Benevolent Bobcats

A Benevolent Bobcat is an exemplary PHSC community member who has shared their personal wealth in the form of knowledge, time, and service to transform the lives of our students.

December 2022 - Kelly McAdams

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Johnstown, PA. It is a small town near Pittsburgh. Needless to say, I am a diehard Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates fan! I grew up spending a significant amount of time with my grandfather who was very dear to me. He would teach me math over summer breaks, and I would spend a significant amount of time working with him around his vegetable garden and learning to appreciate baseball. My mother is an avid reader and has been for her entire life. She instilled that love of reading in me as I continue to expand the genre of topics I enjoy.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

As a family, we first visited Florida when I was eight years old, and I have been in love with the state ever since. I finally made the move to Florida in late 2017.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

I have always loved learning, formal education, and any experience that expands my thinking and challenges my current assumptions. While working as an intensive care nurse, I was asked to teach a diet therapy course to a cohort of nursing students. As a dietitian, I was able to relate the importance of nutrition to nursing students. When I first stepped in front of the classroom, I fell in love with teaching. My career path has never deviated after that experience.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

I was thrilled to join the PHSC family this year as Associate Dean of Nursing. Everyone at PHSC has been so welcoming and I greatly enjoy working in such a rich academic environment.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

My favorite PHSC memories to date are the nursing pinning ceremonies where we honored and celebrated our nursing graduates, and All College Day where we came together as faculty and staff to celebrate each other and this wonderful organization.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

PHSC students are different from other students with whom I have worked. They are focused and driven to achieve their goals. Many have families and responsibilities outside the educational setting and their dedication to achieving the education necessary to succeed in their chosen career is inspiring.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I choose to give to our Foundation because I believe education is the way to self-sufficiency, an open mind, and a limitless future. Education has afforded me an abundance of opportunities and I believe it is imperative that I give others the same blessings that have been given to me.

November 2022 - Bob Bade

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Parsippany, New Jersey (North Jersey). As an elementary student, I would not have predicted a career in higher education. I was expelled for a few days from elementary school for an "altercation with a safety patrol". I did what my parents told me to do on my walk to and from school and when that didn't align with the safety patrol's instructions, we had a problem. I eventually was reinstated into elementary school. I played a lot of sports in elementary and junior high school. But, in high school I started to excel in baseball and was able to follow my dreams and get a scholarship to play at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg Florida.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

My professors at Eckerd College were the people that made me realize I could have a career in higher education. The Eckerd College professors were great at making connections with students and they prepared me well for graduate school. After I completed my master's degree in California, I came back to Florida. I could not find a job in education for a while. I graduated in January and there were not many job openings at that time. I took a job sweeping sidewalks at the Tradewinds Hotel on St. Pete Beach. After about 6 months of sweeping sidewalks and rejection letters, I received a job interview for an Academic Advisor position at PHCSC. After a lot of interviews, I was eventually hired as an Academic Advisor and have been here ever since (33 years).

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far? Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC?

I have done a lot of things at PHSC.  I was one of the first coaches of the Women's Intercollegiate Softball Teams, I taught a section of Individual Discovery every term for about three years, I was the first Coordinator of Student Activities (College-wide) and had a great time starting many of the events we have today at the College.  When I became Associate Dean and then a Dean in Student Affairs, I chaired every student discipline case for about 10 years.  In my current role as a Vice President, I have been fortunate to be involved in a lot of things with the District Board of Trustees and the PHSC Foundation.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

I have so many memories, it really is hard to pick one. Some that come to mind is starting Peace Week with Karen Davis, Mike Sadusky and Jessica White, when David Lambert and Joe Marina from Withlacoochee River Electric Co-Op let us know, they were funding the lighting on the baseball field, playing dodgeball against some of our great students. It was amazing the harder we hit each other, the more we seemed to bond together. That dodgeball group of alums still comes by to visit with me every few months.  

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

I was also fortunate to have the first PHSC President, Dr. Milt Jones asked me to meet with Alric Pottberg just before he passed away. Mr. Pottberg donated the land for the West Campus - he talked about how he envisioned the campus, and I was able to share about the events that were taking place on the land he donated. Winning the Association of Florida Colleges Best Practice Award for the Welcome & Engagement (WE) Team program, being awarded the President's Cup from President Johnson, being nominated by Connie Frankel and receiving the Phi Theta Kappa Distinguished Administrator Award and being inducted into the Florida College System Activities Association Hall of Fame were also very special moments for me. 

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

PHSC students are the best. You will find students at PHSC that could succeed in the most difficult programs at Ivy League institutions. You will also find students that would not be in college if it were not for PHSC. You will find young and old and of almost every origin and race. Best of all, you will see them talking with and benefitting from each other in classes and at events on campus. I think that is what makes PHSC and our students special.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I have spent 33 of my 56 years at PHSC. I have been very fortunate to have been given so many opportunities at PHSC. Giving to the Foundation provides an opportunity for me to give back. I know the College changes lives and to be a part of that makes me feel my time and money has been well spent.​

October 2022 - Ed Goolsby

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

I am a multi generation Floridian and have always lived in the area. We had little money growing up, but we had cattle, horses, a variety of farm animals and we grew a lot of our own vegetables, and of course, we had our family.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I was born in Tampa in 1955 and grew up in Riverview, Florida. My family settled in Riverview, which is in Hillsborough County, in the 1800s.

I spent the first half of my career working in the phosphate industry as an industrial maintenance mechanic, specializing in steel fabrication and welding. I started taking a few college classes at HCC in my 30s and eventually graduated with a bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems in 2001. The year before I graduated, I decided to make a career change, but that was a difficult time to find employment in the IT field. After applying for dozens of jobs, I was able to obtain a position with HCC as a research analyst, mainly due to experience I gained through an internship in my senior year at USF.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

Initially, I had no intention of working in higher education, I wanted to become a systems analyst or database administrator with some large firm, but as the job with HCC was the only one, I was offered, I took it. What I quickly learned was I liked working in higher education!  Deciding to remain in that field, I knew I needed to earn a graduate degree to advance. I went back to USF and graduated in 2004 with both an MBA and an MS in MIS. I was soon promoted, and then took another promotional opportunity at College of Central Florida in 2005. 

