SCF Spring Commencement Held May 7

(Bradenton, Fla., May 7, 2011) – State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) Spring 2011 commencement exercises were held on Saturday, May 7, in Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF Bradenton, 5840 26th St. West. Joining associate degree graduates were graduates of SCF’s first baccalaureate program, the Bachelor of Science in Nursing (B.S.N.), celebrating a milestone in the College’s 54-year history.

Two ceremonies were held to accommodate the 325 graduates that participated out of 729 students eligible for graduation, which included 38 B.S.N. graduates. Thirty-five B.S.N. students participated in graduation.

The guest speaker was Elizabeth Anne Rigney, an SCF B.S.N. graduate from Englewood. Rigney, a practicing nurse with experience as a charge nurse in the intensive care unit at Englewood Community Hospital, earned her Associate in Science in Nursing degree in 2006 from SCF and returned to enroll in SCF’s Bachelor of Science in Nursing Program. As a result of earning her B.S.N., she started a new job in May as a clinical documentation specialist at Englewood Community Hospital, and she plans to apply to Florida State University’s Doctor of Nursing Practice degree offered at SCF Lakewood Ranch.

The Outstanding Graduate Award was presented to Jodi Johnson, a student who has shown superior leadership, academic achievement and community service while attending SCF. Johnson has developed her leadership skills as president of Phi Theta Kappa, hosting PTK events, organizing scholarship workshops and participating in service projects. She also was a member of the SCF Green Team and cofounder of the Awareness Initiative Program at SCF Venice designed to raise awareness about drug and alcohol dependence. A North Port resident, Johnson was one of just 50 college students nationwide to be named a Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholar and her name appeared in the April 11 special edition of USA TODAY. She also was named to the PTK All-Florida Academic Team. After graduation, Jodi plans to attend New College of Florida and double major in anthropology and gender studies or international relations.

Other finalists were Stephanie Burr, Port Charlotte; Paul Cajka, Sarasota; Shirley Foor, Bradenton; and Derek Wallace, Bradenton. Funding for the Outstanding Graduate Award is provided by the State College of Florida Foundation Inc.

Steve Harner, SCF District Board of Trustees vice chair, was honored with the President’s Award of Distinction at Spring 2011 commencement for his long-time support of SCF and expansion of higher education opportunities for residents in our region.

Harner, a Venice resident and owner of the popular Crow's Nest waterfront restaurant, has served the community and SCF during a period that ushered in transformative changes in the lives of present and future students. Throughout the College's growth, Harner consistently has stayed focused on providing more and improved opportunities for students and faculty. He was chair of the District Board of Trustees from July of 2005 until September of 2010 and currently serves as vice chair. During his tenure as chair, a nationwide presidential search was conducted and the Board selected Dr. Hafner as the fifth president to lead the College; the College expanded its mission and name to include workforce baccalaureate degrees; and a unique Collegiate School was launched.

Harner also has served on the SCF Foundation’s Board of Directors in the offices of president, vice president, and chair of operations. The SCF Foundation has raised millions of dollars over the years for student scholarships, buildings, and classroom equipment.

Harner is known for his charitable contributions to area nonprofit organizations. He has served as a board member, coach, umpire and referee for a number of youth sports; received service awards from the Venice-Nokomis Rotary and South Venice Rotary clubs; was named a Pillar of the Community by the city of Venice and a Community Champion by the Venice Gondolier; and was inducted into the Sarasota County Video Archives Hall of Fame. In recognition of his high character and record of accomplishments, Harner was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa as an honorary member.

Program participants included SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner; Ron Allen, chair, SCF District Board of Trustees; Dr. Jack Crocker, vice president of academic quality and success; Dr. Mike Mears, SCF Bradenton provost and vice president of baccalaureate programs; Stephanie Cook, assistant professor, business and technology; Dr. Joni Pirnot, associate professor, mathematics; SCF Venice Student Government Association (SGA) President Zaph Manigat; SCF Bradenton SGA President Matthew Corkery; and Rev. Dr. James Williamson, chaplain, campus ministries.

Dr. Cynthia Reynolds, SCF faculty and director, curriculum and instruction, SCF Collegiate School, served as the macebearer in the ceremony.

The national anthem was sung by the SCF Chamber Choir conducted by Melodie Dickerson and the alma mater was performed by SCF music students Angela Garner, voice, and Ethan Howland, voice and guitar.

Jodi Johnson
The Outstanding Graduate Award winner was
North Port resident Jodi Johnson.

OGA finalists
Outstanding Graduate Award finalists were Paul Cajka, Shirley Foor,
Derek Wallace, Jodi Johnson and Stephanie Burr.

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