DSC President Thomas LoBasso urged members of the 3,500-strong Class of 2015 to dedicate themselves to lifelong learning, as he spoke in dual commencement ceremonies held May 18 at the Ocean Center.
“Ours is an economic climate that is the brightest it’s been in years,” LoBasso said. “But along with new job opportunities, that your degrees and certificates will unlock for you, also come challenges and the need to keep your skills fresh, to stay relevant and sharp . . . Keep the momentum going. Enjoy this day and savor your accomplishment. But commit now to follow your dreams forward to the next level.”
The two-part commencement exercise, much of it streamed live over social media, kicked off at 2 p.m., recognizing 1,531 associate of arts (AA) and 507 baccalaureate degree graduates, followed at 6:30 p.m. by a ceremony for 706 associate of science (AS) and associate of applied science (AAS), 782 certificate and 125 adult education students.
In both ceremonies, Dr. LoBasso reminded those attending that Daytona State serves a diverse population and is open to all who seek better lives through higher education. “To learn who the typical DSC student is, all you have to do is look in the mirror,” he noted.
Graduates included 60-year-old Carlos Ardila, who is among Daytona State’s first graduating class of Bachelor of Science in Nursing students since the college began offering the program last year. The former nanotechnology researcher decided to become a cardiac rehab nurse after suffering a heart attack and undergoing bypass surgery seven years ago. He said his professors ignited his passion for nursing.
Fifty-one-year-old Rose West decided to go to college after being laid off from her job and searching unsuccessfully for new employment. She enrolled in the AA program with some trepidation. However, her teachers, fellow students and being among 14 this year to receive DSC’s highest honor – the Hall of Fame award – gave her confidence and a desire to continue her studies.
Ciara Hall, 20, is a 2012 graduate of the Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in St. Augustine who
was delighted to discover the small-campus atmosphere of DSC’s Flagler/Palm Coast
Campus when she moved there after high school. With the help of her service dog, Norman,
and DSC’s faculty and staff, she graduated with honors and has received a full scholarship
to Wesleyan College in Macon, Ga., where she will pursue a bachelor’s degree in early
Carmen Figueroa, 25, earned her AS in Paralegal Studies after changing her major several times during
her DSC experience. She said the wide range of program offerings gave her an opportunity
to explore her career options. When she was offered a job at a law firm, things clicked.
Now, with her AS in hand, she is enrolled in Daytona State’s Bachelor of Applied Science
in Supervision and Management for fall semester and plans on attending law school.
Anita Warner, 57, started college years ago, but dropped out to raise her family and care for her military veteran husband, who tragically passed away, leaving Anita with two sons attending DSC and a daughter at Spruce Creek High. One day, while dropping off documents at DSC’s Admissions Office on behalf of her son, she was mistaken for a student. The moment was a turning point in her life. Anita received her Office Administration Certificate with honors and plans to pursue an Associate Degree in Nursing at DSC.
Among the graduating class were nearly 1,600 honors and over 300 high honors graduates.
Kudos also included 126 new inductees into the international honor society Phi Theta Kappa and 32 named to Who’s Who Among Students in American Junior Colleges.
Among the graduates were 292 military veterans who, along with their fellow 2015 alumni, now join the cumulative ranks of nearly 95,000 Daytona State alumni since its founding in 1957.
Electrician apprentice certificate graduates joined in commencement for the first time this year.