Name: Hailey Myers
Year: Freshman
Height: 5’4″
Hometown: Avon Park, Fla.


Name: Jessalin Arreola
Year: Freshman
Height: 5’5″
Hometown: Bowling Green, Fla.


Andrea Raya

Name: Andrea Raya
Year: Freshman
Height: 5’7″
Hometown: LaBelle, Fla.


Megan O'Sullivan

Name: Megan O’Sullivan
Year: Freshman
Height: 5’7″
Hometown: Base McChord, Washington


Kaitlynn Brandeberry

Name: Katelynn Brandeberry
Year: Freshman
Height: 5’8″
Hometown: Wauchula, Fla.


Tina Stetson and Jamie Bateman with big check

Tina Stetson (left), director of financial aid, and Jamie Bateman, executive director of institutional advancement

AVON PARK, Fla. – Aug. 6, 2021 — South Florida State College (SFSC) joins the Florida Department of Education for a new college enrollment initiative to provide opportunities for students who graduated high school in 2020 and 2021 to enroll in the Florida College System (FCS). Now. Not Tomorrow helps educate families about the financial incentives that are available for students to pursue higher education.

The SFSC Foundation recently received a grant of $6,030 from the Helios Education Foundation that will be matched, bringing the funds to $12,060. Administered by the Florida Student Success Center, the grant provides incentive for students to enroll in associate degree programs in fall 2021 that prepare them to transfer to a four-year institution or entry into employment.

“Many of our local residents have been negatively impacted due to the public health crisis caused by COVID-19,” said Jamie Bateman, executive director, SFSC institutional advancement, who oversees the SFSC Foundation. “SFSC has identified a need with our local students whose lives were disrupted when either they or their family members lost jobs dues to the crisis. Families were negatively impacted financially. Those effects are felt to this day.”

Each recipient will be awarded between $500-$1,000 for fall scholarships. To apply for a scholarship, students must be first time in college, enrolled at SFSC at minimum on a part-time basis, and have graduated from high school in 2020 or 2021. They must submit a standard financial aid application to the SFSC Financial Aid Office along with the scholarship application. Preference will be given to students who live in DeSoto, Hardee, or Highlands County. Students are encouraged to visit AwardSpring to complete an application and apply for and find over 100 scholarships available to assist them.

Commenting on Helios’ generosity, Florida Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran said, “This generous grant, funded by Helios Education Foundation, will open the door to higher education to students who may think that their dream is out of reach or only for those more financially fortunate—students like me when I was college age. My attendance at my local colleges is truly what set me on the path to success.”

At SFSC, students can enroll in an in-demand and high-quality associate degree program, such as Nursing, Dental Hygiene, Network Systems Technology, Business Administration, and Engineering Technology.

In assessing the potential impact of the scholarship, FCS Chancellor Kathy Hebda said, “This scholarship helps students start right now in AA and AS degree-seeking pathways that are uniquely available in our Florida College System. Florida’s 2+2 system of matriculation from a state college to a state university is still the envy of the nation. We are excited to partner with Helios Education Foundation to help high school seniors realize that their path to success is close to home. I encourage our seniors and graduates from the Class of 2020 who have not yet started college to contact their local college’s financial aid office and take that first step today.”

Higher education helps jumpstart your purpose into a profession, and you can accomplish that through SFSC with less debt and guaranteed transfer access. The time for students to trailblaze their own path is Now. Not Tomorrow.

The Practical Nursing graduates

The Practical Nursing graduates

AVON PARK, Fla. – Aug. 5, 2021 – South Florida State College (SFSC) graduated 22 Practical Nursing (PN) program students in a traditional pinning ceremony on Monday, Aug. 2 in the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the Highlands Campus at SFSC in Avon Park.

The graduates are Isabella Adams, Cassie Bazils, Felicia Bieber, Joe Byers, Zobeida Cram, Ray Nino Gerard Espidol, Mesha Estivene, Brooke Fones, Lorie Karls, Ashley Lehman, Shanice Lewis, Patricia Lopez, Taylor Painter, Na’Talya Perry, Stephanie Quezada, Peyton Roberts, Kacie Romero, Liliana Sanchez, Chantel Stevens, Diana Tello, Daniella Vazquez, and Tiffany Volny.

