Campus & Community

Determination is the key to success says ‘Shark Tank’ winner at PBSC’s commencement ceremony

PBSC alumnus Alexiou Gibson, CEO and president of The Transformation Factory, who struck a $600K deal on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” inspired the crowd of more than 8,000 as he gave the keynote speech during Palm Beach State College’s 2023 spring commencement ceremony held for the first time at The Ballpark of the Palm Beaches May 9 in West Palm Beach.

During the ceremony, Gibson, who received an honorary Bachelor of Science degree from PBSC President Ava. L. Parker, J.D., told the more than 1,700 graduates and their families and friends about his weight loss journey, multimillion-dollar business, and what it takes to be successful in life.

“When I started at Palm Beach State College, I weighed over 500 pounds and that was not good,” said Gibson who was told that he wouldn’t live past the age of 30. “But I had my mind, I had my spirit and most importantly, my determination. I lost weight, but thank God, I didn’t lose my mind or my determination. Matter of fact, as I was losing the weight, my mind was expanding with thoughts of what’s next. With every lost pound, my determination grew.”

He also told the graduates that earning a degree is just the start.

“Your degree will open doors for you, but it does not guarantee your success,” Gibson said. “Your success is going to come when your determination allows you to overcome your fears. You see, fear is the great crippler in life! Fear and the lack of determination to succeed is what holds us back.”

He also gave graduates advice on navigating life.

“Graduates, as you move through life, you will learn some life-changing lessons. That I can promise you. You’ll learn that life does not accept excuses. You’ll learn that life has no room and no sympathy for quitters. You’ll learn that life has no room for procrastinators. You’ll learn that life is not for those who aren’t determined to live. You’ll learn that the only limitations to your success are the limitations that you impose on your mind.”

Gibson receiving his honorary Bachelor of Science degree from PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D.Gibson also talked about his company, The Transformation Factory, and appearing on ABC’s “Shark Tank,” striking a deal with comedian and actor Kevin Hart and businessman Mark Cuban. Today, the company has made $20 million in revenue.

“I built The Transformation Factory into a multimillion-dollar business because I was determined to be successful. But I also surrounded myself with very talented people. People who were just as determined to build The Transformation Factory into the successful business that it has become in less than three years. I was determined to lose the weight that I’ve lost and once again, I surrounded myself with positive people who were determined to help me lose the weight.”

Today, Gibson, who graduated with an Associate in Arts degree in 2012, has lost over 300 pounds, is a motivational speaker, and has received many awards including the Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, Apple Innovation Award, Buick Engineering Award, Global Citizen Award, and the Trailblazer of the Year Award from Legacy South Florida.

Along with recognizing graduates, the event also celebrated the College’s 90th anniversary year and its historic women’s beach volleyball team, who recently won the inaugural NJCAA National Championships. It was also livestreamed on PBSC’s website.

Graduates included more than 900 earning the Associate in Arts degree and more than 700 earning the Associate in Science, Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Science degrees and certificates. The youngest graduate was 15 and the oldest was 70. The top three most popular degrees earned by graduates besides the Associate in Arts degree was the Associate in Science degree in Nursing, the career certificate in facials and the Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supervision and Management with a concentration in General Management.

To view the full commencement ceremony, visit

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