Valencia College celebrated 50 years of beginnings with a special day in our history — our 50th annual commencement ceremony — on Sunday, May 5, 2019, at the University of Central Florida Addition Financial Arena. With two ceremonies, one in the morning and a second in the afternoon, we celebrated more than 2,000 graduates — the most in Valencia history — as they earned their associate and bachelor’s degrees.
Of those degree earners, 200 were dual enrolled, 134 were part of the Seneff Honors College and 17 students transferred to Valencia from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria.
During the ceremony, Dalton Joseph, the 2019 Mary S. Collier Distinguished Graduate, shared his inspiring personal story about his life’s journey.
“I stand tall and strong today as Dalton Joseph, the man who took the road less traveled by family and friends,” he explained. “Let’s travel back in time to a place that was dark and almost leading me to a life of despair and destruction. I was falling! I came in mentally unprepared for high school; my focus shifted from education to easy and fast money. I started living a life of crime. I had juvenile detention back-to-back, skipping school … well, I just gave up on school and education. I became a 10th-grade dropout running from the law. I was rebellious and angry toward everything and lost hope, not realizing the problem stemmed from within, and I watched close friends and loved ones go to prison and in some cases lose their lives early.”
“So I sat down and had to self-assess Dalton,” he continued. “And said, do you really want to be next? The answer was no, and the change began.”
This mental transformation led Dalton to take on steady jobs, like construction work, that he explained involved more than the “quick-money” types of jobs he took in the past. And it was at that construction job where a colleague pushed him to complete his GED and register for college, telling him he had the potential to be great. This is just what Dalton needed to hear to motivate him further at this point in his life.
That encouragement led him, after receiving his GED, to enroll at Valencia College as a Bridges to Success student. With a 3.8 GPA and numerous recognitions now under his belt, such as being a Phi Theta Kappa inductee, his construction colleague was right. Dalton’s potential led him to earning a degree and declaring the next step in his undoubtedly outstanding future.
“Here I stand as Dalton Joseph, a soon to be Valencia graduate and heading to UCF,” he exclaimed. “How ironic!”
For social media coverage of commencement, visit the #ValenciaGrad tagboard. To review the recorded ceremonies, visit the valenciacollege.edu home page starting on Monday, May 13, 2019. To view photos from the ceremonies, visit Valencia’s Flickr starting Friday, May 10, 2019.