The 2021 graduates of the Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) Program

View Photo Gallery on Facebook

AVON PARK, Fla. – May 19, 2021 –South Florida State College’s Associate Degree in Nursing (ADN) program honored 28 graduates with all receiving Registered Nursing (RN) pins Tuesday evening in a ceremony that marked the end of their studies and celebrated their commitment to pursuing careers in the nursing profession.

The graduates are Yiley Acosta, Emily Aguilera, Joshua Arce, Teresa Baker, Jessica Boatwright, Evelia Cabrera, Kadie Crosson, Lauren Dutcher, Sarai Espinoza Alaniz, Kimberly Frazier, Luis Garduno, Kyle Jahna, Allison Lee, Breanna Lee, Blanca Martinez, Autumn Massey, Erin McGlinchey, Giselle Mendez, Madison Miller, Scott Milliken, Danielle Minnick, Julia Moody, Jessica Morris, Addie Proctor, Gabriella Riboni, Nancy Sanchez, Scott Shievdayal Jr., and Stephanie Whitmore.

During the ceremony, graduates accepted their nursing pins from instructors Sharmin Jones and Laurie Simmons.

In her parting remarks to the graduates, Dr. Michele Heston, dean of health sciences, stressed the power of hope. “New beginnings instill in you, our future nurses, hope for the future. Hope is an expression of possibilities. It is energy, not a passive waiting for something to happen, but a realization of the other through your knowledge and caring and therefore an important aspect of courage. Such courage is found in standing by the other in our care. In trying circumstances and in taking risks that go beyond safety and security, contemporary healthcare has never experienced circumstances such as those we have all encountered during the past 14 months. My congratulations come with a charge: to never lose hope and to always stand up for the other, knowing that your care and courage make hope possible.”

Jones, the keynote speaker, praised the graduates for their accomplishments. “It takes a special person to be a nurse. Each and every one of you has proven that you can be that nurse: that nurse who has a sense of humor; that nurse who has professionalism; that nurse who has diligence and compassion; that nurse who has empathy, a sense of deeper understanding of life; that nurse who has hope for what others may seem hopeless; and a sense of pride in saying I am that nurse. We are proud of you and you have a right to be proud of yourselves and your accomplishments.”

Each year, ADN graduates present the Golden D.U.C.K. award to someone who they looked up to as a mentor. The D.U.C.K. acronym represents the foundational elements of the mentoring arrangement: Developing, Understanding, Compassion, and Knowledge.

During the ceremony, the 2021 Golden D.U.C.K. Award was presented to instructor Mary Ellen Powrie. The evening was especially satisfying for Powrie because, a former patient of hers, Danielle Minnick, was among the graduates. Years ago, when Powrie was working as a neonatal nurse in Winter Haven, she cared for Minnick after she was born prematurely.

Graduates of the ADN program become registered nurses by passing the National Council Licensure Examination for Registered Nurses (NCLEX) exam. SFSC nursing graduates are usually fully employed in nursing within a few months of graduation.

SFSC’s ADN program is the only nationally accredited nursing program in its service district of Highlands, Hardee, and DeSoto counties. It is accredited through the Accreditation Commission for Education in Nursing, Inc. (ACEN).

SFSC offers ADN program options for students interested in becoming registered nurses: a two-year Generic-RN program and a one-year Transition-LPN to RN program. The College also offers a one-year practical nursing occupational certificate program. For program entry requirements, consult the SFSC College Catalog at or call 863-784-7027.