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

In 2007 I left CF to come to then PHCC as an Associate Dean on the North Campus. I became the Interim Dean of Arts and Sciences for a few months in 2010 and was appointed to the Dean of Workforce Development position a year later. I earned my Doctor of Management in 2017, and in 2018 Dr. Beard appointed me to become the Provost of the East Campus, which is the position I just retired from. I can honestly say that working in higher education, especially at PHSC, has been the most rewarding part of my career!

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

My favorite PHSC moments are too many to list, but graduations of our students are at the top! I recall one graduate's excitement at graduating from the nursing program. She was making a career change in her 40s, already had a nursing job lined up, and was very appreciative of the support she had while at PHSC.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

Any interaction with students, such as engagement games that I played in, or student activities, and the several times I was able to speak to students when requested to by faculty are all fond memories.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

I think our students are top notch, and one thing that sets them apart is the quality of the education they received at PHSC. Our faculty and support staff are second to none!

Why do you give to the Foundation?

The success of our students is the primary reason I support giving to the Foundation. The Foundation has been able to support hundreds of students directly and all of our students by supporting College programs, staff, and faculty.

What are you going to miss most about PHSC?

I will miss interacting with our students and working with all of the wonderful people I have gotten to know here at PHSC!

September 2022 - Margie Burnham

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

I was raised on Staten Island, a small borough of New York City. Growing up, I was blessed to frequent my grandparents’ farm and to also own a horse. With a short train ride into NYC, I was doubly blessed to have access to one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. I enjoyed the United Nations, amazing museums, Broadway theaters, Wall Street, and incredible cultural and civic events. I even played Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream Off-Off-Broadway as a teenager and loved commuting into NYC on the Staten Island Ferry. 

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

My four children and I moved to Pasco County from New York in 2010 and I simply love the area, the beaches, the rivers, the weather, and my community.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

I had an extremely successful career on Wall Street but wasn’t fulfilled with my mission there. My passion was education and social reform. My father was a college professor and he suggested I might find my place in higher education, and he was correct. It is in public higher education that I found I could best utilize my skill set while contributing to the betterment of my community. 

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

I have loved my time working at PHSC. Fortunately for me, PHSC has allowed me to grow with my knowledge, my skill set, and my responsibility on the job. I am thrilled to work with such amazing students, faculty, staff, businesses, civic groups, and the community. 

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

I am a member of many committees at PHSC, and I am also very involved in community groups and volunteering. I sit on the board for the United Way of Hernando County, I am a member of the training committee for the Hernando Chamber of Commerce, and I work with the Pasco Hernando Early Learning Coalition to offer daycare training here at PHSC.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

I thoroughly enjoyed working on All College Day and will always remember the Fearing Children who opened our events in 2018. Their vocal talent was so magical, many employees could not avoid tears. Then the next year, having the Sunlake High School Jazz Ensemble open the event was so moving, especially knowing that some of these talented young musicians might be learning in our IPAC facility in the coming years.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

I feel blessed to get to know our students through the various events and programs - Teacher Taco Tuesday, SLR, Engagement Games, Coffee Talk, Spring Hill art students painting and donating to Chairity, etc. But one interaction that stands out among many, is being introduced to an outstanding student by a Spring Hill adjunct instructor. This instructor, in keeping with PHSC culture, takes the time to get to know his students, and he wanted me to meet this incredible young man because his story stood out. The student was in an unfortunate accident and became wheelchair bound as a result. Sadly, this meant that he could no longer visit his favorite beach in Citrus County which he frequented with his father throughout his childhood. This student shared this story in an assignment in English Composition class with Professor Karen Davis. Professor Davis was so moved, that she encouraged this young man to appeal to Citrus County officials and make the beach accessible for wheelchairs. This encouragement was all the students needed and in doing so, today the beach is wheelchair accessible, as is the surrounding park boardwalk and more. The deep caring of our faculty encouraged this student to do great things. This is the miracle of PHSC.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

We have an incredible blend of students coming from a variety of backgrounds. I am always impressed with how eager our students are to learn, grow, and interact with their faculty and peers among such diversity.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I am a strong supporter of public higher education and I give to the PHSC Foundation because it provides outstanding support for our students. Without this support, many of our students would not be attending college. I only wish I could give more.

August 2022 - Maria Witherell

Tell us your story.

The ONLY way I was able to afford college was through financial aid and when I started teaching here I, like all of us, had students that could not afford books, their mortgage or daycare among other things. I vowed to try to do whatever I can to take the stress off our students and to make their goal of getting an education possible. I was lucky enough to get an education and have always been honored to be part of our student's journey. My students taught me so much and I enjoyed every moment that I was in the classroom.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

I had a great childhood, I had two awesome parents, a twin sister and two older brothers. I was born and lived in Brooklyn until I was five and then moved to Queens. I will always be proud to be a New Yorker, but I LOVE the Florida weather.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I moved to Hernando County in 1989, because I was very close to my cousins who had moved here. I lost my parents before college, and I would talk to my cousins who lived here every day. The first time I was on a plane was to visit them in Florida. It was in 1989 that I started teaching at PHSC. I loved it from the very first day, the students are hardworking, caring, friendly and most of all have GRIT!!!

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

I taught HS in NY. When I moved here in 1989, I was looking for a job, I was at Walmart, and someone started a conversation with me, and I told them I was a math teacher looking for a job. The person asked if I had tried PHCC, I said what's a PHCC?  I interviewed for a position they had, I had also interviewed for two HS positions and on the same day I was offered all three positions. I chose PHSC and NEVER regretted it.

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC?

In the last two years I have been the Assistant Dean of Arts and Sciences and Lucky enough to work for and with Dr Gerene Thompson together with other PHSC constituents we have worked on Pathways. Pathways help make sure students take the courses they need to have a seamless transition when they transfer to an institution.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

My favorite moments are many: Graduation, when students "get it", when different members of PHSC work together to develop a process or work on a project and things go smoothly.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

I have had many incredible students and many of them I am still in touch with, it would be impossible to pick just one.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

I have been here almost my entire career, so I do not have other students to compare them too. Obviously, I am thankful for them because I would not have stayed this long if they weren't outstanding. 

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I give because I know there is a need, and our students deserve it!

What are you going to miss most about PHSC?

Our students and all the entire PHSC faculty, and staff. I have been here so long I consider the people at PHSC my family! Though I do have a beautiful daughter that I hope to spend more time with.

