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SFSC Graduates Celebrate Milestone, Look to Future

Submitted by on May 21, 2013 – 9:41 amNo Comment

Dr. Brian Deery, psychology professor, congratulates his former student, Alyssa Greenlee, for earning her associate degree. To view the photo gallery from SFSC’s 2013 commencement, click here.


The joy was infectious among the nearly 260 South Florida State College graduates, who celebrated their accomplishments in the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts Monday evening with pomp, humor, and high spirits, and looked to the next phase of their lives with anticipation and hope.

The annual commencement exercises marked one significant milestone, as the Class of 2013 became the first to graduate from the institution since it became a state college almost one year ago. The new alumni also joined the college and the community in honoring Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr., who presided over his 11th and final commencement as president of SFSC. He retires in June.

This year, 837 students met SFSC graduation requirements by commencement. Of these, 555 received associate in arts degrees, associate in science degrees, or associate in applied science degrees; 166 received occupational or college credit certificates; and 116 graduated from SFSC’s Adult Education program.

Dr. Stephens commended the new graduates for their achievements and encouraged them to make use of the opportunities that will come their way. “As we all know, opportunities are too often missed and potential is of little value unless developed. Your future is yet to be realized,” Dr. Stephens said. “Tonight, you commence on the next part of your journey. Along the way, we expect you will face many of life’s blessings as well as the unanticipated challenges that often deepen life’s experiences. Whatever your path, we encourage you to take the advantage that you have earned, and we hope that you will find fulfillment in all your future endeavors.”

Dr. Stephens recognized 12 Honors Program graduates: Lakeidra Baker, John Beard, Star Centeno, Brooke Dale, Joshuah Doane, Eric Harrigan, Brian Jiménez, Jake Jordan, Kevin LaDue, Ivanna Mahabir, Erik Price, and Mc Harry Ramos.

In return, Dr. Stephens was recognized by Kody Kindrick, vice president of juris prudence for the Student Government Association (SGA), and Tami Cullens, chair, SFSC District Board of Trustees. Kindrick gave him a commemorative vase on behalf of the student body, while Cullens presented him with a president emeritus medallion.

In her commencement address, Cullens acknowledged the contributions Dr. Stephens made to education over the course of his 45-year career. She specifically praised his leadership to the college, in which he promoted excellence in all areas of education, launched new and expanded programs and services, embraced technology in learning and business interactions, exercised fiscal responsibility, and developed new facilities that serve the diverse needs of the community.

Cullens noted a few of the accomplishments that occurred during Dr. Stephens’ tenure. SFSC initiated its first baccalaureate degree program, added four health care-related training programs, was approved for reaccreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) with no recommendations, constructed the state-of-the-art Dr. Norman L. Stephens Jr. Health and Science Education Center and, through extensive remodeling, transformed the college’s auditorium into the SFSC Theatre for the Performing Arts.

“Dr. Stephens has served our district with distinction throughout his presidency,” Cullens said. “He is a family man, a loving husband and father, and a tireless servant-leader.  Dr. Stephens is highly respected among his peers and by his faculty and staff.”

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

Distinguished guests were: Dr. Catherine Cornelius, president emerita, SFSC; Jeff Mechlin, president, SFSC Foundation Board of Directors; John Scherlacher, president, SFSC Alumni Association; Wally Cox, Highlands County superintendent of schools; and Wendell Williams, former trustee and founding member of the SFSC Foundation.

“Time for Us” was performed by Wayne Boda, an SFSC alum who sings professionally, and Erin Sena, an SFSC student who recently survived three auditions for the “American Idol” competition. The piece was written especially for the occasion by lyricist David Hale, SFSC registration specialist, and composer Douglas M. Andrews, dean, Cultural Programs. Andrews provided accompaniment on the piano.

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