Avon Park, Fla. – Dec. 16, 2022 – South Florida State College (SFSC) celebrated the academic accomplishments of its graduates with a fall Commencement ceremony held on Thursday, Dec. 15 in the SFSC Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park.
Opening the ceremony, Terry Atchley, chair of the SFSC District Board of Trustees addressed the graduates: “Education is about growth, not just about grades. You have adapted and grown during these times, which has enriched you and added to your academic success. All the triumphs you and your fellow classmates shared together have created a remarkable bond and made your path unique. Graduates, as you embark on the next chapter in your lives, remember that SFSC is forever your home.”
In his presentation to the graduates, Albert “A.J.” Gall, who earns his Associate in Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) to become a registered nurse, said, “Sometimes, life can feel overwhelming. Sometimes you may fail upon trying to accomplish what you were destined for.”
But Gall’s journey brought him to SFSC after years of hesitation to take the first step toward a college education. His mother had been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) and wanted to become a nurse but it never worked out. Gall became infected with his mother’s enthusiasm for the profession and approached the College, and a student advisor encouraged him to apply and make his dream of becoming a nurse come true. Although he experienced a few hiccups in his first class at the College, he stayed the course and became an eager and successful student. Gall aspires to one day become a travel nurse. He also plans to further his nursing career and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) at SFSC.
“So, graduates, if you ever failed at something you felt driven to do, try again,” Gall said. “You only fail when you give up. I did this for myself, a better life, my two boys, and my family. Look, Momma, I made it! Look, Graduates, we made it! Go Class of 2022!”
Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel, SFSC president, in his final fall Commencement before retiring in June 2023, told the graduates that he is a fan of a website called, “Six Word Stories.” With a six-word story in mind, he said, “After we confer your degrees, I could say, ‘You’re now alumni; make a difference.’ Then I thought, ‘What if you had to write a one-word story, what would that one word be?’”
“My one word to summarize tonight is ‘Proud.’ You can be proud to be graduating from this institution, just like we are proud of you. I’ll offer one final ‘one word’ to you … Congratulations!”
Approximately 344 students will have met the SFSC requirements by fall Commencement. Of these, 23 received their Bachelor of Science in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM), four received their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), 103 received their Associate in Arts, 54 received their Associate in Science, 31 received their State of Florida High School Diploma, 13 received their College Credit Certificate (CCC), and 145 received Career Technical Certificates. In all, 125 graduates crossed the stage wearing academic regalia adorned with variously colored cords and sashes signifying their individual achievements.
Mace bearer and chief marshal for Commencement was Michelle Macbeth, and marshals were Joan Briand, Tom Bush, Rob Hampton, Mlisa Manning, Ricardo Pantoja, Dr. Mintoo Patel, Lena Phelps, Andy Polk, and Tina Stetson.
In addition to Atchley, other members of the SFSC District Board of Trustees in attendance were Vice Chair Timothy D. Backer, Derren J. Bryan, Tami Cullens, Kris Y. Rider, and Patrick “Joe” Wright.
AVON PARK, Fla. — Dec. 12, 2022 — During the December meeting of South Florida State College’s (SFSC) District Board of Trustees, 19 students studying for careers in the health sciences at SFSC received approximately $31,000 in scholarships.
Florida Blue Nursing and Allied Health Scholarships were awarded to SFSC students in nursing, dental education, and radiography programs. The students may use the scholarships for tuition, textbooks, lab fees, and childcare.
Students receiving the scholarships are studying within three health science disciplines:
- Nursing: Lucy Garcia, Christine Nguyen, Johnny Saldivar Jr., Naseana Sullivan, Daniel Tello, Roseline Virgile, Laura Holda, Crystal Valadez, Melissa Hernandez, and Cadee Richardson
- Dental Education: Yaritsi Palacios Vargas, Rumana Rahman, Chenoa Bond, Kendra Gonzalez, and Alicia Lennon
- Radiography: Gabriela Sarmiento Egea, Katherine Oyola, Verkosha Alexander, and Adrian Sanchez
The scholarships are the result of a partnership between the Florida College System (FCS) Foundation and Florida Blue. The Florida Blue Nursing and Allied Health Scholarship was created to sustain a source of funding for student scholarships at Florida colleges to meet the growing need for skilled nurses and allied health professionals who serve the state’s diverse population. The SFSC Foundation, Inc. provided a 50% match of the original award from the FCS Foundation and Florida Blue, as the funds must be matched dollar for dollar by private donors at the local level.
