Grads Serve as Legacy

Higher Education

BY CAROL PROBSTFELD SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY MAY 21, 2016

Graduation ceremonies are among the greatest pleasures of being a college president. Twice a year, I am honored to celebrate this signature accomplishment with hundreds of students and their families and friends. In the midst of the day-to-day life of a college’s budget and administrative challenges, graduation ceremonies are a dose of perspective on why I love working in higher education. 

The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, held its largest graduation ceremony in its 59-year history on May 6, with more than 400 of our almost 1,000 graduates choosing to walk across the stage to receive their diploma at the Bradenton Area Convention Center. In the morning of the same day, 98 SCF Collegiate School students graduated high school—with a college graduation to follow that evening. 

It was thrilling to start my day by announcing to our collegiate school graduates that the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee had just agreed to offer free tuition to these students who were being awarded their high school diploma and associate’s degree in the same day. To see the emotion on the faces of the students who had just learned that their final two years of college were paid for was incredible. This scholarship opportunity is a great gesture by our partners at USF-SM and it helps to ensure that our very talented collegiate school graduates do not have to leave our community to complete their bachelor’s degree. 

At our college graduation in the evening, I was honored to present our Outstanding Graduate award to Ella Star. Ella truly exemplifies the kind of student we have at SCF. As a teenager, she chose to leave her native Kazakhstan and come to the United States for an opportunity to get an education and achieve the American dream. At SCF, she not only maintained a 4.0 grade point average and received the Outstanding Physics Student award, but she was also active in student government and many other college organizations. Ella plans to go to engineering school in the fall and has been accepted by several universities. We will see great things from her in the future.

Students like Ella are our mission. As an open-access institution, our college is focused on where you are going as a student, not on where you have been. As we prepare to celebrate SCF’s 60th anniversary in the fall, the more than 45,000 graduates this college has produced are its greatest legacy. I am very fortunate to play a role in building that legacy, and I treasure what our faculty and staff are able to do for our community.

Many students get their start at SCF, some come here to get back on the educational track and others start later to set a new professional course. Graduation means a different thing for each student and leads each to a unique destination. At SCF, you can get anywhere from here.

Dr. Carol Probstfeld is president of State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota.

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