Dr. Stephen Dunnivant and students

“Education is the Only Way out” – New Central Campus President Understands Struggle, and Rising Above it

For the past few weeks, Dr. Stephen Dunnivant has enjoyed the warm welcome of students, faculty, and staff at the A. Hugh Adams Central Campus as he takes charge as campus president. Coming from Tallahassee Community College, where he served as the dean of Business, Industry, and Technology for four years, Dr. Dunnivant is excited to serve the culturally-diverse Broward College.

Rising Above the Challenges

Dr. Stephen DunnivantBorn in Memphis, Tennessee, to a barber and a waitress, Dr. Dunnivant experienced struggles as a child. “I come from a humble family, I’m one of five siblings, and we grew up moving around quite a lot,” he says. “It was thanks to my mother, who taught us all how to read and write and my older brother Sam, who later became an ATF agent and U.S. Marshall, that my siblings and I knew we could do better and have different expectations for our lives.”

Despite living in communities often riddled by violence, crime, and low literacy levels, Dr. Dunnivant knew that education was his only way out. By his junior year in high school, the family had settled in Panama City, Florida, where he worked several odd jobs from a custodian to a dishwasher, to running a men’s clothing store, while attending college.

He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Social Science from Florida State University, a Master of Arts in Education and Human Development from George Washington University, and a Doctor of Education in Curriculum and Instruction with an emphasis in Education Technology from the University of West Florida.

It’s About the People

Dr. Stephen Dunnivant and studentsDr. Dunnivant was inspired to join the College when he learned about President Haile’s approach to bringing college to challenged communities through Broward UP™. “I believe President Haile has one of the best agendas in the Florida College System to help people in these communities achieve their goals through education,” says Dr. Dunnivant.

His upbringing makes him passionate about the possibilities being created through Broward UP, which focuses on communities with the highest unemployment and lowest education levels. As he understands what it’s like to grow up in similar situations, he explains that “it’s not about attracting people to our campus but reaching out to the people in those communities to show them that yes, they are college-worthy, and they can get their college degree and rise above their current circumstances.”

The Unofficial Agenda

Dr. Dunnivant joins Broward College with over 27 years of experience in higher education, economic development, and workforce. Despite all that experience, he is not one to have an agenda. “I’m not coming here with an agenda,” he admits. “If anything, I’m focused on listening, learning and understanding a little bit deeper the ins and outs of the college and the community it serves as well as building up trust among faculty, staff and students.”

Even with this approach, Dr. Dunnivant still has a vision for what he hopes to accomplish. As a strong advocate of the liberal arts and general education, he believes that “we must continue to grow and strengthen programs that focus on teaching what we know as soft skills,” he says. “These skills are employability skills and have become one of the top requirements for employers.”

The Broward College family is happy to welcome Dr. Dunnivant to our campus.

 


Fall 2019 Commencement Ceremony

“Best Decision I’ve Made” – Youngest Broward College Graduates Share Their Experience

The recent commencement ceremony celebrated over 1330 students who completed their bachelor’s and associate degrees. Among them were two 17-year-olds, who were among the youngest to graduate this fall.

Rafia Ali and Touchelle Ferguson, both Coral Springs residents, who graduated on December 11, have earned an Associate of Arts (A.A.) degree from Broward College. For Touchelle, she received the degree even before graduating high school, which she will complete in May 2020. This was possible through the Dual Enrollment (DE) program at Broward College, which allows students to take college courses while still in high school.

Rafia was also a student in the DE program but later enrolled at Broward College full-time.

The Benefits of Dual EnrollmentFall 2019 Commencement Ceremony

Through the program, students can earn high school and college credit simultaneously and are exempt from paying application, tuition, and laboratory fees at the College. The National Center for Education Statistics has seen a rapid gain in popularity of the program and has also noted the increase of “college-going behavior” among the young population. Rafia had heard about DE at her high school while Touchelle was encouraged by her mom to enroll after hearing about it from a friend.

“Having the opportunity to shorten my college career by two years was a great advantage for me,” says Touchelle, who will be applying to the University of Florida’s health sciences program to become an OB/GYN. Students who plan on pursuing long college degrees in fields such as medicine or law greatly benefit from completing their associate degree while still in high school.

