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AVON PARK, Fla.–May 8, 2015–South Florida State College marked the end of the 2014-15 academic year with its spring term Commencement, May 7, in the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts on the Highlands Campus. SFSC faculty, staff, administrators, trustees, and families of over 208 new graduates came together to celebrate the students’ accomplishments and encourage them in their future endeavors.
“Defining moments come rarely in life, and yet inevitably, we all know of just such an event,” said Ken Lambert, chair of SFSC’s district board of trustees. “With every success that you achieve, there are people to thank along the way, for no one succeeds without a team of support. Reflect on your team, and do not fail to thank them for believing in you, motivating you, and encouraging you at every step of the journey.”
The student Commencement speaker, Juliana Jackson, opened her presentation with a light-hearted selection from Dr. Seuss, Oh, The Places You’ll Go: “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose.”
“The last time we heard this quote from Dr. Seuss was probably in Kindergarten, but it still rings as true today as it did then,” Jackson said. “Over the last few years, we’ve been using our brains to acquire an education that will help us succeed in life. Our families, friends, and teachers have helped us to get this far, and now it’s time to continue to steer ourselves in the direction of our careers.”
“Although we look to the future, we should recognize that reaching Commencement is a great accomplishment and something to be very proud of,” Jackson said. “Education is the gateway to opportunity and success, but is also not easily earned. For the hard work that we have put in to acquire this degree, we can know that even though we aren’t finished yet, success has been reached. As many of us continue on to universities and careers, I am certain that this hard work and success will continue.”
Jackson, a resident of Avon Park, graduates with an Associate in Arts degree with honors and also graduates from Avon Park High School in May 2015. While a student at SFSC, Jackson was an active member of the SFSC student organizations Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), Campus Christian Club, and Rotaract, while participating in the Avon Park High School student government association, Future Business Leaders of America, and cheerleading.
After graduation, she plans to attend Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Fla., to double major in mathematics and secondary education. She aspires to work toward a master’s degree in education so she can return to Highlands County to teach mathematics in high school.
Earlier in the Commencement program, graduates received congratulations and words of wisdom from Dr. Thomas Leitzel, SFSC president: “Commencement is the highest and most revered of all ceremonies we have in American higher education,” Leitzel said. “Its purpose is to honor student achievement and to recognize hard work and sacrifice. This is a humble and respectful event that embraces tradition from decades past. 2015 is a meaningful year for SFSC. Fifty years ago, in 1965, SFSC was chartered. The roots of this amazing institution began in downtown Avon Park. Tonight, as we celebrate our 50th anniversary, we are pleased to honor the first graduate from South Florida Junior College from the class of 1967, Mr. Robert Terrell.”
Dr. Charlotte Pressler, director of SFSC’s Honors Program, recognized two Honors Program graduates for academic excellence, outstanding leadership, and strong citizenship. They are Tyler Brice Akins Gary, Scott Gergen Isabela, Lucia Gonzalez,
Christina Marquerite Gourley, Katelynne Louise Leman, Stella Maldonado Enchautegui, Araceli Marquez Diaz, Christopher Neil Robbins, and Victoria Michelle Warren.
Faculty selected to serve as marshals were Davida Austin, Thomas Bush, Kathleen Cappo, Dr. Ellen Cover, Robert Hampton, Dr. Theresa James, Melanie Jackson, Claire Miller, and Lena Phelps. Steven Ashworth, SFSC Faculty Council president, was chief marshal and 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 Robert Terrell, SFSC alumnus; John Scherlacher, president, SFSC Alumni Association; Christy Crews, chair, SFSC Foundation Board of Directors; Dr. Catherine P. Cornelius, SFSC president emerita; and Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFSC president emeritus.