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Message from Chancellor Madeline Pumariega
As 2017 comes to a close and we reflect on our accomplishments, we should begin with the academic success of our students and dedication of our faculty. Once again this  year our students were recognized as top scholars in the country and our faculty for their continued commitment to excellence. Our colleges were recognized by the Aspen Institute for high achievement and performance among the top 150 c olleges in the nation.  Florida's colleges ranked in College Choice's "50 Best Community Colleges for 2017," and placed in the top 100 colleges in the nation for the number of associate degrees awarded to minority students. Florida was recognized as number one in the country for higher education by U.S. News and Weekly.

The Florida College System partnered with key stakeholders to host numerous statewide meetings and convenings focused upon our colleges' best practices in access, articulation, achievement, affordability and attainment - five foundational tenets necessary for student success. We worked with all 28 FCS institutions to track and measure the innovative programs on each campus that have assisted students toward graduation and placement of high-paying jobs. We shared these best practices among each other and focused on pathways that will help students complete their academic goals. Our colleges strengthened articulation by establishing targeted pathway agreements with our state universities.

Together we developed new programs that will immediately bolster Florida's workforce with more than 4,000 businesses in Florida benefitting from skilled workers programs statewide. We have enhanced a performance funding model that focuses on the right measures: graduating students, retaining students, and ensuring education is meaningful by demonstrating that graduates continue their education or start their careers. We participated in the "Rise to 55" campaign calling on businesses and partners to help reach a statewide educational attainment goal of 55 percent by 2025 in partnership with the Higher Education Coordinating Council, CareerSource Florida, Helios Education Foundation and Lumina Foundation. We launched a "Find My College Major" portal to help students navigate their career pathways. We opened our doors to students impacted by hurricanes and cared for families throughout our state.

As we look forward to a new year and reflect upon the achievements of this past year, I am grateful and inspired to serve all of you who help deserving students realize their dreams through education. Through such dedication, our colleges make a difference in the social mobility of so many students across our state. We know that through education we help families in Florida prosper!

I wish you and your loved ones a happy and healthy holiday season and a blessed 2018.

With gratitude,

Madeline Pumariega
North Florida Community College's Wrap Around Coaching Program   
North Florida Community College (NFCC) provides an innovative, invasive academic coaching program as part of Student Support Services called Wrap Around for first-generation college students. This program is intended to ensure first-generation students do not drop out and stay on track to complete their degree through an early academic alert system that identifies at-risk students. Grade checking, an example of an early alert system, is employed during the third week of each semester. Grade checks solicit feedback from faculty on how each student is doing in his or her courses. Using the feedback, NFCC academic advisors work with students to develop an Academic Success Plan, which is a type of contract holding the student to a higher standard of academic behaviors.

The Wrap Around program places academic coaches in specific gateway courses that have showed high failure rates among first-generation students. Program services include academic coaches taking notes during class lectures using Echo Smartpens that record written notes and auditory notes as the professor speaks. These visual and audio notes are then provided to the students and are reviewed with the academic coach, providing course guidance during the coaching sessions. Academic coaches personalize support tools and resources for each Wrap Around student that helps build their transferable skills in organization, note taking, technology, studying and test taking. Online coaching sessions are also available for distance learners through email and question and answer sessions.

In 2014, NFCC surveyed first-generation students and found that 40 percent reported a lack of confidence in their study skills. Sixty-six percent reported insufficient note-taking skills and 82 percent reported not being involved in student clubs or activities. Fifty-one percent reported being unprepared to attempt college level mathematics classes.

It is the mission of Wrap Around to transform students who are struggling into confident, skilled academic learners by instilling self-efficacy and a growth mindset through coaching, planning and reinforcement of efficient study habits and encouraging persistence. The program's goal is to support academic achievement in preparation of college graduation. 
Congratulations to all Fall 2017 Commencement Graduates! 
Congratulations to all fall graduates of 2017! On behalf of the Florida College System, we would like to thank you for your hard work, dedication, and commitment. We also would like to thank the faculty and staff who dedicated their time and effort in guiding and helping these students achieve their goals. We understand that each one of you may have had to overcome obstacles in the process of pursuing a higher education, but the time is here and you can all proudly walk across that stage knowing you did not allow for anything to get in the way of achieving your higher educational goals.

Michael Pitter is a student at Polk State College who had to undergo an unexpected heart transplant but did not let that get in the way of graduating. For more than a month, Pitter had lived with chest pains and shortness of breath. Despite having to hold his chest as he was unable to walk a normal speed around campus, he was determined to take a final, in which he received a B, for a class at Polk State before going to the hospital. Once Pitter went to the hospital, he was told that if he had waited two more hours, it would have been too late. Pitter went into surgery and was fitted with a ventricular assist device (VAD), which is a mechanical pump used to support heart function and blood flow in people with weakened hearts. 

