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Seminole State awards more than 2,000 degrees, certificates this spring

Graduating students watch as their peers cross the stage during Seminole State's Spring 2018 Collegewide Commencement on Tuesday, May 1, at the CFE Arena.

More than 2,000 degrees and certificates were awarded during Seminole State College of Florida’s Spring 2018 Collegewide Commencement on Tuesday, May 1, at the University of Central Florida’s CFE Arena.

Dr. E. Ann McGee, president of Seminole State, delivered the keynote address. Wrapping up a 22-year career, this was her last time attending graduation as president of the College. In her address to the graduates, she shared how being president of the College was “the greatest adventure of her life,” and she endorsed three guiding principles to start the next part of their journeys.

Seminole State President Dr. E. Ann McGee delivers the keynote address at the Spring 2018 Collegewide Commencement, her last as College president.

“Pretty simple – find your passion, take risks and be true to yourself,” said Dr. McGee. “I hope you will agree that it is a recipe for life and that it will add much joy to your journey.”

Dr. McGee also highlighted notable success stories and accomplishments by Seminole State students. 

Seminole State graduate Caleb Hylton stands as he is recognized by President Dr. E Ann McGee during commencement. Hylton served as SGA president of the College’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus.

Among the graduates highlighted were:

  • Caleb Hylton, of Maitland: Hylton, who has served as SGA president at the College’s Sanford/Lake Mary Campus, was a platform guest and served as the student speaker during commencement. During his tenure as SGA president, he advocated for increasing awareness on various student issues and implemented several initiatives, including a collegewide recycling program and the Lynx bus partnership. He represented the student body in providing initial input in the design of the new E. Ann McGee Student Center and founded several clubs and organizations at Seminole State. With his bachelor’s in information systems technology, he plans to work in the IT industry, and will soon pursue a career in politics, with hopes of running for president of the United States one day.
  • Andrea Avery, of Orlando: Avery began her postsecondary educational journey at the College in 2005, but put her studies on hold to focus on her family and support her husband’s military career. In 2016, she returned to Seminole County to continue her education at Seminole State after earning her A.S. in Construction Management at the College in 2009. Last year, she spoke during the Foundation for Seminole State College’s Dream Gala and was seated at a table with executives from Wharton-Smith. She made such an impression that night that she was offered a construction services internship position, which she accepted. With her bachelor’s degree in construction, she plans to work as a project manager.
  • Rafael Braga Gomes, of Orlando: In 2015, he left his family and friends in Brazil and moved to the United States to attend Seminole State. Once enrolled, he joined the Grindle Honors Institute and found a sense of family and comradery from peers, faculty and staff, which helped him acclimate to the new environment. He was recently named to the 2018 Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) All-Florida Academic Team. He graduated with his Associate in Science (A.S.) degree, Honors Diploma and an Advanced STEM Certificate Tuesday night. He plans to pursue a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering.
  • Teresa Medina, of Altamonte Springs: Throughout her childhood, she constantly moved from place to place, and after a turn of unfortunate events, she and her family were without a home for a while. Determined to secure a better future for her and her family, she enrolled at Seminole State in 2016. With support from the Grindle Honors Institute, she excelled academically, becoming a finalist for the prestigious Jack Kent Cook Undergraduate Transfer Scholarship. She also has served in several student clubs and organizations. With her Associate in Arts (A.A.) degree, she plans to enroll at the Savannah College of Art and Design, where she will earn a Bachelor of Arts (B.A) degree in Graphic Design.
  • Danielle Schwiegerath Head, of Orlando: She was born with congenital hearing loss, and as an 18-month old baby, she became deaf. She went through middle school without any interpreters or knowing how to communicate in sign language, which at times was very difficult for her. She learned American Sign Language while attending Lyman High School and excelled academically, graduating with a standard high school diploma. Her interest in designing, drawing, painting and sculpting led her to enroll in Seminole State’s digital design program in Fall 2012. Earlier this year, she was selected to design a mural at Camping World Stadium for Orlando City Soccer Club. With her A.S. in Digital Design, she plans to work in graphic design and photography.
  • Dylan Farmer, of Sanford: He and his family were very mobile during his childhood, eventually moving to Seminole County. Adjusting to a new high school, he found it tough to fit in and focus, causing him to fall behind in his studies. His mother, who is also a Seminole State student, learned about the College’s Adult High School (AHS) and encouraged Farmer to enroll. He worked hard to maintain his grades, while working five days a week at a fast food restaurant to help his family financially. Through his hard work and the individual attention he received from the AHS faculty and staff, he caught up on his classes, became a member of the National Honors Society and earned his high school diploma. He plans to go to Valencia College in the fall to study film.
  • Betsy Prokes, of Winter Park: After graduating from the University of Florida with a business degree, she began a career in human resources in Boston and later opened a Circus Arts school in Dallas. After sustaining an injury, she was forced to sell her trapeze business and move back to Central Florida, where she discovered her new passion for all things design, which drove her to enroll in the College’s Interior Design Program in 2016. She works for Universal Creative as a themed entertainment design intern, and was elected president of the College’s Heathrow Campus Student Government Association last month after serving as vice president. With her A.S. degree in Interior Design Technology, she plans to continue at Seminole State to pursue her bachelor’s in interior design.

During the ceremony, Seminole State also recognized its Endowed Teaching Chairs. Professors Dr. Connie Hudspeth, Dr. Kevin Jordan, Amee Mehta and Tim Werhner each received a $5,000 award for earning the prestigious distinction.

Vice President of Academic Affairs Dr. Laura Ross and President Dr. E. Ann McGee celebrate with the 2018 Endowed Teaching Chair recipients. (L-R) Professors Tim Werhner and Amee Mehta, Dr. Laura Ross, Dr. E. Ann McGee, and professors Dr. Kevin Jordan and Dr. Connie Hudspeth.


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 and online. A comprehensive college, Seminole State has awarded more than 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, like us on Facebook at and follow us on Twitter: @seminolestate.

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