Connell Named Dean of Nursing and Health Professions Programs

(Bradenton, Fla., March 3, 2020) State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), has named Matt Connell as dean for the College’s Nursing and Health Professions programs.

Connell has served as the director of SCF’s Physical Therapist Assistant (PTA) program since August 2011 and began serving as interim dean of Nursing and Health Professions in June 2019. “Matt has done a wonderful job of leading this division for the last several months, and I am thrilled that he will be our permanent dean moving forward,” said Executive Vice President and Provost Dr. Todd G. Fritch.

Connell received his master’s degree in Physical Therapy in 2005 from Quinnipiac University. He spent several years providing professional education workshops for health care and higher education professionals before joining SCF.

Connell says SCF programs are constantly changing to meet the needs of the community. “All of our health professions and nursing programs have seen consistent growth,” he observed. “As medical technology advances, and we get a better understanding of disease processes, we’re seeing folks living longer. We’re seeing more folks that need health care services.”

Connell said SCF is always looking at evolving health care landscapes. “We’re really in tune to how our demographics change in our service region.”

State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota, is the region’s first and largest public college, serving 11,000 students a year. SCF has achieved 100% licensure passing rates for its Physical Therapy Assistant, Occupational Therapy Assistant, Dental Hygiene and Radiography programs. SCF’s Nursing Program has a 98% licensure passing rate, and has the No. 1 online registered nurse (RN) to Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) program in Florida. For more information about SCF, visit

Photo Caption: State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), has named Matt Connell as dean for the College’s Nursing and Health Professions programs.

Florida College Presidents Announce Program to Aid Veterans

TALLAHASSEE, FL – Florida has the third largest veteran population in the nation, with more than 1.5 million veterans, 20,000 of which are currently enrolled in the Florida College System. The Florida College System Council of Presidents (COP) are continuously elevating methods to advance the educational and workforce experience for veterans and active duty military members and their families. Today, the COP and State Rep. Mel Ponder are excited to announce the creation of the Patriot’s Path program with leaders from higher education, the veteran community, and veteran students. The Patriot’s Path program will help veterans and active duty members to have the most accessible and affordable educational options. Each college will have services and programs that reflect their community’s needs. A few examples of the baseline services and programs that can be expected within the Patriot’s Path program are:

  • Waive out-of-state tuition fees for affordability
  • Obtain credit for skills and knowledge gained in military to accelerate workforce entry
  • Help veterans navigate their path through the process of their education benefits
  • Provide career center access for employment information and workforce assistance

“The Patriot’s Path provides a tremendous framework for active duty members and veterans. I am so honored to be carrying HB 171 that complements the vision of Patriot’s Path,” said Ponder. “Making higher education more affordable for active duty members and our veterans is critical to help them transition back into society and to continue strengthening Florida’s workforce.”

“Florida is fortunate to have a large veteran population and we are proud to be one of the most veteran-friendly states in the nation,” said Commissioner of Education Richard Corcoran. “I applaud the Florida College System’s Council of Presidents for creating the Patriot’s Path program to ensure our veterans have a high-quality, low-cost route to earn a degree or industry credential that leads to high-demand, high-wage careers. Under Governor DeSantis’ bold leadership, Florida is well on the way to becoming the best state in the nation for all students to receive a world-class education.”

“SCF is proud to support our Veteran students,” said State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota President Carol F. Probstfeld. “Patriots Path highlights everything we do to help Veterans get a high-impact education and transition to the civilian workforce.”

“The Patriot’s Path program emphasizes a foundation that the Florida College System was built on,” said Tallahassee Community College President and COP Chair Jim Murdaugh. “Our system will continue to do everything we can to promote those who have served our country.”

“It is always our goal to make Florida the most veteran-friendly state in the country,” said Florida Veterans Foundation Chairman Bob Asztalos. “Patriot’s Path helps our veterans bring their many skills and talents to Florida’s workforce in a streamlined approach.”

A top priority for the COP is to help ensure that members of the military can have the greatest accessibility possible to earn their higher education credentials as they transition into civilian life, and the Patriot’s Path program will function with that exact mission in mind.

The Florida College System Council of Presidents is the collective body on issues and matters of concern to Florida’s public college system and will provide information, as it deems appropriate, to the State and Federal Executive and Legislative branches and to the Chancellor of the Florida College System, the Commissioner of Education, the State Board of Education and other public and private entities and individuals as appropriate.