“Students participating in intensive healthcare programs are often unable to take on work outside of their studies due to the dedication needed to pursue these critical career fields,” said Jamie Bateman, SFSC’s vice president of institutional advancement and external affairs. “Because of its commitment to education and patient care, Florida Blue has provided scholarships to remove financial boundaries for these students to complete their programs. These students will soon begin careers in nursing, dental care, and radiography – all fields that focus on keeping our community safe and healthy.”
The FCS Foundation, based in Tallahassee, is a nonprofit organization that solicits gifts and donations from corporations and individuals for distribution to Florida’s 28 community and state colleges. SFSC has received scholarships for health sciences students since 2006. Florida Blue, previously known as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, provides individual and group health insurance to millions of Floridians.
AVON PARK, Fla. – Dec. 9, 2022 – With the thousands of alumni and exceptional graduates that South Florida State College (SFSC) has nurtured since 1965, selecting an outstanding alumnus to the SFSC Panther Alumni Society Hall of Fame was a difficult task. In its inaugural year, SFSC’s most prestigious alumni honor was awarded on Thursday, Dec. 8, during the SFSC Foundation’s annual Christmas Luncheon at the Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park. The award was presented to someone who has committed an entire career to serving his community – Jeffrey L. Roth.
“The SFSC Alumni Association is excited to present its first Panther Alumni Society Hall of Fame Award,” said Anastasia Fuchser, coordinator, SFSC institutional advancement and alumni development. “The Foundation’s advisory council felt compelled to recognize our alumni that are making a difference in and around their communities and career fields. We are proud of our Panther alumni and want to honor them with this award. We look forward to showcasing many more of our esteemed alumni in the coming years.”
Roth currently serves as a financial advisor with Edward Jones from his office at the Hotel Jacaranda in Avon Park, Fla. He earned his Associate in Arts from SFSC in 1990 and went on to Webber International University where he graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a minor in Finance. In 2012, he was awarded a Master of Arts in Management and Leadership from Webster University’s George Herbert Walker School of Business & Technology. Roth returned to SFSC as an adjunct professor to teach Project Management from 2012 to 2014.
Much of Roth’s renown in the community comes from his involvement with the Children’s Advocacy Center in Sebring and The Rotary Club of Sebring. In nominating his father to the SFSC Panther Alumni Society Hall of Fame, Noah Roth illustrated his father’s dedication to protecting children in our community when he said, “During his 15 years as a director, he coordinated a team of nine elements involved in child abuse investigation and treatment. [Those elements included a 54-person team from several local and state agencies.] The sole purpose for him waking up each morning was to minimize the trauma of child abuse victims and provide prevention support to families needing assistance. This was a private/public partnership between the Highlands County Board of Commissioners and the Champion for Children Foundation of Highlands County.”
Through Roth’s application for grants and various private donations, the Children’s Advocacy Center was awarded $160,000 annually. Before leaving to join the Edward Jones Financial Firm, Roth oversaw a $1.5 million construction project that allowed the Children’s Advocacy Center to routinely facilitate 400-450 families annually.
“Through the leadership skills he had accumulated over the years, he was able to manage all facility, operational, promotional, educational, and budgetary matters concerned with the Children’s Advocacy Center,” Noah Roth said.
As a member of the Rotary Club of Sebring, Jeff Roth has invested countless hours of personal time to help raise funds to eradicate polio around the world, clean trash from roadsides during the club’s “adopt a highway” program, as well as other club projects. Roth has been a member of The Rotary Club of Sebring for 28 years and served on its board for 16 years. “He did not join the organization for its stature or its look on an application, but because he is obsessed with enriching the lives of those around him,” Noah Roth said. “The Rotary Club is one of the dozens of civic action organizations and professional boards he has sat on for the sole purpose of taking action in our community for a better tomorrow.”
If Jeff Roth sounds like a real Boy Scout, he is. In fact, before graduating from high school, Roth had earned a minimum of 21 merit badges, served a minimum of six months in a leadership position, completed an Eagle Scout Project, and passed a board of review to become an Eagle Scout, the highest rank attainable in the Boy Scouts of America. After graduating from SFSC in 1990, he took a job with the Gulf Ridge Council as senior district executive/camp director. In 2004, Roth was recognized for creating a culture where young men could learn leadership skills and was awarded the Citizen of the Year award by the Calusa District Boy Scouts. The award is presented to community leaders who provide outstanding civic service to the adults and/or youth in the community.
