April 16, 2018
Niceville- Northwest Florida State College will host its 53rd Annual Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, May 5.
The first ceremony will begin at 10:00 a.m. and feature graduates in bachelor’s degree, associate of science, associate of applied science and certificate programs. Mark Wilson, Chief Executive Officer of the Florida Chamber of Commerce will deliver the keynote address to students during the morning ceremony. Mr. Wilson will be introduced by Stan Connally Jr., Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Gulf Power Company.
The second ceremony will begin at 2:00 p.m. and feature students graduating with associate of arts degrees and Florida High School diplomas (GED). Jimmy Patronis, Chief Financial Officer of the State of Florida will deliver the keynote address to students during the afternoon ceremony. Mr. Patronis will be introduced by Representative Mel Ponder.
“We are honored to have these distinguished guests join us for our 53rd Annual Commencement Ceremonies,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, NWF State President. “Commencement is the time of year that we come together to celebrate our students and their academic achievements. We are extremely proud of our students and look forward to honoring them on May 5th!”
Both ceremonies will take place in the Raider Arena on the college’s Niceville Campus. All students who participate in the commencement ceremony will receive a free 2018 Northwest Florida State College Commemorative Medallion.
Mark Wilson serves as president and chief executive officer of Florida’s largest and most influential business advocacy organization. Wilson leads the substantial political, lobbying, grassroots, and economic research operations of the Florida Chamber of Commerce. The Florida Chamber focuses on creating a business climate that generates prosperity and high-paying jobs, vibrant communities and global competitiveness in the state of Florida by focusing on job creation and the Six Pillars of Florida’s Future Economy: Talent Supply & Education, Innovation & Economic Development, Infrastructure & Growth Leadership, Business Climate & Competitiveness, Civic & Governance Systems and Quality of Life & Quality Places.
A native of Illinois, Wilson received his undergraduate degree from the University of Georgia and has earned the national designation of Certified Chamber Executive (CCE). Prior to joining the Florida Chamber in 1998, Wilson served as vice president of the Chicagoland Chamber and previously served with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Jimmy Patronis is a native Floridian born and raised in Panama City and is currently serving as the CFO for the State of Florida. He earned his associate degree in restaurant management from Gulf Coast Community College and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Florida State University. His public service career began with experience as an intern in the Florida Senate and the United Kingdom’s House of Commons. Following his college graduation, Governor Lawton Chiles appointed him to the Florida Elections Commission, and he was later reappointed by Governor Jeb Bush.
He served in the Florida House of Representatives from 2006 to 2014, representing his hometown region in the Florida Panhandle. He was appointed to serve on Florida’s Public Service Commission, as well as the Constitution Revision Commission, which meets once every twenty years to propose changes to the state constitution.
Mel Ponder received his B.S. in finance from Florida State University. He served as the Mayor of Destin from 2014-2016 and is the currently serving in the Florida House of Representatives, representing District Four. He is a champion for Northwest Florida State College in the Florida legislature and was instrumental in the passing of HB 75, which allows for all state and community colleges in Florida to waive state fees for active duty military members.
Stan W. Connally Jr. graduated from Georgia Institute of Technology with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering. Stan began his career with Southern Company in 1989 as a co-op student at Georgia Power’s Plant Yates and has held positions in various functional areas. He currently serves as the Chairman, President and CEO of Gulf Power Company, a subsidiary of Southern Company — one of the largest producers of electricity in the United States.