329 receive degrees at FMU ceremony
FLORENCE, S.C. – A little rain couldn’t dampen the enthusiasm of a packed Smith University Center as 329 graduates received their degrees Saturday at Francis Marion University’s fall commencement ceremony.
The degrees included 204 baccalaureate degrees and 125 graduate degrees, making for the largest fall graduation in the university’s history.
Francis Marion University President Fred Carter praised the faculty and staff of the university for preparing the students to go out and become part of the workforce.
“Nobody is more excited to see you walk across the stage today than the faculty and staff are,” Carter said. “They’ve invested time in these students and are responsible for what you see today.”
Francis Marion’s first class of doctorate of nursing practice students made history as they walked across the stage Saturday as FMU’s first doctorate-level graduates. The seven students are part of a program that was launched with the mission of helping improve health care access across the Pee Dee region and beyond.
In addition to the doctoral degree, FMU’s first class of physician assistants walked across the stage Saturday. Charlotte Hanna of Johnsonville was part of the 32-member class to receive a master of science in physician assistant studies.
Hanna said she shadowed a PA a few years ago and really liked that they got to spend more time with the patients and connect with those they were helping treat.
“I really want to work in emergency medicine,” Hanna said. “That’s kind of where my heart is set. I really have fallen in love with rural emergency medicine. The program turned out to be fantastic and I recommend it to anybody that wants to be a PA. They gave me the confidence to go into the workforce and I feel prepared.”
Honorary doctorates of humanities were conferred on Costa M. Pleicones, a Columbia-based lawyer and the former chief justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court; and Dr. John Keith III, a Pee Dee region pediatrician.
Pleicones was also the commencement speaker for the ceremony. He encouraged graduates to “change the world” by exploring different viewpoints.
“Go out and change your world,” said Pleicones, “You’ll do it by engaging in civil discourse and by being willing to consider thoughtful and cogent arguments that may at first make you uncomfortable. Embrace that discomfort. The education you have received here empowers you to do that. It frees your mind. Join the people who seek to protect our values.”