David Gully, 35, of Tallahassee, Fla., will graduate from Valdosta State University on Dec. 13, 2014, with a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) in computer information systems. He is the son of Paul and Delores Gully and a 1997 graduate of Amos P. Godby High School. He previously attended Tallahassee Community College, where he earned an associate degree, and spent four years in the United States Navy, where he worked as an air traffic controller.
As a student at VSU, he worked as a computer science tutor, was vice president of the campus’s Association for Computing Machinery chapter, placed second in the inaugural Azalea Health Hackathon, presented original research at the annual Undergraduate Research Symposium, and received the Nexxtep Outstanding Student in Computer Information Systems Scholarship.
He has already secured employment as a software engineer with Nexxtep and hopes to further his education in the not-too-distant future, earning either a Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) or a master’s degree in information systems. His dream is to someday start his own software company.
He said that he believes the skills he has acquired at VSU, along with the skills he will continue to acquire and sharpen in the workforce, will enable him to achieve that dream.
To hear David’s complete story, view his feature below from Valdosta State University.
This story was originally published on the Valdosta State University website.
College was never on the radar for Reamonn
Soto. After struggling with math and science for years, he never
expected to earn a physics degree, research cosmic ray particles or
own his own business.
"I knew that I was destined for
greater," said Soto, "but I still couldn't see myself in
college. I didn't have the best test scores and I didn't have
the best grades."
The Sept. 11 terrorist attacks fueled Soto's
desire to enlist in the Marine Corps Reserve after graduating from Leon
High School. Though he was reluctant to continue his education, he also
enrolled in Lively Technical Center to fulfill a promise to his
mother. His Marine training gave him some background for his structural
After receiving more financial aid than he expected,
Soto decided to take two classes at TCC. He aced both of them and agreed
to a full course load, eventually earning his associate degree.
"The faculty and staff here were incredible," said Soto. "They went the extra mile."
"The faculty and staff here were
incredible," said Soto. "They went the extra mile. I struggled
on the reading portion of the FCAT here in Florida, but my professor took out
that summer and taught me the fundamentals of writing and inspired me to become
a good writer. I ended up winning statewide writing contests while being in
the Honors Program here at TCC."
Support from TCC’s faculty and staff also played a
critical role in helping him secure an internship.
"They were able to orchestrate an all-expense-paid
internship for me at Brookhaven National Laboratory in Long Island with a
stipend," said Soto. "I was doing research and working with the
astrophysicists detecting cosmic ray particles from distant supernovas and
Soto went on to receive his bachelor's degree in
physics at Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University. He is currently
pursuing a master's degree in aeronautical science at Embry-Riddle University
and owns a business, Semper Stellaris Solutions, in
"The study of physics is not the easiest degree
to seek out," said Soto. "I'm glad I had a praying family who
encouraged me to go forward and to become educated regardless of
whatever I struggled with prior in school."
To hear Reamonn's complete story, view his feature
below from TCC22.
Caption: Students of the first graduating class of the Leadership Academy of North Florida pose with mentor Gabrielle Gabrielli. From left to right: Barbara Ann Cox, Camille Martin, Zana Raybon, Amber Tynan, Nicole Moltimore, Patricia McCray, Gabrielli.
Tallahassee Community College touches the lives of many community
members who we might not think of as “students”—people of all ages and
backgrounds. One of our community-oriented programs is the Leadership Academy
of North Florida, which is offered through the TCC Leadership Institute. The
Leadership Academy is a joint program of TCC and Gabrielle Gabrielli Consulting
and provides leadership development experiences for professionals in the
government, small business, industry, education and nonprofit spheres.
The inaugural class of the Leadership Academy will graduate
in 2015. However, we don’t have to wait that long to benefit from their newly
enhanced skills. Below, five members of the current class talk about how their
lives as leaders have changed as a result of their experiences in the
Zana Raybon is executive director of the Florida Board of
Professional Engineers and president of the Florida Engineers Management
Everything we do in class pertains to how we conduct
ourselves as leaders and how we can learn to grow.
