[Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, President of Polk State College]:
Good evening, Eagles! I am Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, President of Polk State College, and I am thrilled to celebrate YOU, graduates of the Fall 2020 Class.
You are part of a unique class that is characterized by incredible resiliency and steadfast perseverance, as you overcame challenges presented by the pandemic to reach this great milestone.
You put in the late nights studying. You sacrificed time with your family and friends. You made the investment in your education and you made the grades. You deserve to be celebrated and everyone at Polk State College is cheering for you, your accomplishments, and your forthcoming successes.
As you take flight and soar to new heights, continue to focus on your future and remember, you are always part of the Eagle family. Today, you join more than 53,000 Polk State College alumni and you should be extraordinarily proud.
Your professors, advisors, mentors, coaches, families, and friends are all overjoyed for you. They supported you through difficult times and reveled in your successes. We all cannot wait to celebrate you in person with a commencement ceremony in May 2021 when conditions better support an in-person event that ensures the health and safety of you, your families, and our College.
We will move forward together, as a community, which is strengthened by you and your education. You have the foundation to not only accomplish your dreams, but to also transform the lives of others through the positive impact you will have as a result of your knowledge, skills, careers, and continued education. For that, you should be most proud.
The Fall 2020 Class truly illustrates what it means to be an Eagle – to have keen vision, distinct strength, and the ability to soar to the greatest heights. Eagles fly into storms and use the wind to rise higher in a matter of seconds – which is exactly what you have demonstrated through this unprecedented time to reach this significant milestone.
Congratulations, Fall 2020 Graduates, and Soar, Eagles!
Now one of your proudest supporters, Polk State College Distinguished Alumna and Polk State District Board of Trustees Chair Cindy Hartley Ross, has a message for you.
[Cindy Hartley Ross, Chair of the Polk State College District Board of Trustees]:
Congratulations! It is an honor to celebrate you this evening.
As a fellow proud alumna of Polk State College, I can attest that the knowledge and skills you have gained throughout your journey will continue to transform your life.
I personally see the benefits of a Polk State education through my 21 family members – including me – who have attended or graduated from the College. This includes my son, Travis, who achieved his Polk State Bachelor of Applied Science in Supervision and Management just one year ago this semester.
You all make me proud. Your hard work, dedication, and success remind me why I serve on the Polk State District Board of Trustees. I truly believe that Polk State is a path to success, and I am confident that the College will continue to enhance your lives, the lives of your families, and the quality of life for our community.
You will go on to become the next generation of leaders and highly skilled professionals in healthcare, public safety, teachers, entrepreneurs, and more. Whether you are advancing in your career, beginning on your career path, or continuing your education, you should be so very proud!
The foundation you have laid at Polk State will allow you to build a bright future and I am positive that you will soar to great heights.
Congratulations! And Soar, Eagles!
Now, Polk State College Distinguished Alumnus T. Michael Stavres has a message for you.
[T. Michael Stavres, Polk State College 2020 Distinguished Alumnus]:
Greetings Polk State College students, faculty and Alumni. What a great honor it is to celebrate these dedicated men and women who are receiving their degrees during this fall semester.
Over the past year, while completing your studies and fulfilling the requirements of your chosen path of study, the world around you has been unlike anything this generation has ever experienced. You have watched a pandemic spread across the globe and touch every person in one way or another. You lived in a world that had more natural disasters than at any other point in time, with over 33,900 wild fires and 28 named tropical systems. You saw protests and civil unrest stretch across America from coast to coast and from border to border, even in our own towns and communities. And you saw an election season that at times tore at the very seams of our nation’s fabric.
Yet in spite of all these challenges and distractions, you stayed the course. In the game of fight or flight, you chose to stand tall. Some of you committed to being the first in your family to graduate with a college degree. Some of you committed to carrying on a legacy of your grandparents, parents and brothers and sisters. Some of you committed to providing for a better future for your children and family. And some of you committed to charting your own course and taking control of your destiny. Regardless of who your commitment was to, you held true to it and you fulfilled it. You overcame those challenges and you ignored the distractions. Instead of giving up, you stepped up. And you soared as only an Eagle can.
Graduating ceremonies are often referred to as Convocations – a time to come together and confer degrees. How serendipitous is that a group of Eagles that come together in the wild is also called a Convocation? So even though this convocation for the graduating class of 2020 will come to end when the final degree is presented, your membership in the Convocation of Polk State College Eagles will last forever.
Soar high. Soar with pride. And soar with intent. Soar Eagles.
Now Tranise Wheeler, President of the Student Government Association on the Winter Haven Campus, has a message for you.
[Tranise Wheeler, Student Government Association President, Polk State Winter Haven]:
Congratulations Class of 2020!
I want to start by saying what an honor it is to celebrate your accomplishments today. You pushed through every obstacle and strived to complete your goals. I hope that you are proud of what you’ve done because everyone here is proud of you.
As a fellow Polk State graduate, I am truly excited for the doors of opportunity that are opening for you now that you have achieved your goals and degrees. I am currently pursuing my bachelor’s degree at the College and Polk State has provided many opportunities for me over the years. I am grateful to serve our Student Government Association on the Winter Haven Campus and to have traveled to Washington, D.C. with President Falconetti and Chair Ross to advocate for the needs of our students. I am also thankful to the Polk State Foundation for providing financial support for me along my college journey, and to you – all of my peers – for being part of creating the full college experience here at Polk State.
When you look back on these times I want you to know that no matter how much coal you were given you created diamonds. I’m one of the many people excited to watch you soar.