AP NEWS

Florence-Darlington Tech grads hear message about integrity

May 18, 2019

FLORENCE, S.C. – Florence-Darlington Technical College held its 55th annual commencement ceremony Thursday night with 450 graduates participating.

Maj. Mike Nunn of the Florence County Sheriff’s Office was the speaker for the ceremony, which was held at the Florence Center.

Nunn serves as the general counsel and the public information officer with the sheriff’s office.

In 2009, he left his private practice as a lawyer to accept his current position, he told graduates. He told them life doesn’t always lead them down the expected path.

Nunn challenged the graduating class to be men and women of integrity. He said integrity must be earned. It can’t be purchased.

“But you can lose it or give it away,” he said.

Nunn said integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is looking.

He told the Class 2019 that they don’t have to be perfect. He said he has always learned more from his failures than his successes.

“You are here for a reason,” he said, “Make the most of this time.”

“I would like to thank Major Nunn for his words of encouragement and wisdom tonight,” said the college’s interim president, Edward Bethea. “He is a wonderful role model for our graduates to emulate as they continue their life’s journey.”

“I could not be more proud of this year’s graduating class at Florence-Darlington Technical College,” Bethea said. “The men and women who walked across the stage tonight will impact many lives in the Pee Dee region, the state and around the nation.”

Stephanie Dellarippa was one of the students graduating Thursday night. She said she is the first female to receive a certificate in diesel and heavy equipment.

She came to Florence from Memphis, Tennessee.

“I grew up in my uncle’s shop. I started on gas motors,” Dellarippa said. “I’ve always done it.”

She said she is already working for a local trucking company.

Schandona and Tommy Allen are husband and wife who decided to earn their degrees at the same time. They are from Marion.

Twenty-nine high school students received their associate of arts or associate of science degrees through the dual-enrollment program. The students came from Darlington High School and Wilson High School. Six of the high school students graduated FDTC with honors, according to Genell Gause, FDTC’s interim associate vice president of enrollment and student services.

This was FDTC’s largest dual-enrollment graduating class since the program was established in 2014. It offers high school students the opportunity to take college credits, leading to an associate of arts degree.

“We are particularly excited about the number of graduates who received special honors this year,” said Vice President of Academic Affairs Marc David. “The college’s dual-enrollment class was very impressive as well. It’s great to see so many area high school students taking advantage of the incredible opportunity that the Dual Enrollment program offers.”

Of the 627 total graduates in the Class of 2019, FDTC’s math and technical education division graduated 387 students, while the health sciences division graduated 127 students and arts and sciences graduated 114. More than 100 FDTC students graduated with special honors – 17 graduated summa cum laude, 25 magna cum laude and 62 cum laude.