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Eastern Florida Students Celebrate on Graduation Day
May 12, 2016 - Stories of inspiration and goals achieved filled the halls Thursday as Eastern Florida State College students received their diplomas during Spring Commencement.
About 2,000 students were eligible to gain their degrees during two ceremonies at
the King Center for the Performing Arts on the Melbourne campus, which was filled
with cheering families and friends.
A noon ceremony featured students from the Titusville and Cocoa campuses while a mid-afternoon ceremony was held for students from the Melbourne and Palm Bay campuses.
The graduates heard college President Dr. Jim Richey laud their accomplishments and offer thoughts on their road ahead.
“Today we know, more than ever, life is about rapid change, especially in our economy and with it the needed ability to adapt to that change. Studies show that college graduates can now expect to have 10 to 15 jobs during their career, and some will never work in the field of their major,” said Richey.
“That means success will come to those who are open and excited about learning new skills, and who cultivate a mindset that allows them to eagerly seize different opportunities in a constantly changing workplace.
“So be quick on your feet, embrace innovation, and be creative. Stay on the cutting edge of whatever path you choose, and do not be afraid to take a leap of faith. In fact, you should never be afraid to fail. Life is full of trial and error, and sometimes the most important lessons we learn come from our mistakes and detours.
“If you do not get the job you want, or if the job you have is not fulfilling your expectations, do not lose heart. Instead, reboot and press on with an undiminished confidence in yourself,” he said.
Students at the mid-afternoon ceremony also heard the inspiring story of graduate Ryan White, who overcame a disability to earn “something I once thought impossible – my Bachelor’s Degree in Organizational Management in General Business.”
At 16, White was diagnosed with ADHD, a learning disability that prevented him from finishing college in his home state of Michigan and left him wondering if he would ever succeed.
But things changed at Eastern Florida where “the small classroom size, hands-on approach by professors and the supportive environment was perfect for me,” he told those in attendance.
“This college is a special place. There’s a real sense of community here that’s dedicated to ensuring that students achieve their dreams and grow as individuals.
“As I look to the future, I will never forget Eastern Florida, knowing the profound impact that everyone here has made on my life,” he said.
At the noon ceremony, graduate Thursday, Rebecca Robillard, 24, of Merritt Island, had her own inspiring story.
She overcame cancer to earn a Bachelor’s Degree in Biomedical Science, making her one of the college’s first graduates from the new program.
Robbillard is now on track for medical school and a planned career as a surgeon.
“The one-on-one teaching I received in the program was essential to making sure everyone in the class was successful,” she said.
“The teachers really took it to the next level. It was a great hands-on experience.”
Also graduating was Susan Slaton, 51, of Port St. John, who returned to school after more than 30 years and earned her Associate in Arts Degree.
Slaton and her family had to sell a car to help pay for classes, and her dedication inspired her son, Randy Randall, to go back to school as well.
He also graduated Thursday with a certificate in computerized machining, making it a special day for the entire family.
“The activities I was involved in and the help I received from people at the college cemented for me that I could do it,” said Slaton, who also earned a prestigious Citizen Scholar designation for volunteer work in the community.
“I learned that you never give up, you’re never too old, and that you should always be positive. If you do all that, you can achieve your goals.”
There was also graduate Samantha Cooper, 28, of Titusville, an Air Force veteran who earned an Associate in Arts Degree along with a Citizen Scholar honor for her community work.
“I’m really humbled by the whole situation,” she said. “I love helping other people learn what they can do to help their community.”
Both ceremonies were broadcast live on WEFS-TV and streamed live. Replays of both ceremonies can be watched online at livestream.com/efsctitans
Graduates and their families are encouraged to post photos to social media using the hashtag #efscgrad
Among those congratulating the EFSC graduates was Florida Gov. Rick Scott who in a
letter given to each graduate with their diploma encouraged them to explore career opportunities in Florida.
The graduates joined more than 95,000 others who have graduated from the college since it began in 1960.
Eastern Florida offers more than 100 degrees and certificate programs, with new Bachelor’s Degree and Associate’s Degree programs in Business, Health Care and Computer Information Technologies.
Classes are available on all four campuses and online.
For more information, visit easternflorida.edu