“Doing DE may not allow you to have a ‘typical’ high school or college experience. Still, it’s worth it because you’re saving time and money,” explains Rafia, an honors student who will pursue a bachelor’s degree in Nursing.

Go for it! Young Graduates Embrace the College Experience

Balancing the workload of high school and college may sound challenging to many, but Rafia and Touchelle agree that people make it sound worse than it is. “When I decided to do my entire senior year at Broward College instead of my high school, I told all my friends about how great DE was and most of them decided to do the same thing I was doing. Afterwards, they all told me how much they liked the experience as well,” says Rafia.

“You will indeed make sacrifices here and there but after you get the hang of it, everything runs smoothly,” says Touchelle.

College classes felt like the ‘real world’ and attending classes on campus was like something out of a movie. “To me, my favorite part was the freedom to choose your schedule and your classes and walking on campus on your own time, watching and participating in all the different activities happening,” says Rafia. “And at Broward College, everyone makes you feel at home.”

Broward College welcomes young students to achieve their unlimited potential and work on their academic goals while still in high school. Check out our Dual Enrollment program and let us get you started on your college goals!


Deyonn Daniels

Broward College is Home Away from Home for Homeless Graduate

On more nights than he’d like to remember, Deyonn Daniels waited for the building lights to dim, signaling an end to another day of classes at Broward College. When the few professors and students remaining on the A. Hugh Adams Central Campus in Davie wandered into the parking lots and faded out of sight, Deyonn retired to a dark and inconspicuous space on the campus that he had chosen to call home for the night. Some nights, he dozed unperturbed in a campus stairwell. If he was fortunate, he couched-surfed at friends’ homes until pride got the best of him, and he packed his duffle bag and moved on.

The trouble is Deyonn had a habit of refusing to ask for help. He’d rather go about the business of being just another student, his bereft circumstances unbeknownst to classmates, faculty, and staff. Nobody knew how badly Deyonn wanted to change his lot in life. Tired of devoting upward of 50 hours each week spreading mulch, trimming trees, and cutting grass, the former landscaper proved he would go any length to earn a degree, even if he had to eat, sleep, and breathe at Broward College.

Deyonn Daniels
Deyonn Daniels

Now, after five years in the shadows of homelessness, Deyonn has no other choice but to stand out and shine among his peers. In December, he will take part in Broward College commencement exercises, where he will officially receive an associate degree in Information Technology.

“Because I started, I didn’t want to give up,” said Deyonn, now 23. “I didn’t want people to question why I didn’t finish. I didn’t want that tag attached to me.”

Deyonn already knew what a bad latch was like. After graduating from Everglades High School in 2014, he moved in with his estranged father to work at his dad’s fledgling landscape business. The pair clashed often. Frustrated, Deyonn moved in with his mother in Miramar and enrolled in Broward College. To pay for his education, he got a job at a local grocery store.

“The money was good, but I had no focus,” said Deyonn. “I was just going through the motions.”

When he wasn’t working the cash register, Deyonn unloaded trucks. Struggling to find purpose, he lashed out at his mother during a drinking binge, and the two parted ways. With nowhere to go, Deyonn turned to the Get Real program at Broward College, which awards scholarships to students from challenging backgrounds.

The scholarship helped, covering the costs of tuition and books, but Deyonn still had to provide for his living expenses. He got a job on campus as a stagehand at Bailey Hall and, in some respects, made himself at home.

“I would sleep anywhere I could rest my head,” said Deyonn, who credits his devout faith and friend, Brandon Gibson, an alumnus of the Get Real program, for preserving. “Anywhere, so that I could have enough energy for the next day.”

Sometimes, Deyonn was locked out of buildings. Sometimes he was stuck in the rain, but his unmatched resolve would not be dampened.

Today, Deyonn fuels his interest in computers through a job with the information technology department at Broward College’s Cypress Creek Campus.  He is part of a team responsible for rolling out a new website. Someday, Deyonn hopes to open his own website design company and help change someone else’s life. Until then, he will, at the very least, take satisfaction in his.

Deyonn Daniels
Deyonn Daniels (right)

“I feel like a champion, a gladiator who has won the fight,” said Deyonn, who had to be convinced to participate in the graduation where his mother, with who he reconciled, will cheer on her son from a seat at Hard Rock Live. “Things got hard, but I had a vision, and I believed in it.”

