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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Students arrive at UF with plans to eventually become successful and maybe even change the world once they earn their degrees.

Generations of Gators before us have come through the Swamp with the same dreams, and many have followed through to reach the top of their fields.

Emmitt Smith

David Martinez, a music junior, loves the fact that so many notable individuals have attended the same school he does.

Although he hasn't met any of them, there is one member of the Gator Nation he would like to meet.

One of his childhood heroes was Emmitt Smith, an NFL football player who retired after 15 seasons and went on to win the third season of "Dancing with the Stars," Martinez said.

Emmitt Smith, who holds the NFL record in career rushing yards, got a degree in public recreation from UF in 1996, according to his official Web site. He was a member of the Gator football team and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity.

Bob Graham

A former Florida governor and senator, Bob Graham graduated from UF with a bachelor's degree in political science in 1959.

Graham served 12 years in the Florida Legislature, two terms as governor and three consecutive terms as a U.S. senator.

As a student, he was a member of Florida Blue Key and Sigma Nu Fraternity. He also was inducted into the UF Hall of Fame, according to the Bob Graham Center for Public Service Web site.

Leslie Bram, associate vice president at the UF Foundation, expects that students will have plenty of opportunities to hear Graham speak when the Bob Graham Center for Public Service is opened on campus. Bram said students should take advantage of opportunities to hear distiguished UF alumni such as Graham speak on campus.

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Darrell Hammond

He has been both the vice president and the president of the United States without ever being elected.

Since graduating from UF with a degree in broadcasting in 1978, Darrell Hammond has become the longest-running cast member on Saturday Night Live with thirteen seasons, according to the NBC Web site.

Two of his most memorable impressions have been of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and former Vice President Al Gore.

Erin Andrews

Amidst the sea of orange and blue during the ESPN Titletown USA event, reporter Erin Andrews looked completely at home.

The ESPN correspondent graduated from UF in 2000 with a degree in telecommunications. Andrews was a member of Zeta Tau Alpha Sorority and the Dazzlers dance team. She began to work with ESPN in 2004 covering the National Hockey League.

…One Giant Leap for the Gator Nation

Michael Martinez, an associate professor of political science, said great Gator graduates can be an inspiration to students.

"To some degree these people can be role models in terms of showing our current students that they have a lot of opportunities to advance," he said.

Martinez said there is also a connection between current students and graduates. Those who have attended UF know the kind of quality education provided and are likely to recognize that when interviewing candidates. He said it's a good idea for students to begin developing networks with other ambitious students while they are still undergraduates because you never know who's going to end up going on to become a famous Gator.

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