'This is the biggest moment of my life': Thousands celebrate graduation from USF

More than 4,500 University of South Florida students will receive their degrees between December 10 and 11.

The first commencement ceremony happened at the Yuengling Center Friday night, with more than 800 students from the colleges of behavioral and community sciences, business, education, the arts, and the office of undergraduate studies receiving their bachelor’s degrees.

"I started at USF during the pandemic so being able to see that I made it this far, we’re two years in and I’m really grateful for this experience," said Anita Williams, who received a BS in Finance Friday night.

Graduates are celebrating getting through a tough two years through the pandemic. Some say virtual learning made school even harder than it already was.

"I’ve taken 28 classes since 2019, most of which were online because of the pandemic, and it’s so much more difficult for me at least to take online classes as opposed to in-person classes and I had to just, the amount of focus you have to put into taking an online class is ten times more than a face-to-face class. So, for this milestone, this is the biggest moment of my life," said Peter Cundiff, who earned a BS in accounting Friday night.

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Cundiff says he’s looking forward to an internship soon that will hopefully position him for a good job in the near future.

"Because of my background in the military and kind of how I was brought up through there, it gave me a lot of good steps towards the right direction in getting a job afterwards, so for me, I’m not as concerned about the job market being as bad as it is, plus with having the internship, as long as I perform in that internship, I should have good prospects for the future," said Cundiff.

Some graduates are pursuing grad school, to expand their degrees and make them more marketable down the line.

"I’m going for the master’s because I want to do counseling, therapy, and I want to become a licensed social worker because that’s the way I’ll be able to do therapy," said Carmen Rodrigues, who earned a degree in Sociology. "Finding jobs is very much easier with a master’s degree."