South Florida State College (SFSC) marked the end of the 2018 academic year with its Spring Commencement held in two ceremonies on Thursday, May 3, in the SFSC Alan Jay Wildstein Center for the Performing Arts on the Highlands Campus. 

SFSC honored the recipients of Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education and Associate in Arts (A.A.) degrees at the 4:45 p.m. ceremony. Honored during the 7:45 p.m. ceremony were those earning Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management (BAS-SM) degrees, Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree, applied technology diplomas, occupational and college credit certificates, and State of Florida High School diplomas. 

In all, 312 students crossed the stage wearing academic regalia adorned with an assortment of colored cords and sashes signifying individual achievement. 

Addressing the graduates, Tim Backer, chair of the SFSC District Board of Trustees said, “As you keep moving forward in life, never stop learning, but take a minute now and then to appreciate where you are in life and your successes at that time.” 

Erika Weaver-Coleman, a graduate who earned her A.A. degree, delivered the Commencement speech during the early ceremony. “The success that we have experienced is a direct result of our endurance to not give up, to see the sunrise above the peak and the calm after the storm,” she said. “In the words of the pop band Journey, ‘Don’t stop believing, hold on to that feeling.’ That feeling, that moment, is the true success. Not that we achieved our goals but that we achieved our goals despite the mountains, hurricanes and statistics tests. That moment of success is realizing not only that we arrived, but our very arrival allowed for more paths, and more unfolding of this great story of ourselves.” 

The 7:45 p.m. ceremony featured Luis Rodriguez as its speaker. Rodriguez, who graduated with his occupational certificate in Applied Cybersecurity and is currently working on a pilot’s license in his spare time, said, “When a plane is on the ground, it begins to rust and malfunction much faster than when it is flying. A plane was meant to fly. Likewise, we do not want to reach the end of our lives with dreams we did not pursue, saying ‘If only I…’ If I had said no to the Highlands Career Institute at SFSC three years ago, I would not be standing here in front of you having earned two occupational certificates and a college credit certificate. And I’ll earn my high school diploma on May 19. I would never have accomplished so many things.” 

Dr. Charlotte Pressler, director of SFSC’s Honors Program, recognized three Honors Program graduates for academic excellence, outstanding leadership, and strong citizenship. They were Zachary Geitner, Leticia Gracia Hernandez, and Rodrigo Gracia Hernandez.  

The college conferred the BAS-SM on 12 graduates, the BSN program graduated 18 students, and the BSEE program nine students. SFSC awarded A.A. degrees to 185 and A.S. degrees to 68 students. College credit certificates, occupational certificates, or applied technology diplomas went to 172 students, with another 20 earning their State of Florida High School diplomas. 

Michelle Macbeth, Spanish instructor, served as mace bearer and chief marshal for this year’s Commencement ceremony. Marshals were Elizabeth Andrews, Davida Austin, Tom Bush, Brian Bohlman, Ashtanel Castillo, Courtney Green, Robert Hampton, Lorri Jaques, Dr. Theresa James, Cynthia Kinser, Dr. Maday Leon, Claire Miller, Tasha Morales, Asena Mott, Ricardo Pantoja, Lena Phelps, Daisy Ramirez, and Joshua Wood.