USCA honors more than 400 graduates during May commencement

More than 400 students celebrated a major milestone on May 1 as the newest graduates of the University of South Carolina Aiken.

The ceremony commenced with the commissioning of ROTC Cadet Courtney Owens into the United States Army, followed by awarding the 2024 Outstanding Senior Student award to psychology graduate Lea Bryant. “This award means that my hard work has been noticed and recognized and that my professors feel like I am a good representative of what USCA embodies. That, to me, is very, very special,” Bryant said. 

ROTC Cadet Courtney Owens (Left) stands next to UCSA Chancellor Daniel Himmerman (Right) 

In addition, three students in the College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences – Margaret Knotts, Derwin Shumpert, and Lizbeth Smiley – made history as the first graduates to receive a degree from USCA in Spanish.

“The Class of 2024 represents our renewed hope for the future of our community, nation, and world,” said USCA Chancellor Daniel Himmermann. “Our graduates will embark on the next chapter of their professional careers, taking the talents that they displayed here into our communities.”

Lea Bryant (middle) earns the 2024 Outstanding Senior Award 

Highlighting the ceremony was commencement speaker Sen. Shane Massey, whose district includes Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. “His dedication to public service and commitment to our community and region exemplifies USCA’s values,” Heimmermann said in his introduction of Massey.

In his remarks, Massey invited graduates to invest in their communities, families, and personal success by volunteering and serving as a mentor. He also encouraged graduates to cultivate a persistent attitude dedicated to personal and professional growth and mobility. 

Approximately 379 undergraduate and 83 graduate students received their diplomas during the spring commencement exercises. “Wherever life leads you from here, know that your alma mater is deeply proud of your accomplishments and eager to see how you will continue to grow as a leader,” said Heimmermann as he congratulated students.

Click the link here to watch the full ceremony. 

For more information, contact Angela Saxon -