Melanie Griffin implored graduating Florida State University students to embrace their “power to overwhelm” through consideration of others, confidence in themselves and devotion to a career that “brings you joy and passion in how you’re going to change the world.”
Griffin, a triple graduate of Florida State University and the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, made her comments as the keynote speaker at two summer commencement ceremonies at the Donald L. Tucker Civic Center.
“And if you find yourself in the twists and turns of life and decide to make a change, embrace it because there is a community of cheerleaders. They are all here in this audience with us cheering you on no matter what you decide to do.”
— Melanie Griffin, triple graduate of Florida State University
and the secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation
“And if you find yourself in the twists and turns of life and decide to make a change, embrace it because there is a community of cheerleaders,” Griffin said. “They are all here in this audience with us cheering you on no matter what you decide to do.”
FSU President Richard McCullough presided over both ceremonies, which also included remarks from Student Body President Nimna Gabadage.
The ceremonies included the bulk of 3,018 students to whom the university is poised to award degrees this summer. They include 1,743 undergraduate degrees, 1,034 master’s and specialist degrees, 163 doctoral degrees, 76 Juris Masters and 2 L.L.M. degrees.
In a highly positive speech that drew multiple rounds of applause, Griffin shared anecdotes about her experiences as a student at the university, from where she earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from the College of Business and then pursued a joint pathway with the College of Law, securing a master’s degree in business administration and a Juris Doctor (JD-MBA).
She also shared a story of a time when a mentor told her it was never too late to say thank you.
“How many have your cell phone with you?” she asked students during the afternoon ceremony. “Everybody? OK, good. Awesome. … Get that bad boy out right now. I want you to think about someone you want to thank. Is it mom or dad, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, a teacher, a professor … I want you to start texting them. Tell them, ‘Thank you — thank you for getting me here.’”
“Are you telling them?” she asked. “Can you see them smile?”
Griffin, a Tampa resident, is the founder and owner of Spread Your Sunshine, a business that provides speaking and professional training services. She also has been recognized as an FSU Notable Nole and is a recipient of an FSU College of Business Recent Alumni Achievement Award.
She won the 2017 Girl Scouts of West Central Florida Woman of Promise Award and the 2017 FSU Inspire Award honoring FSU alumnae of distinction. Griffin also serves on Florida State University’s College of Law Board of Visitors, and she is president of the executive board of the Hillsborough Association for Women Lawyers.
She told of a time when she changed careers, and she urged students to roll with what was right for them.
“I’ll tell you this,” she added to graduates. “You are awesome.”
Summer graduates include:
Eric Rosano, a Philadelphia native who earned a Ph.D. in accounting.
Rosano adds to life experiences that include a stint as an accounting lecturer at Arizona State University; service in the U.S. Army; participation in a Military Intelligence immersion program in Mandarin, in which he’s communicative; and partnership in a company, Mythulu, which says it aims to “stabilize and expand the storytelling industry.”
He also has written an unpublished Sci-Fi novel, making him a champion of both numbers and letters.
Allen Blay, chair of the Department of Accounting in the College of Business, calls Rosano “one of the most fascinating and good all-around students I’ve ever met.”
Rosano and his wife, Olivia, fostered children during the first half of his five years in the doctoral program and plan to do so again. They have a daughter, Luciana, 15, and a son, Leith, 7, the latter of whom they adopted through foster care.
“We decided that the path we would choose would be through foster because there is a ton of children who need it,” Rosano said. “They’re in a situation of need, and it’s only getting worse, the unsatisfied need in this country for taking care of children.”
A five-year focus on doctoral studies has meant less of a focus on income, so he thoroughly embraces his acceptance of an assistant professorship at New York-based Queens College, where he’ll teach accounting beginning in the fall.
“I’m elated that I have a position,” Rosano said and added with a laugh: “I didn’t do this to go backward. It’s important to feel that the education is at least worthwhile in the immediate – which is that you have a job, and I’m ecstatic about that.”
Cadyn Badeaux, who earned a master’s degree in criminology at age 20. She has done so through FSU’s Combined Pathways Program, which offers accelerated studies toward a master’s degree as an undergraduate.
She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology in fall 2021. Now she’s embarking on a career in the U.S. Army. She plans to complete Officer Candidate School, then serve as a Military Intelligence Officer and “make my way through the ranks,” she said.
After graduating from East Ridge High School in Clermont, Florida, she said she researched criminology programs in Florida and “immediately” felt at home at FSU, where she played on the women’s rugby club team.
“It is an honor to be able to walk in the 2022 summer commencement ceremony and be able to celebrate this major accomplishment with my loved ones,” she said.
Arizona Maki, a first-generation college student from New Port Richey, Florida, who double-majored in psychology and anthropology, with honors.
Passionate about making a difference in the world, Maki concentrated on the subfields of evolutionary and abnormal psychology and biological anthropology. She did so in hope of one day earning a doctorate in forensic anthropology to help locate and identify missing persons.
Her academic achievements included the completion of an honors thesis.
“I love the anthropology and psychology departments and the relationships I created with my professors and peers,” Maki said. “I will greatly miss conducting research with both departments since they were amazing environments to be a part of.”
She added: “I am very grateful for the opportunities FSU has provided me. As with anything in life, college is what you make of it, and I am happy with the decisions I made and the path I took.”
Gustavo Capone, who left Sao Paulo, Brazil, to attend FSU and earn a psychology degree with honors.
When he turned 17, Capone decided to move to the United States to pursue the best education he could.
“I was initially afraid I wouldn’t fit in when I moved to Tallahassee, but I couldn’t have been more wrong,” Capone said. “Everyone in the community welcomed me with open arms and were supportive of my endeavors. I will miss the many mentors and friends I made throughout my college career.”
He especially credits FSU’s reputation for academics, research and student success and its array of extracurricular activities.
“I always dreamed of attending a college in the United States, so walking across the stage is a dream come true,” Capone said. “FSU has given me the confidence to pursue my goals and achieve success.”
He now aims to attend medical school and to become a doctor and advocate for equitable healthcare.
“I am excited to begin this next phase of my life,” Capone said. “FSU has helped me grow as both an individual and professional and instilled in me important life lessons I will carry with me forever.”