SCF Risk Management Program Announces Scholarship Award

(Bradenton, Fla., Feb.20, 2020) — State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) and the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) Florida are teaming up to provide scholarships for SCF students pursuing a career in the insurance or financial management industry.

The first $500 scholarship was awarded Jan. 28 to SCF student Catherine Ayala, who in addition to taking classes in the Risk Management and Insurance Services Program, works full time for Star Insurance Agency.

Linda Moore, president of NAIFA Florida, said the job of its members is to educate their clients, “We were very excited to have Catherine Ayala be our first recipient,” Moore said. Ayala was able to attend the organization’s Day on the Hill event in Tallahassee where NAIFA members and lawmakers talked about issues affecting the insurance industry.

“The trip to Tallahassee was awesome,” Ayala said. “It was an unforgettable experience by helping lawmakers better understand complicated insurance topics.”

Ayala was introduced to NAIFA members in Tallahassee by SCF supporters James Tollerton and Taylor Collins, vice president and president, respectively, of Professional Benefits Inc. in Sarasota.

To be considered for this scholarship, an applicant must be a Florida resident taking at least six semester hours at SCF, maintaining a minimum 2.5 cumulative GPA, with the intent of pursuing a career in the insurance or financial management industry.

Moore says NAIFA will award a yearly scholarship to a SCF student. “By offering a local scholarship we are hoping to expose students to the insurance and financial services industry and encourage them to pursue insurance as a career path.”

For more information, visit

Photo caption:

State College of Florida student Catherine Ayala, center, is flanked by Professional Benefits Inc. President Taylor Collins, left, and Vice President James Tollerton in Tallahassee Jan. 28.

State College of Florida student Catherine Ayala, center, is flanked by Professional Benefits Inc. President Taylor Collins, left, and Vice President James Tollerton in Tallahassee Jan. 28.

SCF Biotechnology Program Adds Dakota Biotech to Advisory Board

(Bradenton, Fla., Feb.11, 2020)— State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) has added a Sarasota company, Dakota Biotech, maker of the LaFlore line of probiotic skincare products, to SCF’s Biotechnology Program’s Advisory Board.

The Biotech Program manager, professor Matthew Thomas, says the addition of Dakota Biotech will strengthen the department by advising the College on industry trends and providing valuable internships for SCF students. “Students can apply transferable skills” to the workplace, he said. “Our goal is for students to build skills so they can step into any laboratory situation as good generalists. Internships can round out their experience.”

Plus, internships are a great recruitment tool for companies. “It’s an extended job interview. It’s a place for potential employers to check out how skilled our students and graduates are in the lab,” Thomas added.

The relationship is already benefiting students. SCF Biotech student Christian Caceres is Dakota’s first intern and has already been working in their lab. “It’s tough for people my age to get a job in this field,” he said. “But I have the backbone of SCF’s Biotech Program behind me.”

Maya Ivanjesku, chief scientific officer at Dakota Biotech, said she is honored to be a member of the Advisory Board. “Supporting the local community is our passion and a responsibility, and helping students gain experience in their field is something every company should make time for.”

Ivanjesku said interns will get experience in every facet of the industry, from research and development to customer service. Dakota’s cutting-edge probiotic technology will give interns an experience that will help them build careers in this field.

Caceres says SCF’s Biotech Program has prepared him well for the future. “The program is constantly changing, getting better,” he said. When he graduates this May with an Associate in Science degree in Biotechnology, “I’ll have industrial experience to go along with the school experience.”

To learn more about SCF’s Biotechnology Program, visit

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The Gallery at SCF Presents “Cross Roads” Feb. 21

(Bradenton, Fla., Feb. 4, 2020) — The Gallery at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), presents “Cross Roads,” an exhibition showcasing the work of photographer Armon Means, with an opening reception Friday, Feb. 21, from 5-7 p.m., at The Gallery at SCF, 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton, Building 11 North.

“Cross Roads” will be on display until April 8. Gallery hours are weekdays, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free.

Means will be available before the reception, from 4-5 p.m., to talk about his work.

Means’ work centers on ideas of cultural concerns, minority identity and environmental influences. He is currently an adjunct professor of photography at Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee.

