FSC Confers Undergraduate and Graduate Degrees at Winter Commencement

Dec 19, 2019

by FSC Staff

During two separate mid-year commencement programs in Branscomb Auditorium, Florida Southern College conferred 107 undergraduate degrees and 50 graduate degrees on Dec. 14, 2019.

Nolan Arenz
"It's just been an amazing time, a huge period of growth in my life," said Senior Speaker Nolan Arenz, reflecting on his experience at Florida Southern.

In the morning ceremony for undergraduates, Senior Speaker Nolan Arenz congratulated his fellow graduates as they collectively moved to the next exciting chapters of their lives with a shared appreciation for their experiences at FSC. “We found a center for higher learning that is not only dedicated to cultivating our minds but also shaping our personalities,” he said. “We will always be a part of the Florida Southern family.”

Bishop Fannin
FSC's Bishop-in-Residence Robert E. Fannin was the keynote speaker for both the undergraduate and graduate commencement programs. "In answer to the question 'Can I make a difference?,' individually and as a class, you can say 'Yes!'" he told the graduates.

The keynote speaker for both programs was FSC’s Bishop-in-Residence Robert E. Fannin ’58, who also serves on the Florida Southern College Board of Trustees. Bishop Fannin has served congregations throughout Florida, including at Lakeland’s First United Methodist Church and an assignment as superintendent in the Miami District. He also served with distinction during a 12-year assignment to the Birmingham, Ala., area. Addressing those in attendance who see a world in flux, Bishop Fannin said we must come together with a sense of community, as people who care for one another. “My prayer for you graduates is that you build your life on the proper foundation of care, hope, peace, and a deep and active faith,” he said, “but, most of all, love.”

Volakos and Carbo
FSC President Anne Kerr honored 2019 graduates Kyler Volakos, left, and Emily Carbo, right, as recipients of the President's Scholar Medal.

At the undergraduate ceremony, the College conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Richard T. Fulton ’70 of Orlando, a member of FSC’s Board of Trustees, who retired from the BakerHostetler law firm as a Senior Partner in 2017.

President Anne Kerr also honored two graduating seniors, Emily Carbo and Kyler Volakos, as recipients of the 2019 President’s Scholar Medal, which is presented to graduates who have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to scholarship and leadership.

Carbo, of Kissimmee, majored in music performance and minored in criminology. She has performed principal oboe solos on many occasions, Dr. Kerr said, noting that she also has served in a number of student leadership roles. Carbo plans to pursue graduate study in oboe performance. Volakos, of Lakeland, majored in computer science with concentrations in web and cloud computing and cybersecurity. He received the department’s award for outstanding performance in his junior year, Dr. Kerr said, adding that he had built and integrated a new shelf-mapping tool into the library’s systems, which became his senior project. Volakos plans to pursue a career in software development.

FSC Trustees Dr. Robert L. Fryer, Jr. '70, above left, and Stephen Buck conferred an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters on Richard T. Fulton of Orlando, a 1970 alumnus and fellow member of the College's Board of Trustees.
Toni Schmidt, at far right, shared her excitement with family members, including her brother-in-law David Butterfield and her niece Oaklynn, after receiving her Master of Education. "It was an honor and a privilege to get my second degree from Florida Southern," she said, "and my daughter, Cassidy Schmidt, is a freshman here!"
Among the graduate students who earned their Master of Science in Nursing degrees were, from left, Gerda Dorce, Jennifer Nadeau, and Nicolette James. Dorce, of La Gonâve, Haiti, praised the supportive atmosphere at FSC, adding "The professors want you to succeed!" Her plans for the future?: "To take my boards and get a job—wherever it takes me."
Friends Eugenia Tucker, left, and Nicole Vincent, right, celebrated after receiving Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degrees. Vincent's advice to other students: "Be persistent and don't give up. No matter how long it takes, keep pushing, keep going."