1. Education

USF St. Petersburg alumni honor outstanding grad who juggled many duties

Claudian Anderson of Lauderhill shares a laugh Sunday at Mahaffey Theater as classmates compare their caps and gowns to Harry Potter outfits. Anderson received a criminology degree.
Published May 7, 2012

ST. PETERSBURG — Walking across the stage is one of the few times during a graduation ceremony that the graduates can express themselves.

The students at University of South Florida St. Petersburg took that celebratory walk in a variety of ways during Sunday evening's commencement ceremony.

Some graduates pumped their fists and danced across the stage at the Mahaffey Theater, where the ceremony was held. One woman blew a kiss. College of Business graduate Alexander Patrick Moser stopped in the middle of the stage and Tebowed.

But of the 460 graduates (the largest graduating class in school history), there was one who didn't need to do anything special when she walked across the stage. Merely making that walk set Brittany Lyp apart.

Lyp, 21, is the first member of her extended family to get a college degree. And her path to higher education wasn't an easy one.

Her parents haven't worked in about eight years due to a variety of injuries. Gary Lyp, 55, was injured on the job as a baggage handler for United Airlines, and has undergone several back and neck surgeries. Lisa Lyp, 50, struggles with arthritis, and also has had back and knee surgeries.

For four years, Brittany balanced classes, a part-time job and internships while spending some weekends home mowing the lawn, vacuuming and doing other chores to help her parents.

Last semester she held down four internships while also working part-time at a UPS store in Palm Harbor, where she's been employed for six years. She graduated with honors Sunday, and was named the school's outstanding graduate by the USF Alumni Association.

Lyp's passion is the environment. She earned a bachelor's degree in environmental science and policy with a minor in leadership studies. She plans to go to graduate school and continue her focus on coral reefs.

But for her family, Brittany's undergraduate degree was accomplishment enough. "It wasn't a surprise at all," a beaming Gary said Sunday. "We always thought she would excel in whatever she put her mind to."

Brittany is the first Lyp to get a four-year degree, but she may not be the last. She has a 17-year-old sister, and several cousins. "Hopefully I'll be a role model for them," Lyp said after the ceremony. "I hope I'm the first of many."

Will Hobson can be reached at (727) 445-4167 or


  1. Colleen Beaudoin is selected Pasco County School Board chairwoman for 2020, and Allen Altman is named vice chairman. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Altman chosen as vice chairman.
  2. Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at pre-legislative news conference on Tuesday Oct. 29, 2019, in Tallahassee, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) STEVE CANNON  |  AP
    He’s got a new voucher proposal, as well.
  3. Pasco school bus drivers are among those school-related employees who would get a 3.25 percent raise under a tentative contract agreement for 2019-20.
    District, union attention now turns to teacher contracts.
  4. Teacher Kate Newell watches seventh graders Aaron Roxberry and Jacob Iovino practice the slope-intercept formula in one of her weekly visits to their Bayonet Point Middle algebra class, which Newell usually teaches remotely. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  5. eSchool teacher Kate Newell holds a discussion-based assessment with eighth-grader Ariana Toro during a recent visit to Bayonet Point Middle School. Newell leads the math course remotely most days, but comes to campus at least once weekly to give her students some extra attention. JEFFREY SOLOCHEK  |  Times Staff
    Principals increasingly turn to virtual instruction to fill their vacancies.
  6. Damian J. Fernandez, center, is introduced Monday as the new president of Eckerd College. He will succeed longtime president Donald R. Eastman III on July 1. SCOTT KEELER  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Damian Fernandez, 62, will succeed president Donald R. Eastman III, who steps down June 30 after leading the school for 19 years.
  7. The Florida Department of Education has approved another alternate assessment for third graders to demonstrate they read at or above grade level.
    The state also reminds schools to let those who struggle that scholarships for help are available.
  8. Trump supporters yell and show the middle finger at hecklers during Kimberly Guilfoyle's speech in the University Auditorium at the University of Florida on October 10, 2019. Guilfoyle spoke about her childhood as a first-generation American, her experiences as a lawyer and her support for the Trump family.  CHRIS DAY  |  Chris Day
    Student senator Ben Lima explains why he’s pursuing the charges against Michael Murphy.
  9. A fledgling movement of parents and community members in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties are speaking out about sex education in public schools. They say the curriculums are not explicit enough. And they worry that kids don’t have enough information — or that they get it too late — to protect themselves against the risks of sexual intimacy. [Shutterstock] SHUTTERSTOCK
    A roundup of stories from around the state.
  10. FILE - In this Aug. 1, 2019, file photo, Donald Trump Jr. speaks before the arrival of President Donald Trump at a campaign rally at U.S. Bank Arena in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo, File) JOHN MINCHILLO  |  AP
    University of Florida student body president Michael Murphy received a resolution for his impeachment Tuesday. Then the state’s Republican Party started an online petition and fundraiser.