AVON PARK, Fla. – July 31, 2017 – South Florida State College graduated 18 students from its Firefighter Minimum Standards program at an evening ceremony on July 26.

Receiving their certificates were Gary Ball, Jonathan Bash, Jennifer Bidlack, Jarvis Carper, Annemarie Cornine, Antoine Daley, Kelly Gibson, Dillon Hathaway, Antoine Hester, Sean Howard, Wyatt Kofke, Jason LaManna, Justin LaRosa, Brandon Little, Wendy Roberts, Clay Sapp, Clayton Waldron, and Katelynne Wigton.

Deputy Chief Michael Linkins of the Polk County Fire Rescue, who has had a 30-year career in firefighting, presented the keynote address. He remarked that he started as a volunteer in August 1985 and was hired by Polk County in 1987.

“Firefighting is the best job in the world,” Linkins said, addressing the graduates. “Where else can you roll out of bed, jump in a fire truck, run people off the road, get to their house, kick in their front door, break their windows, put a hole in their roof, spray water everywhere, and as you walk out, they shake your hand and thank you for the job you do?”

“The job itself is that of a public servant,” Linkins said in a more serious tone. “The public expects us to be at our best 100 percent of the time. It’s tough to do. You may be on your 18th call, and it’s hard to get out of bed to deliver that high level of service. But I encourage to do your best. The public has high expectations for firefighters, and public servants in general are held to a higher standard. We always provide the best service that we can for the public.”

Five students were recognized for special achievement. Antoine Hester was acknowledged for Highest GPA, the cadet with the highest grade point average. Justin LaRosa was awarded Highest Score on Final Practical, the highest score on the program’s final practical exam. Gary Ball and Wendy Roberts were awarded Company Leadership, the cadets who showed leadership within the program. Annemarie Cornine was presented with Most Heart, the cadet who showed the most determination and drive, despite adversity.

The Firefighter Minimum Standards occupational certificate program is for applicants who want to pursue a career in fire service but have limited fire training and experience. A cohort of cadets enroll in the Firefighter I course, often with the expectation of continuing through to Firefighter II training. Minimum Standards training is required for volunteer firefighters. Firefighter II training is required for those who wish to be employed as professional firefighters in Florida.

For more information about the SFSC Fire Science Program, contact the SFSC Advising and Counseling Center at 863-784-7131, or visit www.southflorida.edu.