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Making A Difference Mondays, May 11

Monday, May 11, 2015

Donor Spotlight: Beverly Woolery
Director, Educator Preparation Institute

Beverly-Woolery

I have been blessed to work at Polk State for over 20 years, first as a part-time professor and then full time, starting in 1998. I am currently the Director of the Educator Preparation Institute (EPI), an alternative certification program for those who wish to make a career change to teaching in Florida K-12 schools. Through the Institute, I have the pleasure of working with a team that focuses on producing highly effective teachers to serve our community.

I used to dream of working at Polk State. I first got my foot in the door while working for the Kids at College Program. By attending Nova Southeastern University at night and on weekends, I earned a master’s degree. Then, while teaching third grade at Brigham Academy, working at the adult school, tutoring, and raising four children on my own, I earned my master’s degree. Along the way, I was fortunate to receive the encouragement of Provost Martha Santiago, who was formerly an assistant principal at Brigham Academy.

To me, working at Polk State College is the best career anyone could have. Within my teaching career, I received Professor of the Year award from the C.A.V.E. Organization, the Endowed Teaching Chair Award, the Innovative Teaching Award, the NISOD Teaching Excellence Award, the Florida Association of Community Colleges Award, and other accolades. I have been personally blessed by many opportunities and many generous people, and now my generosity can extend to helping others by giving to the Polk State College Foundation, my family, and other charitable organizations.

Every person should have a dream for his or her future. For many the dream starts with getting a quality education. Without financial resources, this dream may die.

During the early years of my life, I struggled. I was a single parent, raising four children with no child support. I took on extra jobs to support my family. I did not have the financial resources to send my children to college. With the assistance of the dual-enrollment program, college donors, scholarships, and grants, my children each had an opportunity to attend college (two are Polk State graduates). Three of my children benefitted from assistance from the Foundation.

Besides the blessings bestowed on me and my family, the Polk State College Foundation has funded scholarships for EPI students in STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) and supported needy students. It has also funded the Fill Your Toolbox Professional Development Training Program for the EPI, where students in the program learn engaging strategies to implement in the classroom. The “Fill Your Toolbox” Program won an award from the Florida Association of Community Colleges during its presentation in 2010.

As a Christian, I live by the belief that “It is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35). I would like to extend my thanks to my fellow Foundation donors for their altruistic giving that provides funding for so many students in need. Donations to the Foundation turn dreams into reality. 

Alumni Spotlight: Dr. Dan King
Citrus Research Career Comes Full Circle

Dan-King

It is hard to imagine Polk County before Polk State College, but for Dan King, the opening of the College at the Bartow Air Base in 1964 started a journey that changed his life.

Dan graduated from Winter Haven High School in 1962, and then spent two years at the University of Florida, where he claims his progression made an academic career unlikely. Near the end of the summer of 1964, he visited a job placement office to find work. According to Dan, “I heard one of the placement officials talking about a lab tech position at the Citrus Experiment Station (CES) [now the University of Florida/IFAS Citrus Research and Education Center, or CREC]. I immediately went to apply ahead of anyone else.” Dan got the job, despite not having a lot of formal training.

A few weeks into the new position, Dan’s boss told him that Polk State was opening its new campus at the Bartow Air Base, and that he expected Dan to go back to school to get on track towards his degree. Dan worked during the day and took night classes, graduating with academic honors in 1966 as part of the first class of Polk Junior College.

Dan then moved on to the University of South Florida, where he received his bachelor’s degree and supported his education by working as a laboratory technician for the Botany Department. After graduating from USF in 1968, Dan then obtained a doctoral degree in Plant Physiology from Indiana University (1974). As part of those Ph.D. studies, he also met the requirements for a master’s degree (1971).

Dan’s graduate and post-doctoral research in plant physiology and biochemistry occurred during what he calls the “Golden Age” of molecular biology. Much of his post-doctoral work centered on producing renewable energy resources utilizing natural plant biochemical activities. From 1977 to 1983, he also taught Plant Sciences at Lycoming College in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Dan’s research interests later brought him back to Florida, where he worked in citrus research and management for commercial citrus processing facilities. After working as the Director of Technical Services for the Florida Citrus Processors Association, Dan joined the Florida Department of Citrus (FDOC). His career came full circle in 2007 when he became the Director of Scientific Research for the FDOC’s research facilities at the CREC. “To be able to start my career as a lab tech at the Citrus CES, and then come back years later as Director of Scientific Research for the FDOC is just amazing. I never could have imagined then that a job in a citrus research lab could be the start of a pathway to a Ph.D. and a lifetime career in plant research.”