After spending a month in the hospital, Pitter returned to work at the Publix Deli but did not return to classes at Polk State due to the amount of time he had to spend in doctors' offices and the unpredictability of his health. Suddenly, his heart got worse, and he was placed on a waiting list for a transplant. Although his doctor said he would have at least a year until a heart was ready, Pitter was undergoing a heart transplant just two weeks after being put on the waiting list. Within a day of the procedure, Pitter was walking. Within a week, he was back at the gym. Four months after the procedure, he was enrolled in classes at Polk State again and knew he wanted to pursue becoming a nurse. "This whole experience gave me a new take on life - not only in a way that makes me value how precious life is," said Pitter." It also showed me what I want to do with my life - help people." 

Pitter will be graduating with his Associate in Arts degree. He plans to further his education and apply for Polk State's Nursing program. As for his health, Pitter is doing well. "I feel very lucky," Pitter said. For the full story, click here

Lovely Lozin is another example of a student who has had to overcome obstacles in the process of obtaining her degree. Lozin is a first-generation student at Broward College (BC) who is graduating this month after earning her Associate in Arts degree with a 3.5 GPA. When Lozin was a teenager, she experienced a 7.0 earthquake that struck Haiti. After the earthquake, her family had to live in a tent in the backyard of a school. "I felt powerless," Lozin said as she was tearing up. "There was so much suffering and little I could do stop it. I distributed water and blankets, but I couldn't do much else."

This experience made her realize her dream of becoming a nurse to help others. In 2013, Lozin moved to South Florida with her dad and stepmother. Being the oldest of 11 children, she knew if she stayed in Haiti, it would be difficult to support her family. Lozin has stated that enrolling at BC changed her life. The support of her instructors encouraged her to continue pursuing her higher education despite feeling overwhelmed at times between being a full-time student and working part-time at a restaurant to support her family. 

Just a few weeks before her graduation, Lozin became a United States Citizen. She has expanded her goals and has decided to enlist in the U.S. Air Force. To read more, visit the BC blog page.

Anto i ne S ullivan is another student who has had to overcome obstacles in pursuit of a higher education as well. Sullivan is a student at St. Petersburg College (S PC) graduating with an Associate in Arts degree with a 3.01 GPA. At the age of 14, Sullivan's parents were incarcerated, le aving him and his two younger sisters in the care of relatives. Once graduating from high school, Sullivan immediately began working to take care of his siblings. Soon after, he decided to pursue his dreams by enrolling at SPC.

After completing his A.A., Sullivan plans to continue at SPC to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Educational Studies and Community Leadership. While working full time, Sullivan has served as the President of Men Achieving Excellence, Senator and Vice President of Student Government Association and a member of Phi Theta Kappa. "We've all been through different set-backs, everyone has something going on," said Sullivan. "Coming to college can help you have a better life! Don't focus on your set back, focus on your goal."

These stories show only some of the different obstacles students have had to overcome in their lives. Despite their obstacles, these students never gave up on their higher educational goals. It is inspiring to hear these stories and the perseverance of our students.  On behalf of the Florida College System, we would like to congratulate all graduates on completing your degrees! May your futures be filled with successes and plenty of opportunities. 
Florida State College at Jacksonville's Surgical Technology Certificate
Florida State College at Jacksonville prepares students to become an active surgical team member as surgical technologists through its Surgical Technology Workforce Certificate. Students who become certified surgical technologists learn to prepare a sterile field with instruments and supplies for surgical procedures and then apply those skills while completing clinical rotations at local hospitals. Additionally, students have the opportunity to learn about anatomy and physiology, medical terminology, microbiology, pharmacology and anesthesia. Upon completion of the professional and clinical coursework, students are eligible to take the national Certified Surgical Technologist exam to become a certified surgical technologist.

The goal of the program is to ensure students are prepared for distinctive success in both their academic and personal goals. The program instruction includes a combination of classroom studies, classroom lab practice, and clinical experience in the perioperative arena, which consists of an operating room, pre- and post-anesthesia care and labor and delivery. This prepares students to assist members of the surgical team, including surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses and surgical technologists. Emphasis is placed upon the day-to-day skills required for surgical technologist jobs involving scrubbing and circulating a wide variety of surgical procedures, as well as the preparation and maintenance of sterilized and unsterilized supplies to prepare for the certification surgical technologist.

