Chipola College news


MARIANNA—Chipola College officials recognized the accomplishments of two students—Elizabeth Varnum and Jayde Smelcer—at a press conference at the college Tuesday.

Pictured from left, are: Charity Sikora, PTK co-adviser; Dr. Pam Rentz, PTK adviser; Jayde Smelcer; Elizabeth Varnum; and Dr. Sarah Clemmons, Chipola President.

The Chipola students are two of only three Coca-Cola Academic Team Gold Scholars from the state of Florida. Both are listed among the 127 members of the All-Florida Academic Team for their outstanding academic achievement, leadership and service to their communities. The All-Florida team is sponsored by Phi Theta Kappa and USA Today. Portraits of the students will hang on Chipola’s Academic Wall of Honor.

Elizabeth Varnum coordinated the Christmas in May event which provided 170 health care packages to residents of the Marianna Health and Rehabilitation Center. She was part of the first annual Science Day at Chipola for local high students who were invited to learn fun aspects of science while exploring careers in science.  She also was part of a group of students who visited children in Shands Hospital. She also served as a volunteer note-taker for students with disabilities.

Varnum has served as a tutor in Chipola’s ACE Lab, and has worked as a student assistant in the Chipola Public Relations Office.  She is secretary of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and is a member of Mu Alpha Theta Mathematics Honorary, the Chipola Pre-Med Society, the Science Club and the Chipola Honors Program. She won Chipola’s Biology for Science Majors award in 2016.

Varnum was Valedictorian of Marianna High School in 2015. She is the daughter of Keith and Melissa Varnum of Marianna. Her major is currently Exercise Science. She has been accepted to Huntingdon College where she will study Religion. She hopes to go on to seminary at the Candler School of Theology at Emory University.

Jayde Smelcer was a two-year member of the Chipola women’s cross country team and was named a Scholar All-American athlete by the NJCAA and the FCSAA All-Academic Team for maintaining a 4.0 GPA.

She served as President of the Chipola chapter of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, Vice-President of the Pre-Med Society, and Treasurer of the Science Club. She was a member of the Chipola Honors program, Mu Alpha Theta, Student Government Association and Student Ambassadors.

Smelcer led a project to raise money for Louisiana flood victims. She conducted and led experiments for area high school students at the first annual Chipola Science Day. She collected care packages for the Christmas in May project for senior citizens. She also served as a volunteer for the Partners for Pets Fall Festival.

Smelcer has served as an assistant teacher of a Kindergarten Sunday School class and the AWANA children’s program at First Baptist Church of Chipley. She is a certified Pharmacy Technician and works as CVS Pharmacy an average of 25 hours per week.

Smelcer is the daughter of Gary and Connie Smelcer of Chipley. She is part of the Smelcer Family’s Big Sister program in which she plays a major role in helping her parents transport her two younger brothers to school and sports activities, as well as cooking and cleaning at home.

She was a 2015 graduate of Chipley High School and a National Merit Scholar. She was accepted to the University of Florida Pharmacy School, but now plans to attend Florida State University to study Exercise Science and continue on to medical school.

Chipola president Dr. Sarah Clemmons, says, “We congratulate Elizabeth and Jayde for their outstanding academic records and for their leadership in community service. We are so pleased they chose to attend Chipola, and we know they will continue to make us proud to call them alumni.”

Both students are active in the college chapter of Phi Theta Kappa, the largest honor society in American higher education with 1,275 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in all 50 states and around the world. Dr. Pam Rentz, Dean of the Chipola School of Education, is the faculty adviser to PTK.


JACKSONVILLE—Chipola College Black Student Union attended the Florida African American Student Association (FAASA) meeting in Jacksonville April 6-9.

Pictured from left: Jasmine Sorey, Michael Dargan, Jackie Dudley, Alliyah Baker, Marquis Baker and Charmaine Baker.

Pictured from left: Edward Arroyo, Alliyah Baker, Dr. Willie Spires, Charmaine Baker, Marquis Baker and Michael Dargan.

Jasmine Sorey won the Talent Competition and Michael Dargan won Best Dressed Male.

