Paramedic graduates

AVON PARK, Fla. – March 7, 2019 – South Florida State College (SFSC) graduated a class of 17 paramedics during an evening ceremony at the SFSC University Center Auditorium at the Highlands Campus on Wednesday, March 6.

Receiving their paramedic certificates were Eric Adams, Terry Armstrong, Ashley Brown, James Bulger, Brian Conley, Lecil (“Sammy”) Deatherage, Jordan Eddins, Lisa Griffis, Darius Livingston, Antwann McMillan, Derek Odell, Jeremy Postin, Evan Scott, Cory Steele, Luke Turner, Taylor Walker, and Joshua Zahn. McMillan also earned his Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services.

The graduates had just completed an 11-month college credit certificate course offered through SFSC’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) program. Paramedics work as part of an emergency response team called out to traffic accidents, fires, and other life-threatening situations.

Steven L. Ashworth, director of SFSC’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) and Fire Science programs, served as the ceremony’s guest speaker.

Ashworth told the graduates that there are five things needed to be successful in public safety. “Number one is showing up a little bit early,” he said. “Each one of you is going to work for an institution. Those people deserve for you to be there on time. Number two is working just a little bit harder. That means that when you show up, you have a good attitude. At 2 a.m., when a patient is having an event in their life, they don’t care that you don’t like your job or that you and your wife were having a bad day. That patient deserves to have 100 percent of you. It’s doing a little extra for your patient.”

He also suggested that the graduates use diplomacy when communicating but that “it’s important to stand up and say something if a medical error occurs. Stand up and say something because it’s the right thing to do.”

Ashworth told the graduates to “be a student of history but don’t live in the past. As paramedics, we may make mistakes because we’re human. We need to look back on those mistakes and learn from them. But don’t dwell on the mistake.”

His fifth point was to embrace diversity and embrace change. “Embracing diversity means to know who you’re working with, and we should embrace how we are similar but we should also embrace how we are different,” he said. “Each individual has their own strengths, and we can learn from one another because of our differences.”

He urged the graduates to accept change, because medicine changes and will only continue to change. Therefore, he said, “If you don’t want to change, this is not the career path for you.”

Finally, Ashworth welcomed the graduates as paramedic colleagues. He said, “This is the first time that the instructional staff and I will get to call you by your first names, because that’s what friends do, that’s what colleagues do.”

Later in the evening, three students were recognized for special achievement. Jeremy Postin was acknowledged for having the Highest GPA – Lecture, and Lisa Griffis was recognized for having the Highest GPA – Lab. Antwann McMillan was awarded with Most Heart, the student who showed the most determination and drive.

In a heartwarming moment, the Graduating Class of March 2019 presented a plaque to their Paramedic program instructors which said, “We thank you for your commitment and tireless dedication to the EMS program and to our success as paramedics.” A second plaque was presented to honor Dolores Breedlove, administrative assistant for SFSC’s EMS program, thanking her for her dedication to the program’s success.

SFSC also offers a 300-hour course leading to employment as an emergency medical technician (EMT). EMTs provide entry-level patient care as part of an emergency response team.

SFSC offers a two-year Associate in Science in Emergency Medical Services, which includes training in both EMT and paramedic programs. Upon completing this program, graduates can work in a supervisory EMS capacity.

For more information, contact Ashworth at 863-784-7272 or