SPC Fall 2018 Graduation

SPC Fall 2018 Graduation


Students, please stand for the Processional. Good morning. You may be seated. I’m Dr. Tonjua Williams and as president
I’d like to welcome you to the 138th commencement
exercise of St. Petersburg College. Today we congratulate our students and
their families who have persevered to the graduation milestone. You inspire us
with your determination. Today, we celebrate you and your
accomplishments. SPC’s Fall 2018 class represents a diverse group of Associate
and Baccalaureate level candidates as well as those receiving certificates and
Applied Technology diplomas. Among our 2,422 graduates are 186 who are receiving more than one credential. 135
are between the ages of 50 and 60. [Audience Clapping] 19 of our graduates are older than
60. Today, our youngest graduate is 18 and our oldest is 76. For every 2 male graduates there are 3 female graduates. 8 of us will be receiving
our diplomas on our Birthdays! Including our graduates awarded today, the number
of degrees and certificates awarded by St. Petersburg College since its
beginning in 1927 is 174,637 certificates and degrees. Congratulations to you all. Now please stand as
Reverend Andy Oliver from the Allendale United
Methodist Church offers the invocation. Following the invocation. please join in
the singing of our National Anthem and reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance. The
National Anthem will be led by one of our outstanding SPC music students
Hannah White. Reverend Oliver. Let us pray. Oh God of many names, you meet us here in
this space that we have set aside to celebrate learning. You have placed within
each of us a longing to know, to discover, to explore and to co-create with you.
Where there is fear may we love. Where there is hate may we speak out. Where
harm is being done may we protect. Where there is injustice may we resist. Where
racism has hold may we dismantle. Where homophobia belittles may we build up. Where transphobia erases may we fully see. Where ignorance resides may we bring
knowledge. As Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King called students at a graduation to
remain awake through the revolution may we accept that some 50 years later our
work is not yet done. May we keep our eyes and hearts and hands and minds and
lives open to the inescapable truth that our destinies are wound up in each
other’s, that none of us is free until all have found liberation. That you can
never be what you ought to be until your neighbor is what they ought to be. This
is our co-creative charge for which we were educated. To use our knowledge to
change the world for the better. To love our enemies until we can call them
neighbors and then to love our neighbors until it is no longer us and them but
only we. May it be so. Amen. I pledge allegiance to the flag of the
United States of America and to the Republic for which it stands, one nation,
under God, indivisible with liberty and justice for all. You may be seated. The Graduation ceremony is a time to honor you, the
graduates, as well as time to honor those who have helped make this College the
great institution that it is today. The College’s Board of Trustees provide
leadership and guidance to the College administration and have served these
graduates over the past several years. In addition to their other involvements
which you’ll see noted in your program, they give many volunteer hours to the
College. It is my pleasure to introduce the members of our Board of Trustees.
Please stand when your name is called. The Chairman of our board is Trustee
Nathan Stonecipher of St. Petersburg. Mr. Stonecipher is co-owner of Green Bench
Brewing Company. He previously was Vice President of Directed Capital Resources
LLC. He was appointed to the board by Governor Rick Scott and he is an SPC
alumni. Mr. Bill Foster, St. Petersburg. Mr. Foster! Mr. Foster is the former
Mayor of the City of St. Petersburg and an attorney at Foster and Foster PA.
He was appointed to the board by Governor Rick Scott. Trustee Gibbons, Trustee Kohl
and Trustee Bellow could not be with us today, but you can see their information
in your program. Also on the platform today is Miss Starla Metz, Principal of
St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Would you please stand. The day-to-day experiences of our
students on our campuses reflect the values of the College through the
leadership of an experienced Provost at each site. Together, our campus Provosts
have crafted a program of student support that is fundamental to the
success of our students. Provosts, would you please stand and be recognized. Our academic Deans work hard to make sure our students get a quality education
that prepares them for life beyond
St. Petersburg College. We are privileged to
have them here with us today. Would our academic Deans please stand. I am extremely grateful to our Vice Presidents in our Executive Leadership
team that provide ideas, concerns and guidance to me on a daily basis. One of your fellow students, Mr. Jarek Rivera is a member of our Leadership team. Would those Leadership team members sitting on the platform today please stand. Be
recognized. Thank you for your service. It is a special honor to recognize our
Faculty Senate Leaders. Please stand when I call your name. Dr. Shannon Ulrich,
President Faculty Senate Dr. Jeffrey Briggs. Vice President Carruth Health Education Campus Faculty Council Laurie King, Chair, Seminole Campus Faculty and Dr. Carol Weiderman, Chair, St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus Faculty Council. Without a doubt, those here at St.
