Palm Beach State College surprised Alexiou Gibson, the keynote speaker at the Spring 2023 Commencement, with an honorary bachelor’s of applied science degree presented at the ceremony. Gibson, a PBSC alum who founded the Transformation Factory, a multi-million-dollar Palm Beach County-based business, said he was overcome with emotion by the recognition.
“It was a great surprise,” said Gibson after being awarded the honorary degree in supervision and management-entrepreneurship at PBSC’s commencement ceremony, held at the Ball Park of the Palm Beaches in West Palm Beach on Tuesday, May 9. “Having President Parker present me with such a prestigious honor was a full circle moment for me. It was a gift to have the opportunity to give back to my alma mater and the faculty and people who poured life into me and supported me during my time at PBSC.”
The award was presented by PBSC President Ava L. Parker.
“It’s very clear that Alexiou values the difference that PBSC has made in his life,” Parker said. “Awarding Alexiou with an honorary bachelor’s degree was a special moment for our college to distinguish the extraordinary achievements of Alexiou as a visionary entrepreneur and PBSC alumnus.”
Gibson’s mother, Mavis Smith, a resident of Wellington, was in the audience to witness her son being awarded the honorary degree. “I had to step back to make sure that what I heard was real. It was an early Mother’s Day gift and a moment I will forever treasure,” Smith said.
Gibson credits his mother for helping him realize his dreams by working multiple jobs as a single mom and instilling him with a strong work ethic and a sense of confidence. “I owe her everything,” he said.
The CEO and president of the Transformation Factory said his company, established in 2020, generates $20 million in revenue producing and selling health supplements made of sea moss. The company has 120 employees and is well-poised for growth. Last year, Gibson struck a deal on “Shark Tank,” and his company is reaching new heights with an expansion planned this summer to a new facility in Palm Beach County.
“I was heavily involved in activities at PBSC as a student leader, and I won many awards during my time there, so returning to my alma mater as the commencement speaker after 10 years allowed me to present all the people who believed in me with the gift of their investment in me coming to fruition,” Gibson said.
Gibson said Jessica Pena-Lopez, a former professor of mathematics at PBSC, and Dana Hamadeh, associate dean of academic affairs and a mathematics instructor, were among the faculty members who supported him throughout his time at PBSC.
“Dr. Pena-Lopez groomed me from being a bad math student to an ‘A’ student because of her nurturing, her tutoring me, and really pouring into me and never giving up,” Gibson said. “I’ll never forget one day when the power went out on campus because of a big storm, and we had a test the next day that we were studying for, and she sat with me on the floor in the hallway, just using the flashlight on her phone, still going over math problems with me. Professor Hamadeh is a math and physics genius, and I struggled with math, and she tutored me and gave me support in other subjects that I needed to be stronger in.”
Hamadeh tutored Gibson in math and was also a student club advisor for Future Business Leaders of America-Phi Beta Lambda, a national business, career and technical student organization that Gibson was a member of. Hamadeh said Gibson’s winning mindset put him on track to garner many awards during his time at PBSC.
“I am so proud of Alexiou and his perseverance. He had a lot of determination and was actively involved in the college,” she said. “He put in the effort and the time inside and outside of the classroom, which allowed him to push through and get to amazing places in life — and always with a smile and with the spirit of giving back.”