SFCC Celebrates Commencement
It was a time of endings and a time of beginnings, a time to say goodbye to friends and mentors and a time to look forward the promise of the future.
Mostly, for the South Florida Community College graduates who gathered in the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts on May 6, the 2010 commencement service was a time to celebrate.
The joy of the occasion was evident in the graduates who waved to cheering relatives and friends as they crossed the theatre stage to accept their associate degrees, college and vocational certificates, and high school diplomas. They also received the best wishes of Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFCC president, college administrators, and members of the SFCC District Board of Trustees.
Pete Guerra, the keynote speaker and member of the class of 2010, noted the reasons he and his fellow graduates chose a community college education: the low costs, the relationships with instructors, and the opportunity to serve the student body and the community. He encouraged students to continue that service in the years to come and, in quoting St. Ignatius of Loyola, “to give and not to count the cost; to fight and not to heed the wounds; to toil and not to seek for rest; to labor and not to ask for any reward.” He reminded them, most of all, to look after each other. “In the words of our great former President Jack Kennedy, ‘United there is little we cannot do, but divided there is little we can.’ So stick together, and pick each other up.”
Guerra participated in SFCC’s rigorous Honors Program while earning his associate in arts degree. He was vice president of SFCC’s Student Government Association and the Tau Epsilon chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, a volunteer docent for the SFCC Museum of Florida Art and Culture (MOFAC), and the recipient of outstanding achievement awards for Humanities I and II, General Biology, and General Physics with Calculus I. He plans to pursue bachelor’s degree in biology through the University of Florida’s Burnett Honors College and eventually become an orthopedic surgeon.
This year, 367 students applied to receive two-year associate in art, associate in applied science, or associate in science degrees. College credit certificates, vocational certificates, and advanced technical diplomas were presented to 227 students. Another 198 students graduated from SFCC’s Adult Education program.
Speaking on behalf of the SFCC District Board of Trustees, Dr. Stephens encouraged the new graduates to embrace future educational opportunities and to serve their communities and their nation. “On behalf of our very dedicated faculty and all of us associated with this college, I commend those of you who are graduating this year,” Dr. Stephens said. “We expect that you will continue on your journeys, always pursuing greater knowledge and wisdom; and that you will strive to serve the interests of others in our communities, our state, our nation, and around the world. We hope that you will continue to learn as you experience life along with its many gifts and challenges.”
Dr. Stephens recognized seven Honors graduates: Ashley Falis, Bethany Finney, Pete Guerra, Hong Thi Nguyen, David Ontermaa, Tathiana Rodgers Negron, and Alex Wheaton.
Faculty selected by the SFCC Faculty Council to serve as marshals were Elizabeth Andrews, Joel Boydston, Ed Christy, Pam Hansen, Dr. Theresa James, Lena Phelps-Ellerker, and Bob Sconyers.
Members of the SFCC Board of Trustees in attendance were David Leidel, chair, Gary Delatorre, vice chair, Timothy Backer, Tami Cullens, Joan Hartt, Dr. Louis Kirschner, and Anne Reynolds.
Distinguished guests were Wally Cox, Highlands County superintendent of schools, Adrian Cline, DeSoto County superintendent of schools, Jeff Mechlin, vice president, SFCC Foundation’s Board of Directors, Dr. Catherine Cornelius, SFCC president emerita, Andrew Jackson, college attorney, and Wendell Williams, former trustee and former charter member of the state Board of Community Colleges.
Guest soloist Shelby Dressel sang “Graduation Road,” a song written expressly for the commencement service by Doug Andrews, SFCC’s dean of Cultural Programs, and David Hale, registration specialist.
The invocation and benediction were delivered by Pastor David Richardson of First Baptist Church of Sebring.