SCF Winter Commencement to be Held Dec. 16

(Bradenton, Fla., December 12, 2011) – State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) Winter 2011 commencement exercises will be held on Friday, Dec.16, in Neel Performing Arts Center at SCF Bradenton, 5840 26th St. West.

Two ceremonies will be held at 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. to accommodate the 228 graduates expected to participate out of 974 students eligible for graduation. In addition to associate degree graduates, this number includes 22 Bachelor of Science in Nursing graduates.

The guest speaker will be Circuit Court Judge Edward Nicholas, a lifelong Manatee County resident with an illustrious historical connection to SCF. Nicholas is the stepson of Dr. Sam Neel, who is the founding president of SCF (then Manatee Junior College) and the namesake for the Neel Performing Arts Center.

Nicholas, a career prosecutor before being elected Circuit Judge in 2002, currently serves in the Juvenile Division in Manatee County. He recently created a Parent Mentoring Program to team parents who have been reunited with their children in Dependency Court with those new to the system. He serves on various boards, including Manatee Children’s Services, Kiwanis Club of Bradenton, and The SCF Foundation Inc. Nicholas also is an adjunct instructor in SCF’s Legal Assisting/Paralegal Program.

He received a Bachelor of Arts in English and a minor in secondary education from Iona College where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and was the valedictorian. He earned his Juris Doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law.

The Outstanding Graduate Award will be presented to a student who has shown superior leadership, academic achievement and community service while attending SCF. Finalists are Manuel Giraldo, Regan Hooper, Jason Patry, Jason Pfeilsticker, Brad Trotter and Mary Ward. Funding for the Outstanding Graduate Award is provided by the State College of Florida Foundation Inc.

Program participants include SCF President Dr. Lars A. Hafner; Dr. Jack Crocker, vice president of academic quality and success; Dr. Bonnie Hesselberg, SCF Lakewood Ranch provost and dean of nursing and health professions; Stephanie Cook, assistant professor, business and technology; Dr. Joni Pirnot, associate professor, mathematics; SCF Venice Student Government Association (SGA) President Mario Osborn; SCF Bradenton SGA President Cassandra Laviani; and Deacon Kathy C. Gilpin, chaplain, campus ministries.

The national anthem will be sung by the SCF Chamber Choir conducted by Melodie Dickerson and the alma mater will be performed by SCF music students including guitarist Ethan Howland and vocalists Alicia Bazo, Rebecca Stracener, Lisa Termine and Ethan Howland.

Tickets are required and are available through graduating students. Maps and directions are online at

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