Santa Fe College Celebrates Spring Commencement April 30

Santa Fe College Celebrates Spring Commencement April 30

Santa Fe College students are celebrating their accomplishments at the Spring Commencement and pinning ceremonies held throughout the day Friday, April 30. Santa Fe invites family members and friends of our graduates to come out and share the joy. All ceremonies are held at the Northwest campus, 3000 NW 83rd St., Gainesville.


College officials are anticipating:

  • 48 student zookeepers graduating from the Zoo Animal Technology program at 10 a.m. in E Building Auditorium;
  • 166 student nursing students attending the Nurses Pinning Ceremony at noon in the gymnasium;
  • 225 health science students walking at the Health Sciences Graduation at 3 p.m. in the gymnasium;
  • and at least 300 students at the 7 p.m. general graduation in the gymnasium.

In addition, nine dental hygiene students will participate in the Dental Pinning Ceremony at 12:30 p.m. in the E Building Auditorium.

Muriel Akamatsu, Digital Media

At the general graduation at 7 p.m., President Jackson Sasser will feature nontraditional student Muriel Akamatsu, who is graduating from the Digital Media Technology program with honors and a 4.0 grade point average.

Akamatsu is unique in that she holds several higher degrees and is older than the typical college student. She earned a bachelor’s from the University of Missouri, a master’s in journalism, also from the University of Missouri, and a doctorate of education (Ed.D.) in multidisciplinary studies from West Virginia University.

Akamatsu enjoyed a successful career in marketing, advertising and public relations — “I am passionate about how words and art combine for a message that gets people to respond and I love art and copy together”  — and then dropped out to run a 30-acre sustainable farm and reforestation project in Puerto Rico for 13 years.

When she emerged from that adventure, she discovered the unlimited potential of digital media’s contribution to graphic design.

 “While I was out hacking vines and sitting under waterfalls, the world of computing changed dramatically,” she explained. “When I saw what could be done graphically with powerful hardware and software, I wanted to be part of the action.”

She chose to update her skills by enrolling at Santa Fe. She was attracted by the small classes, availability of faculty, and the fast pace and intensity of the digital media program.

“I still can’t believe how much I’ve learned,” she said. “The program piles on the projects to get us out there producing media. Then instructors and students and outside professionals critique our work. It was invaluable and exhilarating.”

Her passion was evident in her work.

“She is the most dynamic student we have, bar none,” said Digital Media Technology Coordinator Jorge Ibanez. “She has won awards as a student. She received a scholarship from the Advertising Federation of Gainesville. She volunteered to make a TV spot for Gainesville Environmental Film and Arts Festival. And an article about her ran in Gainesville Today. She is a dynamo.”

Akamatsu’s plan is to combine her skill at digital design and interactive media to promote sustainable livestock practices. She leaves Santa Fe well equipped for the newest chapter in her career.

Mary Ann Heck, Radiography

Nontraditional student Mary Ann Heck is being featured at the Health Related Graduation at 3 p.m.

Heck had always wanted to attend college but was passed over as a young woman, for financial reasons, so that her brother could attend college. She married and had children, and followed her husband to several countries. She taught SCUBA to U.S Marines based in Okinawa, Japan.

Heck’s kids grew up and she ran the Aquatic Center dive shop in Gainesville for 23 years, supervising 15 employees. She decided to return to school while talking with her daughter about attending Santa Fe’s Radiography program. As Heck discussed how the program was a good fit for her daughter, she realized it would be a good fit for her, too.

She is graduating Friday with a degree in radiography and has applied to Santa Fe’s advanced Computed Tomography certificate to add to her marketability.

Heck was able to overcome math phobia and test anxiety, and credits Santa Fe’s counselors with helping her. She is a dean’s list student and was invited to join Phi Theta Kappa.

Akamatsu and Heck, and hundreds of other Santa Fe students, will celebrate their accomplishments Friday. Please join us in congratulating them!

Classes for the summer A, C, and D semesters begin May 10. It is not too late to apply for summer classes. Santa Fe has an open door admission policy. Apply online at


  • Muriel Akamatsu, 352-486-6258, or email to Her Web site is and includes examples of her digital media work and résumé.
  • Large photo of Akamatsu for print:
  • Previous release Akamatsu’s film festival short:
  • Mary Ann Heck, radiography graduate, 352-339-4623
  • Jorge Ibanez, 352-395-5979 or 352-870-1369 or
  • President Jackson Sasser – Please contact his executive assistant, Tina Crosby, to arrange an interview, 352-395-5164.
  • Julie Garrett, media relations coordinator, for help facilitating your story, 352-395-5430 (office) or 352-870-2924 (cell) or