Broward College Graduates: Student Profiles
Graduation day is a moment of triumph for Kim Pender, who will receive her Associate in Nursing in December. It’s been a long road for the mother of seven and a feeling of accomplishment knowing she has reached the finish line.
She was driven to be a nurse because illness had been prevalent in her family, and she wanted to help. Pender’s mother has multiple sclerosis, her sister was born microcephalic, and her father has severe heart disease. At age eight Pender recalls spending the summers with her aunt, a certified nursing assistant, at the nursing home where she worked. She felt nursing was in her blood, and the youngster interacted with those there, and grew to love making days just a bit brighter for the patient population.
Pender sees all her challenges – student, mom and full-time employee – as a test of endurance and perseverance. She says it’s been a great journey and the experience was character building and shows what you are capable of if you stay focused on your goals.
For her, faith and her children also got her through. She says, as a nurse, it’s not only about the things you do for others, but what she receives in return is the feeling that comes from taking care of patients and the reward of knowing you helped someone. Plus, she wants to demonstrate to her kids that, no matter what life throws at you, you can’t give up. Pender says the whole point of existence is learning and growing, while knowing you only have one life and what you do with that life is so important.
The new grad is looking forward to her future and finds this is only the beginning. She has aspirations to get her BSN, move on to her master’s and finish with a doctorate.
Tirzah Gabourel went to work right out of high school to help contribute to the household. After more than 20 years at Zimmer Biomet, she could feel the proverbial glass ceiling and developed a desire to take her education to the next level. Fate would strike when she saw an advertisement for the inaugural class for the Supply Chain Management Express program, which offers an accelerated weekend schedule.
The accelerated program allows students to earn both their Associate of Science degree in Supply Chain Management Operations and their Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Supply Chain Management a little more than two years. This December, she finishes the associate degree on her way to the bachelor’s.
She had no traditional college experience before entering the demanding program, but her work ethic has gotten her through the difficult times. In fact, it’s Gabourel’s drive that moved her up the corporate ladder, starting as a receptionist at her company to becoming a master data project manager and overseeing her own department of employees.
These days, she works full-time, goes to classes Friday nights and Saturdays, often juggling work and online activities, self-study sessions and group projects. She is never without her trusty laptop, spending every spare moment working on assignments replaying lectures in cars, skipping lunch breaks to do classwork and completely sacrificing her social life in the pursuit of an education. If that weren’t enough, Gabourel’s job has her traveling to Germany, Spain, France and other places in Europe every other month, and there have been many times she landed at the airport to head straight to class.
Despite the challenges, she has excelled academically and found her name on the President’s List averaging a 4.0. GPA.
One email from Broward College changed Zack Stephenson’s professional life forever. It was for an opening for a field service engineer position with COPAN (Collection and Preservation for Analysis) Diagnostics, a prominent lab manufacturing company.
He figured he’d give it a shot and apply. Now, the student isn’t just graduating in December, earning an Associate of Science in Engineering Technology with a specialization in biomedical, but he also secured the job before.
A few months into his tenure at COPAN, and Stephenson couldn’t be happier with every day on the job bringing a new chance to learn and grow. Stephenson travels throughout Florida servicing a microbiology machine known as a WASP (Walk Away Specimen Processor). The WASP fully automates the process of taking a sample from a specimen and streaking a media plate to observe bacteria growth.
He has always wanted to be in a career where he would be working with his hands and he feels he is following in the footsteps of his post office electronic tech father and his grandfather who worked on planes.
Prior to attending the College, Stephenson attended Florida Atlantic University and received his bachelor’s in Management Information Systems. He wasn’t happy with his past jobs, which were often in an office setting. The lack of fulfillment fueled his desire to go back to school, as he was in search for more hands-on opportunities.
He had an awakening when, even with a bachelor’s, employers were looking for experience and specialized degrees. The program and affordability attracted Stephenson to Broward College, and the grad is grateful to Dr. Mohammad Dabbas, his professor, for helping him stay focused and committed.
Philipe Rolle is proof that you’re never too old to go back to school. The 60-year-old began classes at Broward College three years ago after qualifying for Chapter 31, a VA vocational rehabilitation program to help veterans with service-connected disabilities. The goal is to become suitably employed, maintain employment, or achieve independence in daily living. He decided to pursue a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management and is graduating in December.
Dedicated to his country, 60-year-old Phillip Rolle served as quartermaster soldier for the Army in Germany and participated in the 1980 Olympic trials in track and field. He would never get the chance to represent the stars and stripes, as America boycotted the Olympics, held in Russia.
The father of four and grandfather of three went to Miami-Dade College and Florida State University, but his military duties and deployments got in his way. With not many credits transferring, Rolle essentially started from scratch
“It was challenging,” he said. “I had to apply myself more than the other kids had to. I did make the Dean’s List though.”
He as so interested in his education that he took his television out of the house so he wouldn’t be distracted. Instead, Rolle put the same competitive spirit on his race to reach the finish line at Broward College where he will graduate in December with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Supply Chain Management from Broward College.
In addition, he interned for the School Board of Broward County, spending six weeks gaining hands-on experience in the procurement department to prepare him for a whole new professional renaissance. Rolle went through all the different facets of the department from purchasing to warehouse to construction, and he hopes to secure a job working with the County after graduation.
“The skies the limit,” Rolle said. “After all, I’m a young man.”
Graduation day is wrapping up a 10-year journey for Jasmine Andrion, who will walk in the December commencement, earning a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science with a Biosecurity concentration. She is the sole representative from her program to receive a degree at the ceremony.
Andrion, half Filipino and half Cuban, has a family made up of nurses and other occupations within the medical profession. The 30-year-old started out in nursing, but changed course two years ago when she realized it wasn’t for her. She was interested in science, but didn’t want to feel restricted to a hospital setting.
“I like to be outside and outdoors,” Andrion said. “I like to do laboratory work as well. This field enables me to still help people and also helping the environment and world as a whole. I feel I can make a bigger difference.”
Along with her studies, Andrion interns for the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) as a biological lab technician, and works overnight and day shifts as an administrative assistant for a luxury condominium property on South Beach. Her goal is to work for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) or other government agency.
The Miami resident was motivated to finish school because she knew the doors it would open to her, professionally, and the positive example it would set for her seven-year-old son.
“Now I feel like I’m where I’m meant to be and found the right path for herself,” she said.