The Chipola BSU created a Political Activism, Academic Excellence, Cultural Awareness and Economic Empowerment PACE Plan for the year which was evaluated by Regional Elders of five regions.  Students worked throughout the school year to fulfill the requirements of the plan.

Chipola had its first Region 1 Director for the 2016-17 school year: Jacqueline Dudley. She is the first Chipola student to serve in the State Student Executive Office Staff.  Jasmine Sorey will serve as Region 1 Coordinator for the 2017-18 which is also part of the State Student Executive Office Staff.

Chipola hosts Engineering Technology Forum

MARIANNA—Chipola College recently hosted an Engineering Technology Forum which brought representatives from colleges, industry, workforce and economic development to the college campus.

Here, participants tour the Chipola Engineering Technology lab.

Participants included more than 40 deans, program directors, department chairs and faculty from 17 state and community colleges representing leadership in Engineering Technology in the state of Florida. Eight vendors sponsored the forum and provided a showcase to display products used in engineering technology education.

Bradley Jenkins, Chair of the Florida Engineering Technology Forum, said, “Chipola’s Engineering Technology labs and facilities are outstanding and serve as a model for other colleges to follow. I can appreciate the work that Chipola Dean Darwin Gilmore and Engineering Technology Instructor Aubri Hanson have accomplished.”

Speakers at the forum included: Sam Ajlani, Central Florida; and Brad Jenkins, Florida Advance Technological Education Center. A Vendor Panel featured Steve Cerone–Bluegrass Educational Technologies; Martin Garcia–National Instruments; Richard Hyatt–Southern Education Systems; Clark Hortman–Learning Labs; Rod Jaeger–Jaeger Corporation and Larry Shemetulskis-Tektronix and Ted Norman, FLDOE.

Participants in Industrial/Economic, Workforce Roundtable included Aubri Hanson, Chipola ET Instructor; Mori Toosi, Polk; Danielly Orozco, FLATE and Chris Scott, Intelligrated. Other participants were: Phil Centonze, FloridaMakes Partnerships Programs; Ron Eaglin, Daytona; Alex Anzalone, HCC; Stephan Girard, PMMI; and Marilyn Barger, FLATE.

For more information about Chipola’s Engineering Technology program, contact Darwin Gilmore at 850-718-2270 or email  A Chipola video about the forum is available at this link:


MARIANNA—The Chipola College 2017 Commencement Ceremony is set for Wednesday, May 3, at 7 p.m., at the Dothan Civic Center. The address is 126 St. Andrews Street, Dothan, AL, 36303.

Counted as members of the class are all who will complete degrees or certificates from December of 2016 to May of 2017 or during the Summer 2017 terms. Diplomas will be awarded for Bachelor of Science, Associate in Science, Associate in Arts and Workforce Development Certificates. Chipola graduates may invite an unlimited number of family members and guests to share the event. The ceremony will be broadcast live on YouTube available at this link:

Madeline Pumariega, Chancellor of the Florida College System (FCS), will deliver the Commencement Address. She most recently served as president of the statewide non-profit Take Stock in Children. Prior to joining Take Stock, she spent 20 years at Miami Dade College (MDC), serving as President of the Wolfson Campus.

Pumariega is a member of Leadership Florida Class 33 and was a Kellogg Fellow for the League for Innovation’s Expanding Leadership Diversity in Community Colleges. Her volunteer activities include serving on the board of The Center for Postsecondary Success, City Year Miami, serving on the steering committee for The Miami Foundation, and membership in the International Women’s Forum.

Pumariega is an alumna of Miami Dade College, a doctoral candidate at Barry University and a graduate of St. Thomas University and The Florida Atlantic University College of Education.

For information, contact the Admissions and Records Office at 850-718-2311 or visit

GREAT CATTLE DRIVE film showing MAY 18 at Chipola

MARIANNA—Chipola College will host a free screening of the PBS documentary film, “The Great Florida Cattle Drive: Unbroken Circles,” Thursday, May 18, at 6 p.m., in the Center for the Arts.