King retired in 2014, but has never forgotten his roots at Polk State. “Polk State opened right when I needed the opportunities it offered. I was able to take classes at night while working during the day. Restarting my career would have been much less likely had not Polk Junior College provided suitable class offerings while I continued to develop professional skills and interests within a full-time job. The foundation provided ultimately qualified me to seek baccalaureate and graduate degrees. And, some of the friendships I made while taking classes at the air base still continue today.” Dan’s life has been a testament to the power of being in the right place at the right time, and the enormity of grasping at a second chance.

Student Spotlight: Lorean Moyer
Daughter is Motivation for Pursuing BAS

Lorean-Moyer

Lorean Moyer is a hard-working, single mom, who is currently in the Polk State College Bachelor of Applied Science program. Three years ago, Lorean made the decision to go back to college because she wanted to provide a better life for her and her daughter. “My daughter loves to dance, and I wanted to be able to provide lessons for her and other things that I didn’t have growing up. I knew that a formal education was the key to a better paying job, so I started working on my Polk State Associate in Arts (AA) degree,” recalls Lorean.

After receiving her AA in December 2014, Lorean entered the BAS program. The small class sizes and the proximity of the Lakeland Campus were deciding factors in choosing to continue her education at Polk State.

When an emergency situation arose, a Foundation scholarship was able to keep Lorean on track to finish her degree. Lorean remembers feeling as if a huge weight had been lifted off of her when she received news of the scholarship. “People who I did not even know donated to this scholarship, and it has enabled me to stand on my own two feet again. It has provided proof to show my daughter that when life knocks you down, you must get up, keep going, and not lose faith.”

Currently, Lorean works as an assistant market manager at Sysco International Food Group. She works directly with customers to place their orders, book shipments, and ensure that all items are registered and correctly certified to meet a given country’s export custom requirements. She assists franchisees for brands such as Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, Red Lobster, Olive Garden, and Capital Grille in locations such as Honduras, Costa Rica, and the Bahamas.

After graduation, Lorean would like to work for a non-profit organization that specializes in domestic violence or has a similar focus. As a survivor, she wants to be an example to others. She hopes to encourage people by showing that a negative situation in life can be turned into a positive result. She also plans to pursue her MBA. The help that she and her daughter have received in the past from Foundation donors and others serves as her inspiration. “Even during uncertain situations, I consider myself blessed. My hope is to be able to pay it forward and help others who may feel hopeless in their circumstances.”

 

Executive Director’s Greetings

Dear Colleagues –

This academic and calendar year has been truly inspiring. On the heels of graduation, I am always invigorated by the excitement and promise of our graduates’ bright futures. I am equally moved by your generosity, which helped us to exceed our $50,000 fundraising goal this past year in celebration of the College’s 50th Anniversary.

As the 50-year milestone sunsets, I cannot thank you enough for the incredible work that you do each day in service of our students. Because of your professionalism and expertise, Polk State has built a solid reputation for excellence in higher education. This strength makes it easier to speak with outside donors about providing their support to the Foundation, as individuals are usually eager to share the positive experiences they have had with the College. I thank you for making those wonderful stories possible.

In addition to exceeding our fundraising goal in honor of our 50th Anniversary, there is yet another reason to celebrate–I am absolutely ecstatic to announce that we have also raised more than $50,000, enabling us to firmly establish the Dr. Fred T. Lenfestey Memorial Scholarship as well!  Dr. Lenfestey’s positive impact at the College and in the community has already left an enduring legacy. This scholarship forever intertwines his memory with the institution he helped to mold, and it will enable Polk State students to attain their dreams for higher education in perpetuity. I am truly grateful to the many who have given to this important scholarship fund. I also greatly appreciate the generosity of the Winter Haven Rotary Club, which donated the initial $18,000 to begin the scholarship, and the numerous alumni and individuals from throughout Polk County who contributed in honor of this outstanding leader.

Again and again, thank you for all that you do to help students achieve!

All the very best,


Tracy M. Porter
Executive Director