PTK president urges classmates to live lives of gratitude
During Daytona State’s 52nd annual commencement exercises in May, the 20-year-old associate of arts degree graduate and Phi Theta Kappa president expressed gratitude for those who helped him along the way. He also encouraged his fellow Class of 2012 candidates to be grateful for the friends, family and faculty who supported them during their own journeys toward graduation, and urged them to commit to lifelong learning and contributing, even in small ways, to their communities, society and the world in general.
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Joan Burnett: A Daytona State family plan
Joan Burnett, 50, and husband Steve have a busy life with work, six children ages 14 to 25, four grandkids and endless chores. In the past few years, it got busier yet: Joan began a career change in 2004, enrolling at Daytona State to study interior design after spending 25 years in the accounting field and earning her MBA.
Starting over is always a challenge. Joan quickly realized that she needed both work experience and education in her new field, so she combined her new studies with working for accomplished design practitioners in the area. On top of school and work, she also started her own interior design business on a part-time basis.
Magda Hiller Wilson: Lifelong musician and future college graduate
Most people familiar with the Central Florida nightlife know that Magda Hiller is as much of a landmark on the local music scene as the Main Street Pier is on the World’s Most Famous Beach.
Hiller, 51, has received a bounty of state and national awards and recognition during her 30-plus years as a singer guitarist. Noted for her percussive acoustic guitar style and poetic, soul-baring lyrics, she’s been the opening act for Bob Dylan, Chic Corea, Huey Lewis and the News and veritable A-list of other rock, blues, jazz and country music legends. She’s performed at London’s Royal Albert Hall and at Canada’s world-famous Ottawa Folk Festival, and has released three CDs of her own music. Hiller also has been named best acoustic performer and best solo act numerous times by multiple Florida news publications.
And on May 15, she will add another credential to her bounty of accolades – a GED she earned from Daytona State College’s School of Adult Education.
Megan Martens: Paying it forward with a career in teaching
When Megan Martens was in elementary school, her teachers meant the world to her. Coming from a broken home, she was raised by her grandmother and moved often during her formative years. Her teachers were her only constant. “They were always there when I needed them,” she said, noting that she would often spend time in their classrooms after school, helping out until her ride home arrived.
“I wish they all knew how much they changed my life,” she said. “They planted that seed in me to always try my best and to never give up. They were truly inspiring.”
Martens, 28, graduates from Daytona State College on Monday with a Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education degree.
Peyton Walsh: A man with a mission on and off the field
Peyton Walsh’s biggest memory of his Daytona State College experience is not the challenges of his academics, but rather the early season workouts he had to endure as a member of the Falcons Baseball team.
“We called it Hell Week, and it truly was a very tough week of conditioning that the coaches put us through,” the 19-year-old catcher and first baseman said. “But it was all worth it because on the last day when we were finished, everyone had a great sense of accomplishment.”
Accomplishments are nothing new to Walsh, a graduate of Park Vista Community High School who earned a full scholarship to play baseball at Daytona State two years ago. Since then, the soft-spoken, unassuming student-athlete has left his mark on the college through his achievements both on and off the field.