July 2022 - Eddie Williams, Ph.D.

Tell us your story.

I have 15 years of experience providing psychotherapy to clients with mental health and substance use disorders.  My educational background consists of a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of South Florida, a Master of Science Degree from NOVA Southeastern University, a Master's in Social Work from Walden University, and a doctorate in Human Services Administration with a minor in Community College Leadership.  I am a Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Florida, a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapy, and a master’s Certified Addiction Professional in the State of Florida.  Additionally, I am a qualified supervisor for mental health counselors, clinical social workers, and marriage/family therapy.  I have taught for PHSC for nine years and eight years at Saint Leo University in the Human Services, Psychology, and Social Work Program.  I enjoy running, biking, swimming, CrossFit, Tampa Bay Buccaneers Fan, and my favorite show is the Walking Dead.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

Overall, a good childhood. However, I did have to overcome various challenges. I grew up in Tampa, FL. 

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I am originally from Tampa, FL, and I moved to Hernando in 2010

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher education?

While in doctoral school, I had opportunities to provide lectures regarding my dissertation topic. The excellent feedback I received from my professor motivated me to pursue full-time teaching.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

 Fantastic, and I love helping students become successful in the field of human services. 

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

 Social and Human Services Club.  Student Life and Leadership 

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

Seeing my human services students graduate from PHSC. 

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

I have so many great students that have helped the community. All I can say is I appreciate all of the work my students have done to help others in the community.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

PHSC students are amazing and are passionate about helping the community. 

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I want to help students be successful at reaching their educational goals. 

What are you going to miss most about PHSC? 

I will miss all students and helping them reach their educational goals.

June 2022 - Kathy Brantley

Tell us your story.

My name is Kathy Brantley, I am from South Tampa. I got to know Tampa when there was not one mall or tall buildings downtown. When Gasparilla was a private parade for South Tampa and there was no sidewalk on Bayshore for you spread your blanket to watch the pirate invasion and parade. The Airport was a small outdoor walk up. I road my bike to the new airport when they were building it and climbed up the stairs and slid down a long escalator to where baggage claim would be, there was no security back then. I loved playing in the water of Tampa Bay, gymnastics, horses, tennis, and cheerleading and lots of trampoline; basically, all the sports. I graduated from Plant High School as a cheerleader and  attended Florida State University with a lot of friends. For me College was not optionally, it was mandatory. My dad is a 4th generation West Point alum and my mom took a train from the Island of Palm Beach to Boston for high school and college. I have an older brother, who’s a Georgia Tech alum and works as an engineer as an expert witness for lawsuits on bridges, buildings, and makes movies. I have a younger brother, who is a USF alum, he owns restaurants; his wife is a principal at West Shore Elementary

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

At FSU I was in a Sorority, Alpha Delta Pi and was a Little Sister to fraternity Kappa Alpha.  Career counseling back then consisted of sitting at the tables, after a meal, talking to your sorority sister about what they are doing and what their parents.  I ended up majoring in Fashion Merchandising design and marketing. I met my husband who was in the same fraternity, also from Tampa, and attending law school.  We had a big wedding in Sacred Heart downtown Tampa with 10 bride’s maids and 11 grooms’ men.  A short time after the wedding he decided to withdraw from law school. I start working with Maas Brothers and then other retail stores in management.  I did not like the long hours, nights weekends and working holidays. This really makes you think about what and how you want to live and work.  My husband decided after a year in finance and real estate that we will go back to Tallahassee, and he will finish his law degree. I started working for a paper in Tallahassee in advertising and sales of add space. I was also teaching the first Aerobics courses modeled after Jane Fonda and Richard Simmons work outs. I worked at Casual Corner for good work suits.

Finally, he graduated law school and accepted a job in Downtown Miami.  I got to take a month off to think about what I wanted to do next for work and building a career.

All I ever wanted was to help people have paid holidays and work somewhere for a long time. I got a job with a private college in Miami and loved it!  I got divorced and moved back to Tampa; at the time a new fashion design digital media and interior design school was just opening. They hired me for the degree I had and for my experience working with students in advising, recruiting, and marketing.  After 3 years I knew I wanted more with a bigger college with more students that had career growth and encouraged continuing education. Dr. Sylvia Thomasson hired me; she was the Dr. Bob Bade of those days.  It was a different protocol 35 yrs. ago, there were no committees. Dr. Thomasson loved my dress and found out I was in fashion design classes with her daughter at FSU, she sent me along to interview with the first president Dr. Jones. Turns out he had a great working relationship with my God mother who was the first female provost in Florida at SPC. PHCC hired me as an Admissions Specialist Academic Planner.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far? Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory? Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share? How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

My experiences working at PHCC and best memories.

At the start in 1987-88 I was the only Dual Enrollment person for all the West Pasco schools however there was not as many schools back then. There was no internet and the desks had typewriters. I enjoyed working with all the counselors and principals at all the high schools.

Orientation was in person (no power point) and afterwards I would give the MAPS test by paper and pencil. There was no career center, so I would give career decision making work shops as well as give the Clast exam and the NLN (National League of Nursing Exam).

I was asked to be the Student Government Advisor and Student Activities Advisor.  My first few meetings in Board room A with the students it was near our Christmas break as they called it.  I asked the students when Spring break was, they said we don’t have one. I suggested we make one.  After the meeting I looked up all the 28 community colleges and requested a catalog from them. At a meeting we saw 26 colleges had Spring Break. We sent this information with our request to President Jones. Now we have Spring Break!

I was also able to go to Washington D. C. with the students to learn more about government. I put on many fun dances, etiquette dinners and a Graduation Party at Alric Pottberg’s ranch with hayrides, a band, dancing and catered by Skippers Smoke house. Awards went out to the Student Government.

I was asked to produce a West campus newsletter. I recognized Coach Bobby Bowman our new Director of athletics and Coach Steve Winterling head baseball coach, he’s now director of athletics.

When the Gym got built so the college could start an intercollegiate athletic program, I was asked to coach a Cheerleading team and be the Advisor to the basketball players.  My head Cheerleader was Frances Werner-Watkins who just received the 2022 Distinguished Alumna of the year award.  Ironically, one of my favorite basketball students is now coach Michael Jones, PHSC’s Basketball coach and instructor!  Nowadays, I get to help Frances’ kids with Dual Enrollment at Day Spring Academy now and PHSC has departments for all my past jobs.