Have health, economic, or social circumstances forced you to put your academic goals on hold? You may be eligible for scholarships that can reopen doors to higher education. Here’s how.

For more information about Get REAL! contact Olivia Sarson at osarson@broward.edu or call (954) 201-7027.


Roberto Viana

Never Too Late to Learn: 81-Year-Old Earns Bachelor’s Degree Broward College

After four decades spent in the electrical engineering industry, retirement wasn’t all that it’s cracked up to be for Roberto Viana, an 81-year-old living in El Callao, a port city along the Pacific Coast of Peru that has become more notorious for crime than as a maritime landmark.  He figured a change of scenery might do him and his wife some good.

To be closer to their sons who had already departed for the United States to pursue their education, the couple left Peru and relocated to South Florida. But the electrician in Robert needed an even a bigger charge out of the golden years of his life. He enrolled at Broward College, where he learned English and, perhaps, gained more than he had bargained for: an associate degree in Supply Chain Management.

“I have always been the type of person who needs to be occupied with something,” said Roberto, who will take part in commencement exercises, Dec. 11, at Live Rock, in Hollywood, Fla. “I have always had a desire for learning, and I didn’t think it was ever too late to stop.”

Roberto Viana
Roberto Viana

Roberto owned his own business and worked for three transnational companies throughout his professional career, but he still had a few things he could learn.

“Going back to school so many years later and attending class with young people that could be my grandchildren was such an interesting experience,” said Roberto. “I was able to get to know how they think, and I was actually quite surprised to see that I was wrong in certain things.”

Forever Young

Roberto complimented his online courses with classes on campus, where, to his surprise, he was welcomed by his younger peers.

“I made friends with people from so many different cultures and all walks of life,” he said. “I think that was my favorite part of being able to go back to school now.  I was also able to share many of my life’s experience just because they could help my fellow classmates in their future endeavors.”

With a little bit of English to his credit, Roberto speaks well of his college experience, which has rejuvenated him at a time when many seniors his age are coping with physical challenges.

“I’m always on the go,” he said. “My doctor always tells me that I should be proud of myself because I look way better than the other 80-year-olds in his office’s waiting room.”

Plan for Future

Roberto hasn’t seen the last of Broward College. He enrolled full-time for classes in the spring semester and expects to earn a bachelor’s degree a year from now. Perhaps, he may even return to work.

“I really enjoy keeping myself busy,” he said. “Who knows, I may find something that allows me to travel back and forth to Peru.”

Broward College provides opportunities for personal and professional growth to all members of our community. Learn about careers in Supply Chain Management and more here.


Married Couple Walking Down Aisle Again to Receive Degrees at Broward College Graduation

Once word got around that he knew some things about Broward College that the other students didn’t, Larry Jones developed a reputation as the go-to-guy in class. When a door needed fixing or the lights weren’t working, the professors sought out Larry. If things in the class got too heated, everyone turned to Larry to take a look at the air-conditioning. Even his wife took it upon herself to chime in, asking him to do something about a bees’ nest, she saw hanging from a campus drain.

Not only was Larry always happy to help, but he was also obliged. By day, the 54-year-old works as a facilities manager at Broward College. Later in the evening, when he changes into a polo shirt, shorts, and flip-flops, Larry joins his wife, Carolyn, as students. This fall (2019), the couple will walk down the aisle again to receive degrees: Larry, a bachelor’s degree in Supervision and Management; Carolyn Garreau-Jones, an associate degree in Paralegal Studies.

Larry and Carolyn
Larry Jones and Carolyn Garreau-Jones

Although they are joined at the hip, Larry and Carolyn took different paths to their degrees during the night. Larry started at Broward College six years ago, juggling work with two classes each semester. Carolyn returned to school after earning a bachelor’s degree from Nova Southeastern in 2005. An eighth-grade science teacher at Howell L Watkins Middle School in Palm Beach Gardens, she met Larry at a Texas Holdem poker tournament.

“He was cute,” said Carolyn. “He seemed like he had his act together.”

Larry planned to go to college when he graduated Pompano High School, but his parents couldn’t afford to pay his college tuition.