“Jeffrey Roth is a man who inspires with his actions alone,” Noah Roth said. “He serves not in hope of recognition, but for change to make the world a little better than he found it.”
For more information about the Panther Alumni Society Hall of Fame, call the SFSC Alumni Association at 863-453-3133 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dec. 8, 2022 – Dr. Thomas Leitzel, who has served as president at South Florida State College (SFSC) since July 1, 2013, announced his plans to retire from the College on June 30, 2023. At the time of his retirement, Leitzel will have served the higher education profession for 45 years, with service at seven institutions in six states. He quickly credits his experience in the state of Florida and with the Florida College System (FCS) as the pinnacle of his service. He was the fourth president of SFSC, succeeding presidents Norman L. Stephens, Catherine P. Cornelius, and William Stallard.
During his years at SFSC, he promoted the growth of the College and community partnerships, both private and public. Several new programs were developed including the Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education, mechatronics and advanced manufacturing, construction technologies, and a complete restructure of the College’s commercial vehicle training and welding programs. SFSC’s newest degree program, surgical services technology, began in the fall of 2022.
Dr. Leitzel gave leadership to developing the College’s new Vision Statement during the College’s 50th Anniversary celebration in 2015. During that same year, the facility housing the College’s visual and performing arts center was named the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts following the College’s largest donation.
The SFSC Foundation endowment doubled in size during his 10 years of service. Two new construction projects are underway, including a new student housing project and an athletic field house that will anchor Fuschetti Park and the Saxon Field House, both privately supported property and facility enhancements planned for the Highlands Campus in Avon Park. Additionally, intercollegiate athletics expanded by adding an NJCAA Division II women’s cross-country team to volleyball, softball, and baseball.
Several student success initiatives began under his leadership, including enhanced student success tracking software systems, a food bank to assist students with food insecurity, and mental health and wellness partnerships. In addition, the College has received numerous grants in recent years to assist with special initiatives and support growth opportunities amounting to over $16 million. As the culmination of one of Leitzel’s goals when he started at SFSC, the College advanced its efforts in providing faculty-directed applied research initiatives where students and faculty collaborate on research projects aimed at solving major issues impacting our region and our society. Numerous students and their faculty sponsors have published in prestigious academic journals as well as shared their research findings at regional and national academic conferences. Leadership in the College’s Division of Arts and Sciences ensures the success of this program.
During 2022, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC) reaffirmed the College’s institutional accreditation for 10 years following an intensive three-year process of documenting compliance with established criteria for accreditation. SACSCOC also approved SFSC’s Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) which focuses on improving the attainment rates through advisement in the College’s service region by way of an initiative called Panther Pathways. Also in 2022, the Aspen Institute recognized SFSC as one of the Top 25 colleges in the nation, a prestigious recognition that places SFSC in the top 2% of all colleges in its sector. In addition, SFSC has consistently been a top performer in the Florida College System (FCS), placing it as a leading college in two critical success measures — student completion and retention. Enrollment in credit programs throughout Leitzel’s tenure has been strong. In fact, during and following the pandemic, credit enrollment remained stable. He is credited as leading institutional positioning initiatives and marketing efforts with various successful enrollment campaigns to keep the institution growing and providing support to the community in critical workforce programs needed in the tri-county region of DeSoto, Hardee, and Highlands counties.
Locally, Dr. Leitzel serves on several boards, including the SFSC Foundation Board, Inc., AdventHealth Sebring and Wauchula, CareerSource Heartland, and Highlands County Industrial Development Authority and Economic Development Council. He served on the Sebring Chamber of Commerce board for two terms. He is an active member of the Florida College System Council of Presidents, serving as a co-chair of the marketing and communications committee. On the national level, Leitzel served as a member of the Higher Education Research and Development Institute and as a member of the president’s advisory council for the Association of Community College Trustees. He has been a regular evaluator for SACSCOC.
Leitzel began his career by serving as a faculty member in business administration prior to entering the administrative ranks. He has taught numerous classes at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
He earned his Ph.D. in higher education from Virginia Tech. He earned a master’s degree from Temple University and a bachelor’s degree from Lycoming College. He participated in advanced graduate studies at the Pennsylvania State University and at the University of Maryland College Park.
