Excitement and Gratitude Greet Opening of Student Center

The new Student Center at Seminole State College was dedicated to all past, present and future students. Photo by Daniel Santiago
Board of Trustees Chair Wendy Brandon hugs Seminole State President E. Ann McGee at the dedication of the Student Center Jan. 19.


Dedicated to all past, present and future Seminole State students

By Daniel Santiago

The new Student Center was dedicated Jan. 19 to all Seminole State students and was met with excitement and gratitude for what college President Dr. E. Ann McGee referred to as “40 years of dreaming.”

“This is your space and your home,” McGee said, addressing the students in attendance during her remarks at the ceremony. Referring to the 77,000-square-foot facility, she added: “Please use it. Use every inch of it.”

McGee welcomed dignitaries and about 300 faculty members, students, and employees. She recognized the work of all the people who made the new Student Center possible. Among others, she thanked Gov. Rick Scott, who was not in attendance, as well as State Sen. David Simmons, State Rep. Scott Plakon, and Seminole County Commissioner Brenda Carey, who McGee referred to as the “Secret Weapon.”

McGee recognized the ongoing support of Gerry Weldon, known as the first lady of Seminole State. Weldon was in attendance at the chilly ceremony, and she is the widow of the college’s founding President Dr. Earl Weldon. McGee also thanked Patty Sheehan, the District 4 Orlando commissioner for her help. Sheehan became the voice for Central Florida following the Pulse nightclub shootings.

One of the liveliest moments was when McGee mistakenly referred to Norton N. Bonaparte Jr., Sanford’s city manager, as Napoleon Bonaparte. Realizing the mistake, she quipped: “With all the bills you have passed, you are definitely conquering.”

Seminole State Board of Trustees Chair Wendy Brandon embraced McGee as she made remarks at the ceremony. She also acknowledged the contributions of students.

“The students gave feedback and led direction towards the construction of the building,” Brandon said. “We are grateful, we are honored, and we are excited.”

One of those students, Caleb Hylton, two-time and current president of the Sanford/Lake Mary campus Student Government Association, was a featured speaker at the dedication ceremony. He said the Student Center stood as a testament of the collaborative efforts of the student government and other departments.

“The new student center stands as an example of those values in a tangible form,” Hylton said. He explained how students helped determine the style of the food court, the game room, and the layout of the offices.

The new student center also stands as “an example of a college who puts the student’s first, students who want to make a change,” Hylton said.

McGee also told the crowd that their work isn’t finished. She said the Student Center will be fully completed in March. After that, she said, focus would switch to renovating the gym into a wellness center as their next project.

After the remarks, McGee, administrators, and students cut the ribbon officially opening the new Student Center. Everyone attending then entered the building for tours after grabbing some free food and even bobble heads of the school’s very own Seminole State mascot, Rally Raider.

Elizabeth “Betsy” Prokes, student government vice president at the Heathrow campus, served as emcee for the dedication ceremony. After her announcements, the college’s very own SeminoleSound sang the National Anthem.

Later that morning, the festivities included The Raider Hunt, which included intellectual and physical challenges in an “Amazing Race”-style event as well as a 1.7-mile run, walk, and roll with the Seminole Striders.

Dr. E. Ann McGee makes her opening remarks at the dedication of the new Student Center.

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