Commencement speaker Theodosia Shannon accepts diploma from Dr. Thomas C. Leitzel.

AVON PARK, Fla. — Dec. 14, 2018 — For the South Florida State College (SFSC) graduates who gathered in the Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on Thursday, Dec. 13, the 2018 Commencement ceremony was a time to celebrate.

Student Commencement speaker Theodosia Shannon, who received her Correctional Officer Occupational Certificate through SFSC’s Criminal Justice Academy, addressed her fellow classmates. She offered three words that helped her in her own personal journey: focus, fight, and finish. She explained that “successful individuals maintain a positive focus in life no matter what is going on around them.” In reference to “fight,” she said that each of us face tough times, but that “the difficulties which you face will make you more determined to achieve your objectives and to win against all the odds.” She, then, urged them to finish, to never give up, and in spite of setbacks, always get up and get back in the fight.

In conclusion, she congratulated her fellow classmates on rising up to the challenges of academic life and urged them “to always push boundaries to make this world a better place even in the small ways.”

Early in the program, Tami Cullens, chair of the SFSC Board of Trustees addressed the graduates and quoted novelist Haruki Murakami: “When you come out of the storm, you won’t be the same person who walked in.” She compared the essence of the quote to the graduates’ academic experience at the College. “I can guarantee that South Florida State College has positively changed who you are, even in the slightest of ways. Your college experience, no matter the length in years, has helped define you.”

The graduates received congratulations and further words of wisdom from Dr. Thomas Leitzel, SFSC president. “My charge to you is to go forth, find your corner of the sky, and do amazing things,” he said.

During the ceremony, Dr. Leitzel gave special recognition to Joanne Foote, professor of nursing, who retires from SFSC on Jan. 3 after having served the College for 12 years.

More than 252 students met SFSC December graduation requirements by Commencement. Of these, 14 received their Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management, 75 received their Associate in Arts degree, 18 received their Associate in Science degree, 30 received their State of Florida High School Diploma, and 115 received occupational certificates, college credit certificates, or advanced technical diplomas. Participating in Commencement were 161 students. 

Mace bearer and chief marshal for this year’s ceremony was Michelle Macbeth. Faculty and staff selected to serve as marshals were Elizabeth Andrews, Davida Austin, Courtney Green, Robert Hampton, Dr. Theresa James, Lorraine Jaques, Cynthia Kinser, Claire Miller, Tasha Morales, Asena Mott, and Ricardo Pantoja.