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June 3, 2016
Polk County Public Schools is proud to announce the district’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2016. This year’s class features a distinguished naval officer, the founder of a Fortune 500 company, an accomplished surgeon and a beloved local educator.They will be honored during an invitation-only ceremony on Thursday, June 9 at Lake Ashton Country Club in Lake Wales beginning at 6:30 p.m. Members of the media are welcome to attend.
The Hall of Fame began in 1985 to honor Polk County Public Schools attendees who have made significant professional and career contributions in the arts, business, clergy, education, entertainment, government, law, military, medicine, sports or other fields. Inductees are chosen each year from nominees submitted by the public. Hall of Fame members review nominations and new inductees are chosen through a selection process.
Rear Admiral J. Adrian Jackson served his country for 35 years in both active duty and reserve assignments as a naval aviator and officer. Jackson has received several military decorations including the Defense Superior Service Medal, Legion of Merit, and the Meritorious Service Medal. He has overseen operations around the globe in countries such as Japan, South Korea, Iraq and Afghanistan. During Operation Enduring Freedom, Jackson coordinated a humanitarian effort which supplied over $500 million in assistance for Afghani citizens’ basic needs. He later served as the Director of Coalition Coordination for U. S. Central Command coordinating the logistics and combat requirements for over 61 nations supporting USCENTCOM operations. After retiring in 2006, Jackson was elected as a city commissioner and has twice served as mayor of the City of Bartow. He serves on the board of directors of Sun ‘n Fun, Inc. and served 3 terms as Chairman of the Bartow Municipal Airport Authority. He received his undergraduate degree from Florida State University and also completed advanced studies at the U. S. Army War College, the U.S. Naval War College, National Defense University, the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and the George C. Marshall Center for European Security Studies. Jackson is a Summerlin Institute alum.
Leslie M. Muma is co-founder of Fiserv, Inc., a Fortune 500 company that provides information management technology to financial institutions worldwide. He is also currently involved with many charitable, educational and cultural organizations, including Big Brothers Big Sisters of Wisconsin, the Boys and Girls Club of Wisconsin, United Way of Milwaukee and the University of South Florida Foundation. Muma is a graduate of Winter Haven High and the University of South Florida. He attributes his successful career to the education he received at these establishments, and gives generously to ensure that future generations have the opportunities afforded to him. In 2014, Muma and his wife donated $25 million to the University of South Florida’s College of Business, the largest single gift in the university’s history. The gift funds business programs and also established the Muma Leadership Program, which provides professional development opportunities to students. Muma also funds full four-year scholarships to students from Winter Haven High to attend USF’s College of Business every year. Nineteen students have benefitted from this scholarship since its inception in 1998. Muma’s contributions to the education of local business students provides a lasting impact both locally and globally.
Dr. J. Patrick O’Leary is the Executive Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs and Associate Vice President for Medical Affairs at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Following his graduation from Winter Haven High School in 1959, Dr. O’Leary attended Belmont Abbey College and then completed medical school at the University of Florida. An accomplished surgeon, he has worked and taught at numerous hospitals and universities across the country as an authority in the field of surgical gastroenterology. He has received awards for his teaching and many contributions to the surgical field, including the Distinguished Service Award from the Southeastern Surgical Congress. In his current role, Dr. O’Leary recruits and supports the clinical faculty for FIU’s College of Medicine. Dr. O’Leary is a prolific writer and has produced more than 200 peer-reviewed scientific publications. He is also the author of four editions of the “Physiologic Basis of Surgery” textbook. Additionally, Dr. O’Leary actively serves with many regional and national professional organizations, holding leadership positions with the National Board of Medical Examiners, the Southeastern Surgical Congress and American College of Surgeons, to name a few.
Dr. Neriah E. Roberts dedicated his life to improving the educational system in Polk County and beyond. Dr. Roberts taught and coached at Rochelle Junior-Senior High School before becoming assistant principal and principal of multiple schools in Polk County. During the desegregation of Polk County Schools, Dr. Roberts used his skills as a gracious leader to build consensus and ensure opportunities for children and educators alike. Dr. Roberts served as Deputy Superintendent of Polk County Public Schools until his retirement in 1996. He served as executive director of the Association of School Based Administrators and also on the Polk State College’s District Board of Trustees. Dr. Roberts graduated from South Carolina State College, later obtained his Master’s Degree from Florida A&M University and earned his Doctor of Education at Nova University. In 2014 he published “The Evolution of African-Americans, Lakeland, Florida (1883-2014).” Dr. Roberts passed away on March 6, 2016 and is survived by his wife, Yvonne, their son, Ronald, and many other family members and friends. He is a graduate of Rochelle High (now Rochelle School of the Arts).