Campus & Community

PBSC commencement speaker and founder of multimillion-dollar Florida company awarded an honorary degree

Alexiou Gibson with PBSC President Ava L. Parker, is presented with an honorary degree from his alma mater after delivering the keynote address at Spring 2023 Commencement on Tuesday, May 9 at The Ballpark of The Palm Beaches.

By Angela Harrington

Palm Beach State College surprised Alexiou Gibson, the keynote speaker at PBSC’s Spring 2023 Commencement, with an honorary Bachelor of Applied Science degree presented at the ceremony. Gibson, a PBSC alumnus who founded The Transformation Factory, a multimillion-dollar Palm Beach County-based business, said he was overcome with emotion by the “recognition of his achievements with an honorary degree.”

“It was a great surprise,” said Gibson after being awarded an honorary B.A.S. degree in Supervision and Management–Entrepreneurship at PBSC’s commencement ceremony held at The Ball Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, May 9.

“Having President Parker present me with such a prestigious honor was a full circle moment for me,” said Gibson. “It was a gift to have the opportunity to give back to my alma mater and the faculty and people who poured life into me and supported me during my time at PBSC.”

“It’s very clear that Alexiou values the difference that PBSC has made in his life,” said Ava L. Parker, J.D., president of PBSC. “Awarding Alexiou with an honorary bachelor’s degree was a special moment for our College to distinguish the extraordinary achievements of Alexiou as a visionary entrepreneur and PBSC alumnus,” added Parker.

Gibson’s mother, Mavis Smith, far right, said she will treasure the moment her son received an honorary bachelor’s degree following his delivery of the commencement address at PBSC. Also pictured (l-r): Olivia Morris, COO, The Transformation Factory; Jacquelyn Smith, Gibson’s aunt; and Steve White, communications consultant.

Gibson’s mother, Mavis Smith, a resident of Wellington, was in the audience to witness her son being awarded an honorary degree. “I had to step back to make sure that what I heard was real. It was an early Mother’s Day gift and a moment I will forever treasure,” said Smith.

Gibson credits his mother for helping him realize his dreams by working multiple jobs as a single mom and instilling him with a strong work ethic and a sense of confidence.

“I owe her everything,” said Gibson.

Mavis Smith and her son Alexiou Gibson

The CEO and president of The Transformation Factory said his company, established in 2020, generates $20 million in revenue producing and selling health supplements made of sea moss. The company has 120 employees and is well-poised for growth. Last year Gibson struck a deal on “Shark Tank,” and his company is reaching new heights with an expansion planned this summer to a new facility in Palm Beach County.

“I was heavily involved in activities at PBSC as a student leader, and I won many awards during my time there, so returning to my alma mater as the commencement speaker after 10 years allowed me to present all the people who believed in me with the gift of their investment in me coming to fruition,” said Gibson.

Gibson said Jessica Pena-Lopez, a former professor of mathematics at PBSC, and Dana Hamadeh, associate dean of Academic Affairs and mathematics instructor, were among the faculty members who supported him throughout his time at PBSC.

“Dr. Pena-Lopez groomed me from being a bad math student to an ‘A’ student because of her nurturing, her tutoring me, and really pouring into me and never giving up,” said Gibson “I’ll never forget one day when the power went out on campus because of a big storm, and we had a test the next day that we were studying for, and she sat with me on the floor in the hallway, just using the flashlight on her phone, still going over math problems with me.

Alexiou Gibson poses with Associate Dean Dana Hamadeh, one of his mentors during his time at PBSC.

“Professor Hamadeh is a math and physics genius, and I struggled with math, and she tutored me and gave me support in other subjects that I needed to be stronger in. Being successful is the greatest gift I could give to my mentors,” Gibson added.

Hamadeh tutored Gibson in math and was also a student club advisor for Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, a national business, career and technical student organization that Gibson was a member of. Hamadeh said Gibson’s winning mindset put him on track to garner many awards during his time at PBSC.

“I am so proud of Alexiou and his perseverance. He had a lot of determination and was actively involved in the College. He put in the effort and the time inside and outside of the classroom, which allowed him to push through and get to amazing places in life – and always with a smile and with the spirit of giving back.”

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