Upon retirement and after several planned trips, Leitzel plans to remain in Florida and likely stay active in the higher education community by researching, writing, and publishing.
AVON PARK, Fla. – Dec. 8, 2022 – Although Albert “A.J.” Gall wanted more for himself and his family, he believed college was inaccessible. Through his own determination and because of caring employees at South Florida State College (SFSC), the Sebring resident will earn his Associate in Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) during the College’s Commencement ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 6:45 p.m. at the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park. In fact, he will be the graduation keynote speaker.
Shortly after graduation from SFSC, Gall will take the National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX-RN) and become a Registered Nurse (RN). He plans to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) from the College.
But it took Gall seven years after completing high school to apply to SFSC. “I moved out of my parents’ house at the age of 14 and I’ve been on my own since,” he said. “I could have graduated in the 11th grade; I had all my credits. But I attended school during my senior year for P.E. and to hang out with my girlfriend. Upon graduating, I really didn’t have any guidance. I just worked, went home, and I would go to parties, just like any teenager who didn’t have parents. But after a while, I’d see friends and acquaintances going to college or joining the military. I didn’t want to go into the military. My girlfriend was pregnant, so I wasn’t about to dip out on my son. I never had a relationship with my dad, so I wasn’t about to leave my son.”
“I considered college, but I didn’t think I could afford it,” he said. “When I was in high school, no one told me that I could go to college and that financial assistance was available. I thought that to get a scholarship, you have to get straight A’s.”
But Gall had determination and drive. “I felt like my life was at a standstill,” he said. “I needed to do something. I always told myself that it’s OK to figure out what I want to do with my life, but by the time I’m 30, I need to be working toward a career.”
Eventually, Gall took the first step and visited the Welcome Center at the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park to learn how to apply to the College. But he went home feeling overwhelmed and confused. A week later, he returned and spoke with Rob Hampton, director of the Career Development Center, who was previously a student advisor. “I told him that I wanted to go to college,” Gall said. Hampton spent a great deal of time with him, answering all of Gall’s questions with an empathetic ear.
“We talked about the classes I needed to take,” Gall said. “He suggested I not take a heavy load my first few terms because I’d been out of school for a while. He told me about taking placement tests. I sat down at the computer and applied to the College in the Welcome Center. Then Rob walked me over to the Financial Aid Office. They helped me the whole way. So, boom! We got the ball rolling, and college was paid for. I’ve received a scholarship every academic term since then.”
Gall credits Hampton with getting him started at SFSC. “I stay in contact with Rob. I’ve always gone to Rob about scheduling my classes and for any other questions. From my discussions with Rob, I’ve probably helped seven people apply to the College. When talking with friends, I’ve heard them express concerns about getting financial assistance or doubts about their ability to attend college. I tell them, ‘I went through all that. You can’t think too far ahead; otherwise, you’re not going to do it. You’re going to scare yourself away from doing it. You have to take it one brick at a time. Just take it day by day.’”
“A.J. is a perfect example of a student who had a career goal in mind, but needed assistance navigating the pathway to reach it,” Hampton said. “While working two jobs and handling family responsibilities, he did not let it stop him from standing where he is today. If he had questions, he wasn’t afraid to drive up to the College and ask, even if that meant being in the one-hour parking space a little longer. With all of the resources and programs out there to help with applying to college, getting financial aid, and registering for classes, people can find it overwhelming. It’s important that we at SFSC continue to take the time to help educate the community about these opportunities.”
Gall chose nursing as a profession, initially, because he didn’t want to attend college over a long period of time and he wanted to make good money. But deep down in his heart, he knew he wanted a career helping other people.
Another reason that drove him toward nursing was that, over the years, his mother had jobs related to the medical professions. She had been a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), and always talked about becoming a nurse. But it never came to be. “That stuck with me,” Gall said. “Although I didn’t know much about nursing, I began to pursue it. The more classes I took on my path to becoming a nurse, I realized, it’s definitely for me.”
“I had the pleasure to teach and guide A.J. through his third term of the ADN program and part of the second,” said Marlene Cruz, Nursing instructor at SFSC. “He is a charismatic young man who is eager to learn. He is on the right path by the potential demonstrated during his clinical experience. I was pleasantly surprised by the professionalism he showed when working with his patients. I have no doubt that he will be an excellent asset to any hospital. I am very proud of him and wish him the best.”
