Broward College Celebrates December 2021 Graduates with In-Person Commencement at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood

The ceremony will take place on Wednesday, December 15

FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA. (December 9, 2021) -- Broward College will host its first in-person commencement ceremony since the start of the pandemic on Wednesday, December 15, at 4 p.m. at Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida.

More than 2,600 candidates are eligible to participate in the commencement ceremony. Among them, 1,898 have earned Associate of Arts degrees, 506 have completed Associate of Applied Science and Associates of Science degrees and more than 200 have qualified for a bachelor's degree.

Peggy Johnson, CEO of Magic Leap, will deliver the commencement speech. Johnson earned her bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from San Diego State University. She represented the United States on the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Business Advisory Council and serves as a board member for Blackrock. She has been recognized by multiple organizations, including Silicon Republic (“40 Powerful Women Leading Tech Around the World”), Business Insider (“26 Most Powerful Female Engineers in 2016”), Connected World Magazine (“2014 Women of M2M List”), Women in Technology International (“2013 Hall of Fame Award”) and STEM (“100 Women Leaders in STEM, 2012″).

The ceremony will also feature remarks from Broward College President Gregory Adam Haile, J.D., College Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Jeffrey Nasse, and Broward College Board of Trustees Chair Gloria Fernandez.

Below are stories of several notable December 2021 graduates:

Natasha Gonsalves

Natasha Gonsalves, 37, is graduating with a Bachelor of Science in Nursing this month. She is the daughter of Guyanese parents, a first-generation American. But it is Natasha’s survival after being intubated for two months with respiratory failure due to COVID-19 while working as a travel nurse that makes her story so compelling. She was not expected to survive. Still undergoing physical therapy and unable to walk on her own, Natasha used her fighting will not only to survive the deadly virus but complete her bachelor’s degree. 

Lauren Smith

Lauren Smith, a 40-year-old Venezuelan mother of three, has completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (ESE). When Lauren was 17, she started a degree in marketing management but never finished it. However, being the mother of a special needs child inspired her to try again. Ten years ago, Lauren gave birth to twins born three months earlier than expected. One of the twins died, and the surviving twin has faced health issues and is confined to a wheelchair. Often struggling to understand what support her daughter was entitled to motivated Lauren to pursue this degree to help other children like her daughter have the best possible experience in school.

Juan and Natalia Salas

Juan, 46, and Natalia, 21, have more in common than the average father/daughter duo—both will walk across the stage to receive their respective Associate of Science (A.S.) and Associate of Arts (A.A.) degrees from Broward College. Juan graduates with an A.S. in Information Technology, and Natalia graduates with an A.A. focused on Criminology. Juan worked full-time at a national construction company during the day and attended college classes at night. In contrast, Natalia rose early in the morning for her classes and worked as a part-time martial arts instructor in the afternoon. In addition to work and school, Natalia and Juan navigated the academic landscape amidst the pandemic. They note their struggles with the rapid change it caused and having three people in the household taking classes at home (Juan’s wife is also pursuing a bachelor’s degree at another institution. They credit the support of one another and their family as they wrap up this chapter of their lives.

For more information about the commencement ceremony, please visit here.

- B.C. -

About Broward College:

Serving approximately 60,000 students annually, Broward College provides residents with certificate programs, two-year university-transfer degrees, two-year career degrees, and baccalaureate degrees in selected programs. The mission of the College is to provide high-quality educational programs and services that are affordable and accessible to a diverse community of learners. For more information, visit
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