Santa Fe Stories

Stories of success at Santa Fe College help to make this institution number one in the nation. Members of our college family share their stories of how they became successful or helped others achieve success.

CauchonMarc Cauchon, DMD: From Santa Fe College to UF's College of Dentistry

When Dr. Marc Cauchon arrived in Gainesville in 1981 too late to enroll at UF, he decided to take classes at Santa Fe College so as not to waste a term, and ended up staying to earn his A.A. 

“I was fully expecting to transfer to UF after my first semester, but found that SF offered me the same college courses as UF, without the high cost and large class sizes,” Marc said. “It was one of the best educational choices I ever made!”



Sue Jester: Founding Member of Sweetwater Print Cooperative 

Sue Jester is a retired Santa Fe College art instructor who taught for 32 years at SF. Sue’s connection with SF ties into the student side, too. She took many courses during her tenure at SF, including everything from Algebra to color photography and a range of subjects in between. 

Even after she retired form SF, Sue’s connection to the college continued.

“After retiring, I was able to go on three travel abroad trips sponsored by SF,” Sue said. “I went to China, Italy and Greece.”



Sandra Torres PintosSandra Torres-Pintos: From G.I. to SF and Beyond

After retiring from the United States Marine Corps in 2006, Sandra Torres-Pintos moved to Gainesville. She knew she could use her G.I. Bill benefits to get a bachelor's degree, but would need to take prerequisite classes before she could apply to the University of Florida.

"I started asking around and everyone advised me attend Santa Fe College," Sandra said. "They said it had a good reputation and had a great program for student veterans."


deedeeDeeDee Smith: SF Graduate and 2010 Women of Distinction Recipient

DeeDee Smith has always had an extensive involvement in community activities. She served as president of the Alachua Chamber of Commerce in 1982, while she was active in the real estate profession and earning her A.A. degree at Santa Fe College.

She graduated from SF in 1983 and went on to earn a bachelor's degree from the University of Florida in public relations in 1985, and worked for various local businesses and charities including Big Brothers and Big Sisters. She served on the local Board of Directors for the American Cancer Society until resigning to attend law school in 1990.



BenBen Boukari: SF Helps Students Grow Personally and Professionally

Ben Boukari enrolled in classes at Santa Fe College in the fall of 2007 and graduated with an A.A. in the spring of 2009 with a focus on business. Ben went on to attend St. Leo University where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration in 2012.

“Santa Fe College was my school of choice because of the fantastic reputation that this fine institution holds,” Ben said. “I would learn through my studies that Santa Fe College deserves more than the reputation that is represented. The educational atmosphere and small classroom sizes is conducive to a productive learning environment.”



ruby pucket

Ruby Puckett: 48 Years of Love for Santa Fe College

Former SF instructor Ruby Pucket moved to Gainesville in 1968 when Santa Fe College was just two years old with fewer than 500 students. Ruby began teaching nutrition courses to SF nursing students in the 1970s and headed the dietetic technician program at that time. Not only did Ruby teach at SF, she took a non-credit course in computer science, participated in campus outreach programs, supported the Displaced Homemakers Program and had two daughters and two granddaughters who attended SF.

“Santa Fe offered my daughters and granddaughters a great college experience, in smaller surroundings before attending larger universities,” Ruby said. “Their experience was positive and continued them on the road to lifelong learning, as they both pursued advanced degrees.”




Craig Fugate: Former SF Grad Appointed Administrator of FEMA

In May 2009, President Barack Obama appointed former Santa Fe College student Craig Fugate Administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Craig earned a Vocational Certificate from SF’s Paramedic program in 1983 and went on to Florida State Fire College. After working as a paramedic and a fire department lieutenant, Craig served 10 years as Alachua County's emergency management chief, and then served as Bureau Chief for Preparedness and Response for the Florida Division of Emergency Management (FDEM) from 1997-2001, and then as Director of FDEM until 2009.



Ralph Ralph Cameron: SF Alum Takes his Love of Harleys on the Road

Ralph Cameron is a fourth generation Gainesville native and a 1971 graduate of Gainesville High School. In 1976, Ralph graduated from SF’s first building construction class. To this day he proudly displays his SF diploma in his home office.

Ralph is a realtor with Coldwell Banker M.M. Parrish. Ralph served as president of the local Association of Realtors, chaired committees on the local and state level and is a Leadership Gainesville graduate. He was president of the Gainesville Board of Realtors in 1986, Realtor of the Year in 1987, District Vice President of the Florida Association of Realtors in 1988, and was chosen “Realtor Most Active in Politics” by the Florida Association of Realtors in 1990.



John Millett

John Millett: From A.S. Degree to CEO of One of America’s Fastest-Growing Companies

“I moved from Tampa to go to Santa Fe College because it has one of the best nuclear medicine programs in the country," said John Millet, 1997 graduate of SF's nuclear medicine technology program (NMT). "I needed a career that would give me a good return on my college investment. Dollar for dollar, my Associate in Science degree has been a solid investment."

John graduated from the NMT program on a Friday and went to work on Monday at Baptist Medical Center in Jacksonville. Eventually, he started his own business called Nuclear Medicine Professionals, Inc. (NMPI). NMPI provides mobile imaging, staffing and lab management services to doctors offices.