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Seminole State bachelor's grads make history

Seminole State's first baccalaureate graduates are joined by philanthropist Harriett Lake for a group photo after they receive their degrees. Lake, who dreamed of entering the interior design baccalaureate program as an 88-year-old, donated the hoods to the graduates. (Photo by Kellie Warren-Underwood)
Deborah Kirkland becomes the first student in Seminole State history to be awarded a bachelor's degree. A total of 18 bachelor's degrees were awarded during the Fall Commencement on Dec. 9. (Photo by Kellie Warren-Underwood)

Eighteen students made history at Seminole State College of Florida on Friday, Dec. 9, becoming the first graduates to earn a four-year degree in the College’s 46-year history.

The students, whose journey began in January 2010, crossed the stage at the Fall 2011 Commencement Ceremony, earning their bachelor’s degrees in interior design.

Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee says the co-hort of bachelor’s degree students is among the most successful in the Florida College System; 85 percent of those who started the program in January 2010 graduated this term. Twelve of the students graduated with honors.

Deborah Kirkland, who had the top GPA among the grads, was the first to cross the stage to a round of applause from the audience. Kirkland, an adjunct instructor from Winter Park, plans to pursue a master’s degree.

The bachelor's degree students, who wore blue and gold and white hoods, sat in the front row and were the last to receive their degrees. They had creatively added design touches to their caps, including feathers, jewels and even a house with blinking lights.

Among the first bachelor’s degree graduates are:

  • Karen Randolph, of Winter Park, who will start an interior design internship at Walt Disney World in January.
  • Jessica White, a Seminole State 2009 two-year grad who said she “burst out in tears” when she heard about the new bachelor’s degree program. “I thought I’d never get the opportunity to earn my bachelor’s degree,” White said.
  • Roberta Prostko, owner of Reveal Design Group in Longwood. Prostko said the program helped her move forward as an interior designer.

In addition, more than 1,400 associate degrees and program certificates will be awarded this term, according to the College's Department of Enrollment Services. 

Damon A. Chase, a Seminole County attorney, was the guest speaker.

Seminole State will offer four additional bachelor’s degrees starting in January. Nearly 250 students already are enrolled in bachelor's degree courses for Spring Term.

Separate ceremonies also are being held in the next two weeks for the college’s career and adult education programs. Those ceremonies, which will take place on the Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, are as follows:

  • Fire Academy-EMS Certificate Ceremony: Wednesday, Dec. 7, 7 p.m., Health Building (building H)
  • Practical Nursing Program Pinning Ceremony: Thursday, Dec. 8, 2 p.m., Health Building (building H)
  • Criminal Justice Academy Graduation: Monday, Dec. 12, 7 p.m., Health Building (building H)
  • GED Graduation Ceremony: Thursday, Dec. 8, 7 p.m., Health Building (building H)

Bachelor's Degree Timeline

  • January 2009: College receives state approval to offer its first four-year degree, a Bachelor of Applied Science in Interior Design.
  • August 2009: SCC announces name change.
  • September 2009: SCC becomes Seminole State College of Florida.
  • January 2010: Classes begin for Seminole State's first baccalaureate students.
  • September 2010: Seminole State receives state approval to offer four additional bachelor's degrees.
  • December 2011: Seminole State awards its first four-year degrees.
  • January 2012: College offers upper-level classes for five bachelor's degrees.

For photos of the graduation, visit Seminole State's official Facebook page.

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