Celebrating Wilmari Gardner: LSSC’s South Lake Student Commencement Speaker

Here at Lake-Sumter State College, we take pride in our graduates who embody not just academic excellence but a passion for growth and community impact. Today, we shine the spotlight on Wilmari Gardner, a spirited individual hailing from Groveland, whose journey through LSSC resonates with determination, empathy, and a drive to make a difference.

Wilmari’s educational journey started at South Lake High School in Groveland, paving the way for her continued pursuit at Lake-Sumter State College in 2020.

Her sights are set on a noble path—to become a registered nurse, earn a bachelor’s degree in nursing, and ultimately realize her ambition of becoming a nurse anesthetist. What fuels this mission? A deep-rooted desire to be a voice for marginalized communities, particularly women and people of color, ensuring that everyone receives the care they deserve in a safe and inclusive environment.

Post-graduation, Wilmari’s stepping into the world of healthcare with an interview at AdventHealth. Then, it’s off to LSSC’s ASN program to kickstart her nursing journey, followed by a pursuit of a BSN. But that’s not all; her sights are set on the University of Puerto Rico for a DNP in nursing anesthesiology, aiming high for her aspirations.

When she’s not studying, Wilmari is a family-oriented soul, spending her free time with her younger siblings and grandparents. From cooking and shopping to de-stressing at the gym, her life outside of class is a vibrant blend. In addition, she’s hands-on at her family’s farm, cultivating green beans, southern field peas, and newly added sunflowers, bringing joy to the community through their produce.

Reflecting on her time at LSSC, two professors stood out. Mr. Patrick Rader’s guidance unveiled a newfound passion for writing, while Mrs. Toni Upchurch instilled the crucial skill of public speaking, essential for Wilmari’s advocacy goals.

For Wilmari, the top memory at Lake-Sumter is clinching the speaker spot for today’s commencement ceremony. The shock and joy of this achievement linger as a cherished moment.

In times of doubt, Wilmari found solace in her academic advisor, Mrs. Shirley Bazemore. Her unwavering support rekindled hope during challenging phases, nurturing Wilmari’s belief in her dreams.

One crucial advice Wilmari imparts to fellow Lakehawks: never hesitate to seek help. The abundance of resources at LSSC stands as a testament to the institution’s commitment to student success.

The transition from online to in-person classes amidst the pandemic threw surprises. Despite growing pains, Wilmari found resilience in LSSC’s adaptability, a journey that she grew through alongside the staff.

As Wilmari takes center stage at the South Lake Commencement Ceremony, her story echoes the spirit of empowerment, resilience, and the unwavering determination to bridge gaps and make a difference. Join us in celebrating her and the graduating class of 2023 at the ceremony on Wednesday, December 13 at 5:00 pm. For those unable to attend, catch the live stream at www.lssc.edu/livestream, ensuring everyone can share in this special occasion.