“I was down and out for a while,” said Larry. “I kept seeing people I graduated with getting better jobs.”

Larry didn’t stray far from college. He went to work at Florida Atlantic University before joining the Broward College facilities management staff in 2012.

“I always wanted to use my hands,” said Larry. “I just love maintenance. A different problem pops up every day: roof leaks, bathroom issues. Our job is to solve problems. People think I’m crazy, but I feel like I haven’t worked in 15 years. I don’t consider this a job.”

When Larry learned of Broward College’s tuition reimbursement plan, his responsibilities took on added meaning.

“I’m thinking, I work at a college,” said Larry. “There’s no reason I can’t get a better education.”

But attending evening classes after long days at work was arduous for both Larry and Carolyn.

“The days became a lot longer,” said Carolyn. “I never had a chance to come home after teaching. When I left in the morning, I had to make sure I had everything I needed to get through the day.”

When they did return home, Carolyn went to the east side of the home to study, Larry to the west wing.

“She helped me more with classes than I helped her,” said Larry, who will graduate with a 3.7 grade-point average, magna cum laude; Carolyn a perfect 4.0. “She’s a lot smarter than me.”

Both had the determination and willingness to persevere. And on December 6, they will celebrate together. As an accredited paralegal, Carolyn will officially become a guardian for her grandmother, who is battling dementia. Larry will be the first in his family to graduate from college. His parents are “stunned” with pride; his colleagues at Broward College awed and inspired. The doors and windows Larry spent a career repairing have finally opened.

“It feels really good,” said Larry, holding back tears. “You can’t get anywhere in life without a degree. I’ve waited my entire life for this.”

Whether you’re a traditional or a non-traditional student, a first-generation in college student, or from an underserved community, Broward College offers a wide range of day and evening classes – plus an online option – that can be both affordable and accessible.


Maria Acosta

After Hurricane Maria, Displaced Student Makes Broward College Her Home

Along the two-and-a-half-hour drive to practice across the mountains of Puerto Rico each day, Maria Acosta had plenty of time to talk with her father about what she wanted to do when she got older. The sixth-grader’s future appeared to be set in stone. Maria dreamed of attending college, becoming an All-American, and eventually a professional volleyball player, which was OK with dad, who, in his younger days, was among the top tennis players on the island.

“My mom and dad went on dates to the school gym,” said Maria, in jest, as she looked back on her turbulent journey and ahead to December 11 when she will graduate from Broward College with an associate degree in Marketing. “Sports ran in our blood, and I lived and breathed volleyball.”

But the inevitable changed as quickly as the twists and turns of a deadly weather pattern that bore her name. On the morning of September 17, 2017, Hurricane Maria battered Puerto Rico, leaving 20-year-old Maria and 3.4 million residents like her without electricity and the power to recover for many months to come.

Maria said the winds and rains from the storm sounded like the end of the world. For many, it was. Hurricane Maria killed an estimated 2,975 people in Puerto Rico. It also destroyed the restaurant where Maria worked as a waitress, washing away her ability to pay for the classes she took at the University of Puerto Rico. For what seemed like an eternity, Maria spent her days attending to the needs of her neighbors, bartering for food and emergency supplies and wiping away tears. Her life’s plan was not even on pause; it appeared to have completely ended.

Tuition Assistance

Maria Acosta
Maria Acosta

Desperate times demanded bolder measures. One month after the storm, Maria and her older sister packed some sweaters and went to live with an aunt on the mainland. Maria took a job at a daycare center in Virginia, where her older counterparts warned she might never leave.

Maria was scared and tormented by frequent panic attacks. While her family coped with the damaged electrical grid, roads, and bridges and razed homes and business back home in Puerto Rico, Maria took her father’s advice. She moved to Florida where she enrolled at Broward College, which offered in-state tuition to her and other displaced victims of Hurricane Maria. The Federal Emergency Management Administration also provided Maria and her sister with temporary housing at a local hotel, about a 40-minute walk from the College’s A. Hugh Adams Central Campus. To meet living expenses and pay for her education, Maria worked full-time as a volleyball instructor for school-aged kids in Davie. But, the skies did not part for her overnight.

