[Dr. Angela Garcia Falconetti, President of Polk State College]:
Hello, Eagles. Today, we celebrate Polk State College’s Spring 2020 Graduating Class.
Graduates – although we are unable to come together in celebration of your milestone achievement, please know that your great resilience and unwavering commitment to your academic goals do not go unnoticed.
Handing students their diplomas is my greatest professional honor and it is equally heartbreaking for me that we are unable to celebrate in person together. Please know that everyone at Polk State College is celebrating YOU. Your professors and advisors are proud of your ability to overcome unprecedented adversity and persevere through the last stretch of your college journey despite the COVID-19 public health emergency.
YOU should also be so proud of yourselves. You made the investment in your education. You put in the hard work. You gave up Friday nights with your friends to study or Saturday mornings with your children to go to class. You made the grades. You persevered through times when it did not feel possible. You have earned the accolades and you deserve to be celebrated.
I would be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to recognize the many people who helped you reach this milestone. Your families, friends, mentors, professors, advisors, coaches, and more. They read your papers and watched you practice your presentations. They supported you through difficult times and reveled in your successes. I think it is safe to say that you could not have done this without them, and I am positive that you will go on to make them proud.
One of your supporters is Polk State District Board of Trustees Chair Teresa Martinez, and she has a message of congratulations for you.
[Teresa V. Martinez, Chair of the Polk State College District Board of Trustees]:
On behalf of the District Board of Trustees, I congratulate you!
Not only have you earned your degree, but you have also overcome adversity.
The class of Spring 2020 will never be forgotten.
I am also a proud alumnus of this college.
EAGLES have keen vision; their eyes are designed for long-distance focus and clarity.
EAGLES are fearless…they never surrender.
EAGLES are challengers of storms,
when all other birds head for shelter,
Eagles fly into it and
SOAR above the rain clouds.
That is what you, Spring 2020 graduates, have exhibited during this COVID-19 health emergency.
As Polk State College EAGLES, you represent COURAGE, STRENGTH, WISDOM, POWER, AND FREEDOM.
May you always soar above life’s clouds!
Giselle Mason, a member of the Spring 2020 Graduating Class, is a Polk State Lakeland Gateway to College Collegiate High School graduate and President of the Lakeland Student Government Association. She embodies the inspiration and the resiliency of the Spring 2020 Graduating Class, and she has some words of motivation to share with you.
Remember, Somos Polk – We Are Polk! Congratulations, Eagles!
[Giselle Mason, student speaker]
Hello everybody. This is Giselle Mason, your SGA President, and we are all gathered in our homes today to celebrate a very momentous occasion: our graduation. As you may have noticed, our graduation is unlike any other, so I’m going to make my speech a little different. In a traditional graduation speech, it is customary to thank our teachers, parents, and peers that helped us throughout our journey. For this graduating class, I’m going to skip all those thank yous. Not because they don’t deserve them. However, I want to thank someone very special that I think you love very much. I want to thank you, me, and every single student who has earned their degree regardless of the circumstances. So right now class of 2020, I want you to sit down, close your eyes, and say “I want to thank me for being the best student I can be. I want to thank me because I STILL got my degree, regardless of what was happening around me. I want to thank me because I’m just THAT good. And I want to thank me because this is only a TASTE of what I’m going to do in the future.” So go ahead, thank yourselves. WE were the ones that got through this. WE are the ones we get to celebrate for. Thank you, and back to you, Dr. Falconetti.
Graduates – today, you join more than 50,000 Polk State College alumni and you should be extraordinarily proud! YOU have earned the degrees, the accolades, and the recognition. And YOU have persevered through this unprecedented time to see your goals through. You are part of truly unique and resilient class. Remember, you are always part of the Polk State family, and I am positive that you will continue to make us proud.
Congratulations and Soar, Eagles!