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AVON PARK, Fla. – Nov. 17, 2020 – South Florida State College (SFSC) graduated 45 new correctional officers on Friday, Nov. 13, at the Highlands Campus in Avon Park. Recognized at the ceremony were four graduates of Class 199, 23 graduates of Class 101, and 18 graduates of Class 102.
Michael Austin, coordinator of SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy, called the cadets to the stage and handed each new corrections officer a certificate.
Class 199 graduates who received certificates were Elizabeth Uriarte (executive officer), Caleb Doolin, Christopher J. Foreman Sr., and Destin Fox.
Class 101 graduates who received certificates were Jennifer Morrison (class leader), William Swisher (executive officer), Christopher Wilkins (first squad leader), Shanekia Jones, Bradley Smeal, Rebecca Hester, Jamelia Gunter, Michael Hansen, Andrew Foard, Raquel Earle (second squad leader), Sara Decker, Jore Stanberry, Lelandra Smith, Rute Macedo, Samantha Mendoza-Lopez (third squad leader), Bobby Guffey Jr., Earl Johnson, Shamice S. Porteous, Bryan Taylor (fourth squad leader), Albree Johnson, Carol Allison, Elizabeth Walwood, and Nicole Peana.
Class 102 graduates who received certificates were Alisha Tuten (class leader), Blake Smith (executive officer), Mathew Sidor (guidon), Joshua Mercer (first squad leader), Teresita Ugarte, Terrance Davis, JaMar Jackson (second squad leader), Michelle Meyers, Alex Jaramillo, Hector Cintron-Colon, James Peach (third squad leader), Monique Johnson, Wesley Roberts, Alissa Durham, Gabe Greseth (fourth squad leader), Melissa Knutson, Hannah Ellis, and Dakota Stevens.
During the ceremony, special awards were presented to the graduates: from Class 199, Elizabeth Uriarte for executive officer; from Class 101, Jennifer Morrison for class leader, William Swisher for executive officer, Shamice Porteus for top academics, and Rute Macedo for top firearms scores; from Class 102, Alisha Tuten for class leader and top firearms scores, Blake Smith for executive officer, and Hannah Ellis for top academics.
To commemorate Veterans Day and the 245th birthday of the U.S. Marine Corps, guest speaker Major Ryan Thomas of the Hardee Correctional Institution, opened his presentation with a special recognition of those in the audience who served in the armed services. He then offered the graduates words of wisdom: “Everyone leaves behind a legacy, but only a few leave behind a legacy that is worth talking about. A legacy is the story of someone’s life, the things that they did, the places they went, the goals they accomplished, and their failures. Legacies are pathways that guide people in making decisions about what to do and what not to do. Legacies can be positive or negative. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. left behind his legacy for positivity and selfless service. Whereas, Adolf Hitler left behind his legacy of negativity and destruction. Both are equally important in serving as examples for the future. Leaving behind a legacy is important no matter who you are. I want to challenge each and every one of you today to leave behind the best legacy you can—a positive path for the coming officers to follow. How will you be remembered? What will your legacy or story say about you?”
Upon successful completion of the SFSC 420 contact-hour Basic Correctional Officer Program, students earn a Career Certificate and are eligible to take the state certification examination to become a certified officer. For more information about this program or any other program offered through the SFSC Criminal Justice Academy, call Austin at 863-784-7282 or email Michael.Austin@southflorida.edu.