One morning, Maria and her sister woke to an eviction notice. The FEMA funds had dried up, and she had to be out of the hotel by noon. Without a place to stay or leave their belongings, the sisters roamed the streets of Davie until their parents could scrape up the last of their financial resources to secure a loan for the down payment on a small apartment for their daughters.

“I had hit rock bottom,” said Maria. “My parents were trying to do everything they could for us, but they had nothing left. I wanted to win my life back.  So, I decided to take matters into my own hands. Instead of slowing down, I asked for more.”

Better Days Ahead

Even though she was working full-time and carried a heavy course load, Maria tried out for the Broward College women’s volleyball team that spring. She not only made the team; she was eventually awarded a full scholarship for her dedication and hard work. Maria returned on that investment. She made the dean’s list, was selected into the Phi Theta Kappa Junior College Honor Society and finished her last volleyball season with all-academic and all-Southern Conference second-team accolades.

Those honors she said are no match for the time she showed off her apartment to her parents, who visited Davie to see their daughter’s home-away-from-home. While looking around, she remembers her dad turning to say, “We did it. Everything we planned when you were a kid, you did.”

Maria believes that even better days are ahead. She is looking forward to completing her bachelor’s degree, being a part of the ongoing recovery process in Puerto Rico, and, of course, the Broward College commencement ceremonies.

“I’m going to be thinking about the hotel, what I had to put up with and what I had to do -- and the conversations on those drives to volleyball practice with my dad,” she said. “But, mostly, I’m going to think about how much I deserve this.”

In times of trouble, Broward College has a history of providing a helping hand to students who need emotional support and financial assistance. Learn more about aid and eligibility here.


Mishal Mohammad Raza

A Whole New World: From Tanzania to Broward College, Student Overcomes Life’s Challenges

If it had a plug or ran on batteries, little Mishal Mohammad Raza wasn’t about to let it collect dust. Curiosity powered the 11-year-old to take it apart and peek inside at whatever old and disabled device she’d find taking up space in her home.

“Growing up, I saw too many people struggle with simple chores,” said Mishal, who humbly recalled watching her father, a doctor in their hometown of Arusha, Tanzania, provide medical care in areas without paved roads, running water and electricity. “I always wondered what I could do to make something better, how I could solve a problem.”

The toughest test proved not to be the circuitry of a telephone or DVD player, but how would Mishal quench her thirst for knowledge in a land where career options for women in science and technology are as few as zebras, elephants, and giraffes are plentiful. Fortunately for Mishal, her parents had an answer to her dilemma. Just as they did for her three older siblings, they applied their limited financial resources and sent Mishal to study abroad.

Coming to America from Africa and earning an associate degree with a focus on Mechanical Engineering at Broward College opened a whole new world for Mishal, from the moment her plane touched down in Fort Lauderdale.

Coming to America

Mishal Mohammad Raza
Mishal Mohammad Raza (center)

“I was like ‘oooh’ when I passed the beach and saw women dressed like that,” said Mishal, who sports a headscarf required of her Muslim faith “The way people live in Tanzania is different than the way they live in Florida. It was complete culture shock.”

Mishal didn’t want the locals to judge her as a problem. Any notion she might be was quickly dispelled when she enrolled at Broward College, where her classmates were as intrigued by her as she was with them.

“They are curious and have lots of questions,” said Mishal, who, as a climber of Mount Kilimanjaro in her native Tanzania, is accustomed to challenging and uncharted terrain. “They are fascinated by my culture and the way I dress. But they are not judging me, and I like that.”

Mishal’s accomplishments speak volumes about both her determination and resourcefulness. She was vice president of service for Phi Kappa Honors Society and Voice for Animals, a member of the tennis and engineering clubs at Broward College, and a math tutor at the Academic Success Center. Her busy schedule has not prevented her from posting a 4.0 grade-point average. She credits the campus  Professional Enhancement Program, at which she now serves as an intern and “chilling’ with her peers for softening the distance between her family back home.

Is it Worth It?

“The high cost of travel makes visiting home often not an option,” said Mishal, who lives in Davie with her uncle and grandmother. “It’s a huge transition being apart. I was their youngest child, the pampered one.”

