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Class of 2012 Enjoys Its Moment in the Sun

Submitted by on May 4, 2012 – 3:24 pmNo Comment
Angie Noonon, SFCC registration data specialist, pins the cap on new graduate Alyssa Thompson

South Florida Community College’s Class of 2012 hugged friends, family members, and favorite professors, reminisced about classes and club activities, and talked about what they plan to do with the next adventure of their lives at the college’s annual commencement service Thursday evening.

“We are at our graduation. How does that feel?” Keiaria Williams, student speaker, asked the new graduates who assembled in the SFCC Theatre for the Performing Arts to accept their hard-earned degrees, certificates, and diplomas. Judging from the joyous, enthusiastic response from her peers, being part of the Class of 2012 felt pretty good.

Along with sharing her pride in their common accomplishments, Williams encouraged her fellow Panthers to apply the knowledge and abilities they acquired at SFCC the challenges that will meet them in their journey through life.  “I know that we are all going to move on to do great things,” Williams said. “I hope that we embrace life as it comes our way and that we continue to work hard because I’m sure it’s the only way.”

“The point is to be able to look back at these times, not to be stuck in them. No rush, though, because we’re about to reach our dreams, and we don’t even have our arms stretched. Imagine the heights you would reach if you could just get a little higher.”

Williams is no stranger to hard work. During the 2011-12 academic year, she was a member of SFCC’s Brain Bowl team, which competed in the National Academic Quiz Tournament’s (NAQT) Community College National Championships for the first time in its history. She served as public relations officer and secretary for SFCC’s Student Government Association (SGA) and was the student representative to the SFCC Museum of Art and Culture (MOFAC) advisory committee. She also formed the college’s first yoga club.

This year, 538 students applied to receive two-year associate in art, associate in science, or associate in applied science degrees. College credit certificates, vocational certificates, and advanced technical diplomas were presented to 235 students. Another 114 graduated from SFCC’s Adult Education program.

Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., SFCC president, joined Williams in congratulating the new graduates for their efforts and expressed his hope that they would use their education and talents in the service of others. “On behalf of our very dedicated faculty and staff and our Board of Trustees, I commend our graduates for reaching this important milestone. You have worked hard and learned important lessons that should prepare you for a successful future. We encourage you to serve the interests of others and to help those who may be less fortunate. We expect you will continue to learn as you experience life along with its many gifts and challenges, and that you will find fulfillment in all of your endeavors.”

Dr. Stephens recognized five Honors Program graduates: Matthew Broxson, Sharleen Focant, Laura Patino, Rachel Reid, and Jennifer Segers.

Members of the SFCC District Board of Trustees in attendance were: Timothy Backer, chair, Tami Cullens, vice chair, Derren J. Bryan, Dr. Louis Kirschner, Kenneth Lambert, Lana Puckorius, Kris Rider, and Patrick “Joe” Wright.

Distinguished guests were: Jeff Mechlin, president, SFCC Foundation Board of Directors; John Scherlacher, president, SFCC Alumni Association; Adrian Cline, DeSoto County superintendent of schools; Wally Cox, Highlands County superintendent of schools; and Wendell Williams, former trustee and former charter member of the state Board of Community Colleges.

Guest soloist David Radford sang, “You’ll Never Walk Alone,” from the musical Carousel. He was accompanied by Doug Andrews, SFCC’s dean of Cultural Programs.

The invocation and benediction were delivered by Pastor Andrew Katsanis of Grace Bible Church in Sebring. 

Glenn Little, vice president, Administrative Services, and Doug Andrews, dean, Cultural Programs go over the commencement program.

Ricardo Pantoja (center), coordinator, TRiO Student Support Services (SSS), congratulates two graduates he mentored during the program’s first year – Yesenia Calderon (left), president of SFCC’s chapter of Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), and Sylvestre Valencia. Both received their Associate in Arts (A.A.) degrees.




Tami Cullens, vice chair of SFCC’s District Board of Trustees, and Dr. Norm Stephens, SFCC president, share the excitement the 2012 commencement service.

The Craig family congratulates 17-year-old Bianca Craig for receiving her Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree with SFCC Class of 2012. Pictured are Wayne Craig (left), Bianca’s father and SFCC student services advisor, mother Stephanie Craig, Bianca Craig, and grandmother Pauline Auyang.Dr. Charlotte Pressler, professor, English and Humanities, and director of SFCC’s Honors Program, gets a hug from one of her students, Gregory Artrip.

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