Once I started with PHSC, I would drive from South Tampa to PHCC then out to USF at night to work on my Masters in Mental Health Counseling.  I did that for several years just two classes at a time I was stopped at 12 credits because I had to pass the GRE exam.  This exam had 8 sections two very heavy in advanced algebra and Statistics. I never learned math well at FSU and it had been over ten years since I graduated.  I did not pass this exam for four tries and many hours and weekends doing math problems. This is very exciting when you finally get it and pass.  This lesson of trying so hard for something you do not understand to get to your goal helped me to help our students with math issues and other study skills. I became a great encourager to PHSC students. The college gave me a Sabbatical for two semesters to finish up the master’s and that’s when I knew I was committed to PHSC and moved to Pasco County to live with horses. This is also when I started my Doctoral program with Nova Southeastern in Higher Education Administration. I completed 4 years and ABD. Unfortunately, my boss at the time did not encourage me and did everything to not allow me to attend any committees or meetings to get my dissertation done. The administration at that time did not care. It was 1995-1998 and was totally different from today. 

I will never forget Senior Blitz every Spring, Graduation and all the wonderful faculty staff and students we work with!

April 11th I received the award as the founding member of the Golden Key Club from the 50th Anniversary Committee and Dr. Beard

Why do you give to the Foundation?

Another favorite experience I have with PHSC, is representing the college at the High School Awards Ceremonies every year. I get to stand on stage and recognize our fantastic Foundation for providing scholarships for all those students that graduate Top 10% of the class. Sometimes I have called up to 15 students on stage that committed to PHSC in front of an audience of over 300 faculty, parents, and students. One school I have been helping for over 25 years always sends us the valedictorian and the salutatorian.  This year, I went to the ceremony, and the principal and I congratulated each other for he and I are retiring. What are you looking forward to in the future? 

I think one of the most rewarding experiences that I have with PHSC is helping students in the 80’s and 90’s and those grown students bringing me their children for me to help them at PHSC!

What are you going to miss most about PHSC? 

I think one of the most rewarding experiences that I have with PHSC is helping students in the 80’s and 90’s and those grown students bringing me their children for me to help them at PHSC!

May 2022 - Gerene Thompson, Ph.D.

Tell us your story.

My name is Gerene Thompson, I was born in St. Maarten in the Caribbean and came to the United States to attend college. I am the eldest of 4 siblings - 2 sisters and 1 brother. I was the First in my family to obtain a college degree. Fun fact I started college at 16 years old and graduated with my bachelor’s degree at 19.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

I grew up in St. Maarten in the Caribbean. My childhood was fun, I have a large family, so we spent many weekends and holidays at different family members’ homes.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I moved to Pasco County in 2011.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

In general, Higher Education is not a profession that anyone intentionally chooses; like many of my fellow professionals an experience interacting with someone in Higher Ed is typically what brings you into the field. Positive experiences with advisors and professors piqued my interest in Higher Education. When I had an opportunity to work as an Admissions Director at the University of St. Martin, I knew I wanted Higher Ed to be my career.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

My experience working at Pasco-Hernando State College has been great! Interactions with faculty, staff and students are the highlights of my work.

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

As Dean of Arts and Sciences there are many initiatives and programs that I am involved with, one recent addition that I would like to highlight is the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program through the Central Florida STEM Alliance (CFSA). This grant funded project supports underrepresented racial and ethnic minority students interested in STEM degrees and careers. More specifically the grant seeks to increase the number of underrepresented minority (URM) AA graduates transferring from PHSC to STEM fields. This grant is led by Valencia College and includes the College of Central Florida, Polk State College, & Pasco-Hernando State College.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

My favorite PHSC moment/memory is always graduation. Seeing how happy graduates and their family are about completing their programs of study reminds me of the importance of our work and the value of higher education.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

There are too many to pick just one. I always enjoy interacting with our students and hearing their stories.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

PHSC students are resilient. Throughout the pandemic I heard many stories of hardships students were enduring but they kept showing up to class because they were determined to finish their studies.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

As I mentioned I am originally from St. Maarten. When I first came to the United States for college, I was able to do so because I had a scholarship from my island. I would not have been able to attend college without this financial support. I give to the foundation because I don’t want a lack of financial resources to be the reason a student does not pursue higher education.

What do you see on the horizon or in your future at PHSC?

My crystal ball says I will enjoy many exciting and interesting experiences at PHSC. I look forward to all of them!

April 2022 - Kevin O'Farrell, Ph.D.

Tell us your story.

I was born in Pahokee, FL (sugarcane farm land) and spent much of my childhood growing up in Orlando, FL (tourist capital of the world).  Hardwork, discipline, and a love for learning, others, and serving the community were the values my parents instilled in me and my sister.  My father always told us: "The secret to living is giving."  

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

See above 

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I moved as a single man to Pasco County in 2007.  I married my amazing wife, Kathryn, in 2008 and we have had three boys here in Pasco (William, James, & Philip).  

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

I love to see others' dreams realized.  It's my passion and 'why' in life.  To that end, I believe that post-secondary education and training is a gateway to being a workforce ready, socially engaged citizen.  A mantra I have always told my students is: "For democracy to work it requires broad political participation.  But for that participation to be meaningful, it requires a knowledgeable and engaged citizenry."  When democracy works, the entire society's quality of life is lifted - that's when dreams are realized!       

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

I have been part of PHSC for 12 years, beginning as an adjunct instructor, and most recently serving the last five and a half years as the Provost of the world-famous, award-winning Porter Campus.  Seeing our campus grow, students achieve their personal goals, and working collaboratively with many community partners to advance our mission, has been professionally and personally rewarding.    

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

I have been involved in so many exciting opportunities at PHSC.  Perhaps two of the most rewarding have been (1) the design, construction, and operationalization of the new $18 million, 36,000 sq ft. Instructional Performing Arts Center and (2) raising funds for Veteran students' programing and scholarships in our region.      

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

Without question, a private student performance in the IPAC following our big media day.  Seeing the students on stage, in the Weatherford Theater, playing their instruments was a full-circle moment for me.  I'll never forget it.  

