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CF holds graduation at new campus

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By Sean Arnold

The College of Central Florida graduated a pioneering class of adult education students Dec. 7 in Chiefland.

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The group represented the first to make its graduation walk in the conference room of the new Jack Wilkinson Levy Campus, which opened for classes this past August.

“We’re looking forward to growing in this building and providing additional programs and services for our students, and tonight’s program is a prime example of what can be accomplished here,” said Holly McGlashan, Levy Campus Manager, in her introduction.

There were 22 adult education students receiving the State of Florida High School Diploma, known as the General Education Development (GED), for the Fall 2017 graduation.

The graduates included: Michael Barbieri; Pristina Birchfield; Mark Boivin; Timothy “Will” Childers; Wendy Collins; Mayra Cruz; Delsin “Izzy” DeJarnette; Cody Field; Danielle Gabaldon; D’artagnan Harrelson; Esther Juson; Tommy Luczak; Tricia Norman; Carol “Shelby” Ozard; Charles P. Plateroti; Charlie R. Plateroti; Austen Reynolds; Angellica Rottman; Cody Sedwick; Douglas Simpson; Zachary Steck; and Justin Whitehead.

Gabaldon, Judson and Charles P. Plateroti were selected as adult education honor graduates by their instructors for showing “exceptional commitment to his or her education, exemplary attendance and model classroom behavior.”

Krystle Skelly, CF education adviser and former adult education transition specialist, delivered the graduation address. She was introduced by Leah Gamble, the enrollment and student service coordinator, who touted Skelly’s “extraordinary contributions” to the adult education program.

“In today’s world, it’s more important than ever to earn a high school credential and get further training or education,” Gamble said. “For tonight’s graduates, it started with a difficult decision to walk through our doors to pursue their dreams. Most of the students sitting here did not have the best experiences on their first go-round in education. That’s why their decision to restart the learning process was so important.”

Skelly recounted a list of famous names who overcame odds to earn a GED, including Olympian Mary Lou Retton; author Fran Lebowitz; champion boxer Oscar de la Hoya; late singer and icon David Bowie; rapper 50 Cent; actor Mark Wahlberg and TV judge Greg Mathis.

“These individuals overcame poverty, personal boundaries and situational struggles in order to earn their diplomas,” Skelly said. “For the last five years, I watched individuals of all walks of life and various backgrounds achieve a common dream.”

Skelly cited some standout examples of such graduates she seen come out of the program in Levy County, including a student in his 70s as well as a young man who had to leave his high school because he missed too much class while undergoing chemotherapy and an operation. She similarly noted young mothers juggling their family responsibilities, work and school, and students who overcame long distances of travel.

Skelly concluded with a few pieces advice, warning that motivation doesn’t alway arrive, so perseverance is key, adding that nothing worthwhile is easy. She advised students to examine their own faults to improve their chances for success.

“Seek out opportunities and never give up on what you seek to achieve,” she said.

Skelly said graduation has been one of her favorite parts of the program, and it was a bittersweet experience for her to return as a guest speaker after serving as staff member and instructor in the program.

“I do miss you guys,” she added.

In addition to diplomas, the graduates of the program are given a flower and asked to give it to the person that had the greatest influence on the graduate’s achievement. One of the graduates, DeJarnette, of Chiefland, gave hers to Skelly upon receiving her diploma.

Adult education instructors Richard Anderson and Will Rucker were also on hand to recognize students, and Christine Dunn, adult education transition specialist, called the students forward for the turning of the tassels at the end of the ceremony.

The graduates even engaged in a graduation tradition of throwing their caps, which Gamble said was a first for the adult education program, making it the students’ second pioneering contribution of the night.