The Gallery at SCF provides dynamic exhibitions that embrace critical issues and connections between art, education and culture. The Gallery features exhibitions on the Bradenton and Venice campuses, as well as objects from the permanent collection displayed in buildings at all three campus locations, and is inclusive and innovative, holding fast to the best traditions and willing to explore new directions.

For more information about The Gallery at SCF, visit For more information about SCF, visit

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SCF Music Students Earn Awards at State Competition

Bradenton, Fla., Feb. 4, 2020) — The State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) Music Program brought home several honors from the Florida College System Activities Association 2020 Winter Music Symposium Jan. 30 to Feb. 1 at Florida Southern College in Lakeland.Thirty-six students from SCF performed in the all-state ensembles, including choir, band, jazz band, guitar ensemble and orchestra. SCF musicians won four of the nine categories in the Student Artist Competition. The following students will receive a $2,000 scholarship when they transfer to a four-year university as a music major:

Strings: Aaron D’Zarilla (violin), a freshman student of Dr. Felicia Brunelle, is a member of the SCF Presidential String Quartet and SCF Bradenton Symphony Orchestra.

Classical Guitar: Isaiah Gomez, a sophomore student of Rex Willis, is a member of the SCF Guitar Ensemble, Big Band and Symphonic Band.

Jazz: Naimah Brakema (voice), a sophomore student of Melodie Dickerson, is a member of the Big Band.

Piano: Christina Diederich, a sophomore student of Aza Torshkoeva, is a member of the SCF Concert Choir.

SCF students also ranked in the following ensembles:

Symphonic Band: sixth chair clarinet; first and second chair bass clarinet; sixth chair alto saxophone; third chair bari saxophone; sixth chair French horn; second chair trumpet; seventh and ninth chair trombone, 10th chair tuba; first chair percussion.

Jazz Band: Guitar; first chair alto saxophone, bari saxophone; bass.

Orchestra: fourth and ninth chair first violin; second chair second violin; third chair cello; first chair string bass.

For more information about music opportunities at SCF, visit

Isaiah GomezNaimah Brakema Christina DiederichAaron D'Zarilla

SCF Visiting Artist to Hold Demonstration, Speak Feb. 26

(Bradenton, Fla., Feb. 4, 2020) — State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) visiting artist Katie Fee will be at SCF Venice, 8000 S. Tamiami Trail, on Wednesday, Feb. 26. Fee will speak about her work in ceramics from 11 a.m. to noon in the Selby Room in Building 800. She will then give a demonstration of her work and techniques from 1-4 p.m., in Building 700, Room 708. Both events are free and open to the public.

Fee is currently operating as an Artist in Residence at the Morean Center for Clay in Saint Petersburg. She holds a B.A. in Studio Art from the College of William & Mary and a Graduate Certificate in Ceramics from UMass Dartmouth. Fee has been on the staff at Peters Valley School of Craft, a long-term resident at Mudflat Art Center, a visiting speaker at Harvard’s Office of the Arts and an assistant at The Penland School of Craft.

Fee draws inspiration from her undergraduate studies of geology and her travels. Her artwork addresses the intersection between geologic force and intimate functionality. Her work has been featured in national and international juried exhibitions and Ceramics Monthly Magazine.

SCF’s new visiting artist program has been developed in partnership with the Morean Center for Clay Residency Program in St. Petersburg.

For more information about art at SCF, visit

Avenues to the Future to benefit students, programs

Avenues 2020 Logo
(Bradenton, Fla., Jan 30, 2020) — State College of Florida Foundation is excited to host the sixth annual Avenues to the Future fundraising event on Saturday, Feb. 22, at 5:30 p.m., at State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), 5840 26th St. W., Bradenton. Single tickets are available for $250 and includes a complimentary ticket to the after party, Maverick’s Rhythm & Rave.Hailed as one of Scene Magazine’s 2019 events to remember, Avenues to the Future will feature music performances by SCF’s award-winning student music ensembles, a succulent surf and turf dinner catered by Pier 22 Restaurant, and a silent auction filled with unique valuables and unforgettable experiences.

Title Sponsors for Avenues to the Future are SEI Investment Company and Willis Smith Construction.

Gold Sponsors include BMO Harris Bank, Heartland Dental, The Mosaic Company, Pam and Bibb Swain, and Tandem Construction.

Manatee Memorial Hospital is a silver sponsor. Metz, Husband & Daughton, P.A. is the VIP bar sponsor. Bronze sponsors include Dianne Anderson, Dolphin Aviation, Alix Morin, CS&L CPAs, Florida Power & Light Company and Northern Trust.

