SARASOTA -- The 2014 spring graduating class of State College of Florida sat in the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall on Friday through all the speeches and award presentations waiting for their names to be called.
Then when each one heard his or her name -- so formal: first, middle, last -- it was a short walk across the stage, a quick photo with SCF President Carol Probstfeld, and it was over in a blink.
That was the message guest speaker Wilson Bradshaw related to the graduates during the commencement exercises.
"Take a moment to appreciate what is happening here," said Bradshaw, president of Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.
As the graduates move on with their education and careers, life will go by "in a blink," Bradshaw said.
Relating his own journey of education, the Florida native said he grew up in a different time.
"It was a segregated Florida," he said, pointing out that although he attended a West Palm Beach elementary school in the 1950s, that was not so long ago.
"Where you are today," Bradshaw said, you won't be there to
"Embrace the opportunities to learn," he said. "Take every opportunity to unravel complex issues."
Eight graduates were recognized for embracing learning opportunities as SCF students.
Tim Hyden, Andrea Lucy, and Estraica Reed were nominated for the Outstanding Baccalaureate Graduate Award.
Olga Klippert Blue, Andrew Pluta, Evan Rimel, Priscilla Sosa, and Tat Sing Yeung were nominated for the Outstanding Associated Graduate Award.
Hyden, of Bradenton, and Rimel, of Lakewood Ranch, were each chosen for the respective honors.
Hyden, 54, said it was an honor just to be nominated.
During his thank you comments, the training and safety officer with East Manatee Fire & Rescue said he would work to establish the Mark Souders Memorial Scholarship Fund for the fire science and public safety programs at SCF in honor of the Bradenton Fire Department chief who died unexpectedly in 2011.
Rimel, 19, said he was looking forward to continuing his education at the University of Florida to study accounting.
He said he was "looking forward to my future."
Of the 809 associate degrees, 30 baccalaureate graduates, and one certificate graduate, 323 choose to sit through the 2 1/2-hour-long ceremony.
Fifty-four of the associate degrees awarded were SCF Collegiate School graduates, who earned their high school diploma while earning their associate degree.
Bradshaw said Florida Gulf Coast University's partnership with SCF proved rewarding to 37 of those collegiate students.
They were offered full tuition scholarships for two years of study at FGCU.