Grad Walk highlights graduates accomplishments
Palm Beach State College rolled out the red carpet at Grad Walk Dec. 12 to celebrate the achievements of its fall 2021 graduates, as well as those who completed their programs of study during the summer.
More than 600 students participated in the event at the Duncan Theatre. They arrived in groups of 50 in 15-minute increments starting at noon. With “Pomp and Circumstance” playing in the background, they were greeted by President Ava L. Parker, J.D., while crossing the stage along a red carpet. They also were photographed as their cheering families and friends looked on. Outside the theatre, a DJ played music as students paused at festive green and gold balloon arches to take pictures.
PBSC awarded more than 2,400 degrees and certificates this fall, including its first Bachelor of Science in Human Services degrees since launching the program in fall 2020. The College awarded more than 1,800 degrees and certificates in the summer.
Among the Grad Walk participants were Oscar and Claudia Garcia, natives of Colombia who have been married for 23 years. They missed graduation when they completed their Associate in Arts degrees at PBSC, but they crossed the stage together at Grad Walk to mark the completion this fall of their Bachelor of Applied Science degrees in Supervision and Management with a concentration in general management.
Oscar Garcia said earning his education at PBSC has helped him advance his career at Palm Beach Habilitation, which has since merged with The Arch of Palm Beach County. He has been employed there since 2002 and is now director of logistics. “Thanks to the education, I was able to move up the ladder of success,’’ said Garcia, who also has an Associate in Science degree from PBSC. He plans to start classes in January towards another B.A.S. degree with a concentration in database administration. “We feel great,’’ Oscar Garcia said. “It took a lot of sacrifices.”
Claudia Garcia, who is now a stay-at-home mom, wants to work in sales and eventually start a business. The oldest two of the couple’s four children are currently PBSC students. Their daughter earned an A.A. degree and is now completing an A.S. degree in nursing with plans to graduate in May. Their son began his first semester this fall and is pursuing an A.A. degree. “To study together, brought us together as a couple even more. We see each other as a team not as a competition,’’ she said. “I only have one brother here; the rest are in Colombia. All my siblings finished their education in Colombia. Now, I’m the only one who has a bachelor’s in the United States. They are very proud of me. I came from a big family; I have four brothers and four sisters. I’m the youngest one. I’m very proud of me.”
Marie Georges, a native of Haiti, also was among the Grad Walk participants. At 59 years old, she completed her Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management with a concentration in entrepreneurship. She plans to start a home health care agency. She says her achievements are proof that it’s never too late to earn an education.
She came to the U.S. in 1989 with Jean, her husband of now 35 years. However, they immediately started a family, and she put earning an education on hold to raise their two children, including homeschooling them for five years. She got her GED at 40 years old and her Associate in Arts degree at 45. Despite her diagnosis of a cognitive disability and facing health challenges recently, she was determined to finish her bachelor’s degree. She says PBSC and its staff and faculty, especially in the Center for Student Accessibility, have provided significant support on her educational journey, including helping her get the proper diagnosis for her disability. “I will be forever grateful for Palm Beach State College. I met so many good people here,’’ she said. Her son, now 28, is also a PBSC alumnus who earned an A.A. degree, and her daughter, 31, attended as a dual enrollment student.