Beyond his studies as a full-time Nursing student, Gall has other responsibilities. He has two young sons and holds two jobs, one at Olive Garden and another at Outback Steakhouse. But Gall takes it in stride. “The bills are going to come in no matter what,” he said. “Just do the best you can. You can’t try to plan it or map it out. You have to take things one day at a time or things will seem overwhelming.”
Gall will be the first person in his family to earn a college degree. “Through my education, I want to excel in life and get things for my kids that I didn’t have as a child,” he said. “Even when they’re in school, I could be the person that Rob Hampton was for me. I could teach my kids how to apply to college. I would be an advocate for them.”
Gall has a five-year plan. After he graduates from SFSC, he’ll study for the NCLEX-RN, take a vacation, and then apply to the BSN program at SFSC. He’d like to apply to work at AdventHealth Sebring.
“One of my big goals is to travel,” Gall said. “During our nursing clinicals at local hospitals, I had a chance to talk to several travel nurses. Many of the travel nurses I’ve spoken with live in cities like Fort Myers, only two hours away. A lot of them work three days on and four days off. If I were to do that for jobs farther away, I could probably take my family. I have friends who graduated from the Nursing programs at SFSC and are traveling right now. I’ve lived in Florida all my life and will, eventually, want to see other places. What a great way to visit other parts of the country and get paid to do it.”
Gall has advice for others contemplating college. “In my class now, we have students who are over 50 years old,” he said. “Look at them. They’re doing it. For people who’ve been out of school for a long time — just do it. As long as you know you tried your best, you can live with it. But if you don’t try at all, you failed. For high school students who think they don’t have the resources to go to college, ask questions on how to get it done, because there are ways. If you ask questions and still feel lost, ask someone else.”
AVON PARK, Fla. – Dec. 7, 2022 – South Florida State College (SFSC) honored 22 Associate in Science degree in Nursing (ADN) students in a traditional pinning ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 6 in the Alan J. Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at SFSC on the Highlands Campus in Avon Park.
The graduates are: Sarah Birge, Briana Bodon, Hilary Burson, Evelyn Colon, Jenn Davis, Alethia “Rose” Dawson, A.J. Gall, Ebony Gammage, Kordell Haynes, Megan Hegarty, Kaitlyn Hoyle, Chelsey Hughes, Duncan Locke, Ashley Martin, Earlson Nabor, Amanda Pruitt, Marisela Ramos, Colin Robinson, Niyeshema “Monay” Sholtz, Fedelyne Theresias Charles, Airela Vega, and Charles Vetrano Jr.
Each year, Nursing graduates award the Golden D.U.C.K. 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, graduate A.J. Gall presented the 2022 Golden D.U.C.K. Award to Marlene Cruz: “Upon program completion, my fellow classmates and I were asked to think of an individual who inspired our education and motivated our career choices. The individual we chose was a great nursing mentor during our clinical rotations and in class. She gave us confidence, that extra boost some of us needed to continue through our education. I would like to present the Golden D.U.C.K. award to Marlene Cruz, aka “Momma Cruz.”
During the pinning ceremony, the graduates’ loved ones presented them with their individual nursing pins. The graduates, then, passed the flame of a lamp, one to another, before reciting the Nightingale Pledge.
Mary von Merveldt, director of nursing education, explained the origins of the Nursing pinning and the importance of the lamp lighting ceremony to the graduates: “The pinning we know today originated in the 1850s at the Nightingale School of Nursing at St. Thomas Hospital in London. Having been awarded the Red Cross of St. George for her selfless service to the injured and dying during the Crimean War, Florence Nightingale chose to extend this offer to her most outstanding graduating nurses by presenting each of them with a medal of excellence. The presentation of the lamp is a symbol of the caring devotion nurses administer to the sick and injured in the practice of nursing. After nurses were pinned, Nightingale would light a lamp and pass the flame to each nurse as they recited the pledge. The passing of the flame represents a formal welcoming of new nurses to the profession.”
Graduates of the ADN program become registered nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX-RN). SFSC Nursing graduates are usually fully employed in nursing within a few months of graduation.