“You pushed through 1,350 hours of lecture, group work, lab, and clinical,” said Mary von Merveldt, director of nursing education, when addressing the graduates. “Your brain grew, your heart grew, and your wings started to spread. Each challenge made you stronger. You’ve grown into a nurse, a beautiful butterfly ready to soar and share your radiant colors with your patients, your community, and your world. You’ve worked hard. You’ve earned this—your pinning ceremony. The pinning ceremony honors our graduates’ accomplishments and welcomes them into the profession of nursing.”

Each year, PN graduates award the Golden Duck to someone who has served as a mentor to the students in the program. The D.U.C.K. acronym represents the foundational elements of the mentoring arrangement: Developing, Understanding, Compassion, and Knowledge.

During the ceremony, Class Vice President Ashley Lehman presented the 2021 Golden Duck Award to Candra Polk, SFSC Nursing instructor. “It is my honor to present this award to someone who spent many early mornings, countless hours educating, and a ridiculous amount of time trying to keep us all in a row,” Lehman said. “We could not have made it to this point in our nursing education without all of your hard work and encouragement. We will carry what you have taught us for the rest of our lives.”

In her farewell address to fellow graduates, Class President Felicia Bieber said, “As we conclude this chapter of our lives, I would describe this as a time of resilience. In the midst of COVID-19, we embarked on this journey in the heath care field. There were many obstacles and last-minute changes, but we overcame and adjusted. The PN program challenged us mentally, emotionally, and physically. We succeeded together and failed together. With resilience, we came together to push through and carry each other to the finish line.

“I want to thank our instructors for the knowledge and skills they have taught us, and we will treasure them beyond our nursing journey. Thank you for pushing us, challenging us, and teaching us the value of being a good nurse. Thank you for holding us to the highest standards. Thank you for seeing us reach our full potential. I am proud to be a part of the PN class of 2021 and will cherish these months together. I hope each of you stay resilient in your careers as nurses and in your personal lives.”

The practice of pinning new graduates has been a nursing school tradition in the United States since 1916 and, symbolically, welcomes each graduate into the nursing profession. The pin is worn prominently on a nurse’s uniform throughout their career. One story of the ceremony’s beginning goes back to 1883, when Queen Victoria awarded Florence Nightingale the Royal Red Cross on St. George’s Day for her service to the sick and injured during the Crimean War. In turn, Nightingale later extended the honor to her outstanding nursing students by presenting them with a medal of excellence.

Graduates of the 11-month career certificate PN program become licensed practical nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Practical Nurses (NCLEX-PN) exam. SFSC nursing graduates are usually fully employed in nursing within a few months of graduation.

SFSC offers an Associate in Science degree in Nursing program for students interested in becoming registered nurses: a two-year Generic-RN program, a two-year Evening/Weekend RN program, and a one-year Transition-LPN to RN program. The College also offers a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program. For program entry requirements, consult the SFSC College Catalog online at, call 863-784-7225, or email

Photo of the nine graduates

The Radiography graduates

AVON PARK, Fla. – Aug. 3, 2021 – On Thursday, July 22, South Florida State College (SFSC) honored nine of its graduates in a traditional pinning ceremony on the College’s Highlands Campus in Avon Park. The graduates have earned their Associate in Science (A.S.) in Radiography.

The graduates honored were Alexandra Blackman (class president), Lydia Bolin, Sabrina Deery, Abigail Doucet, Ramon Mora II, Amber Morales, Niki Rast, Janessa Tamayo, and Brittanie West.

The guest speaker was Etienne Doucet, student life pastor at Grace Bible Church in Sebring. In addressing the graduates, he said, “My challenge for you as you enter the field is this: I pray that you treat every patient with the same zeal, energy, and passion that you do now. That you never view this as just a job that you have to do to pay bills. But you see patients as what they are and as people. That every interaction you have – although it may feel mundane to you – could be life changing for them.

We don’t always have control over how people feel or how they treat us, but we can always control how well we love them and lead them through these moments. I challenge you to be people of passion and integrity, although everyone else around you may not be. This is just the beginning of a life where you’ll grow your careers and education in everything you do going forward.”

Upon completing SFSC’s two-year A.S. degree in Radiography, graduates can work as certified radiologic technologists by passing the American Registry of Radiologic Technologists (ARRT) national examination. Radiologic technologists work in hospitals and clinics performing diagnostic imaging examinations, such as X-rays.

For information about SFSC’s Radiography program, contact