We get real-world, hands-on experience from an instructor
who has so much to offer. We have had guest speakers and participated in
exercises that allow us to think outside the box. We have had an opportunity to
mentor others and to be mentored.
It has created an awareness in me of how our personal lives
carry over into our professional lives. We must be mindful of having our
personal lives in order if we wish to succeed professionally.
Patricia B. McCray is a local government operations manager
and the CEO of Butterfly Life Journeys.
I was able to discover my strengths and challenges as a
leader and to have support and guidance to enhance my skills. We were also encouraged
to volunteer in our community. Once I volunteered the first time, it changed my
life. Many opportunities have come my way to offer my time to assist various
non-profit agencies in Tallahassee.
In my role as a supervisor, it has increased my effectiveness,
which allows me to motivate others to reach their peak performance. It has also
increased my comfort level in networking with community leaders. Due to my
discussions with my general manager on my achievements in the Leadership
Academy, for the first time he asked that I present an agenda item to the city
The Leadership Academy has enhanced my quality of life and I
now have more focus and knowledge to actualize my dreams. I have embraced my
life passion while learning new concepts to achieve personal success through
balance in work and at home.
Amber R. Tynan is director of development and communications
for Elder Care Services.
As a Leadership Academy participant I have actively engaged
in a multitude of activities related to become a better leader and community
advocate. Everything from understanding differences in personalities to
delegation to addressing and handling conflict in the workplace is among the
rich curriculum. Each activity has developed my skill set as a leader even
further so that I may continue to be an inspiration and motivator for my colleagues
and staff, as well as our greater community.
The knowledge I am gaining from this experience is
exponential, because I am able to apply it to my daily work and personal life –
which reaches multiple people. It helps me build stronger relationships with
people and set the guideline for what I expect—setting the expectation for
excellence and working as a team to accomplish it.
Barbara Ann Cox is a certified meeting professional and
The Leadership Academy has given me confidence. The
Leadership Academy has given me encouragement. As the “senior” member in the
class, I realize that age is just a number and my possibilities are limitless.
Each of us is a mentor as well as a mentee to another
classmate. My mentor is half my age and I have learned so much from her. My
mentee is an emerging entrepreneur, and I love helping her with this process.
I have become more aware of how I listen, how I react, how I
respond. I am identifying what is most important about me and what perceptions
need to be tossed.
Nicole Moltimore is a physical therapist.
[The Leadership Academy] helps me to look at work-related
situations from a different perspective. I am better able to analyze results
and anticipate outcomes in various situations.
Becoming a better leader is becoming a better person…mother,
Patricia McCray Friday, August 29, 2014
I am a wife and mother to three adult children and now Nana to four beautiful granddaughters. I am also employed as a manager in local government. As the days and hours roll along in our careers and our personal lives, we oftentimes settle in and just enjoy the ride. We aren’t really looking to make any changes or to do anything different.
Recently I have experienced change, and you know that change is good! It has given me new ideas and broken the monotony of day-to-day tasks. This new change has refreshed my thinking and motivated me to move outside of my comfort zone to establish a personal and professional goal of becoming a more effective and efficient leader.
You’re probably wondering what sparked the change. After researching the leadership opportunities offered in the community, I called a few people and was told to check out the Leadership Academy of North Florida, a partnership of Tallahassee Community College’s Division of Workforce Development and Gabrielle Consulting, Inc.’s Plugged In Leadership. After speaking with Dr. Gabrielle Gabrielli, I knew this program was just what I was needed to enhance my personal and professional life.
I have learned so much in the Leadership Academy of North Florida. The Academy is very comprehensive and takes a holistic approach of looking at all the different aspects that comprise a strong leader. The program is professionally organized and includes personal and professional assessments, coaching, mentoring, and many other new approaches to life and leadership.
