One month before the start of his first semester at the University of Florida, Stimler’s car was hit by a car running a red light. Following the accident, Stimler endured spinal surgery and a grueling rehabilitation program, but that did not stop him from finishing his degree.
“I found inner resolve to not break course or let circumstances dictate as they had when I first attempted college,” Stimler said. “Even with this resolve, these past two years have not been easy.”
Stimler, of Merritt Island, will graduate next week with a bachelor’s of science in business administration with a 4.0 GPA. He will be among the 1,962 undergraduates and 1,319 graduate students expected to receive degrees this semester, according to the registrar’s office. As of Wednesday, 2,067 had ordered regalia and were expected to participate in ceremonies, according to the UF Bookstore.
Two multi-college undergraduate ceremonies will take place at the O’Connell Center at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Dec. 17. Advanced degrees, including master and doctoral degrees, in all colleges will be honored with a ceremony at 4 p.m. Dec. 16 at the O’Connell Center. The College of Pharmacy will hold its own ceremony on Dec. 17 at the HPNP Auditorium at 10 a.m.
During the ceremonies, four-year scholar Nicholas Frontera, two-year scholars Stimler and Brian Wemple, and outstanding student leader Kelsey Bruder will be recognized.
An honorary degree will also be presented to John Esposito during the ceremonies and distinguished educators Janet Glancy, Michelle Jones-Gayle, Hilah Mercer, Allison Scott and Jerry Waters will also be recognized.
Stimler, who will be recognized as a two-year scholar, first attended college in 1992 at Fullerton College in California. At the time, he was undergoing treatment for a tumor in his leg and juggling classes became too difficult. However, in 2009, he decided to give college another try and enrolled at Brevard College before transferring to UF in 2010 to take classes through the online business program.
Along with recovering from his accident, Stimler balanced a full-time job with his course schedule. Stimler has worked 60-hour weeks, boarded more than 100 flights and spent more than 250 nights in hotels since he began at UF. Stimler also makes time to repair and refurbish neglected musical instruments, which are then donated to less fortunate children.
“All of us have had to carry our unique circumstances along our paths,” Stimler said. “Each has its own story; some longer, some shorter, some more enjoyable, some more fraught with challenges. On graduation day, we will join together to celebrate that we have made it to the top.”