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

Rallying our campus and community to support a very special Veteran Student: Tim Read.  Tim lost his leg in combat operations in Afganhastan.  We had the privilege of rising funds to support his education and worked with Homes for Our Troops to build him a fully accessible home in Wesley Chapel.  We love Tim, his wife, Anh, and their fur baby - Shadow!  

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

There is a genuine connection you experience with the students at PHSC.  At the end of the day: everything is about relationships.  You build them, grow them, and value them.  Our students have amazing and diverse stories that draw you into their world and allow you to experience a new and meaningful perspective.  It's transformational.  

Why do you give to the Foundation?

How can you not invest in the students at PHSC?  I consider it an honor to have the opportunity to give back.  When we completed the IPAC, I wanted to be the first to sponsors chairs in the Weatherford Theater in celebration of my wife and sons.  I have five seats - front row, all together.  I know those funds will help support the student stars that will be performing on the stage.  Because of the PHSC Foundation we get to play a supporting role in the talent development of our students and community. 

What are you going to miss most about PHSC? 

The people.  It will always be about the people.  Programs come and go.  Priorities will change.  Buildings will be built and remodeled, but people bring EVERYTHING to life.  We go through seasons in life and my season at PHSC has been formative.  I may leave PHSC, but PHSC will not leave me. 

March 2022 - Gary Cors, J.D.

Tell us your story. 

I am a native Floridian raised in Pasco County. I grew up riding my bike, exploring the outdoors, and reading every chance I could. I attended the University of South Florida for my undergraduate degree and Stetson University College of Law for my Juris Doctor. 

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed? 

I started as an adjunct for the PHSC Paralegal Program teaching the Real Property Law course and fell in love with teaching. The positive energy the students exuded in the classroom was refreshing after years of litigating in the courtroom.  

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?  

The experience has been wonderful. The students at PHSC have a strong desire to learn and drive to succeed. 

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC?  

I am the faculty sponsor of the Legal Eagles student club where we provide opportunities for students to meet and network with others in the legal field through community service-oriented activities. Such opportunities can often lead to increased skills, knowledge, and prospects for future employment.​​​​​​

I am also currently serving on the national Educator in Residence Program. This is a joint initiative between the National Association of Community College Entrepreneurship and the Michelson 20mm Foundation. The initiative seeks to provide access to Intellectual Property education to support inventors and entrepreneurs across the country. 

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory? 

My favorite time at PHSC is Commencement. Watching the students walk across the stage to receive their degree. Knowing how hard they worked to make that dream come true. Seeing the support of their family and friends. Feeling their excitement in starting the next phase of their lives.  

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share? 

There are so many. One year at the Legal Eagles Mock Trial a student put on a performance that stole the show. She did so well in her presentation and argument that she was offered a job by one of the law firms in attendance.  

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

The students I have had the privilege of teaching come from a variety of backgrounds. One common attribute I have observed is their perseverance. Despite the obstacles encountered in their educational journey they persist and persevere to achieve their goal.  

February 2022 - Amy Anderson, M.D.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

I was born in Fort Worth, Texas and stayed in that area until I was 25. I enjoyed living there. I got to have the benefits of living in a large city, like excellent museums and parks, combined with frequent visits to my grandparents' rural home on 20 acres about 30 minutes away. I benefited from excellent public K12 and college education, just like our students do. My first job outside the family was seating customers and cleaning tables at Fort Worth's oldest Mexican food restaurant.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

We moved to Spring Hill in 2013 from Tarpon Springs.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

My biochemistry professor genuinely cared about us and our success. His way of teaching helped us learn a challenging subject. He inspired me to try to make a difference to students.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

Working at PHSC has been wonderful. The staff, faculty, and students are incredibly dedicated and talented, and work together well to help students. 

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

I'm the chair of the global awareness and sustainability committees, and a member of many other committees. I serve on the board for the Early Learning Coalition of Pasco and Hernando Counties. I'm involved with other community partners, including United Way of Hernando County, the Greater Hernando County Chamber of Commerce, the Hernando County Community Health Improvement Partnership, and Hernando County School District. I enjoy volunteering in the community with fellow staff, faculty, and students.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

The annual football games are so fun, and I've gotten to know a lot of students and colleagues that I otherwise would not have had the chance to know. I also love the kayaking trips; many of our students have never gotten to see the natural beauty of Hernando and Pasco counties.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

One of my favorite student interactions was when we planted the butterfly garden. The students selected the Florida native plants, with assistance from Bill Lester with University of Florida's IFAS program and Sam Eshelman with Student Life. They designed the layout with assistance from James Aristilde from our ASC. Keith Smith from facilities brought in mulch. Faculty, staff, and students all helped dig, plant, and spread mulch.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

I think all our students are unique and PHSC does an excellent job of providing education and services that can benefit students from all backgrounds who come with a variety of goals and different levels of preparation.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I believe in the mission of the Foundation and PHSC and know that my donation helps current and potential students in our communities.

What do you see on the horizon or in your future at PHSC?

I hope to see many enhancements to sustainability-focused activities at the college, such as solar panels on buildings, sustainability-related workforce programs, and energy-saving initiatives. 

January 2022 - Misty Price

Tell us your story.

I am a first generation college student. One parent has a GED. The other parent a high school diploma. Not going to college was never an option for me. I was told I would go to college at a very young age. However, neither parent knew how to navigate getting into college so that was essentially left up to me. My first experience was as a dual enrollment student at PHSC when I was a senior in high school. After high school, I was awarded a scholarship to attend PHSC. I obtained my AA degree and then continued my education obtaining a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from USF, a Master of Accountancy from Auburn University, and a Ph.D. in Curriculum and Instruction from USF.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up? 

I was born and raised in Hernando County. I am a proud graduate of Hernando High School. I have a younger brother and our childhood was quite uneventful. I am so very grateful for that actually. Both of my parents are still living and just celebrated their fifty-third wedding anniversary.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

Yes, see above.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

I was in industry for approximately ten years as a practicing CPA doing audit and tax work. I went to high school with Gayle Brook’s daughter and we were friends. As you know, she was the Dean of Workforce Development for a number of years. Once I obtained my Master’s degree, she offered me an opportunity to adjunct. I did and loved it! Shortly after, a full-time position opened due to a retiring accounting professor (Bill Magoulis), I applied and was offered the position. My first day as a full-time instructor at PHSC was January 2, 2018.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

I have had a great experience working at PHSC, mostly because I get to work with students. I’m very fortunate in that the vast majority of students I have are declaring business as their major so they know they must pass the accounting courses to be accepted into a university’s College of Business. Most of them are focused and determined. That makes my job as their instructor very enjoyable.

