BRADENTON — Manatee Technical College student Chris Melser made his way across a small stage Tuesday night before hundreds of people. The 37-year-old Parrish resident shook hands with school officials and hugged instructor Gina Harp before he stepped off the stage.
It was a joyous night for Melser — one of 132 MTC students inducted into the National Technical Honor Society, which caters to those who achieve outstanding success in workforce education.
“It was very shocking because I’ve never been rewarded for grades before, so it was kind of cool,” Melser said with a chuckle. “It was a shock and it’s nice.”
Held in Cantrell Hall at MTC’s main campus at 6305 State Road 70 East, Bradenton, the ceremony was the first as Manatee Technical College rather than its previous name, Manatee Technical Institute. Inductees came from all different concentrations ranging from carpentry to electronics and massage therapy to accounting.
Melser, who said he’s been a firefighter/emergency medical technician for a long time, decided he wanted to be a paramedic and enrolled in MTC last August.
“It’s been great. It’s been a lot of fun,” he said of course
work. “We have great instructors. It’s a very good program.”
Vickie Miller, NTHS adviser and guidance counselor at MTC, told students and the crowd they were here to celebrate the students and their accomplishments.
“Tonight, students, you are actually a small percentage of the best of our best and the most elite — so congratulations,” she said.
The induction included a candle lighting. On stage before MTC students were seven lit candles — six purple surrounding one long white one in the middle. The white candle represents knowledge and the others represent honor society values — skill, honesty, service, responsibility, scholarship, citizenship and leadership.
José A. Fernandez, who finished his course in accounting at MTC this month, was also recognized Tuesday.
“I feel great. It’s a complete honor to be here,” the 19-year-old Bradenton resident said. “I’m from Honduras so my country didn’t have that and it’s a new experience for me.”
After the ceremony, Miller said each induction is just as exciting as the previous one.
“When I’m looking out, I see the pride on the students’ faces of their accomplishments,” she said.
Many students, Miller pointed out, are coming back for second careers or after serving in the military.
“This is a fresh start for them,” she said. “It really is an honor for us to be able to help them on that journey and to recognize them for their great accomplishments.”
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.