Petersburg College who played the most critical role in the lives of our
students are the members of our St. Petersburg College faculty. They are
committed to teach, nurture, and guide our students on a daily basis. They also
contribute personally to the National standing in reputation that this College
enjoys. Thank you faculty for investing in our students for lifting them up
significantly, contributing to student success. Will faculty members please
stand while we express our sincere thanks. Thank you. You may be seated. The role of our administrators and support staff is critical in providing students
with tools, programs and services designed to provide a great college
experience. Will our administrators and support staff stand and be recognized.
They’re probably working all around, they’re standing. Thank you for your work. Now, to our students. If you are a veteran
of the US Armed Services, please stand. and be recognized. Thank you for your service. If you are first in your family to earn a college degree, please stand and be recognized. You may be seated. If you are a parent please stand and be recognized. You may be seated. If you worked while attending classes, please stand and be recognized. You may be seated. If you took at least one online class, will you stand and be recognized. You may be seated. Our students are far from ordinary – they are Extra Ordinary. Overcoming
several obstacles to change their lives. We are privileged to serve you. If you’ve been a participant in the Honors Program at St. Petersburg College will you stand
and be recognized. You may be seated. If you are a member of a Student Government Association or College club will you stand and be recognized. You may be seated. Now I’d like to recognize students who were members of an Honor
Society or academic achievement organization such as Phi Theta Kappa, Golden Key, Phi Beta, Tri beta… Will you please stand. Thank you, you may be seated.
Now I’d like to recognize those with academic honors. Students graduating with
an Associate’s Degree who achieved a minimum cumulative GPA of 3.3 receive
the distinction of graduating with Honor. Would this group please stand. Thank you, you may be seated. All degree-seeking students who earn a 3.5 to 3.69
grade point average receive the honor of graduating cum laude. Would this group of
graduates please stand. Good job. Thank you. You may be seated. In addition, all
degree-seeking students who earn a 3.7 to 3.89 GPA received the honor of
graduating magna cum laude. Would you please stand. Thank you, you may be seated. And finally all degree-seeking students who earned a 3.9 GPA or above will receive the honor of graduating summa cum laude. Would this distinguished group please stand. If you didn’t get anything else but
‘thank you’ laude, would you please stand. Congratulations for achieving this high
academic standing here at St. Petersburg College. Among our graduates are two
students who have been selected by faculty and administration to address
you today. Our first speaker is Ms. Ronelia Bailey. Today, Ronelia Bailey is graduating with her Associate of Arts degree in business. She
currently serves as a President of the Honors Program student consortium, the
Historian of the Clearwater Student Government Association, as well as a
member of PTK and Golden Key Society,. the Multicultural Club, Women on the Way,
Badeya Black Student Union and the National Council for Black American
Affairs. In her 2 years at St. Petersburg College she has been a
champion of volunteerism and service encouraging many of her fellow students
to give back to the local and global community. Miss Bailey. Good morning faculty, staff, distinguished guests, graduates, family members, and everyone
that woke up early this morning to support us. It is an honor and a
privilege to speak with you this morning and I’m truly grateful for this
opportunity. It’s early so I’m going to keep it short and sweet. I would first
like to give honor and glory to God for without his grace and mercy I would
not be standing before you today. I would like to congratulate my fellow
graduates for accomplishing such an amazing feat. The road was not easy
but we made it. I’m standing before you today as a non-traditional student, a
lupus survivor, kidney failure survivor and a kidney transplant recipient. Like everyone under the sound of my voice, I overcame many challenges to make it this
far. I was able to persevere through adversity because of the love, encouragement,
and generous support of family, friends and the exceptional faculty and staff of
St. Petersburg College. I would like to take this opportunity to
honor those who have taken the time to invest in my life. I would not be
standing here without the love, prayers and guidance of my family members. My
family has been my main support and my loudest cheerleaders throughout the
years. Love you mom! I remember my first semester at St. Petersburg College. I was
very intimidated, and for those who know me personally, you might find
that hard to believe. I had been out of school for many years
not by choice but because of my long list of health issues. I was not sure if
I’d be able to keep up intellectually or physically with my peers. I took Dr.
