May 8, 2015 – LABELLE, FLA – When Florida SouthWestern State College graduates walk across the stage tonight to receive their diplomas, each one will carry with them their own personal story of struggles and challenges, accomplishments and achievements.
Michael Martinez will receive his Associate in Arts (AA) degree from FSW 21 days before he receives his high school diploma. A dual-enrolled student from LaBelle High School, Martinez is the first person in his family to attend college.
“My parents are from Mexico, and they never went to school,” he said. “I have a great understanding of all the opportunities this country offers, and I wanted to take full advantage of them.”
But Martinez won’t be attending just any college. On June 29, he will begin his first semester at The United States Military Academy West Point.
“I have always enjoyed challenges, and I am excited for the challenges West Point will give me through academics, physical requirements and discipline,” he said.
Martinez plans to major in civil engineering and will serve five years in the military as required by all West Point graduates.
“I owe my success to Jesus Christ,” Martinez said. “He is the reason I have been able to get as far as I have, and I know he will continue to guide me through it all.”
Matthew Kindermann will receive his Bachelor’s in Applied Science Degree (BAS) in Supervision and Management. It is just one of the many degrees this lifelong learner has earned over the last decade.
After serving four years of active duty in the United States Marines, Kindermann earned his first AA in criminal justice from a community college in Michigan. He then moved to Naples and began his studies at then Edison Community College, earning his EMT certification in 2008. In 2010, he earned his second Associate in Arts degree, and then began his road to earning two bachelor’s degrees.
Kindermann simultaneously worked on his bachelor’s degree in history at the American Public University, which he completed in 2013, and his BAS at FSW. Through it all, Kindermann has served as Commander of the American Legion in LaBelle, served as a Navy Reservist, and has worked full-time. His BAS degree has also helped him receive a job promotion at U.S. Sugar.
“It wasn’t always easy,” Kindermann said. “I did homework every day and all weekend, but I set out to finish what I started. The only time I ever had to drop a class was when I was promoted to Chief Petty Officer in the Navy Reserves, and I had to go away for three weeks of training and induction.”
Kindermann plans to begin earning his master’s degree soon.
“You’re never too old to start or go back to school,” he said. “The beauty about college is that what you learn stays with you forever.”
FSW’s graduation ceremony begins at 6 p.m. tonight in Germain Arena.
Florida SouthWestern State College is Southwest Florida’s largest and one of the most affordable institutions of higher education. Annually serving more than 22,000 students globally, FSW offers a variety of nationally-ranked, career-focused academic programs with two- and four-year degrees, and professional certifications. Students are also active in clubs and programs catered to their interests. FSW will debut its intercollegiate athletics program in the fall 2015. Visit www.FSW.edu for more information.