Regalia, White Coats and Pins Signify New Beginning

Guest Correspondence

Photo courtesy SCF.

The first week of May at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota is always bittersweet. Ceremonies marking century-old traditions happen nearly every day for various academic programs. Students are preparing to graduate and begin their next journey while the faculty and staff celebrate this shared milestone and plan for the next semester. 

Honors convocations are among the first ceremonies. Held at SCF Bradenton and Venice, they celebrate and recognize our students for their distinguished academic achievements and service to SCF and our community. We take great pleasure in seeing students honored for their hard work, commitment to representing this college, and ability to overcome life’s challenges. 

Angell Jennings, the recipient of SCF Venice’s image award, graduated with an associate in science degree with an emphasis in Accounting and Budget Operations Management. A student veteran, she has continued her public service by dedicating her time to helping her fellow students by ensuring they know how to access vital services. In addition to Angell’s studies and a challenging schedule, she went above and beyond by volunteering her time for club events, student committees and recruitment efforts.

SCF’s health sciences programs, including Nursing, Occupational Therapy and Physical Therapy host pinning ceremonies before our spring commencement. The pin signifies the student's shift from learning to the clinical setting. In addition to pins, SCF’s Dental Hygiene program honors each student with a white coat to signify their transition. A testament to each program’s quality and the students’ preparedness, 100% of the graduates pass their national licensure exam. Additionally, 100% of eligible Occupational and Physical Therapy graduates have secured employment in the field, showcasing these program’s success in preparing students for their careers.

At each commencement, we honor an Outstanding Graduate who has demonstrated exceptional achievements in leadership, community service, academic achievement and school spirit. Our Spring 2024 awardee, Braydon Bernard, an accelerated dual enrollment student, graduated with his associate in arts degree and a 4.0 GPA. 

“While most 10-year-olds were playing on the playground or eating lunch at school, I was preparing to have a craniotomy,” shared Bernard. He never let his health challenges deter him. Instead, his successful surgery and compassionate healthcare staff, particularly his surgeon, inspired his career goals. Bernard intends to transfer to the University of Florida in the fall to study biochemistry, continuing his arduous path toward a future in pediatric neurosurgery and as a mentor to other children in need.

“Starting college is challenging and scary, but starting college at SCF is far from this.” He always felt that at SCF, there was a resource he could rely on to ease his struggles. SCF’s personalized attention and faculty-to-student ratios helped him fall in love with the science of chemistry. As part of the dual enrollment program, he was able to be independent and harness his full potential. 

If you follow my column, you have frequently read about the dedication and grit of SCF students as I share their triumphs. This Spring's graduates are no exception—our beach volleyball athletes missed their own commencement ceremony to play the championships and placed third in the nation. 

On Friday, May 3, we bestowed more than 1,090 degrees and certificates, including our collegiate high school graduates who receive a high school diploma in the morning and their associate in arts degree in the evening. During my final commencement address, pending my July 1 retirement, I shared these parting words with the students that I would like to share with you. 

Aristotle said, “It’s the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought, but not accept it.” As SCF graduates embark on their future, enter the workforce and represent SCF, I am confident that everyone will see what I’ve always known-that the future is in capable hands. 

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

Photo courtesy SCF.

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