SFSC offers an online Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), a two-year generic Associate in Science in Nursing, a 13-month transition licensed practical nurse to registered nurse Associate in Science in Nursing, and an 11-month Practical Nursing (PN) career certificate. For more information about SFSC’s Nursing programs, contact Danielle Ochoa, Health Sciences advisor at 863-784-7027 or by email at email@example.com.
AVON PARK, Fla. – Dec. 2, 2022 – South Florida State College (SFSC) celebrates its new graduates with a Commencement ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 6:45 p.m. at the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park.
The Commencement speaker is Albert “A.J.” Gall, who will graduate with his Associate in Science Degree in Nursing (ADN) to become a registered nurse. A.J. aspires to one day become a travel nurse. He also plans to further his nursing career and obtain a Bachelor of Science in Nursing.
Approximately 344 students will have met the SFSC requirements by fall Commencement. Of these, 23 will receive their Bachelor of Science in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM), four will receive their Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN), 103 will receive their Associate in Arts, 54 will receive their Associate in Science, 31 will receive their State of Florida High School Diploma, 13 will receive their College Credit Certificate (CCC), and 145 will receive Career Technical Certificates. Students participating in the Commencement ceremony will total 125.
Mace bearer and chief marshal for Commencement is Michelle Macbeth, and marshals are Joan Briand, Tom Bush, Rob Hampton, Mlisa Manning, Ricardo Pantoja, Dr. Mintoo Patel, Lena Phelps, Andy Polk, and Tina Stetson.
The Commencement rehearsal will be held on Thursday, Dec. 15 at 10 a.m. at the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts. The event will be live-streamed with access through SFSC’s website at southflorida.edu.
AVON PARK, Fla. – Nov. 28, 2022 – Darlene Love, who performed and recorded “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home),” “He’s a Rebel,” “He’s a Fine, Fine Boy,” “Wait Til My Bobby Gets Home,” and “All Alone on Christmas” which was featured in the Home Alone 2: Lost in New York film, performs on Tuesday, Dec. 13 at 7 p.m. The Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts at South Florida State College (SFSC) in Avon Park, Fla. hosts the Grammy® Award-winning vocalist’s only holiday appearance in Florida.
Love, who was inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame by Bette Midler, has been called “the greatest vocalist of all time” by Rolling Stone magazine. Rolling Stone also ranked “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” at the top of its list of the greatest rock and roll Christmas songs.
“Love has performed with and backed up artists such as Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, Elvis Presley, The Beach Boys, Sonny and Cher, Aretha Franklin, The Rolling Stones, and U2,” said Cindy Garren, director of Cultural Programs. “She performs a few select Christmas shows each year. And isn’t it marvelous that she agreed to come to Avon Park?”
Love began her professional career singing lead vocals with the girl group The Blossoms and contributed backing vocals behind many of the biggest hits of the 1960s including the Ronettes’ “Be My Baby,” Shelley Fabares’ “Johnny Angel,” Bobby “Boris” Pickett’s “Monster Mash,” Frank Sinatra’s version of “That’s Life,” and the Crystals’ “Da Doo Ron Ron.” She was also part of a trio called Bob B. Soxx & the Blue Jeans, who recorded Phil Spector’s version of “Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah,” an Oscar-winning song from the 1946 Walt Disney film Song of the South, which got into the Top 10 in 1963.
In 1985, she starred on Broadway in “Leader of the Pack,” a jukebox musical based upon the song written by Ellie Greenwich. Other Broadway performances were Miss Gardner in Stephen King’s “Carrie,” Teen Angel in “Grease,” and Motormouth Maybelle in “Hairspray.” Love was also featured in the Lethal Weapon films as Trish, the wife of Roger Murtaugh. Love was also featured in the Oscar-winning documentary “Twenty Feet from Stardom” for which she won a Grammy® award.
For 29 years, Love appeared on “The David Letterman Show” performing her Christmas hit. Letterman dubbed her “Christmas Queen.” When his show went off the air in 2014, Love began performing her hit on “The View.”
Tickets for the performance are $40, $50, and $60 and are available online at sfscARTS.org, by phone at 863-784-7178, or by visiting the SFSC Box Office at 600 West College Drive in Avon Park.
