Orlando City Commissioner Patty Sheehan provided the keynote address
SANFORD, Fla. (Dec 16, 2016) – Seminole State College of Florida awarded 2,069 degrees and certificates, including more than 100 bachelor’s degrees, during the Fall 2016 Collegewide Commencement on Dec. 14 at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena.
In her address, Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee noted significant developments at Seminole State including the launch of the sixth bachelor’s degree in health sciences this summer and news that the College is seeking state approval for the next bachelor’s degree in nursing.
She also noted that just last week, Seminole State received word that the College is ranked seventh in the nation for bachelor’s degrees awarded among two-year colleges offering bachelor’s degrees.
Amid highlights of the College’s successes, the night belonged to the graduates.
“Congratulations, graduates. Today is truly all about you,” McGee said. "Your determination, your sacrifices, your perseverance. That you never gave up on your dream, even though there may have been times when you thought about it. Today, we celebrate all that you have accomplished.”
McGee attributed the many successes at Seminole State to the quality of the faculty and staff and the dedication of the students. She recognized a few of the graduates, sharing their unique stories.
Among the graduates were:
Alexis Johnson, of Winter Park: Johnson, an honors and first-generation college student, overcame a medical emergency, which depleted her tuition savings. Thanks to the United Way’s Destination Graduation program, she received the financial assistance needed to finish her degree. She earned her Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree and will pursue a bachelor’s degree in biology at Rollins College before going on to medical school.
Ray Kellogg, of Lake Mary: While attending middle school in Seminole County, he and his family became homeless after his father lost his job. His family received assistance from Second Harvest Food Bank. After high school, Kellogg enrolled in Seminole State’s EMT program but left the program when his father became ill. After his father’s death, Ray returned to the Fire Academy, because the staff and students provided him much-needed strength. Kellogg gives back by volunteering at Second Harvest and is looking forward to helping others as a first responder in his community.
Kehinde Olagbiyan, of Deltona: Born in Nigeria, Olagbiyan moved to the United States with her husband in 2002 and could not speak, read or write English. That same year, she enrolled in the English Language Studies (ELS) program at Seminole State and advanced through the courses. In 2006, she enrolled in the Adult Basic Education program and pursued her studies while balancing life as a busy wife and mother of two. Today, Olagbiyan is a graduate of the GED program and will pursue a nursing degree at Seminole State this spring.
Antonio Hernandez Pumarejo, of Orange City: Hernandez Pumarejo has Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder, and faced many challenges during his education but did not let that stop him from reaching his goal. In 2014, he graduated with his A.A. degree from Seminole State. He continued in the College’s bachelor’s of business and information management (BIM) program and served as project manager for the capstone project, working on the Uber pilot project for the City of Sanford. Hernandez Pumarejo is also committed to helping others with autism and is on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of Greater Orlando. He plans to use his degree to become an entrepreneur.
During the ceremony, Seminole State graduating nursing students who were at Orlando Regional Medical Center (ORMC) on the morning of the Pulse shooting also were recognized. For the nine students, Colin Bailey, Victoria Casto, Crystal Clarke, Janelle Coats, Asiya Jones, Elizabeth Smith, Molly Stoute, Victoria Valentine and Megan Ward, that tragic day brought all of their education and training into focus when they arrived for their clinical rotation and discovered they would be joining the medical team at ORMC’s Trauma Step Down unit. Each student utilized what he or she learned over the last two years to make a difference and help save lives.
Orlando City Commissioner and Seminole State College alumna Patty Sheehan provided the keynote speech for the graduation ceremony, sharing her personal challenge to overcome crippling stage fright in addition to her emotional role following the Pulse nightclub shooting.
As the commissioner, Sheehan witnessed parents and friends frantically searching for loved ones, and some receiving the worst news possible. She spoke of Luis Vielma, a Seminole State student who was killed in the attack. Sheehan urged graduates to honor Vielma by being of service to others and doing the best job possible.
“Every one of you will have a contribution to make in this world,” said Sheehan. “And while you may not find it tomorrow or the next day, if you believe in your voice, do every job well and find inspiration in those you love, you will be well ahead of most of the folks in this world.”
For those who were unable to attend, a video of the ceremony is available on the College’s graduation website.
About Seminole State College of Florida: Seminole State College of Florida, established in 1965, serves nearly 30,000 students across six sites in Central Florida. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded nearly 100,000 credentials, from bachelor's degrees to high school diplomas, and offers more than 200 degrees, certificates and programs designed for success. For more about the college, visit seminolestate.edu, like us on Facebook at facebook.com/seminolestate and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.