Indian River State College (IRSC) will hold its fall Commencement ceremonies “drive-in”-style on Wednesday, December 16, at the College’s Treasure Coast Public Safety Training Complex in Fort Pierce, and virtually via YouTube on Thursday, December 17. The ceremonies will recognize the accomplishments of the College’s 2020 graduates, including some 1,700 students who have earned their Bachelor’s and Associate degrees during the 2020 summer and fall semesters. IRSC President, Dr. Timothy Moore, will deliver the keynote address.
“This past year has imposed some incredible challenges for our students,” said Dr. Timothy Moore, IRSC President. “In the face of adversity, they have pressed forward, worked hard and earned their college degrees. It is our absolute honor to celebrate their collective accomplishment with safe, unique ceremonies, and I offer every graduate of 2020 my highest congratulations.”
These newest IRSC graduates will soon write their next chapter—entering the workforce for the first time, utilizing their new degrees to take on increased responsibilities at their present workplace, or continuing their studies at IRSC or at university. In celebration of the December 2020 graduating class, we offer a sampling of their inspirational stories:
“I’m proud to say that I’m a forty-two-year-old mother of two and a first-generation college graduate. I’m hoping that my son who is currently enrolled at IRSC will be the next.”—Julie Singer, Sebastian, B.A.S. in Organizational Management
Julie Singer is the first one in her family to graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree. She grew up in a blue-collar lower-income family with parents who were not college educated. She was married young and is a mother to two children. Seeking to set a positive example for her children, Julie made the “very scary” decision to go to college. She wants to be the first in a long line of college-educated loved ones.
Next Chapter: Julie will be joining the work force.
“After finishing a four-year contract in the United States Army and married with a five-month old son, I had absolutely no idea that the transition back into civilian life would be so confusing.”—Samantha Keller, Port Saint Lucie, B.S. in Biology
Samantha Keller had three years of college tuition fully paid for when she completed her military contract and went back to college in Fall 2017. She decided to pursue an Associate in Arts Degree at IRSC with a goal of completing a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology within the allotted three years. As mother of a young child and wife to a husband who traveled out of state for work for months at a time, Samantha required a flexible, but full-time schedule. With an intense commitment to her studies, Samantha achieved her goal. Along the way, she completed a work-study opportunity at the Veterans Center on the IRSC Massey Campus, helping other veterans enroll and use their benefits to the fullest extent. She also participated in experiences that put her classroom learning into practice such as an internship and a research position with the USDA.
Next Chapter: Samantha plans to begin a career in the forensic science field. She’d like to work in a lab to analyze DNA samples and other evidence collected to solve crime cases and homicides.
“Having the chance to work with kids with disabilities and with such wonderful teachers gave me the motivation to give college a try again. It was a slow go but so many teachers, administration, staff, students, and my family kept me plugging along.”—Aaron Gilbert, Port. St. Lucie, B.S. in Exceptional Student Education with Reading and ESOL Endorsement
Aaron Gilbert’s story is one of personal perseverance. He graduated high school in 1992 and after his first try at College didn’t go as planned, entered the workforce. While working as an ESE paraprofessional for the Martin County School District, Aaron realized that helping children was his calling. He decided to pursue his degree while working at the District full-time, and credits IRSC’s “great professors” with understanding of the needs of students who are balancing work, family and studies.
Next Chapter: Aaron plans to become a teacher. “Having grown up attending schools on the Treasure Coast, I know the importance and impact a positive male role model can have on kid,” he concludes.
“I was taught unbelievable skills and knowledge that has shaped me into the nurse I am today. The instructors I had were incredible.”—Isabella Hatcher, Palm City, B.S. in Nursing
During the last year of her Associate Degree in Nursing program. Isabella found out that her father was dying. Concerned that she wasn’t going to be able to focus on college because her mind and heart were elsewhere, she confided in IRSC instructors who remained by her side along the way. A month before graduation Isabella’s father passed away; a year she calls “the toughest of my life.” Yet Isabella persevered, graduated and earned her nursing license. She took a position as a Trauma and Neuro ICU R.N. at St. Mary’s Medical Center in West Palm Beach, where she has been ever since. She returned to IRSC to complete her Bachelor’s Degree in Nursing and leaves the College with more than credentials—she leaves with lifelong friends, unbelievable skills and knowledge that has shaped her into the nurse she is today.
Next Chapter: Isabella plans to continue her studies and become a Nurse Practitioner.
“I began Dual Enrollment in the summer before 10th grade, and am now able to say that I have my Associate Degree at 17 with a 4.0 GPA.”—Shelby Sumner, Okeechobee, Associate in Arts
Dual Enrollment student Shelby Sumner credits supportive staff and faculty at IRSC’s Dixon Hendry Campus with fostering her academic and personal growth. While completing her high school diploma requirements and her coursework for her Associate in Arts Degree, Shelby also served as an IRSC peer tutor for Intermediate and College Algebra. Shelby graduates this December with a 4.0 GPA and looks forward to continuing her studies as a transfer student to university.
Next Chapter: After graduation, Shelby will finish other transfer prerequisites at IRSC, and then embark on Bachelor’s Degree studies in Animal Science at either the University of Arkansas or University of Florida. She intends to use her degree to work in International Agriculture and Food Policy.
Additional graduate spotlights are posted at www.irsc.edu.
About Indian River State College
A leader in education and innovation, Indian River State College (IRSC) transforms lives by offering high quality, affordable and accessible education to the residents of Indian River, Martin, Okeechobee and St. Lucie counties through traditional and online delivery. IRSC is recipient of the 2019 Aspen Prize for Community College Excellence, nation’s signature recognition of high achievement and performance among America’s community colleges. The College serves nearly 30,000 students annually and offers more than 100 programs leading to Bachelor’s degrees, Associate degrees, technical certificates and applied technology diplomas.