The performance is sponsored by Joe and Suzanne Wright of V & W Farms and Dr. C.B. and Ranjan Patel. A pre-show dinner is available for $30 per person and includes chicken cordon bleu with savory baked potato, vegetables, and dessert. The dinner, hosted by SFSC Foundation, is served in the SFSC Board Room in Building F on the Highlands Campus, a short stroll from the venue.
SFSC Performing Arts presents over 35 performances at the 1,460 seat Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts. Upcoming performances include: Phil Dirt and The Dozers, The Melton Mustafa Quartet, Manhattan Transfer with the Diva Jazz Orchestra, A Salute to Glen Campbell with Jeff Dayton, The Brothers Four with The Limelighters, The Lviv National Philharmonic of Ukraine, Wings Celtic Dance, and Kathy Mattea. To view videos and the complete schedule, visit sfscARTS.org.
AVON PARK, Fla. — Nov. 18, 2022 — During a ceremony on Thursday, Nov. 17 in the Alan J. Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the SFSC Highlands Campus in Avon Park, South Florida State College’s (SFSC) Basic Corrections Academy Class 108 graduated 25 cadets, the Basic Law Enforcement (BLE) Academy Class 269 graduated nine cadets, and the Cross Over to Basic Law Enforcement Class 363 graduated four cadets.
Basic Corrections Academy Class 108 graduates who received Career Certificates were: Ashley Alvarez-Burgos, Quanesha Berry, Dianne Borrero, Jason A. Brown, Nicole Franks Sauvey, Christopher J. Frolich, Michael Gaines, Anthony Garza, Denise Gobourne, Shannon Gould, Daniel Harmon, Shaylynn Hood, Latrent Jones, Katlyn Maharaj, Anthony Mercado, Erick Messer, Raven Pace, Jon-Shea Reed, Angelique Robertson, Gabriel Rosado Negroni, Julio Sanchez Victoria, Caleb H. Smith, Tray’Vis Smith, Keri Taylor Shine (class leader), and Dillon Townsend.
BLE Class 269 graduates who received Career Certificates were: Ryan Barkey (class leader), Garrett Barr, Carlos Castilla, Patricia DeLoera, Donald Fillmore, Jimmy Frazier III, Clarissa Garza, Hannah Gorman, and Gabriela Velasquez.
Crossover Academy Class 363 graduates who received Career Certificates were: Eduardo Lebron Colon, Randall Lowe, James Moore II, and Jose Romero Jr.During the ceremony, special awards were presented to several cadets. Of the Basic Corrections Academy Class 108, Keri Taylor Shine was honored as class leader, Ashley Alvarez-Burgos as executive officer, Quanesha Berry for Top Academics, and Michael Gaines for Top Gun. For the Basic Law Enforcement Academy Class 269 and Cross Over to Basic Law Enforcement Class 363, Ryan Barkey was honored as class leader and as Top Gun, Patricia DeLoera for Top Academics, and Jimmy Frazier III for True Grit.
Guest speaker for the graduation was Garrett Roberts, general counsel for the Highlands County Sheriff’s Department. Addressing the cadets, he said, “The career you have chosen is a noble one. It is your duty to ensure that it will be respected when you retire just as much as it is today. You will have the incredible opportunity like no other profession to make a true difference and change the lives of the citizens in which you serve. Citizens will call for your help on their worst day. When they think that all hope is lost, it will be your obligation, your sworn duty, to help that person in need. Children will run up to you and look at you like you’re Superman. Act like it. Spend as much time as you can investing in others. But do this while not wanting or expecting anything in return. Think about your legacy. How will you be remembered? Then, act with that end in mind. Be the person who seeks the truth and respects others. Be the person who lives with integrity. Be the person your family would be proud of. Be the protector of those who would be fearful. Be the hero that brings a smile to a child’s face. And, ultimately, be the change that you want to see in this world.”
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.
SFSC’s Basic Law Enforcement Career Certificate program trains students to become law enforcement officers in Florida. By successfully completing the program, they are eligible to take the state certification examination to become certified law enforcement officers. The program runs 770 contact hours or approximately five months full time or approximately 10 months part time.
The Correction to Law Enforcement (Crossover) Career Certificate program trains currently employed corrections officers to become law enforcement officers in Florida. Upon successful completion of the program, graduates are eligible to take the state certification examination to become certified law enforcement officers. The program runs 515 contact hours or approximately 10 months part time.
For more information about these programs, visit southflorida.edu or call SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy at 863-784-7285.