This program has changed my personal and professional life in so many ways I never thought would be possible. It has enhanced my quality of life and I now have more focus and knowledge to actualize my dreams and aspirations. More importantly, in my role as a supervisor, it has increased my leadership effectiveness, which allows me to motivate others to reach their peak performance. It has also increased my comfort level in networking with community leaders.
I have participated in many different leadership programs, but the Leadership Academy of North Florida clearly rises to the top. The program days are always interactive where lifelong learning is encouraged not only by the instructor, but by all of the participants whose ages range from 25 to 70.
It’s such an amazing opportunity to listen and share knowledge with others about everyday situations that lead to improving your leadership skills. In addition, the program includes coaching and mentoring. As a result of combining all of these elements, each participant has developed an attitude of success.
I would strongly encourage you to enroll in the Leadership Academy of North Florida offered by Tallahassee Community College. It will open your mind to new ideas and refresh what you had learned previously and forgotten. It really doesn’t matter how old you are or the years you’ve been employed as a supervisor, manager, director, entrepreneur, the Leadership Academy of North Florida is just for you!
With resources like a Global Gateway Program, international student services and organizations, and the many study abroad programs, TCC offers an attractive combination of benefits and learning opportunities to students who look to compete in the global marketplace.
This past summer, instead of spending their break relaxing or working, 11 TCC students boarded a plane and set out on a 20-hour flight to the People’s Republic of China as part of the College’s China Study Abroad Program. The thrilling program takes students on a once-in-a-lifetime adventure all over the country, allowing them to study China’s rich history, culture and language.
A significant component of the program is working with students from Tianjin Foreign Studies University in Tianjin City to develop business plans for Chinese entrepreneurs to export to the United States. Participants also go on many excursions beyond Tianjin including visits to Beijing, Xian, and for the past two years Rugao, where students have been invited by its mayor to take part in a very special two-day tour of the city.
“There are many experiences that are unique to that of a college student,” said faculty advisor Lee Kitchen. “Not the least of these is spending summers in faraway places, teaching and learning alongside other students who grew up half a world away and may not even speak the same language.”
The value of a global education
Kitchen believes strongly in the value of an international education for students, especially in a city with global connections like Tallahassee’s.
“Though most are not aware of it, Tallahassee and its institutions of higher education maintain close relations with many international countries,” Kitchen said.
Located in the Jiangsu province of eastern China, Rugao is one of seven sister cities to Tallahassee. The relationship dates back to 2011, when a letter of intent was presented to Mayor John Marks and the Tallahassee City Commission to craft a partnership between Tallahassee and Rugao. Their desire was to foster economic and educational growth between the two cities based on their shared interests of green technology and sustainable business practices.
The mayor’s generous invitation to this year’s TCC study abroad group included transportation to and from Rugao, five-star accommodations, two formal banquets, and official visits from the mayor’s office and Rugao Board of Education. The students were shown six different local schools and participated in question-and-answer sessions at each, in which they were able to share their stories with elementary, middle and high school students.
In addition, the program gave students an opportunity to sit in on primary and higher education discussions with officials from the Rugao mayor’s office. Kitchen said he was proud to lead this most recent group of TCC students on this visit and take part in such a unique experience with them.
Two students, Paunise Pierre and Austin Miller, were able to join Kitchen, Bob Teel and Pat Tuthill in observing the negotiations with the Mayor's Office in Rugao and several dignitaries.
Another student, Jared Hansen, joined Kitchen for a nationally-broadcast event celebrating the relationship between Tianjin and Beijing, the prosperity of Tianjin, and the city's spectacular growth.
“Reporters from the China Daily newspaper interviewed all of us after the broadcast and were especially impressed with Jared,” Kitchen said of Hansen, who is also an Honors Program student.
