Florida Rep. John Snyder urges Palm Beach State College grads to find solutions, not problems

Click the image to see more photos of Palm Beach State College’s 2024 Spring Graduation.

Palm Beach State College welcomed Florida Rep. John Snyder as the keynote speaker during the College’s 2024 spring commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Tuesday, May 7, at Cacti Park (formerly the Ballpark of the Palm Beaches) in West Palm Beach.

During the ceremony, which was livestreamed on PBSC’s website, the College awarded degrees and certificates to more than 1,900 graduates including more than 950 graduates of the Associate in Arts degree program, of which 96 are dual-enrollment students who earned their high school and A.A. diplomas simultaneously.  There were more than 850 graduates of the Associate in Science, Bachelor of Applied Science and Bachelor of Science degree programs and the certificate programs.

“Today, you join the ranks of more than 150,000 PBSC alumni,” PBSC President Ava L. Parker, J.D. told graduates at the event. “There is nothing you cannot achieve.”

Snyder told graduates this was just the first of many achievements yet to come for them. A former Marine who served in Afghanistan and current Deputy Majority Leader in the Florida House of Representatives, he described his experience from boot camp to the battlefield as an analogy for the challenges of life. He told graduates that when he joined the U.S. Marine Corps in 2007 at the height of the global war on terror, he had no idea what he had gotten himself into. At the end of boot camp, he said, his drill instructor told the recruits that they just experienced the easiest part of their military career.

“As a recruit, you go from an environment where every decision is made for you to the battlefield where every decision you make has consequences, many of which are life or death,” said Snyder. “Now you are graduating from boot camp, your battlefield isn’t one of bombs and bullets–you are on the battlefield of life, know what you’re fighting for.”

He urged graduates to stay vigilant for the traps that can derail them. “Your enemies aren’t the coworkers vying for the same promotion or the supervisor you might not like,” he said. “They are complacency, excuses, laziness and shortcuts. Instead, you need to embrace the allies that got you to this point: motivation, hard work, discipline, integrity and perseverance.”

Snyder spoke of the Marine Corps maxims that have helped him navigate personal and business challenges such as “adapt and overcome.” He encouraged students to lean into the training they received at PBSC when challenges arise. “Be the person in your organization that doesn’t just talk about the problems,” he said. “Be the solution finder: Adapt and overcome.”

Born and raised in Martin County, Snyder attended Indiana Wesleyan University, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in marketing. After returning from Afghanistan, he founded ESI Works, a recruiting and payroll company that specializes in healthcare and education staffing, in 2015. Snyder was elected to the Florida House in 2020 to represent the 86th district, which covers portions of Palm Beach and Martin County. He serves on five committees including the Civil Justice Subcommittee of which he is vice-chair, the Judiciary Committee, the Health & Human Services Committee, and the Justice Appropriations Subcommittee.

For more information on PBSC’s graduation, visit

View the Spring Graduation Photo Album.

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