The documentary was filmed and produced by Blountstown residents Elam Stoltzfus and his son, Nic. The film tells the story of the Great Florida Cattle Drive 2016, the history of Florida’s heritage cattle breed, and how Florida’s cow culture is being preserved for future generations. “The story of the Cracker cattle and horses is one of the richest historical accounts,” said filmmaker and producer Elam Stoltzfus. “We really believe people will want to hear more about this, and we have a chance to educate people, entertain them, and bring some information to people here in Florida, and across the country.”

“One thing that excited me as a writer about the Great Florida Cattle Drive project is that it tells the story of this hidden history,” said screenwriter and co-producer Nic Stoltzfus. “It’s one thing to read about a cattle drive from Kissimmee to Kenansville, but to actually go on the drive and interact with the people, and feel it, and smell it… that brought history to life for me.”

Elam and Nic Stoltzfus will be present at the screening to sign DVDs, CDs, the accompanying coffee table book, movie posters and more. Fans of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band will enjoy Grammy Award-winning John McEuen’s presence on the film’s soundtrack.

The documentary, narrated by America’s most beloved cowboy poet, Baxter Black, recently aired on all of Florida’s PBS stations. “WFSU Public Media is proud to partner with Live Oak Productions to bring this documentary to our audience throughout the Big Bend region,” said David Mullins, General Manager of WFSU.”

The film and accompanying events are sponsored by the Florida Cattlemen’s Association and Foundation; Blackbeard’s Ranch; Arrowhead Beef; Vina & Sons; the Yoder Family and Lefty’s Dirt Road Club. To order copies of the book, CD and DVD, visit Live Oak Productions at See a film trailer at

For information about the showing at Chipola College, visit or call 718-2257.


Chipola College was the site of a recent Mental Health Awareness Symposium.

Pictured from left, are: Cassidy Odom, Chloe Gilbert, Jessica Thomas, Dr. Willie Spires, Shanna Carpenter, Amanda Harris, Crystal Bennett, Trisha Pearce (Life Management).

Chipola psychology students gave talks on various kinds of mental health issues. Information was shared about various mental health programs available. The event was sponsored by the Chipola Black Student Union, Social and Behavioral Sciences Department, Jackson County Health Department, Chemical Addition Recovery Effort (CARE), Chipola Healthy Start, Gulf Coast Sexual Assault Program, Salvation Army and 90 Works.

Here, Miller (center) is congratulated by Chipola Fine Arts faculty and administration Evelyn Ward (left) and Dr. Josh Martin.


Chipola College music student Lindsay Miller of Chipley has been awarded the Winford E. Hasty Memorial Music Award for Outstanding Musicianship. The award is presented to an outstanding sophomore student with accomplishments in academics, performance, talent improvement, attitude, and involvement in Fine Arts programs. Miller is a music education major, and a member of the College Chorus, Rock and Jazz Band, Show Choir, and the President’s Ensemble.


Billy Bailey, Florida Caverns State Park Specialist and Dianna Sue Bryant, Wildlife Rehabilitator, recently lectured to Chipola College environmental science students on the protection and preservation of Florida wildlife, and its importance to biodiversity and ecosystems. The zoological presentations featured fossils of Loggerhead, Eastern Box and Aquatic turtles, and the Gopher Tortoise. Bird nests, live mudpuppy and musk turtles were brought from the Park. Bryant’s Wildlife Sanctuary residents: Red Tailed Hawk; Great Horned Owl; Bard and Screech Owls all came to interact with students.


Chase Mason is Chipola College’s Career Employee for March.  Mason serves as a I.T. Support Associate in the Information Systems Department and has worked at the college since 2015.

Pictured from left, are: Chipola Associate Vice President of Information Systems, Dennis Everett, Chase Mason, Director of Distributed Systems, Matthew White and Chipola president, Dr. Sarah Clemmons.


Susan Barge, a Drug Regulation Expert with the Florida Highway Patrol, recently offered training on the Intoxilyzer 8000 breathalyzer system for candidates in the Chipola College Criminal Justice Training Academy.


Casey Dowgul has been selected the Chipola College Faculty/Administrator/Other Professional Award of the month for April.  Dowgul serves an Assistant Professor in Teacher Education and has worked at the college since 2010.

Pictured from left are, Chipola president Dr. Sarah Clemmons, Casey Dowgul and Dr. Pam Rentz, Dean for the School of Education