt the pandemic’s impact.
Which is why, for FSU’s academic support staff, seeing the way that each of the graduating student-athletes dedicated themselves to finishing the semester strong despite such difficult circumstances makes this commencement carry a little extra meaning.
“We are so proud of all the student-athlete graduates,” said Dr. Kacy King, FSU’s associate athletics director for academics. “We always say a huge part of the process is walking across the stage at graduation. While it is so hard to not have a proper celebration, we commend each one and are thrilled with their accomplishment.”
Florida State athletics spring class of 2020:
Baseball – Nico Baldor
Men’s Basketball: Travis Light; Justin Lindner; Will Miles; Harrison Prieto
Women’s Basketball: Nicki Ekhomu; Nausia Woolfolk
Beach Volleyball – Devan Hultquist; Molly McBain
Men’s Cross Country and Track & Field: Steven Cross; Andre Ewers; Conner Flynn (2017-18); Hunter Napier; Humberto (Bert) Freire; Michael Timpson; Armani Wallace
Women’s Cross Country and Track & Field: Kelly Aponte; Nicole Breske; Eriqa (Janae) Caldwell; Sarah Candiano; Ginelle DeMone; Nia Flagg; Hailey Hendry (2016-19); Claire Hooker; Katarina Jernberg (2016); Eliana Karr (2017-19); Katherine “Katie” Kuhn; Amanda Lewis; Kayla Maczuga; Ashley Miller; Megan Mooney; Sarah Myers; Maria Poole (master’s, 2014-18); Summer Schafers; Dana Slomins (master’s, 2012-15); Alina Stewart; Shannon Turner (2017-18); Hannah Welsh (master’s; 2014-18); Melissa Zyla (master’s, 2015-19)
Football: Ken Burnham (master’s, 2015-18); Ebo Entsuah (law, 2013-14); Rashad Greene (2011-14); Dontavious Jackson; Fredrick Jones (master’s, 2014-18); Armani Kerr; Tre’ McKitty; Gabe Nabers; Jauan Williams
Men’s Golf: Jamie Li; Greyson Porter
Women’s Golf: Amanda Doherty; Sandra Salonen
Softball: Tessa Daniels (master’s, 2016-19); Elizabeth Mason, Cassidy Davis, Anna Shelnutt, Dani Morgan
Men’s Swimming & Diving: Aidan Faminoff; Cam Thatcher; John Vann (master’s, 2016-19)
Women’s Swimming & Diving: Manuella Andrade; Ayla Bonniwell; Molly Carlson; Dorothy Halmy; Fabiana Ingram (master’s, 2016-19); Eden Hessinger; Tayla Lovemore (master’s, 2017-18)
Men’s Tennis: Enzo Le Seguillon