Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

At 52, USF St. Petersburg grad on her way to transform from nurse to lawyer

USF St. Petersburg student Thanh Ha Thi Ly shares the moment with her family and friends when she and other summa cum laude graduates are recognized Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater.

JAMES BORCHUCK | Times

USF St. Petersburg student Thanh Ha Thi Ly shares the moment with her family and friends when she and other summa cum laude graduates are recognized Sunday at the Mahaffey Theater.

ST. PETERSBURG — As a hospital nurse, Jeanette Chaniel already had a career devoted to helping others.

But the St. Petersburg resident dreamed of becoming a lawyer to guide the less-fortunate through complexities of the legal system.

Chaniel completed the first step in fulfilling that passion when she graduated Sunday evening with a dual major bachelor's degree in criminology and women's studies from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg.

"It's been a long, hard road," said Chaniel, 52. "But I've made it."

Chaniel was one of 262 graduates who took part in the commencement exercises Sunday for USF St. Petersburg at downtown's Mahaffey Theater. Another 94 graduates were not on hand for the ceremony.

USF's Tampa campus held ceremonies Friday. USF Sarasota-Manatee held a ceremony Sunday and USF Polytechnic holds its today.

Jackie Fischer, 29, juggled the responsibilities of four jobs as she studied her way to a double-major bachelor's degree in accounting and finance.

Dressed in her cap and gown, the 2000 Northeast High School grad who plans to be a certified public accountant stood in the glow of the chandeliers in the theater lobby talking to family members before the ceremony. "I actually have a degree I'll love to use, which is so important," she said. "It's surreal."

Ceremony highlights included:

• Legendary local educator Vyrle Davis, who started the Ebony Scholars program and was the first African-American area superintendant for Pinellas County schools, was honored with a civic leadership award. Davis, who was unable to attend, was represented by his daughter, Celeste Davis.

• Seminole High School graduate Ivan Bengtson of Largo was honored as the semester's Outstanding Graduate. Bengtson, 27, an Army Special Forces veteran who was severely injured in April 2005 while on deployment in Afghanistan, earned his dual bachelor's degree in accounting and finance. He was named the college's 2010-2011 Unsung Hero and was the recipient of the 2010 American Red Cross Collegiate Leadership Award. "Always fight for your dream," Bengtson said. "Never give up. No matter how many times you fall — get up."

At 52, USF St. Petersburg grad on her way to transform from nurse to lawyer 12/11/11 [Last modified: Sunday, December 11, 2011 11:55pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Car bomb kills 13, injures 24 in Baghdad; Islamic State claims responsibility

    World

    BAGHDAD — A car bomb exploded outside a popular ice cream shop in central Baghdad just after midnight today, killing 13 people and wounding 24, hospital and police officials said.

  2. Leaping shark floors angler in Australia

    World

    In The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway's protagonist battles for three days to pull in his prized catch. For Terry Selwood, it came a little more suddenly.

    A 9-foot shark lies on the deck of a fishing boat at Evans Head, Australia on Sunday. Fisherman Terry Selwood said he was left with a badly bruised and bleeding right arm where the shark struck him with a fin as it landed on him on the deck. [Lance Fountain via AP]
  3. Rays rally twice to beat Rangers (w/video)

    The Heater

    ARLINGTON, Texas — Starting Erasmo Ramirez on Monday after he closed out Sunday's marathon win turned out, despite the Rays' best intentions and rigid insistence, to be a bad idea as he gave up four runs without getting through three innings.

    Erasmo Ramirez, starting a day after closing a 15-inning marathon, struggles against the Rangers and comes out after throwing 43 pitches in 21/3 innings.
  4. Britain investigating missed signals over Manchester bomber

    World

    LONDON — Britain's domestic intelligence agency, MI5, is investigating its response to warnings from the public about the threat posed by Salman Abedi, the suicide bomber who killed 22 people and wounded dozens more in an attack at a crowded Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, England, last week.

    People gather Monday at St. Ann’s Square in Manchester, England, to view tributes to victims of the suicide bombing that killed 22 on May 22 as a concert by Ariana Grande was concluding.
  5. Trump condemns killing of pair who tried to stop racist rant

    Nation

    The mayor of Portland, Ore., on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a "Trump Free Speech Rally" and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

    Coco Douglas, 8, leaves a handmade sign and rocks she painted at a memorial in Portland, Ore., on Saturday for two bystanders who were stabbed to death Friday while trying to stop a man who was yelling anti-Muslim slurs and acting aggressively toward two young women. From left are Coco's brother, Desmond Douglas; her father, Christopher Douglas; and her stepmother, Angel Sauls. [Associated Press]