The students and Kitchen, who is also a member of the Rugao-Tallahassee Sister City Board of Directors, were treated to a VIP experience. The trip is widely considered “life-changing” by the TCC students who participate, and the program has even generated interest among Chinese students in attending TCC and participating in additional business discussions.
“This was our best year,” said Kitchen.
For information about the China Study Abroad Program, contact Lee Kitchen at (850) 201-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
members of TCC’s computer club, TC4, spent a week serving as
volunteer tech coaches for high school students at the free Computers and the
Virtual World camp held this summer at TCC.
Walker, president of TC4, said that club members, all of whom are
TCC students, were asked to help by TCC faculty member Carlos Torres, assistant
professor of computer networking.
realized that the college students would be ideal mentors for the younger
students. “It was great to see both generations of students here working
and fellow faculty member Byron Todd, professor of computer networking, led
most of the lessons while the TCC students circulated around the room helping
campers with the hands-on skills they were practicing.
got to take apart desktops and laptops and put them back together. They made
cable and learned how to create a virtual network,” said Walker, who will
graduate in December with an associate degree in network technology.
led one of the campers’ favorite activities, setting up a Raspberry Pi, a
credit-card-sized computer that plugs into a TV and keyboard and sells for
only $35. It can be used to create documents, browse the Internet, even manage
devices. The Pi was developed by a nonprofit foundation in the United Kingdom
to give young people a fun, inexpensive way to learn basic programming.
Walker introduced the Raspberry Pi and showed campers how it works. Campers were then surprised to learn that each of them would receive a Pi to take home. Walker had even made cardboard cases for the little computers—complete with TCC logo and other decorations.
also took a tour of TCC’s Advanced Manufacturing Training Center led by faculty
member, Bruce Batton, where they learned about computer-aided manufacturing and
even got to do some virtual welding.
the final day, each camper made a short presentation for visiting families and
friends. Many of them mentioned how glad they were that the camp focused on
hands-on learning instead of lectures.
the first day, we already had our hands in the guts of a computer,” said camper
campers also enjoyed a visit from Shawn Einarson, director of career and
technical education, who talk with them about career opportunities in
camp was spearheaded by Kate Stewart, dean of TCC’s Division of Technology and
Professional Programs, and organized by Mike Vickers, computer technology lab
TCC students who participated as coaches included Catherine Gurka, David
Johnson, Jillian Mansberger, Zack Paredes, Tiffany Robinson and Barry Walker.
For information, contact Carlos Torres at email@example.com or (850) 201-8966.
“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” Robert Frost’s words ring true for many non-traditional students, including TCC alumna Pamela Aveling.
After marrying and having kids right out of high school, her plans for a college degree were tabled. But Pamela was determined to reach that milestone for her kids, her husband and, most importantly, herself.
“I graduated high school in ’63, married in ’64, got pregnant in ’65 and it was important for me to stay with my children when they were young,” said Aveling.
Pamela later graduated from TCC with an AA, but she wasn’t finished. She obtained her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from Florida State University.
“I got my master’s degree in ’83, so altogether it took me 11 years to get the degree that I had always wanted to have. It changed my life. It changed my family’s life,” said Aveling.
Now a leader in the community, Pamela gives back to TCC through her service on the Foundation Board.
“The people in this facility, at TCC, they want you to succeed. Nobody is here to test you to fail. They want you to succeed. Ask for help. Go to the library or Learning Commons. Do what you need to do to make your dream come true.”
She is also the owner of Magic Whiteboard products and King Arthur’s Tools with her husband, Arthur.
To hear more from Pamela, check out her interview below from TCC22.
The students in TCC’s first oyster aquaculture class were already enthusiastic about learning how to raise oysters and launching their own oyster farming businesses. So their energy only grew when they received a visit from two Australian businessmen and oystering experts in July.
The Aussies were visiting TCC’s Wakulla Environmental Institute as representatives of SEAPA, a company that pioneered and sells an adjustable long-line system for “off-bottom” oyster farming. The system uses the entire water column, instead of just the area immediately above the sea floor, the method that had been used previously in Florida.