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

Yes. I am currently serving as the Faculty Senate President and the Quality Enhancement Plan Director. I am also the Co-Chair of the General Education Committee and the Student Success Committee. Last academic year, I began working with the Pathway Pillar subcommittees and that has been very interesting work. I can see that transforming how students select transfer intents and complete their coursework at PHSC.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

Yes. All College Day 2020. Dr. Booker and I dressed up as “rappers.” She was BBB and I was Misty P. Then, Drs. Beard, Giannet, and Bade joined in the fun. I remember when Dr. Booker and I initially pitched the idea to the three of them. We were ready to “persuade,” however each of them was willing from the moment we asked. I still have that outfit in my closet!

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

It is always a pleasure reconnecting with students as they move forward in their academic and professional careers. I have a student from several years ago that went on to get his bachelors and masters degrees and is now in a doctoral program. He is also a full-time employee at PHSC. His enthusiasm for helping our students is contagious and I know that he will provide them wisdom and direction for their academic and professional careers.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

In my experience, their determination. Our students come from varied backgrounds and honestly, some situations I can’t imagine. They view education as a way to make a better life for themselves and mostly, their children. They are determined to work hard, pass their classes, and obtain the necessary degrees and credentials so that they can have the better life. I am truly amazed at some of the obstacles I have seen students overcome. It is very humbling. 

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I was a recipient of a scholarship that allowed me to finish my first degree, an AA from PHSC. A degree that moved me forward to knowing that I loved accounting and wanted to learn more about it. Someone gave so that I could flourish. I want that same experience for our students. Many times, an awarded scholarship is the determining factor as to whether or not a student can take classes. I am of the belief that if I have the financial means to help a student(s) succeed, it is my responsibility to do so. You never know how your giving will help a student flourish! 

What do you see on the horizon or in your future at  PHSC?

I simply just want to serve our students and be there for my faculty colleagues. These are rather tenuous times and more than anything, individuals need to know that they are valued, they belong, and they are competent. In my roles at PHSC, I am fortunate in that I have the ability to convey these very important virtues to my students and my faculty colleagues.

December 2021 - Phyllis Wrench

I am a native Floridian and have lived in South, Central, and North Florida. I grew up and went to high school in Brooksville, Hernando High our alma mater!

When I first became aware of PHCC in high school, the NC was meeting in the Gateway Furniture building. We called it Gateway U - ah, the arrogance of youth! I first stepped foot on the NC July 4, 1976, for the Bicentennial celebration for Hernando County.  It was only stakes and strings then! I babysat for the first NC Provost who lived down the street from me. After graduation my family moved to North Florida, where I went to FSU and got two Bachelor of Arts degrees. After 20 years, I moved back to Brooksville with my husband who was a physical therapist. When he passed away eight years ago, I created a STEM scholarship in his name. He was a staunch supporter of the College and really believed in the opportunities that higher ed brings at a low the price tag!

I started at PHCC in 1997 as a JEP case manager then Secretary to the Provost at NC; assistant director of Career, Assessment and Testing at WC.  After my first master’s degree I became full-time faculty, teaching Office Systems Technology courses. With the second, I transitioned to Information Technology courses. Ultimately, I worked my way around to WC, EC, SHC, and back to NC!

I love teaching!  I was asked after graduating from FSU if I was planning to teach. I said no, emphatically, thinking only of K-12; then I found higher education! This is where I am meant to be! I think that one of my biggest delights as faculty (here and through Hodges Univ.) has been to see my students graduate here, go on for higher degrees, and come back to the College to work as instructors and staff.

Some of my favorite PHSC memories revolve around working with other staff and faculty on special projects or events. Specifically, the FACC (AFC) carnation drive for Administrative Professionals week and the door prizes for All College Day were highlights! It was an opportunity to call on some of your skills and experiences that were not normally used in the daily work and to work with and get to know people outside of your normal cadre. We have some amazing people here at the College!

I can’t believe how fast the nearly 25 years passed! My advice to future employees would be to know the myriad of opportunities working at PHSC affords and take full advantage of them. It will make for a rich work life and unlock many doors for your future. I don’t know where I will go from here. My retirement plans are void and without form! Whatever I do, I will be a strong supporter of PHSC and its efforts throughout the area!

November 2021 - Dave Mayler

Dave Mayler or Drivin’ Dave as many of PHSC knows him, has been selected as our Benevolent Bobcat for November. Dave is a notable PHSC community member. He encourages our students and other colleagues to give their all on and off the field. Dave is passionate that a positive and substantial impact can be made in one’s life through engagement with others.

Tell us your story.

I started my career in Information Technology by taking a class called Introduction to Data Processing at the PHCC West Campus. I soon was hired by our West Campus neighbor, PALL Land and Marine as a Mainframe Computer Operator in 1982 and I have never looked back.
​​

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

​​​I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan just off 8 Mile and Telegraph. Just like Eminem, but on the other side of 8 mile. 

When did you realize you wanted to work in Education? 

I was recruited away from PALL to a position for a Bank in Houston, Texas and it did not take long to realize I really missed my family, so I came back to Florida. 

That ended up being a great choice as that same year I met the love of my life and wife of 35 years Aimee. We started a family, and I was fortunate to get a position with The Hernando County School Board. Education! I Loved it! I was there for 10 years.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

I have some bullet points.
 

  • 2004 - Hired
  • 2008 - Played in the Inaugural Faculty/Staff vs Students Softball game as Drivin' Dave
  • 2010 - Attended and Voted Class Representative for the Presidents' Institute “Go Fourth"
  • 2010 - Played in the Inaugural Faculty/Staff vs Students Flag Football Game 
  • 2012 - Selected for the Inaugural Class of the Presidents Leadership Institute
  • 2012 - Created 3 Android Mobile Apps to assist with the PLI Class Project 
    • *Park and Find it (GPS to find a parked car)
    • *I am in class (Intercepted Text Messages and return to sender "I am in Class and will contact you soon")
    • *PHCC Mobile App (A general app with maps of campuses, contact information, etc.)
  • 2020    Selected as the sole Florida College System Student Government Association
  • 2020    Bob Graham award winner for Distinguished Service as a Community College Employee

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC? 

