Polk State Alumni Association hosts Speed Meetings for students to connect with industry leaders

Posted on by Polk Newsroom

The Polk State Alumni Association is ramping up activities on the College’s campuses and in the community, as the number of Polk State alumni has grown to nearly 60,000 since the College’s inception in 1964.

Alumni Association President Nikki Smith, an entrepreneur and a Distinguished Alumna of the College, is bringing some new ideas to Polk State’s Alumni Board. Together, they are leading the organization, which fosters connectivity among graduates and advocates for students and the institution. One of the first goals: increase the visibility of the Alumni Association. The Speed Meetings event did just that, bringing student leaders and their peers together to hear from six Polk State alumni.

Participants included Aaron Banks, President of Furr, Wegman & Banks Architects; Amanda Hurles, Assistant Vice President and Residential Lending Officer for Citizens Bank & Trust; Steve Lester, Chief of Staff for the Polk County Sheriff’s Office; Tina Peak, retired Public Library Director for the City of Lake Wales; Ty Pinner, Vice President and Commercial Relationships Manager for SouthState Bank; and Smith.

“We have all found success in our professions and within this community, and the foundation of all of this is Polk State,” Smith shared. “I hope you take these nuggets from our conversations here today and use them to become great Polk State alumni.”

Students engaged in discussions with the alumni about their backgrounds, start in higher education, how they broke into their chosen career fields, and their advice for students. In one conversation, students asked Banks what type of math they need to take to go into architecture. In another, students asked Pinner about internship and job opportunities in the field of finance.


Business cards were exchanged, and connections were made, signaling a successful event that could become a mainstay for the Alumni Association in semesters to come. At the inaugural event, students and alumni even received a surprise visit from Polk State President Angela Garcia Falconetti.

“Our alumni have been where you are. They are valuable resources as you navigate your academic and career goals,” Falconetti said. “I am grateful to Nikki and the Alumni Association for fostering these important conversations and for providing opportunities for our students to grow and learn from our graduates.”

Alumni who are interested in getting involved with the Association are encouraged to visit foundation.polk.edu/alumni-registration for more information.