Lake-Sumter State College Foundation, Inc. honored several LSSC alumni, faculty and staff members during the eighth annual Distinguished Alumni and Hall of Fame awards banquet on Oct. 17 at Mission Inn Resort & Club in Howey-in-the-Hills.
LSSC President Stanley Sidor and Laura Byrd, executive director of the LSSC Foundation, noted the Hall of Fame winners exemplify the college’s commitment to excellence through the service they provide to their alma mater and the community.
Marilyn Budzynski, Mike DeGraw, Edward Daugherty, Mark Logas. Dean Simmons II, Dr. Robert Westrick, Alissa Sustarsic, Andrea Brooks and Pete Wahl were revealed in individual video presentations as the winners in different categories. The Hall of Fame recipients were presented large framed jerseys of their last names.
“This is very humbling,” says Marilyn Budzynski, class of 1979, winner of the Community Engagement Award. “It was 40 years ago when I graduated from Lake-Sumter and I loved my time and memories there. To be selected after all of these years as a person who is making a difference is an honor.”
Dean Simmons II, a graduate of LSSC class of 2018 and a recipient of the Gold Award, praised the LSSC Foundation for helping him financially while he was in the nursing program. “The foundation was able to help me go to school, which was huge because it was very expensive. I was able to come out of school debt-free, which is awesome, and it gave me a jump start on my career and it prepared me to go straight into the emergency room,” Dean said in the video. He added that he strives to go back to college to get his bachelor’s degree in nursing followed by becoming a nurse practitioner in order “to continue to help people.”
Mark Logas, class of 1983, was presented the Scholar Award. He was working at radio station WLBE while a student at the college, and through his experience, he says it opened the door to internships for journalism and broadcast television students.
“In my television career, I was nominated for an Emmy and I won some Associated Press Awards. I’m not big on awards, but this award is different,” Mark noted in the video. “It really made feel very proud, very happy that these efforts recognized here so many decades later. What I am achieving today could not have been possible had it not been for the very people that I met the first day in those three years here at Lake-Sumter.”
Alissa Sustarsic, recipient of the Faculty Award, has been a mathematics professor for 20 years at LSSC, and she began at the college as a dual-enrollment student while a student at Leesburg High School.
“This is a great honor,” she said of being in the Hall of Fame. “I follow a lot of really good faculty members.”
As recipient of the Trustee Award, Pete Wahl recalled he served as chairman for two years on the college’s board of trustees. “It has been very gratifying,” he added to watch LSSC grow.
The banquet also featured moving student testimonials from Sakia Duperme and Danielle Holladay sharing how LSSC Foundation helped them receive scholarships to achieve their dream of a college education when they felt all odds were against them.
The LSSC Foundation is accepting online donations to help more students with tuition, textbooks or course materials. Donations can be made at LSSC.edu/foundation or by calling 352.365.3518.