I have an alter ego known as Coach Dave, as I am the Head Coach and Manager for the Faculty/Staff Football and Softball teams.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

It must be the day I received the news that I was selected the winner of the Bob Graham award, I am very humbled by that recognition. 

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

I announced and presented the new PHSC Mobile App to our students at the Student Leadership Retreat and I asked half of the audience say OOOH when I pointed at them, and I asked the other half to say AHHHH when I pointed at them. I did my presentation of the Apps functions and enjoyed the audience participation. The following day I went into a convenience store and was making a selection when I heard "OHHH AHHH" and turned around and the cashier said she was at SLR and enjoyed my presentation. I loved it! 

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

What sets out students apart is that they’ve had hands on experiential learning from faculty and staff members that care. At PHSC we impact our students through engagement.  

Why do you give to the Foundation?

I believe in giving what we can to help others in need, it feels good! The Pasco-Hernando Foundation allows me to feel that my small contributions are a part of a Larger Success Story, Our Students!

October 2021 - Courtney Benito

Tell us your story.

Hi, my name is Courtney Benito, and I am a Senior Instructional Design Coordinator at PHSC. I develop online learning experiences for our students. I have a master’s degree in Instructional Technology from UWF, and I am working on my Doctor of Education degree at Saint Leo University.

What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Tampa, FL. You could usually find me running around outside with the neighborhood kids. I made many of them play school, which they all complained about because we spent all day in school. I guess teaching was just in my blood. Both my parents were really supportive in anything I wanted to do, and they are always my inspiration to this day.

Are you from the local area? If not, when did you move to Pasco or Hernando counties?

I am a proud Floridian! I was born and raised in Tampa, Florida. In 2006, we moved to Dade City, Florida, and we have been there ever since. Tampa is still close to my heart, as a good chuck of my family still live there. Dade City is just a different atmosphere, and has a real nice hometown feel. It’s always nice to visit the city, and then get back to a small town.

When did you decide to attend PHSC?

I graduated from Wiregrass Ranch High School in 2011 with no idea on what I wanted to do. My mom told me about PHSC, East Campus. We visited and I started that same year. I am so happy with my decision still to this date. I feel that I would not be getting my doctorate if it wasn’t for PHSC.

Did you receive a scholarship? If so, how did it impact your student experience at PHSC?

I did. I received the Foundation Scholarship. Someone at the college told me to apply for it, and I remember I had to write a letter. I used the scholarship money to pay for books and materials for class, which was a huge savings. I feel very fortunate to have received the help.

When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you choose higher ed?

There are two moments. First, was when I was a Student Ambassador at PHSC. I really enjoyed doing that and being a part of a group of student leaders who were passionate about the college. My second moment was working under Dr. Richardson at the East Campus, as her Senior Office Assistant. She showed me that a woman can climb to the top. Then, I learned about AVP Sonia Thorn, and how she got her start. I quickly realized that this is what I wanted to do. I think it is an exciting time to be in education with more innovation and new learning options that are reaching students far and wide.

What is your experience like working at PHSC thus far?

Working at PHSC has been a great experience. In the E-Learning Department, my day is never the same. I may be designing course materials, working with an instructor on an issue, or writing something for our social media pages. Either way, it is always different and exciting.

What's your favorite class or program to design?

I have developed a lot of courses since my start with the department. A real passion project of mine is the re-design and development of PHSC’s Educator Preparatory Institute (EPI) Program. I have been developing and designing these courses since 2020, and I feel so lucky to be apart of a program that will educate our future educators. The courses now have a more cohesive design, so the students really feel like they are a part of a program. My other favorite course was the re-development of our Re-Certification for Online Teaching Professional Development course for faculty & staff. I have the pleasure of teaching that course I developed, and I think faculty and staff are really enjoying the learning. I hope this course is a good model for them, and that they take something away to incorporate in their own classes.

Do you have any other programs or initiatives you're involved in at PHSC?

Yes, I serve on the Alumni Association and the Foundation Board. I am also a member of the Association of Florida Colleges. I am the President of our campus’s chapter.

Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

Winning the Dr. Baker’s Outstanding Student Leader award was an amazing moment. I also got to test out the flight simulator and rode on our Fire Academy’s Fire Engine.

Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

Each year, I always try to serve on the WE Team, which is our Welcome & Engagement Team. I always love spending time with our students and answering their questions. My team had the opportunity to speak at the Student Leadership Retreat (SLR), and that was such a fun experience as well.

How are PHSC students different from other students, what sets them apart?

PHSC students are amazing, and I’m not just saying that cause I was one. Our students are hardworking, who want to achieve their dreams and go the distance. Our students are not one size, and you can’t contain them in a box. They are forward thinking and come out of PHSC with the strength to continue in work or further education.

Why do you give to the Foundation?

My father, who passed in April of 2021, was one who gave to several charities. He always taught me about the importance of giving back, and I am very happy to be giving to the Foundation. The Foundation supported me in my educational journey, and I hope I play a small piece in the success of others.

What do you see on the horizon or in your future with PHSC?

I don’t have a crystal ball, but if I did, I would see PHSC growing and growing more. Both Pasco and Hernando counties seem to be building more, and more people will need affordable higher education, which is what we do best. As for me, I just hope to finish my doctorate, and become a leader and innovator in higher education.

September 2021 - Stacey Thomson

Dr. Stacey Thomson didn’t start her career thinking she would end up in higher ed. She was the first woman to be certified in an Apprenticeship Program for Farm Management and Horse Training in Arizona. But Dr. Thomson switched gears after moving to Florida while training horses and being positively influenced by two specific professors at HCC. They lit a fire in her that has continued to burn many years later. Dr. Thomson is a fixture at PHSC, dedicating her professional time to serving the institution with a multi-faceted approach and a love for her discipline, her students, and her community.

When asked about her childhood, Dr. Thomson remembers a struggle. She and her family experienced homelessness often and were constantly moving. As a young adult, she didn’t make many connections or grow roots in her community. She moved from her home in Maine to Arizona for her Apprenticeship Program and then to Florida where she met her now late husband. She has lived in Hernando County for 24 years now and has an affinity for Brooksville and its population. Dr. Thomson loves Brooksville and Hernando County because she sees opportunities for its younger generation that she may have not always been exposed to. “There’s an option to do better despite the circumstances,” Dr. Thomson says.