Morelli White’s honors Western humanities class at Clearwater campus. Dr. Morelli is special to me because she’s one of the first people to encourage me
academically. I would always visit her during office hours to check my work
because I was always worried I was doing my work incorrectly. She would always
encourage me by telling me what an awesome job I was doing. She had no idea
how much those words meant to me and I continued to excel academically because
of her words of encouragement. I had many mentors and people who positively
impacted my life and I would like to quickly mention a few. I would like to honor my kidney donor,
even though I don’t know your identity.
I thank you for your selfless gift. My Nephrologist, Doctor Kedar Shetye,
my pastor, Howard Bass, the director of the honors program, Mr. Earl Fratus. Words can’t express how grateful I am to you. Doctor Joy Moore, thank you for showering me with motherly love, Miss Wand McCawthan, who retired earlier this year after 45 years
of service at St. Petersburg College. Miss Angela Cole of International
Programs, Professor Osiris, my Spanish instructor who sacrificed her time to
tutor me, Ms Janice Barocas, my ethics instructor, Ms. Linda Chang who adopted
me at our first encounter, Ms. Kay Morgan who provided many occasions for
me to serve. To everyone that encouraged me at Woman on the Way, to Ms. Stephanie
and Ms. Rose at student life and leadership at Clearwater campus. There are countless others that have given me advice, challenged me to do better and
allowed me to exercise my gifts. To each name I didn’t have time to mention, I am
eternally grateful. Graduates, I implore you to take the time to say thank you to the people around you that have helped you in your journey. We could not have
done it without their compassion, love, words of encouragement and for some of
us, financial support. I will end by giving these two quotes: My first is by Ralph Marston. “Make it a habit to tell people thank you, to express your appreciation, sincerely and without the expectation of anything in return. Truly appreciate those around you, and you will soon find others around you. Truly appreciate life, and you fill find that you have more of it.” And my second is by William Arthur Ward: “Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” I’d also like to say Facebook reminded me that today was Dr. Williams birthday, so happy Birthday! Thank you, and go Titans! Thank you Ms. Bailey. Congratulations on
all you have achieved. Please accept this token of thanks for your participation in today’s ceremony, thank you. Our second speaker is Mr. Alexander Fisher.
Alexander will graduate with his Bachelor of Applied Science degree in
Management and Organizational Leadership. Alexander is a veteran of the United
States Navy’s submarine force. While at St. Petersburg College Alexander has
started a business and was one of our winners at the Business Plan Competition
in 2016. In addition, Alexander was selected as a
Frank and Ellen Daveler entrepreneurship program scholar in 2017. Mr. Fisher. 8 years ago I was homeless and
broken in spirit. I had no hope. My will was gone and I had no fight left in me
to continue in this life. A feeling of despair had overtaken me and I thought
my life was done, destined to live like this for the rest of my life. At the point when all seemed lost, someone reached her hand out to offer me help.
They told me that if I wanted to change my life, there was work I had to do.
Inside of me came a little spark of hope. I started taking the necessary actions
to improve my life and things started to change. As this process continued I met
more people who would guide me in the direction I wanted to go. Early in this
process there were plenty of fears… These fears prevented me from doing what I wanted because I felt that I was not good enough to accomplish the dreams
that I had. The people around me believed in me but I did not believe in myself. One day during a break at work, I was talking to a co-worker about my dreams
and he told me to follow the Nike slogan: “Just do it!”
That is the moment I started
walking through those fears and working on what I wanted for my life. Hope began
to burn inside me like a bonfire. However, I must work hard to keep that hope alive. Today I am a college graduate with a young successful business that I’ve been building all thanks to the people that I surrounded myself with.
These friends, family, and mentors believed in me until I was able to believe in myself and today, they keep pushing me to strive for what I want. There are a lot of people that I would like to thank for where I am today. First, the faculty and staff for all their assistance through this journey,
especially those in the College of Business. I would also like to thank
those friends, mentors, and advisers who became like a second family to me.
Finally, I want to thank my family who have been behind me through the good
times and the bad. So, as all of you walk across the stage, remember to strive for the life that you want. work hard for what you want and keep close to those positive influential people. If you work at it, that hope about your future that
you are all feeling today will come to fruition. Keep that fire alive and go out
there and live your lives the way you want. Remember that you are all good enough, you just have to believe in yourselves. Thank you Mr. Fisher. Congratulations on
all that you have accomplished. Please accept this token of thanks for
participating in today’s ceremony and congratulations. At this time our Vice President for academic affairs Dr. Ann Cooper will present each group
of candidates by their degree beginning with our baccalaureate class.
