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Nearly 4,000 UCF Students to Graduate

About 3,980 University of Central Florida students are expected to graduate in three ceremonies Friday and Saturday, Dec. 15-16, at the CFE Arena.

The commencement ceremonies for the different colleges are:

UCF has awarded more than 313,600 degrees since classes began in 1968. This term there will be about 3,300 bachelor’s degrees, 600 master’s and 80 doctoral graduates.

Commencement speakers scheduled for the ceremonies are: State Sen. David Simmons for Friday morning; Raymond Gilley, a former member of the Board of Trustees, for Friday afternoon; and former NBA star Kareem Abdul-Jabbar for Saturday morning.

David Simmons was first elected to the state Senate in 2010 and serves the ninth district, representing Seminole County and part of Volusia. He previously served as a member of the Florida House of Representatives from 2000 to 2008.

His legislative measures have included laws to give elementary school children additional daily intensive reading instruction, help reduce homelessness in Florida, and protect the state’s water. Championing UCF, he has pushed for funding the university’s Florida Interactive Entertainment Academy, the Florida BRIDG project to develop next-generation smart sensors, and UCF Downtown.

Simmons has received the Legislator of the Year Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Florida School Board Association, the Legislative Champion Award from the Florida Sheriff’s Association, the Legislative Appreciation Award from the Florida League of Cities, and other honors.

He is the financial managing partner of DSK Law, one of the largest law firms in Central Florida.

Simmons graduated from Tennessee Technological University with a major in mathematics, and earned his law degree at Vanderbilt University.

Raymond Gilley, who served eight years on the UCF Board of Trustees, is president of the Decide DeKalb Development Authority of DeKalb County, GA.

Previously, Gilley was chief executive officer at Solodev, a provider of content-management software used by corporations to maximize their online presence. He also served as president of Metro Orlando Economic Development Commission from 2001 to 2010.

Gilley serves on many civic and economic boards in Georgia, and formerly served Central Florida by his participation in Florida TaxWatch, BBVA Compass Central Market, Orlando Health,and Leesburg Regional Medical Center. He is past chair of Workforce Florida and the Florida Economic Development Council.

While a member of the UCF Board of Trustees, he chaired the nominating and governance committee, and he served as the board representative on the Golden Knights Direct Support Organization.

Gilley received his bachelor’s degree in marketing from Florida State University.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the all-time leading scorer of the NBA, also is an author, actor, filmmaker and advocate for social justice. He has been a regular contributor to discussions about race and religion, and he has championed the fight against hunger and illiteracy.

At UCLA, he led the Bruins to three consecutive national championships and was MVP of the NCAA tournament a record three times.

In the NBA, he was Rookie of the Year in 1970, a member of six NBA championship teams with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, six-time NBA Most Valuable Player, and inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Abdul-Jabbar’s intellect, passion, and commitment also have been recognized with many awards and honors. He was named a cultural ambassador for the United States in 2012, and in 2016 he received the nation’s highest civilian honor, the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

He has also been a welcome advocate for UCF. His support for the DeVos Sport Business Management program has been personal and effective, and he has been a mentor to UCF student athletes.

All guests at the commencement ceremonies, including children and infants, must have a ticket to be admitted.

Guests should expect long lines because of security measures. It is advised not to take purses, backpacks or large bags to expedite security screenings. Doors at the arena will open 90 minutes before the start of each ceremony.

For those who don’t have tickets, there are options to view the commencement exercises. The ceremonies are available for viewing: Online at http://oir.ucf.edu/webcast [1]; via a telecast in the UCF FAIRWINDS Alumni Center and Student Union, if seats are available; and live streams on the UCF YouTube page, www.YouTube.com/UCF [2]:

For other commencement details, go to the commencement website [6].