Florida Polytechnic University graduates its first class

Posted at 5:59 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 17:59:38-05

Florida’s newest university has it’s first graduating class.

Eighteen students walked across the stage Tuesday afternoon at Florida Polytechnic to receive their diplomas. It’s the school’s first graduating class since opening two and a half years ago.

“It feels awesome. I’m very excited to graduate,” said Gabriela Martines, who earned her bachelors degree in mechanical engineering.

She already has a job with a NASA contractor, making sure rockets take off and land safely.

“It’s one of the reasons I decided to come here to Poly, because I could be a part of something new — the inaugural class and now being a part of the very first graduating class, it’s crazy and I’m so proud to be apart of that,” she said.

While the pomp and circumstance is rightfully loud and deserving, the university still faces some challenges ahead.

Two and half years ago, students enrolled in a university that wasn’t even finished yet, and now on their graduation day, they are still waiting to see if it will be accredited.

Right now it is not.

“It’s one of the thins that make our kids unique, i think,” said Dr. Randy Avent, Florida Poly’s president.

He believes that’s what sets these students apart because they’re willing to take risks.

“I think those are the same skills that will make them very successful in business. Take risks and start companies,” he said.

The board that determines accreditations will meet twice this year — in the summer and winter. They could take up Florida Poly’s accreditation during either session.

Martines said the accreditation issue was hard to swallow initially.

“It was a little scary. That was the only thing that worried me. I had complete faith that the school would be accredited and i should have no problem with my degree here,” she said.

There graduation ceremony held today, just three days into 2017 is no accident. If the school gets accredited this year, it will retroactively apply to the class that graduates in the same calendar year.

For now, students are just celebrating the milestone.