AVON PARK —South Florida State College’s Commencement 2014 featured 285 graduating students and a number of firsts.
SFSC recognized its first graduates from its first four-year (baccalaureate) degree program - 14 students earned a bachelor of applied science in supervision and management degree.
It was SFSC President Thomas Leitzel’s first commencement since assuming the presidency on July 1.
He noted the 2014 commencement is very special because the college would be conferring its first baccalaureate degree students.
It was the first time tickets were required to attend the ceremony in the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts. Overflow spectators were accommodated in the theater’s Green Room.
This was the first commencement to feature a brass quintet with members of Celebration Brass performing “Pomp and Circumstance” and other selections.
Student speaker, Anthony Evans, told his fellow classmates to be both proud and thankful for their degrees.
“It is going to open so many doors of opportunity for you that would have been closed without it,” he said.
Evans thanked the college’s teachers and other instructional faculty.
“Your professions are ones that often times go under appreciated, mainly because by the time most of us students really appreciate what you taught us, we are already out of school and in the work force applying what you taught us.”
Evans went on to quote from the movie, “Ferris Beuller’s Day Off.”
“In that movie, Ferris Beuller says, ‘Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.’ The older you get, the more you begin to appreciate that phrase,” Evans said. “Take your education and future professions seriously, but don’t forget to enjoy this time in your life as well. This part of your journey is one that you are going to reminisce about for the rest of your life.” Evans earned an associate in arts degree with honors, majoring in physics and minoring in mathematics. He will continue his education at the University of Florida where he will study physics, with a special interest in high energy astrophysics.
After the commencement program, associate in science nursing graduate Jacqueline Navarrete said she will hopefully get a job and then come back to SFSC to study for a bachelor’s degree in nursing.
Navarrete is hoping to a get a job working in an emergency room, possibly at Lakeland Regional Medical Center.
Asriel Gonzalez also earned an associates degree in nursing.
“I have already applied to the bachelor’s degree program here,” he said. “So we have a practicum before we get our nurse pinning in June and then I will be right back in August in the first year of the BSN [bachelor of science in nursing] program here.”
More than 905 students met SFSC graduation requirements by commencement. Of these, 755 received their associate degrees, vocational certificates or college credit certificates and 136 are graduates of the SFSC Adult Education program.
Henceforth, SFSC will hold two commencements per year in December and May.
Leitzel recognized two deans who will be retiring soon - Annie Alexander-Harvey, dean of student services, for her 17 years of service to SFSC, and Douglas Andrews, dean of cultural programs, for his 32 years of service to SFSC.