The lonely evenings can’t help but rent space in her head, reminding her of life in Africa and the times her father checked in on her to say goodnight. She misses her mom’s meals and cozy hugs and sometimes questions if her journey is worth it. When her fears try to get the best of her, she fondly remembers her mother smiling, wondering aloud “what she should do” with 11-year-old Mishal after she found her daughter tinkering again with another household appliance. Then the decision to leave Africa is silently reaffirmed.

“While I have my struggles, each student faces setbacks,” said Mishal, who upon graduation this December, is transferring to a University in Texas to continue toward a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and energy engineering. “Life is full of challenges. I can either be defined by the challenges I face or how I overcome them. I choose to be defined by how I overcome adversity and strive for a better future. You can do the same.”

For more than four decades, Broward College has been a leader in international education, partnering with colleges and universities throughout the world to provide a more accessible way to attract students from across the globe. Learn more about opportunities in International Education at Broward College here.


Maria and George

Like Mother, Like Son – Maria and George Will Celebrate Achievement Together

Doing her best to set a good example for her sons is something that Maria Ennis has done since her son George Aponte, was born. For most of George's childhood, Maria was a single mother to him and his younger brother. But she was determined to teach them that there was no obstacle or challenge too big to prevent them from achieving whatever they set out to do.

And, on December 11, 41-year-old Maria will again demonstrate the power of determination when she graduates with a Bachelor of Arts in Supervision Management, while George 19, will receive his Associate of Arts with a concentration in Journalism.

Time is not a Deterrent

Maria and George
Maria Ennis and George Aponte

After Maria left home at 18, she soon found herself pregnant with George, and life became difficult. At the time, she was pursuing a degree at Miami Dade College, but finding the time and financial resources to continue school and raise a child seemed impossible.

She tried college again in 2006, but plans fell through.

In 2009, Maria met her husband, who she credits for being her "biggest support" while working towards completing her postsecondary education. "After I met my husband, I was able to focus on going back to school finally. I was managing two sons and a full-time job all by myself, but having him with me gave me the space I needed to enroll at Broward College," Maria says. She completed her associate's degree in 2016 and has been working on her bachelor's since then. She doesn't plan on stopping, as she was accepted to Barry University to pursue an MBA in Management for spring 2020.

"It doesn't matter how long it takes you to accomplish something, the important thing is to do it anyway," Maria says.

Following Strong Footsteps

George has witnessed his mother's determination since he was young. As he completes his first college degree, he is grateful for the example and lessons she taught him. "She is the greatest role model any son can have," says George. "I am beyond lucky that she is my mother. Growing up, I didn't fully understand all the sacrifices she made for my brother and me, but now that I do, it makes me feel so lucky."

George has been accepted into the Teacher Education program at the College to pursue his bachelor's, which he will start in the spring of 2020. He is still passionate about pursuing a career in communications at some point and is hoping to secure an internship at a radio station.

Walking the Stage Together

"I'm just so proud of my son and everything he has accomplished," Maria says, full of emotion. "To me, the best thing in the world is to sit next to him and walk together during commencement because it shows me that I was successful at teaching him the importance of education."

Reaching this crucial milestone, along with his mother is a "gift" for George as well. "I know that she wasn't able to accomplish this before in part because of me, so being able to achieve this together is just a testament as to how strong and perseverant she is," he says. "I tell her every day how much I love her and how thankful I am for everything she has done for me."

Broward College is proud to serve as the first step in your journey to achieve greatness. Learn more about career opportunities in Business, Education, and more.


Patrick Borges

It’s All About Perseverance – The Inspiring Story of Future College Graduate Patrick Borges

Patrick Borges has a thirst for knowledge, education, and independence. As he embarked on the last stretch to earn his Associate of Arts degree at Broward College, Patrick is sharing his challenging journey to achieving his dreams.

Patrick was born in Cuba but raised in the Czech Republic by his Cuban father and Czech mother. After his parents divorced, he stayed with his mother in the Czech Republic until he was fourteen, then moved to Miami with his father.

When he started high school in Miami, he learned English and Spanish simultaneously, and his professors were quick to notice his good academic standing and placed him in honors classes. Since then, Patrick has not slowed down despite facing several setbacks on his way.

Striving for Excellence

“I realized very early on in my life that education was very important to succeed,” explains Patrick. “In high school, I did not only put all my focus on learning and getting perfect grades, but I started to volunteer, do part-time work, and join student clubs.” Patrick was the president of Future Physicians of America club and a member of the Principal Advisory Committee during high school.

