MANATEE -- A graduation is an event where glowing praise and heartfelt recollection is many times just a polite formality.
But on Friday night, during State College of Florida's 2012 Winter Commencement, the things said about former school President Sarah H. Pappas and, in turn, what she said about the school, seemed warm, genuine and loving.
There was genuine emotion from interim President Carol Probstfeld, whose introduction of Pappas as commencement speaker Friday night in the Neel Performing Arts Center was light and breezy.
Probstfeld, who many SCF people say is successfully knitting the college back together after the recent high profile departure of its last president, talked about how Pappas, who was president of the college from 1997 until her retirement in 2008, wore jeans to some social events so she could sit on the floor cross-legged and eat pizza with students.
Probstfeld also told about how Pappas once attended
a school softball game and got hit in the head with a foul ball.
As she was being transported to a local hospital, Pappas told the team to win the game.
The team, a la "Win one for the Gipper," won the game, Probstfeld remarked.
Pappas gave the graduates six jewels of advice from her own years of experience. She ended her speech with, "I will always support this college for as long as I live." The SCF faculty gave her a standing ovation.
Donald Bowman, the Interim Provost of SCF-Lakewood Ranch, had to follow Pappas' act and announce the Outstanding Graduate Award, which was given to Kortny Hayden, a student who has "shown superior leadership, academic achievement and community service while attending SCF," according to the award committee.
Hayden, a Port Charlotte resident, will be studying biology at the University of South Florida and hopes to be a dentist, Other finalists were Kelsey Carper, Venice; Caleb Jordan, Sarasota; Andrew Sink, Sarasota; and Fernando Valbuena, Bradenton. Funding for the Outstanding Graduate Award is provided by The SCF Foundation Inc.