USC Aiken Class of 2019 Graduates

Aiken, SC (05/09/2019) — Families, friends, faculty, staff, and fellow Pacers celebrated the graduation of the University of South Carolina Aiken Class of 2019 during its spring commencement ceremony.

Almost 450 students received their degrees, including those in USC Aiken's master's programs. This year, 19 percent of the graduating class was made up of veterans or military members, the highest number in recent history. Additionally, the 600th USC Aiken communication graduate earned a degree, on the 20th anniversary of the degree program at the university. Currently, communication is one of the popular bachelor's programs, along with industrial process engineering, biology, exercise and sports science, nursing, education, and business.

"This truly is a celebration of achievement for all involved," said Dr. Sandra Jordan, chancellor.

"All here for this occasion can take pride in having played a part toward the success of these students by your commitment to higher education."

Dr. Harris Pastides was the keynote speaker for the commencement ceremony.

"The University of South Carolina has an outstanding history of meeting the educational needs of citizens across this great state," said Jordan.

"One of the stalwart champions of this effort for more than a decade has been the president of University of South Carolina System, Dr. Harris Pastides."

He was named president in July 2008, following 10 years of service to the university, during which he served as vice president for research and Health sciences and the executive director of the USC Research Foundation. Since then, as the 28th president, Pastides has led the state's higher education flagship system of eight institutions.

Jordan highlighted several of his accomplishments. With Pastides at the helm, the South Carolina Honors College has become the number one public honors college in the nation. His innovative approach has ensured students enjoy a superior experience inside the classroom and beyond, whether through leadership, service learning, international experiences, internships, and undergraduate research opportunities.

Pastides' signature programs - including Palmetto College, On Your Time Graduation, Gamecock Gateway, Gamecock Guarantee, and the Gamecock Student Athletic Promise -- provide greater access, flexibility and affordability to South Carolinians seeking a higher education degree.

He's earned several notable and highly respected awards, including: the inaugural Global Changemaker Award; the prestigious Ellis Island Medal of Honor; the S.C. Urban League Whitney M. Young Award; and most recently, the Order of the Palmetto, presented by Governor Henry McMaster. Additionally, both of the state's legislative chambers - the house and the senate - recognized him for his longstanding commitment to education.

"Dr. Pastides' reach extends far beyond the University of South Carolina, our state and our region," Jordan said.

He serves on myriad boards, including: the U.S. Council on Competitiveness; the chair of the U.S. Fulbright Program; and the chair of the University Research Associates.

"Regardless of where his work takes him, I know firsthand that Dr. Pastides is staunchly committed to the success of each of the institutions and every student in the USC System," Chancellor Jordan said.

"Of course, we believe that he holds a special place in his heart for the University of South Carolina Aiken.

"We are grateful for his tremendous support of our Pacers and for the enduring legacy his efforts will have on our institution and our graduates."

In his remarks to the graduates, Pastides encouraged them to continue being critical and independent thinkers; take care of their emotional and physical health; engage in self-discovery; and develop more resilience. He also advised them to set high goals and pursue them.

"Try for perfection. You might reach excellence," the head of the USC System said.

During the ceremony, the president of the USC Alumni Association recognized the Outstanding Senior Student. This award honors a student who embodies the qualities of scholarship, leadership, and achievement.

"Allison Swiecki is a super star in our biology department," said Kristen Medlin.

For the last four years, she has been enrolled in the USC Aiken Honors Program. She is also an active researcher, working closing with her faculty mentors, Dr. Nathan Hancock and Dr. April DeLaurier.

Jordan reminded Swiecki and her fellow Pacers the importance of learning, discovery and exploration.

"I hope you'll remember that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world," Jordan said.


Number by degree and major:

Master's degrees:

Bachelor of Arts: 108

Bachelor of Arts in Education: 33

Bachelor of Arts in Special Education: 5

Bachelor of Science: 138

Bachelor of Science in Business Administration: 93

Bachelor of Science in Nursing: 37

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Families, friends, faculty, staff and fellow Pacers celebrated the graduation of the University of South Carolina Aiken Class of 2019 during its spring commencement ceremony. Almost 450 students received their degrees, including those in the USC Aiken master's programs.