Florida Polytechnic University holds first graduation

By Saundra Weathers, Reporter
Last Updated: Tuesday, January 03, 2017

It was graduation day at Florida Polytechnic University on Tuesday. It’s the first one for the university since it opened two years ago.

  • 18 students graduated from Floriday Polytechnic's first class Tuesday
  • 15 took part in graduation from the college
  • Florida Poly opened 2 years ago

There were 15 students who walked across the stage. Four of those students received their bachelor’s degree. They finished a four-year program in just two years. And those graduates transferred their college credits they earned while still in high school.

It’s how 20-year-old Gabriela Martines said she did it.

“In high school I actually did a lot of college courses, a lot of AP classes. So I graduated with my associates degree and then I took a lot of summer classes here and a lot of heavy loads,” Martines said.

The 20-year-old mechanical engineering graduate said she’s the first in her family to graduate college. And if that weren’t enough good news, she’s also preparing to accept a job for a company that contracts for NASA.

Another family celebrating major achievements at graduation was the Quinn family. Kenny and his daughter Makala both started school at Florida Poly two years ago. It was then Kenny earned the nickname, "Papa Poly."

“I still feel like Papa Poly. It’s always kind of been a little bit of some humor into that being the oldest graduate student, the oldest student on campus for the inaugural class,” he said,

It’s a title he’ll have to hang up for now because he received his Master of Science degree in Innovation and Technology.

“This has been one of my life long goals. Kind of my bucket list to go back to school and finish my graduate program,” he said.

His daughter Makala is working towards her undergraduate degree in that same program. She said having her dad around has been great. 

“It’s been really great. I feel like I have a life long tutor with him. So he’s going through the exact same struggles that I went through the past two years and it’s like he’s at the higher level, so if I ever need anything I can just go to him,” she said.

Makala watched with pride as her dad walked across the stage. Student Affairs Vice Provost, Steve Warner was just excited.

“It’s hard to put into words,” Warner said. “To really see these students from when we recruited them back in 2014, to show up in August of 2014 and now to see them walking across the stage today. It’s extremely satisfying.”

There were a total of 18 students who graduated but three of those students didn’t attend. Out of those three at least one of them has already moved to California to pursue his career.