Florida Technical College President Dr. James Michael Burkett has been nominated for a Don Quijote Award in the Hispanic Community Champion category. The award, bestowed by the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of Metro Orlando (HCCMO) and Prospera, honors a non-Hispanic individual who has led by example in supporting the progress of Hispanics in the Central Florida region.
“We are proud to be nominated for this prestigious recognition,” Burkett said. “This honor reflects our commitment to serving our diverse community and empowering it through education. It is the people of Central Florida who make Central Florida great. We are vested in helping this community grow stronger by developing not just a top-notch labor force but also civic leaders.”
Burkett oversees academic offerings and operations in seven FTC campuses across Florida, four of which are located in Central Florida. He has over a decade of experience in higher education as an instructor, dean of academics, program executive director and campus president at other schools.
FTC’s student body is 56 percent Hispanic with another 22 percent belonging to other minority groups. FTC programs have built-in flexibility that includes evening and weekend classes to make it possible for students who are often overlooked by traditional schools to attend and graduate. Students are provided with individualized counseling and guidance to help them balance work, family, and school.
Under Burkett’s leadership, the school has launched several programs taught fully in Spanish to help newly arrived Hispanics transition into the job market. A new HVAC/R with PLC diploma program taught fully in Spanish was launched earlier this year. Other programs taught in Spanish are Culinary Arts, Cosmetology, Baking and Pastelería, and Electrical. A Barbering program in Spanish is set to launch later in June 2019. All of them are offered at the Kissimmee campus.
Through his leadership, Dr. Burkett has leveraged FTC’s presence and involvement in the community to facilitate learning, establish connections, and create opportunities, especially for those who have not had them before. His commitment to the Central Florida community is unwavering and includes efforts on a wide range of initiatives impacting Hispanics. For instance, in the wake of hurricane Maria, the most devastating hurricane in Puerto Rico’s history, FTC awarded 25 scholarships to displaced Puerto Ricans in Florida. The college has also worked with Orlando’s Hispanic Heritage Scholarship Fund of Metro Orlando (HHSFMO) to identify deserving students, to whom FTC has awarded scholarships. Additionally, the school created a scholarship that benefits the Kissimmee Police Department, honoring two policemen who were killed in the line of duty in 2017.
Burkett’s nomination will be presented to a selection committee made up of Central Florida business and community leaders. Finalists will be notified at a press conference in the fall and winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Don Quijote Awards Gala on Saturday, December 14, 2019, at the Epcot World Showplace Pavilion. Congratulations, Dr. Burkett!