Adam Wendt and his family moved to Panama City because he wanted to learn from the best. Already a professional diver and scuba instructor, Wendt enrolled in FSU Panama City’s Underwater Crime Scene Investigation certificate program. Just a few months later, he and fellow divers from FSU Panama City were called on as the best to recover the body of a missing swimmer in Austin, Texas.
In fall 2014, Ana Cortez left her Lakeland home to attend FSU Panama City to study Business Administration. Faced with meeting new people and becoming familiar with a new city, she has turned her passion into a student organization: Project Runway.
Brandon Harmon has become a local celebrity at FSU Panama City. Dressed in his signature Florida State jersey, Harmon has been featured on a billboard, a TV commercial and a number of campus publications. He is also a regular attendee at student meetings and campus events. Now, his legacy of Seminole pride will continue on campus through the Brandon Harmon Seminole Spirit Award, announced May 2 at Student Government Council’s Graduation Awards Banquet. Each year, the recipient will receive a plaque and a $100 scholarship through his namesake award.
When Carson Flowers, psychology, class of 2018) chose FSU Panama City, it created a new bond between the college junior and her parents. Thomas (social science, ’97) and Sherry (elementary education, ’91) Flowers also had chosen the branch campus because of the home-like feel and waterfront view.
Cana Sylvester knows about life on the stage. Introduced to acting as a child, she went on to perform in productions at Mosley High School, majored in theater at Gulf Coast State College and was a cast member in the Disney College Program.
When Frank Hall decided to follow his sister’s footsteps to attend FSU Panama City, he had no idea he was starting a family legacy. Now his daughter, Alexandria, also is enjoying the benefits of smaller classes with the comforts of home.
Coming from the two-light town of Samson, Ala., Emily Crews is used to small. Now a sophomore electrical engineering major at FSU Panama City, she feels right at home in less than 400 square feet of living space.
Erin Wommack knows how to set herself apart from a crowd through networking and negotiation. Using techniques she learned at FSU Panama City, she is responsible for bringing tenants to the Longview Mall in Longview, Texas, as a leasing manager for Simon Property Group. Wommack earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Professional Communication in spring 2013.
As a recent American citizen, Irvin Morales bleeds red, white and blue. As a Publix employee, he also bleeds green. Morales’ path to the “American dream” began 15 years ago, when his mother immigrated to the United States empty-handed from El Salvador. In hopes of becoming a store manager, he now is in his final semester before earning his bachelor’s degree in business administration at FSU Panama City.
Jake Hamilton is a first-generation college student who made it to college against all odds. Coming from a family with no higher education background, he still pursued his dreams of going to college with their support. He graduated high school in Sebring, Fla., and moved to Panama City to study business administration.
James Durham doesn’t take life for granted because he has lost his more than once. After a motorcycle crash in 2011, his heart stopped eight times. Doctors said he could be in a coma for decades, but he defied the odds. Three years and 12 surgeries later, Durham is “on positive steroids” and has become a Seminole at Florida State University Panama City.
A business administration major turned robot programmer is offering her skills to inspire the next generation of women to reach for their dreams. Jessica Haley and others with STEM Institute are developing a local chapter of Girls Who Code to help close the gender gap in computer science.
As a home schooled student, Justice Wobser began regularly attending classes at Gulf Coast State College when he was 16. Catapulted into adulthood, Wobser found the key to academic success through hard work, self-discipline and responsibility. He now is an Electrical Engineering major at FSU Panama City.
Debra Spradley and her son already shared a love of math; now they will share an alma mater. Matthew Spradley started studying computer science this fall as a freshman at FSU Panama City.
Natasha Allen refuses to settle for less. Competitive by nature, she always strives to be her best. This year, she became the first in her family to earn a college education. After serving as president of the Black Student Union and promoting campus diversity, she graduated May 3 with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.
Cpl. Jeremy Izquierdo now has a Florida State degree to pair with his badge. While working nights patrolling the Tallahassee campus with the FSU Police Department, Izquierdo earned his bachelor’s degree in public safety & security. He graduated from FSU Panama City’s distance learning program in December 2015, specializing in law enforcement operation.
Patrick Stewart has been active since he was a child enjoying activities at the Boy & Girls Club and as a sailor through the Navy’s Morale, Welfare and Recreation program. Now, the Recreation, Tourism and Events graduate is helping locals and tourists stay active as the sports and special events coordinator at the Panama City Beach Convention & Visitors Bureau.
Since Rob Griffith saw his first computer in elementary school, he has had an affinity for technology. Now, at 40, he is completing his degree in computer engineering at Florida State University Panama City. With graduation nearing, Griffith is serving as project manager on the Wireless Portable Influence Measuring System (Wireless PIMS) for defense manufacturer Exelis Mine Defense Systems.
When Sam E. Nole came to FSU Panama City thanks to a scholarship from the AT&T Foundation, her whole world was computer science. When she wasn’t working on a new program or learning new tricks of the trade, she would unplug and recharge her battery in a home that seemed like nothing but a box.
Sarah Grace Bennett likes to help families let loose and have fun. As a summer intern at Seahaven Beach Resorts, the Panama City native manages Lil’ Shark’s Club for guests ages 4 to 15. The internship is the final requirement before earning her bachelor’s degree in Recreation, Tourism and Events.
As a mother, Stephanie Smith knows children are fascinated with bubbles and buttons. As an engineering student, she is learning how to turn those bubbles and buttons into an interactive museum exhibit.
Stephany Bittar made history twice in her first year of college. She came to FSU Panama City as a member of the inaugural freshman class and now has become the first underclassman president of the campus’ Student Government Council.
Taylor Dorrough thought she wanted the typical college experience at a major university, but she ultimately discovered a smaller campus was right for her. After attending the University of Kentucky for two years, she found the right fit with the Business Administration program at FSU Panama City.