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Making a Difference Mondays, August 22

Monday, August 22, 2011

What A Difference A Grant Makes

Polk State College was awarded a $1.2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Transportation to develop and enhance the Corporate College’s Supply Chain Management Institute (SCMI) in 2008. The SCMI initially launched in the summer of 2007 to serve the needs of the supply chain and logistics industry in Polk County, and it now offers training and certification programs recognized worldwide—literally!

Under the leadership of Polk State College Corporate College Director Rob Clancey and Program Manager Wayne Kline, the SCMI partnered with the American Society for Transportation and Logistics to offer the Global Logistics Associate International Certification Program using curriculum developed by the SCMI in collaboration with the Banner Center for Advanced Manufacturing at Polk State College and the Banner Center for Global Logistics at Florida Gateway College. The curriculum includes “Tucker,” an interactive online instructor that leads students through a virtual environment which utilizes gaming technology to deliver supply chain management training. The SCMI also partners with the Association for Operations Management to offer another internationally recognized industry certification. Both certifications articulate to college credit in related fields.

Grant funds were also used to design and build a virtual warehousing and distribution training lab; complete a competency-based, work-integrated training course for new hires in entry-level positions; develop a total of 32 non-credit training courses organized into four certificate programs; and engage over sixty businesses and professional associations as SCMI partners.

Currently in the final year of the grant, Program Assistant Sharon Schoolcraft reports that by the end of the grant period, the SCMI will have enrolled 600 trainees and at least 200 will have earned one or more industry-recognized certificates.

As local and state financial support has declined for public colleges such as Polk State, grant funding has become even more necessary to initiate, maintain, or expand education and training programs. Our thanks to Rob, Wayne, and the entire Polk State College Corporate College team for the important work they do.

Martin Lance Holden:
Multi-Generational Connection to Polk State

With many faculty families, a connection to Polk State College grows through the generations. For the Holden family, the third generation is just starting the journey.

Lance’s father, Clarence Holden, was one of the early faculty members at Polk Junior College. He taught Education and Human Sciences beginning in 1970 at the Winter Haven Campus, and eventually taught at the Lakeland Campus as well. For each of the four Holden children (Shelley, Betsy, Lance, and Lucy), Polk State College was the obvious first choice for higher education.

After graduating from Winter Haven High School and Polk State College in 1978, Lance Holden obtained a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from the University of Florida in 1980 with high honors, and his Juris Doctorate with honors from the University of Florida College of Law in 1983. Today, Lance is a shareholder with Brennan, Holden, & Kavouklis, P.A. in Winter Haven.

Lance has served for several years as a member of the Polk State College Alumni Association, holding the positions of both vice-president and president. While an Alumni Association Board member, his son Spencer was accepted to the Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School. “Spencer investigated the Collegiate High School program all by himself,” recalls Lance. “He graduated this past June, and now our daughter Paige is planning to attend the Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School in the fall.”

Meanwhile, the children of Lucy Holden, Lance’s sister, will continue with their schooling at Polk State as well. Lucy’s son, Charlie Sigler, is pursuing studies in theater, and Cindy Sigler is wrapping up her second year at the Chain of Lakes Collegiate High School.

According to Lance, “The Polk State College Alumni Association is a meaningful way to give back to the College and our local community, and I hope the next generation will seize that opportunity.”

Donor Spotlight: Mo McCourt

Imagine, going back to school at thirty years old… No, it’s not a sitcom; that was my life. I had no past skills, support, or resources to pull from, and no clear path or goal to focus on and work toward. It was like being dumped in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight and being told to pick a direction and swim. After moving what was left of my life to Florida, I found hope—I discovered a new career and something special I could do with the next thirty-plus working years of my life through an education at Polk State College.

My first semester was a cultural, physical, mental, and fiscal reality check (insert nightmarish dream sequence here), all of which made me come close to failing for the lack of sleep that was required to work, study, engage with new people, and change my lifestyle–all simultaneously. I may never have made it through a second semester if the Polk State College Foundation had not been offering scholarships. It was this assistance that helped me through the next 16 weeks of change. It was a life preserver if you will–the financial support that unburdened me of the equivalent of two of the then four part-time jobs I was working, and exchanged them for sleep and a realistic studying schedule. It was this gift that enabled me to truly interact with the supporting educational community and allowed me to succeed.

