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The University of South Carolina Upstate recently awarded 866 degrees at its May Commencement. Among those graduates are more than 30 who are going on to graduate school or programs throughout the United States. Graduates will attend major universities such as Ball State University, Clemson University, George Mason University, Medical University of South Carolina, University of California Berkley, University of Florida, University of Georgia, University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and University of South Carolina.

These students were recognized at a Graduate School Sendoff Luncheon prior to graduation as an acknowledgement of their accomplishments and in celebration of their next steps toward turning their dreams into reality.

“It was the first time we’ve held this event, but because of the continued success of our students, as represented with this year’s class, we anticipate it will become an annual event,” noted Dean of Students Laura Puckett-Boler.

The areas of study for these students are varied and represent a wide range of disciplines such as biology, pre-med, pharmacy, psychology, and interdisciplinary studies to business, mathematics, political science, non-profit administration, commercial music, theology, and foreign language.

Some students, in fact, will actually be continuing their studies at universities where they participated in research programs and projects during summer fellowship experiences. Joshua Johnson, for example, will pursue a Ph.D. in biology at the University of California Berkeley having spent last summer as one of only 12 students nationwide to complete a National Science Foundation Research Experience for Undergraduates.

And while their reasons for further study are as varied as the disciplines, all the students are driven by a desire to make a difference.

“I want to get my Ph.D. in clinical psychology and ultimately own my own practice,” said Hallas Banafa who majored in psychology and minored in child advocacy. “But along the way toward reaching that goal I want to work with abused and neglected children and children in general, because I feel that’s where my heart is.”

Banafa will be attending graduate school at the University of South Carolina working toward her Master’s in Social Work.

Artem Hulko, an applied mathematics major, sees his upcoming years of graduate study at the University of North Carolina Charlotte as an opportunity to apply what he learned at USC Upstate as he begins to explore the different fields that exist in applied mathematics.

“Getting a graduate degree will certainly lead to a good job, but it needs to be more,” noted Hulko. “I want to make a difference in the world and am hopeful that I can find what will help me achieve my goals.”

USC Upstate Chancellor Tom Moore was on hand to extend his congratulations and encouragement to this distinguished group.

“The University of South Carolina Upstate is the only public institution in the world with a mission to educate citizens in the Upstate of South Carolina,” he said. “You have been well-equipped to leave us and go on to do well in your respective graduate programs. We celebrate the best of what’s offered here through the tremendous opportunities provided. I congratulate you on taking advantage of those opportunities.”

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