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AVON PARK, Fla.–Jan. 9, 2015–South Florida State College marked the end of 2014 with its first fall term Commencement, Dec. 18, in the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts on the Highlands Campus. SFSC faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families of new graduates came together to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and encourage them in their future endeavors.
The student Commencement speaker opened her presentation with a lighthearted request: “My name’s April Jones, and don’t forget it. As a political science major, I’ll be running for office someday, and I’ll need your vote.”
Jones, a resident of Frostproof, who graduates with an Associate in Arts degree with honors, has big dreams. She plans to continue her studies in political science at Florida State University.
“Dreams play a significant role in our lives and inspire us to leave a remarkable legacy for others to follow,” she said to graduating students. “I want each and every one of you to know that dreams can become a reality, and it only gets better as you pursue that aspiration.”
“The key to unlocking closed doors that you will encounter is by having a vision,” Jones said. “Know where you are headed. Think positively about your vision.”
She went on to reveal that in first grade it was discovered she had a learning disability—short-term memory loss and mathematical disorder. Jones credits her mother for the emotional support she provided: “Do not let your disability define you. The disability is part of you. You define yourself.” Jones later graduated from Frostproof High School with high honors.
In her sophomore year at SFSC, Jones was inspired by Dr. Marcy Everest, professor of political science, who “encouraged us to pursue our dreams, even when others tell us ‘no’ for whatever reason it may be.”
“It is highly important that we, the dreamers, believe in ourselves and the aspirations we want to turn into reality,” she said. “Since you are the author of your own story, you must envision success. But please, remember to vote for April Jones.”
While a student at SFSC, Jones was conferred a Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) Enhanced Membership for going well beyond the scholastic requirements to enter PTK and exceeding 15 hours of community service within an academic term. She served as president of the Honors Ambassadors, was secretary of the Campus Christian Club, and was a member of Rotaract, the African American Association, and the College Democrats.
Earlier in the Commencement program, graduates received congratulations and words of wisdom from Dr. Thomas Leitzel, SFSC president: “An education is a precious possession. The world is in envy of the diploma you receive tonight. While you earned it, consider it…a precious gift. And in this season of giving, here’s my charge to you: Give it back. What I mean is, give of your time and your acquired knowledge to build a better community. Be kind to everyone, and reflect proudly on your accomplishment and South Florida State College.”
More than 130 students met SFSC graduation requirements by Commencement. Of these, 72 received their associate degrees, 40 occupational or college credit certificates, and eight are graduates of the SFSC Adult Education program. Ten students earned their Bachelor of applied Science in Supervision and Management degree from SFSC. Participating in Commencement were 85 students.
Dr. Charlotte Pressler, director of SFSC’s Honors Program, recognized two Honors Program graduates for academic excellence, outstanding leadership, and strong citizenship. They are Donald M. Fry and April D. Jones.
Faculty and staff selected to serve as marshals were Thomas Bush, Dr. Ellen Cover, Bob Sconyers, Kathleen Cappo, Lena Phelps, Dr. Theresa James, and Davida Austin. Steven Ashworth, SFSC Faculty Council president, was macebearer. Members of the SFSC District Board of Trustees in attendance were chair Ken Lambert, vice chair Kris Rider, Timothy Backer, Tami Cullens, Derren Bryan, Dr. Louis Kirschner, Lana Puckorius, and Joe Wright.
Distinguished guests were John Scherlacher, president, SFSC Alumni Association; Christy Crews, chair, SFSC Foundation Board of Directors; Dr. Catherine P. Cornelius, SFSC president emerita; Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFSC president emeritus; and Pamela Karlson, college attorney.