‘It was the difference between swimming against a current to get somewhere–the exhaustion… and having the strength for kicking hard enough at the right moment to catch a wave–the exertion with significant value.’
—Mo McCourt

I give to the Polk State College Foundation because without the help I received to continue schooling, I may not have been able to subsequently graduate. I may not have been able to draw it all together for that second semester if not for the Foundation. I am now a culturally adaptable, physically independent, mentally competent, and fiscally self-sufficient individual. (I am by no means rich, but I no longer eat free popcorn for breakfast, lunch, and dinner!) Giving back now is like helping me, as I am helping others like me to succeed. Though I cannot afford to independently bankroll everyone’s success, through community efforts, I know the Foundation takes my small amount and combines it with others’ to help build life preservers for many. It feels great to give back even a small amount, because I KNOW firsthand that it can make a life changing difference.

Executive Director’s Greetings

Dear Colleagues:

It is such an honor to soar with you! Walking in to work every day is such a delight because I am surrounded by consummate professionals with a passion for service to this community. I genuinely respect the role that each of us plays to help the College achieve its world class vision. I witness everyone putting forth their very best effort for the benefit of our students, and I extend you my kudos, applause, and standing ovations. The magic of Polk State College sparks the moment we drive onto campus. It starts with the well-manicured grounds and the smiling faces and pleasant demeanor of our Information Desk attendants and cashiers, and continues with the helpful Financial Aid Office staff who make it possible for so many of our students to attend and advisors who give our students sound academic guidance. The flight of excellence continues with assistants who are nuts-and-bolts, super glue-and-duct-tape all in one, and the Business Office team that ensures that the College soars smoothly through the semester. Finally, the faculty members assist our students to reach the stars, passing down expertise that truly transforms lives and elevates the community. Everyone from every area of our phenomenal institution inspires me each and every day, and I whole-heartedly thank you.

It is incredibly rewarding to work with dedicated professionals who help our students soar to the stars. In addition to my respect for the extraordinary job you do, I revere you because our students are your number one priority—and it shows. Students are at the core of all of the decisions we make. Their ultimate success is our passion– it’s extremely gratifying to know that we all play an important role in their accomplishments.

I am most grateful for the generous support that has allowed the Foundation to soar in tandem with the College. Both the College and Foundation have undergone unprecedented growth in the past five years and we, the employees, have made that growth financially and logistically possible through innovation, dedication, and generosity. Charity really has begun at home at this College, and this has given the Foundation Board and Team extra motivation for soliciting and securing outside gifts to benefit Polk State students. If we, as employees, believe so strongly in the College mission, vision, and core values so much so that we include the Polk State College Foundation in our philanthropy, it is a powerful statement; it reinforces how collectively dedicated we are to the College family day in and day out and sends an undeniable message to our students and the community about our belief in their potential.

I express my genuine gratitude to the many employees who have given to the 2011 Employee Giving Campaign. We are currently at 88% of our goal, and I respectfully request that if you have not yet committed to giving a gift to the Polk State College Foundation, you give thoughtful consideration to further helping our students through a financial contribution that is comfortable for your family. Every dollar donated makes a difference in the lives of our students, and I thank you for your support and all that you do.

All the very best,

Tracy M. Porter,
Executive Director, Polk State College Foundation

Student Spotlight: Amanda Burton-Coleman
Fulfilling Her Dream “Across the Pond”

Amanda Burton-Coleman is a self-described non-traditional student at Polk State College. At 24, she is older than many of her classmates, and her life experiences have greatly focused her on the career path to becoming a Physical Therapist. She also works and is a single parent, so a lot of juggling is involved between her work and class schedules to provide time to spend with her four-year-old daughter, Le’aisha.

While her story may sound like many other students, Amanda is somewhat different in the fact that she is accomplishing her goals in a foreign country. Originally from England, Amanda Burton-Coleman has lived in the United States for ten years. After graduating from Haines City High School in 2004, Amanda began attending classes at Polk State College. Her parents and brothers eventually returned to England, reluctantly leaving Amanda and her child in Florida without the security of having family close by–a decision that has been difficult for all.

With the intention of making a better life for her child, Amanda sought help from TRiO Student Support Services. “The advising staff members in TRiO are really great about letting students know about scholarships and other financial help,” praises Amanda. With their assistance, Amanda applied for a scholarship through the Polk State College Foundation and received the Alumni Association Scholarship.

Amanda works part time for the Orlando Federal Credit Union, so the scholarship has helped to ease worries regarding how to finance classes and has allowed her to focus on academics. “This scholarship has kept me from worrying so much about the cost of tuition and books, so I can focus on my studies and create a better life for my family.”

Amanda is a member of the Polk State College Gospel Choir, and recently joined the gospel group, Sovereign, when the group needed an alto. After only being in the group for two weeks, Amanda traveled with Sovereign to Thomasville, Georgia to perform at a pastor appreciation event that was broadcast on local radio and television stations.

After graduating from Polk State College in 2012, Amanda plans to attend the University of Central Florida to become a Physical Therapist. With Central Florida as her new home, she intends to stay in the area and focus her work on children.