St. Petersburg College’s Fall graduation ceremonies will be at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13, at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Celeste Edwards will represent the A.A./A.S. graduates at the morning ceremony while Tammy Mintler will represent the B.S./B.A.S. graduates. Each ceremony should last about one and a half hours.
St. Petersburg College grad Celeste Edwards wants to put her education to use in making a difference in the lives of at-risk Florida youths.
On Saturday, Dec. 13, she will graduate with an Associate in Arts degree in psychology and will serve as the lower division speaker at the college’s 9:30 a.m. commencement ceremony.
Motivated by experiences in her own life, Edwards said she wants to help children who are in bad situations get the help they need and to serve as their support.
“People look at what they call a ‘bad kid,’ and I don’t see them that way,” she said. “I just say that they have some problems. I can see the light in them that’s way down deep, whereas other people may not see that light or want to give up on them.”
Edwards said that no one should ever give up on a child, regardless of the difficulty of the circumstances they face.
Social work was not her original goal when she enrolled in college years ago.
“I first started college when I came out of high school at 17, and then I had the opportunity to travel with my aunt and my uncle, who were in the military,” said Edwards, who initially took classes for a degree in respiratory care.
She took classes on and off but eventually stopped when she married her husband, U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Melvin Bernard Edwards. They were married for 32 years before he died in 2010 at age 56.
Right before he passed, her husband encouraged her to go back to school and to keep living.
“I needed to get back up,” Edwards said. “I needed to live, and I had promised him I would fight and pick myself up after he was gone.”
Her children, Actavious Jermaine Edwards and LaToya Edwards-Devito, also encouraged her to go back to college and get a degree. She initially started at Eckerd College but felt it wasn’t the right fit. She switched to SPC to study psychology.
“My goal is to help as many children as I can to see the person within themselves,” she said. “I want to help them discover who they are, not who society or statistics say that they are.”
Starting in January, Edwards will pursue a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of South Florida. Her goal is to go on to earn a master’s degree in clinical child psychology and work with children.