The visitors in turn were excited about the quality of the program, the eagerness of the students and the vast potential of Wakulla’s nutrient-rich waters for producing oysters.
To hear some American and Australian voices—and see students in action assembling oyster baskets—view this video by producer Robert Seidler, who is also a student in WEI’s first oyster aquaculture class.
Oliver Clemons Jr. doesn’t back down in the face of adversity. When he and his team of Marines were engaged by an enemy sniper in Afghanistan, they quickly worked together to neutralize the threat. Moments later, their vehicle hit a roadside bomb that injured his vertebrae and almost cost him his life.
Clemons was awarded a Purple Heart, one of the nation’s highest honors, for the wounds he suffered in combat. It was then that he decided to tackle another challenge: adjusting to civilian life and enrolling in Tallahassee Community College’s Pat Thomas Law Enforcement Academy.
“I’ve got to have something different every day, so it was either going to be firefighting or law enforcement for me,” said Clemons. “You get to help people and serve people, so that’s why I chose it.”
Veterans that go from combat to college often face difficulty in the transition to civilian and academic life. Aside from physical or mental injuries, many experience readjustment issues that could potentially hold them back.
“It’s a whole different ball game,” said Clemons, who served two tours of duty overseas. “It’s a culture shock. I just got back from Afghanistan this past October, and a couple months later, I’m sitting in a classroom.”
“They have a good program here and a lot of experience from a lot of instructors. I think it’s very helpful.”
TCC offers support for veterans like Clemons and provides resources to ease the transition. Clemons qualifies for the Purple Heart Waiver, which covers tuition and fees toward a degree or certificate up to 110% of the required hours for the program. He also credits TCC’s Veterans Success Center as an invaluable resource for support.
“It’s very convenient,” said Clemons. “They have computers and counseling just for veterans to hang out. They have a veterans group, they go out to dinners, they help you with employment, and they have recruiters from different companies come out to visit the academy.”
Clemons ultimately wants to become a homicide investigation detective, and he believes other veterans with similar goals will find TCC’s law enforcement program to be a great fit.
“They have a good program here and a lot of experience from a lot of instructors. I think it’s very helpful.”
To hear more from Oliver, view his feature below from TCC22. For more information about the Veterans Success Center, contact (850) 201-9812 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
A Tallahassee Community College alumnus will attend the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University in Fall 2014. Adam LaRose, who graduated from TCC in 2010 with an Associate in Arts degree in political science, credits his time at the College with preparing him for success at Florida State University and his eventual acceptance to Harvard.
“TCC did so much for me not only in an academic sense, but in social, professional and psychological ways,” said LaRose. “The College gave me the ability to be confident, instilled in me the value of competition, and taught me not to be afraid to set goals and aspirations as high and far as one can imagine.”
The scholar’s path to Cambridge, Mass., began in August 2008, shortly after he graduated from Leon High School. During his two years at TCC, LaRose was elected vice president of the Honors Program and served as a United States Senate intern.
"If people have the audacity not to believe in you, no matter where you are in your life, scratch them off your invitation list and continue working toward what you want for yourself, your family and your community.”
LaRose will pursue a master’s degree in public policy at Harvard Kennedy School with a specific focus in social policy.
“Ultimately, I aspire to help the least fortunate in our society through public policy,” said LaRose. He added that he hopes to hold a high post in a presidential administration, such as secretary of health and human services or secretary of labor, and also run for governor at some point in his life.
He encouraged current students to set high standards and goals for themselves as well.
“Anything is possible,” LaRose said. “I vividly remember people laughing in my face when I told them I wanted to attend Harvard; today, that dream is a reality. If people have the audacity not to believe in you, no matter where you are in your life, scratch them off your invitation list and continue working toward what you want for yourself, your family and your community.”
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