(Bradenton, FL—June 26, 2017) Manatee Technical College graduated 318 students on June 26. A total of 739 students graduated from the college during the 2016-17 school year to date. The class of 2017 is the 53rd for Manatee Tech—the first class graduated in 1964.
Welding graduate and U.S. Army Veteran Sam Hudson was one of the speakers. He recalled his childhood helping his single mom to raise his younger brother while she worked three jobs to make ends meet. “There were no times to dream really,” he said.
After dropping out of high school, at age 17 Hudson decided to join the army. It was during his second tour of duty in Afghanistan, he said, “I found out how one’s life could change in a matter of seconds.” He lost seven fellow soldiers and “had been blown up twice.” He was medically retired at age 30. He said, “I felt lost.”
Hudson decided to enroll in Welding at MTC. “In just under a year, my instructors gave me the tools and knowledge to become a useful member of society once again,” he said.
Of the evening’s 318 graduates: 67 were members of the National Technical Honor Society; five had placed first in the nation at the 2017 SkillsUSA National Championships; and two were awarded U.S. President Volunteer Service Awards. Craig DeToma won the Lifetime Award for over 4,000 hours of volunteer service, and Matthew Vreman won the Gold Award for over 250 hours of service—both were Applied Cybersecurity program grads.
The other speaker was Connie Waldrop, Medical Coder/Biller ATD graduate. Legal Administrative Specialist grad Lili Rodriguez gave the invocation.
MTC director Dr. Valerie Viands presented the class of 2017. MTC Board of Governors chair John Ziemnicki spoke of MTC’s partnerships with business and industry.
Also there to congratulate the graduates were school board chair Charlie Kennedy and board member Gina Messenger; deputy superintendent Ron Ciranna, JD; adult, career and technical education executive director Doug Wagner; and MTC assistant director Omar Edwards.