Northwest Florida State College to host 54th Annual Commencement Ceremonies

NICEVILLE, FL – Northwest Florida State College will host its 54th Annual Commencement Ceremonies on Saturday, May 4 at the Raider Arena on the College’s Niceville Campus. For the 2018-2019 academic year, which includes summer, fall and spring semesters, 1,616 students are eligible to graduate and 550 students are expected to walk in the ceremonies.

Certificates, associates in applied science, associates in science and bachelor’s degrees will be presented to graduates during the 10 a.m. ceremony, which will feature keynote speaker, Dr. Joan Davis, senior vice president, administration and policy for the Louisiana State Community College System. Kathy Hebda, chancellor of the Florida College System will also speak at the 10 a.m. ceremony.

Associates of arts degrees and Florida GED awards will be presented to graduates during the 2 p.m. ceremony, which will feature keynote speaker, Dr. joyce gillie gossom, executive director, National Association of Branch Campus Administrators and The Princess of Best Gurl, inc.

“We are honored to have these distinguished guests join us for our 54th Annual Commencement Ceremonies,” said Dr. Devin Stephenson, president. “Commencement is the time of year 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 4th!”

All students who participate in the commencement ceremony receive a free 2019 Northwest Florida State College Commemorative Medallion.

Keynote Speakers’ Biographies:

Dr. Joan Davis

Commencement 2019 Guest Speaker Dr. Joan DavisJoan Yvette Davis serves as the Vice President for Policy and Administration at the Louisiana Community and Technical College System (“LCTCS”). Prior to her current position, she served for more than four years as Chancellor of Delgado Community College in New Orleans. Delgado, a seven campus institution, is Louisiana’s oldest and largest community college serving more than 30,000 individuals in 2018. After becoming Chancellor she was named by New Orleans Magazine as one the city’s People to Watch in 2014. She also received an award from the Urban League of Greater New Orleans on behalf of the College as a Rising Star in Workforce Development.

In addition to serving as the interim President at Shelton State Community College in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, she provided workforce development leadership as the Montgomery/Selma Center Director of the Alabama Technology Network (ATN) and served as General Counsel and Vice Chancellor for the Alabama Department of Postsecondary Education. During her tenure with the Department, Joan also served as Interim Chancellor of the Alabama Community College System. Joan, who has practiced law for more than 25 years, engaged in private practice as well as governmental and higher-education law in the states of Alabama, Georgia and Florida.

A native of Macon, Georgia, Joan grew up in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and is a product of the Tuscaloosa City Schools System. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and History from Bennett College, Greensboro, North Carolina, and a Juris Doctorate from the University of Alabama School of Law. She also successfully completed the Harvard University Seminar for New Presidents.

Dr. joyce gillie gossom

Entrepreneur, visionary, collaborator, exceptional communicator, critical thinker, and a leader’s leader are just a few of the adjectives that have been used to describe Dr. joyce gillie gossom.

Dr. joyce gillie gossom headshot

Born in Chicago, Illinois, joyce has spent her life going against the grain. At the age of 16, she felt so connected to the poetry and style of e.e. cummings that her mother let joyce legally change her name to all lower-case letters, which is frequently met with resistance.

joyce’s more than 40 years of professional experience range from special education teacher to elected official, organizational consultant, and higher education administrator. Throughout her career, she has almost always served as an active member or officer with civic, professional and community organizations.

Passionate about education, joyce began her career as a Chicago Public School teacher and later obtained her master’s degree at Georgia Southern University in Adult Education and Supervision and a Doctorate from the University of West Florida in curriculum and instruction.

joyce honed her corporate business skills as a Program Development Supervisor at the Georgia Power Company. Taking that expertise to an even higher level as an entrepreneur, she opened Whitt Management Consulting in Birmingham where she facilitated leadership programs, and strategic planning. She provided organizational and needs assessment consulting services to bring diverse corporate groups and communities together to solve organizational challenges. Graduates from her leadership development programs went on to become elected government officials, major metropolitan school district superintendents and state college presidents.

Currently, she serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Branch Campus Administrators and The Princess of Best Gurl inc, providing customized solutions for corporations, education, and nonprofits that lead to improved performance. She is the author of Why Are They Following Me? A Guide to Effective Leadership. A highly sought out public speaker, joyce delivers powerful messages to businesses, educational institutions, and associations on topics ranging from leadership to presentation skills. Among the many professional organizations and boards to which she has belonged, joyce is honored to be a member of Leadership Florida Class XXXI and is a former Fort Walton Beach City Councilmember.

Inspired by a small number of known and mostly unknown history makers, joyce strives to achieve, not by living up to the expectations of others, but by setting her own standards. A good description for her is the saying, “The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd; those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before.”

joyce and her husband have lived in Fort Walton Beach, Florida since 1999, they have one son. She likes butterflies, the colors purple and yellow, Winnie the Pooh, The Wicked Witch, and large bodies of water.

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