According to the Bureau of Labor  Statistics, employment of surgical technologists is expected to increase 30 percent from 2012 to 2022. The Surgical Technology program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs, upon the recommendation of Accreditation Review Council on Education in Surgical Technology and the Surgical Assisting (ARS/STSA). 
Estefany Rivas Ortiz - Hillsborough Community College  

Estefany Rivas Ortiz is a student at Hillsborough Community College (HCC) pursuing a degree in pre-med. Rivas Ortiz is an international student from South America, raised in Cali, Colombia. Rivas Ortiz remembers family members facing hardships in Colombia and her father deciding to leave the country for a better life in the United States. After migrating to Tampa, Florida, her sister was soon diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Rivas Ortiz is convinced that her sister would have died without access to the medical care available here, resulting in her professional goal of becoming an oncologist. She was inspired by the doctors and health care professionals that she met while her sister was being treated.

Rivas Ortiz has overcome adversity in her life to become a leader in the HCC community. Rivas Ortiz graduated from Leto High School with a 4.3 GPA after starting her American high school experience in the 11th grade. She did not speak English, which made it difficult as she acclimated to a new culture and language. However, Rivas Ortiz did not let these barriers get in the way of her success, as shown through her academic success. She currently maintains a GPA of 3.89 at HCC and is the President of the Phi Theta Kappa's Dale Mabry Campus Chapter "Phi Chi." She is also the Vice President of Scholarship for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars, as well as an honors ambassador for the HCC Honors Institute. Additionally, Rivas Ortiz was recognized by the Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, a premier honors program for over 1,000 universities and colleges across the country. She is consistently on the Dean's List and has been awarded the Presidential Honors Scholarship, which granted her $1,200 to help pay for her schooling. Most recently, she helped organize and direct a scholarly exchange program called the "Celebration of Water" that brought 20 students from the University of Applied Sciences in Amsterdam to HCC and the Tampa Bay area.

Rivas Ortiz is not only active within HCC, but is also active in the community. She works with two assisted living facilities as part of service projects and regularly participates in other charitable events, such as walks for diabetes. Lastly, Rivas Ortiz was one of the student leaders of the 2016 International Festival at HCC, as well as a volunteer for the Asian Festival held each year in downtown Tampa.  
Faculty and Administrators: Nominate a Student to be the Chancellor's Clark Maxwell Scholar Student of the Month
In honor of the late Chancellor Clark Maxwell Jr., each month a student is selected to represent the Florida College System. Nominations for the Student of the Month are accepted on a rolling basis. If you know a student who demonstrates exemplary leadership skills, academic success, and/or commitment to community service through their involvement in the Florida College System, nominate them today!
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota's Studio for the Performing Arts 
State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) is building a new Studio for the Performing Arts with the help of a $10,000 grant from The Scheidel Foundation to kick off the $3.5 million capital campaign. The new studio will be strategically joined to SCF's Neel Performing Arts Center and Howard Studio Theatre. The studio is being developed to support the growth of music, art and theatrical programs. As the largest community performing arts center in Manatee County, the studio will provide an outreach to populations with limited access to such amenities.

The new $3.5 million studio is designed to be an inviting space for both students and the community. It will offer intimate performances, deeper learning experiences for students in practice rooms and recital areas with ideal acoustics. There will also be a nearly 6,000-square-foot recital hall that will include a grand piano, performance lighting and sound system with recording capability. The hall will seat 175 visitors for concerts and shows. Primarily, the room will be utilized as rehearsal space for musical theatre, choral and vocal classes, as well as a space for featuring visiting artists and recitals.

Additionally, there will be a new 1,100-square-foot dance studio that will offer opportunities for students to study movement and staging. This studio will include retractable curtains, moveable seating and a floor designed specifically for dance. The facility will also host 1,620 square feet of practice rooms. An instrument storage room will allow SCF to provide professional instruments to students who might not be able to afford them, offering SCF's music program students an opportunity to perform at their next level. 
Thank You to Our Sponsor of the 2017 Chancellor's Best Practice Awards 
Alysia Ramirez - Bright Futures Scholarship Recipient

A graduate of Avon Park High School, Alysia Ramirez attends South Florida State College (SFSC). Ramirez is working towards her Associate in Arts degree in liberal arts and sciences and will graduate the Class of 2017. She is a recipient of the Bright Futures Scholarship (Florida Academic Scholars Award) and has maintained a 4.0 GPA while working toward her degree.
While a student at SFSC, she volunteers as a docent for the Peter Powell Roberts Art Museum in Avon Park and serves as secretary/treasurer of the SFSC Art Club.

Ramirez will transfer to the University of Central Florida to complete a bachelor's degree in emerging media and expects to graduate from that program in 2019. When asked about her goals and dreams, she said, "I plan to become a character animator and be a part of the magic in animated films that both children and adults can love and enjoy." Ramirez said that her dream is to work as a computer animator for Pixar Animation Studios.