She was led from industry to education after her time at HCC. Two professors gave her the confidence to take the next step in investing in herself. And she hasn’t looked back since. Dr. Thomson considers her time at PHSC to be laden with fond memories. Her best years were spent as a Chair. While teaching, her favorite course is Chemistry 2, and she enjoys her students. However, as a Chair she really felt like she was making a “big picture” difference. Dr. Thomson and her colleagues were able to shape policies that not only benefited the institution but her students on a grand scale as well. When asked about her favorite memories at PHSC, Dr. Thomson remembers the many reference letters she has been asked to write for past students. She has students return to ask for letters to put on medical school applications, graduate school, veterinary school, and so on. Not only is she happy to write the recommendations, but she is overjoyed to receive the acceptance updates and further progression, such as students going on to pass their board exams. It’s in these moments that Dr. Thomson gets to reflect on her professors at HCC and remember their integral influence on her academic trajectory. Being able to assist PHSC students in the same way is just another step in the right direction for Dr. Thomson’s legacy.

When asked what makes PHSC students so special, Dr. Thomson solidified her identification with their experiences. She understands many of our students don’t have the same advantages as others and she can appreciate their tenacity. Our students work toward the betterment of themselves and their futures readily. And she’s happy to help wherever she can. Dr. Thomson says, “Sometimes it’s not because our students can’t do something, but they didn’t know that they could.” She also credits the support of the PHSC Foundation to helping our students continue their journey to success. Dr. Thomson donates to and supports the Foundation because she recognizes the benefit to our communities that they provide. She knows just how many students are equipped with the funds necessary to take that next step. She’s willing to put her faith in PHSC students because good people did the same for her not too long ago.

What does the future look like for Dr. Stacey Thomson? She hopes to continue to be an active steward for her disciple (the sciences). She plans to be a permanent resident and continue to support the vision and mission of both PHSC and the Foundation. And what does she want to be when she grows up? Dr. Thomson isn’t quite sure of that. But one thing’s certain, anyone can find her spending time with her beloved dogs and animals when she’s not being an active champion for PHSC. 

August 2021 - Imani Asukile

Mr. Imani Asukile, a recently retired member of PHSC’s staff, embodies these traits over and beyond expectation. “When I think of Imani, I will always think of a man of integrity - a man whom I was always proud to call my colleague and whom I will always be proud to call my friend,” Dr. Lisa Richardson, Associate Vice President of Alumni and College Relations/Executive Director of the Foundation, recalled when asked about Imani’s impact on PHSC. Our team took a moment to get to know Imani further and asked him a little about his life and legacy with PHSC. He provided us with the following interview:

Q: What was your childhood like? Where did you grow up?

IA: I had a wonderful childhood. I'm the youngest of eight children. I was born in Brooksville, Florida and attended Moton High School from grades 1-7, spent 8th grade at Hernando High School, returned to Moton in the 9th, and completed senior high school at Hernando. The back and forth was due to desegregation. I had caring teachers and I have no regrets.

Q: When did you realize you wanted to work in Higher Education? Was there a particular instance or moment that stands out as to why you chose Higher Ed?

IA: I never considered it until I started working part-time at PHSC as a minority recruiter in the mid 80s. I spent three years on active duty in the Navy and I realized there were a lot of careers that did not interest me and not all at the College either. I'm more of a free spirit.

Q: What was your experience like working at PHSC?

IA: My PHSC years were as good as they come. I was given the imaginative range to grow.

Q: What programs or initiatives did you work on at PHSC? How did they impact the students?

IA: In the capacity of equity, my work was comprehensive in that I engaged in most of the College operations. I served on three of the four College's presidential search committees and hundreds of faculty and staff screening committees, a number of student discipline committees, introducing the college community to nationally recognized civil right leaders via the lecture series, providing opportunities for hundreds of precollegiate students for academic and cultural enrichment including touring civil rights memorials in 6 southern states and Washington D.C. I attended DBOT Meetings for 33+ years.

Q: Do you have a favorite PHSC moment or memory?

IA: Yes, the day I was hired in October 1987. I spent the first week on the job at a statewide Equity and Technical Assistance Training Workshop in Tampa.

Q: Do you have a favorite student story or interaction that stands out to share?

IA: Yes, shortly after the Hernando Today newspaper had interviewed me about my job, a non-traditional student named Howard Johnson accused me of only recruiting young students. I told him to follow me to the college and I'd get him situated. He became an LPN. We are still good friends to this day.

Q: Why do you give to the Foundation?

IA: Because I understand the difference that the Foundation makes in helping the College honor its mission. Also, I've been on the receiving end of gifts that others have given.

Q: Now that you've retired, what is life like after PHSC? What are you most looking forward to?

IA: The schedule has more flexibility. If, at the end of each day, I can say that I've made a positive contribution, I'll be satisfied. There are projects around the house that need attention. I have multiple writing assignments that I hope to finish.

Mr. Imani Asukile offers unwavering devotion to the causes he serves and the people he influences. Dr. Bob Bade, Senior Vice President and Chief Student Affairs & Enrollment Management Officer, detailed some of his professional experiences with Imani: “I attended a lot of Pre-Collegiate Program community events with Imani over the years we worked together. Not only did he know all the people in the auditorium, but he would also go around the room and talk with each of them about family members and friends. He seemed to know everyone in the community and how they were connected. It was an amazing thing to observe his connection with our community. People knew he genuinely cared deeply about each pre-collegiate student participant and their entire family and friend support group. Imani served on almost every hiring screening committee and student disciplinary committee over the past 31 years. Imani had a knack for making us all "think better" because of the questions he asked at key moments. I am a much better person, and many other people are much better people from having the privilege of sharing life and work with Imani.”

Community pillar, Author of Black America: Hernando County, cherished PHSC enthusiast, and friend of the Foundation, Imani has left an impression on the hearts of many. His benevolence is as valued as it is ever-present. Whether you know him as a mentor, co-worker, or friendly face, Imani’s positive reputation reverberates beyond the walls of PHSC. “Imani is someone who sees potential in you that you may not necessarily see in yourself,” Ronteryl Black, PHSC Pre-collegiate Program Coordinator, shared, “He strives to bring good in the world.”