Our College administrators will announce the graduates when they come up on the
platform. Dr. Cooper, please present the candidates
for Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science, and baccalaureate
certificates. Will the candidates for the degrees of Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science, and baccalaureate certificates please stand? President Williams, the candidates
standing before you have presented their credentials for the awarding of the
degrees of Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science and baccalaureate
certificates. I hereby recommend them to you for the conferring of those degrees
and certificates by the power vested in me by the sovereign state of Florida and
the Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College, I do hereby confer upon you the
degree Bachelor of Science, Bachelor of Applied Science, and baccalaureate
certificates, with all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.
Please change your tassels from right to left. Congratulations, you may be seated.
Dr. Cooper, please present the Associate in Arts candidates.
Will the candidates for the degrees of Associate in Arts please stand? President Williams, the candidates
standing before you have presented their credentials for the awarding of the
degree of Associate in Arts. I hereby recommend them to you for the conferring of that degree by the power vested in me by the sovereign state of Florida and
the Board of Trustees of St. Petersburg College. I do hereby confer upon you the
degree Associate in Arts with all the rights and privileges thereunto appertaining. Please change your tassels from right to left Congratulations, you may be seated. Dr. Cooper, please present the Associate in Science Applied Technology diploma and
certificate candidates. Will the candidates for Associate in Science degree, Applied Technology diplomas and certificates please stand? President Williams, the candidates
standing before you have presented their credentials for the awarding of
Associate in Science Applied Technology diplomas and certificates. I hereby
recommend them to you for the conferring of the degrees diplomas and certificates. By the power vested in me by the sovereign state of Florida and the Board
of Trustees of St. Petersburg College, I do hereby confer upon you an
Associate in Science degree or award you an Applied Technology diploma or
certificate with all rights and privileges thereunto appertaining.
Please change your tassels from right to left. Congratulations, you may be seated. Gaduates, the marshals will now guide
you by row to receive your diplomas beginning with our baccalaureate
graduates. When you have received your diploma. please return to your seat and remain seated until all graduates have crossed
the stage. Biology. College of Business. College of Information and Computer Technology. College of
Education College of Nursing School of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies Bachelors of Science, Public
Policy and Administration College of Public Safety and Administration School of Veterinary Technology Associate in Arts Associate in Science Degrees Certificates in Applied Technical Diplomas Ladies and Gentlemen, the graduating class of 2018. To those of you in the audience who are
family and friends of these graduates, I know that there have been times when you
felt that none of your hard work and support of these graduates was
appreciated or even noticed. But here you are, and here they are, and these graduates did appreciate you and they did notice you. The College appreciates you.
Graduates, please join me in saying thank you to your family and friends, for
without them, this day would not be possible. And as you, the guests of these graduates,
are here today I’d like to ask those of you who are alumni of St. Petersburg
College, formerly known as St. Petersburg Junior College, to stand and be
recognized. if you are an alumni. All the graduates are alumni just in case y’all
didn’t know that! Thank you. Let me add one more thought for the
guests who are here to honor the graduates. I hope you will consider the
role St. Petersburg College can have in your lives.
St. Petersburg College is a special place where opportunities are endless, hope is never deferred and
dreams come true. As graduates, you are now alumni of the best college in the state of Florida. Let’s stay in touch! Join the Alumni Association. Let us know
what great success you’ve had and stay connected with fellow Titans graduates.
You have received and acquired a lot of knowledge from the finest of faculties.
Now the challenge is to apply that knowledge with wisdom, and by doing so
you will more than likely experience success in your lives. Lastly, I’d like to
express appreciation for the music today which has been provided by the St.
Petersburg College band led by Professor Nathan Muehl and our vocalist Miss
Hannah White. I also wish to thank those, who through
countless hours of hard work, made this commencement possible.
Graduates, thank you for choosing our College, SPC. We were privileged to serve you with
most sincere appreciation we pay tribute to your accomplishments.
And now, our Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Jimmy O’Connor will come forward to conclude today’s celebration. Reverend Oliver will now pronounce our
benediction, which will be followed by the singing of our alma mater. The words
to the alma mater are found inside the back cover of your program.
Following the alma mater, please remain in your seats until all our graduates have exited the
stadium. If you and your family would like a photograph with Dr. Williams, she
will be available outside of Gate 5 under a blue awning following the
conclusion of the ceremony. Reverend Oliver. And now may love go before you to
defend you, go behind you to protect you, go beneath you to withhold, you rest
above you to bless you, walk beside you to befriend you, and dwell within you to
comfort you. Now and forever, amen.

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