Patrick Borges
Patrick Borges

He knew that the medical field was the professional path he wanted to pursue, so he focused his volunteer work at the Kendall Regional Hospital, where he completed 500 hours of community service.

At the same time, he had the opportunity to work for Czech Trade, a foreign governmental agency that promotes bilateral trade between the Czech Republic and the U.S. Due to his excellent work ethic, another opportunity arose, this time at the Czech Embassy in Washington D.C. which he decided not to pursue, in order to focus on his interest for the medical field.

Life Isn’t Over Yet

After high school, he attended Miami Dade College to pursue a degree in business that he decided not to finish and instead went on to take night classes at a technical school to become a Medical Assistant while working with his father at an electrical company during the day.

In 2010 his life was completely altered when an accident at his workplace resulted in almost six years of surgeries, medical attention, and physical rehabilitation. Patrick had an infection on his right hip joint, which required doctors to remove the hip joint and place him on several months of antibiotic treatments that were ineffective.

“When I was told by doctors that I would also need a hip replacement surgery and that I may end up in a wheelchair for the rest of my life, I was completely crushed. I thought my life was over at that point. Everything I had worked for, I felt it was out of reach,” he says.

After the surgery and months of painful rehabilitation, doctors informed him the hip replacement surgery had not been successful and that he needed to remove the implant and try the surgery again after a year of antibiotic treatment. It wasn’t until 2015 and two other minor surgeries that Patrick finally received the metal implant he currently has.

“After the last surgery rehab, I felt better than I had felt in years, and I knew it was time to get back on track and keep working towards the life I wanted,” he says. “In 2017, I started working again, and I decided to enroll in Broward College.”

During the fall commencement, Patrick, like thousands of other Broward College graduates will celebrate completing his degree, and this is just the beginning for the 36-year-old who has not given up on his desire to work in the medical field. He has been accepted to the A.S. Nursing program at Broward College to begin classes in January of 2020. He wishes to become a Nurse Practitioner or Nurse Anesthetist.

Are you interested in pursuing a career in the medical field to help others? Learn more about the Health Sciences programs available at Broward College.


“Age is not an Obstacle” – Elysa Ravelo Graduates with A.S. in Criminal Justice at 66 years old

When she graduated high school over 40 years ago, life got complicated for Elysa Ravelo. College was something she tried to accomplish, but marriage and a family ended up taking most of her time. “When I was younger, I went to Miami Dade College, but life got busy really fast as I got married, adopted twins, and within a year I had a baby of my own,” says Elysa. “My mother passed away shortly after, and school just wasn’t a priority anymore.”

After years of setting aside pursuing her dream of a college degree, the Pembroke Pines resident has finally accomplished her goal, and on December 11, will cross the platform at the Hard Rock Live to collect her Associate of Arts as she celebrates with other Broward College graduates.

Always Finding a Way

Elysa Ravelo
Elysa Ravelo

After her mom passed away, Elysa focused on providing for her family. She tried to balance work, school and raising a family but it wasn’t possible. She had to prioritize, and unfortunately, school fell to the side. Elysa found a job at the U.S. Postal Service as a secretary and has been working there for the past 38 years. And while she excitedly speaks about how much she enjoys her job, she could not forget her goal of attending college and completing a degree.

So, in 2013, by then a mother to adult children, Elysa decided to enroll in the Criminal Justice program at Broward College. “I am a strong advocate for justice, and I have always enjoyed solving problems,” says Elysa. “And on top of that, I get to help people by working this field.”

Her experience at the College has been “beautiful,” as she describes it. “I was lucky enough to learn from a group of faculty members that are among the best in their field. I was also fortunate to attend school with fellow students that, even though they were a lot younger than me, still made me feel welcome and one of their own.”

She doesn’t plan on stopping as she is already enrolled for the spring semester to begin her journey towards completing an A.S. in Crime Scene Emphasis.

“Age is not an obstacle to pursue your dreams and achieve goals,” Elysa says. “Just because you weren’t able to complete something at the time you’re expected to, it doesn’t mean you can’t go back to it later on and achieve it. I raised a family and provided for them for many years, and now I finally get to complete this goal for myself.”

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