Pasco-Hernando State College Honors First Student
Shirley Cherry, the first student to register at the college, became a mathematics professor at PHSC.
NEW PORT RICHEY – Pasco-Hernando State College honored a retiring professor, who was also the college’s first student, during winter commencement last week.
The college also honored the college’s vice president of administration and finance with a surprise inaugural Employee Recognition Scholarship.
Shirley Cherry, retiring associate professor of mathematics, was recognized for her outstanding teaching career and her dedication to higher education.The reflections speaker at both the morning and afternoon commencement ceremonies, Cherry began her educational journey in 1972 as the first student to register at the college.
Sometimes taking only one or two classes a semester, while juggling raising a family and other financial responsibilities, Cherry persevered and received her associate’s degree in 1988. Then, in 1990, she received her bachelor’s degree, graduating summa cum laude at the University of South Florida. Cherry furthered her education by earning a master’s degree, and returned to teach where her college education began, back at PHSC, which was then Pasco-Hernando Community College.
With each new class, Cherry would start the first day with the same speech, encouraging her students to push through life’s road blocks. “I have sat where you are sitting now and I know that you can do this.”
Ken Burdzinski, PHSC vice president of administration and finance, was honored with a surprise inaugural employee recognition scholarship, presented by Rao Musunuru, M.D., PHSC board of trustees.
“There are many unsung heroes at PHSC who work with great dedication behind the scenes,” Musunuru said. “Throughout his 20-year tenure at the college, Ken has managed a budget that rose from $15.6 million to nearly $53 million and oversaw the building of the Spring Hill and Porter Campus at Wiregrass Ranch. He is a hardworking individual that insured the college’s long-term financial stability and is very deserving of special recognition and appreciation.”
Musunuru personally donated $10,000 to the new Inaugural Employee Recognition Scholarship. The funds will be added to the endowed Burdzinski/Epperson Family Scholarship to benefit PHSC students in need of financial assistance.
About 323 degrees and certificates were conferred at Tuesday’s (Dec. 13) ceremonies. An estimated 539 summer graduates and 643 winter graduates were eligible to participate.
For information about PHSC’s programs and services, go to phsc.edu.
Photos courtesy of Pasco-Hernando State College.
Main photo shows, from left, Milton O. Jones, Ph.D., PHSC president emeritus; Shirley Cherry, retiring associate professor of mathematics and first PHSC student; Timothy L. Beard, Ph.D., PHSC president; and Robert Judson, Ed.D, PHSC president emeritus. Second photo shows, from left, Ken Burdzinski, PHSC vice president of administration and finance, and Dr. Rao Musunuru, PHSC District Board of Trustees.
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