After Avenues To The Future, stay for Maverick’s Rhythm & Rave at 7 p.m., an evening of music and dancing, featuring the local band Kettle of Fish. Reserve your seat at both events at or by calling 941-752-5336.

SCF Foundation connect donors’ passions and regional partners with State College of Florida’s outstanding students, faculty, programs and community, and we steward foundation assets consistent with our donors’ intent. Each year, SCF Foundation raises more than $1.6 million and awards more than 1,400 academic scholarships.

SCF Salutes 2019 CROP Graduates

(Bradenton, Fla., Jan. 9, 2020) — State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) 2019 winter graduates included 11 students from the College Reach-Out Program (CROP) who are continuing their education at SCF, state universities or independent institutions.

The primary objective of CROP is to identify and assist low-income, educationally disadvantaged students in grades six through 12, and work with them toward the goal of completing postsecondary education. Participants are students who would otherwise be unlikely to pursue education beyond high school without special support and recruitment efforts.

SCF partners with middle and high schools in Manatee and Sarasota counties to motivate students to pursue a college education, strengthen students’ and parents’ understanding of the benefits of a college education, and foster academic, personal and career development. Many CROP participants become the first person in their family to earn a college degree.

SCF congratulates Clairsine Alexis, Sherrod Lee, Esveydy Velasquez, Tamar Mitil, Jahnessa Lambert, Rajeria Evans, Yesica Lopez-Cabrera, Ashley Alexandre, Kimberley Scott, Joanne Gustave and Rachelle Taylor.

For more information about the CROP program, contact Kristen Anderson at 941-752-5257 or

SCF CROP Students

From left: Jessica Torsell, Clairsine Alexis, Sherrod Lee, Esveydy Velasquez, Tamar Mitil, Jahnessa Lambert, Rajeria Evans, Yesica Lopez-Cabrera, Ashley Alexandre, Kimberley Scott, Dr. Kristen L. Anderson. Not pictured are Joanne Gustave and Rachelle Taylor.

Students in SCF’s College Reach-Out Program Recognized

(Bradenton, Fla., June 16, 2020) – State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF) honored 143 local middle and high school students in the College Reach-Out Program (CROP), including 48 graduating seniors from area high schools.

CROP, a statewide program serving 3,000 students statewide and funded through a grant from the Florida Department of Education, is designed to increase the number of low-income and educationally disadvantaged students who successfully complete postsecondary education. The program aims to develop students’ basic learning skills and foster academic, personal and career development through supplemental instruction, including workshops, visits to college campuses and other experiences.

Individual schools also select their top students of the school year. The 2020 CROP Students of the Year are:

  • Bayshore High School: Ku’tur Williams
  • Booker High School: Jaela Dennis
  • Lee Middle School: Katherine Vasquez
  • Manatee High School: Antonio Resendiz II
  • Palmetto High School: Mario Arredondo
  • Riverview High School: Daniela Sanchez
  • Southeast High School: Anayeli Alvarado

CROP site coordinators from participating schools are Dwight Gilmer from Bayshore High School; Lem Andrews from Booker High School; Keenan Wooten from Lee Middle School; Rui Fernandes from Palmetto High School; Angela Kasapakis from Riverview High School; and Laura Roberts from Southeast High School.

Of the 48 seniors in this year’s program, 47 plan to continue their education. Sixteen of the seniors will start taking college courses at SCF in June through the College’s Summer Bridge Program. These students will receive a scholarship of approximately $1,000 to cover tuition for two classes, as well as books and educational materials.  CROP graduates who attend SCF also are eligible to receive tuition and book scholarships.

Ten SCF students in the CROP program received their degrees May 1. They are Yvette Alanis, Associate in Science, Occupational Therapy Assistant; Raul Alvarez, Associate in Arts; Erykah Bazan, Associate in Science,  Criminal Justice Technology; Nayya Bowers, Associate in Arts; Dapheney Brinvert, Associate in Arts; Jefferson Brinvert, Associate in Arts; Megan Mellott, Associate in Arts; Mickerly Pierre, Associate in Arts; Grecia Quevedo, Associate in Arts; and Leonardo Reynoso, Associate in Arts.

For more information, contact Dr. Kristen L. Anderson, director of special programs at SCF, at

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