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Five graduates from Palm Beach State College human services department

Updated: Jan 19, 2022

From Left: Lady Funcke, David Oppenheim, Theresa Tripucka, Destiny Gibbons, Jamie Miller and Dr. Suzanne Duff.
Photos by Palm Beach State College.

Palm Beach State College’s human services department has graduated its first bachelor's degree class, five people determined to make life better for those dealing with substance abuse, behavior disorders or mental illnesses.

Professor Suzanne Duff, who chairs the department, said the most rewarding aspect of her job is watching people transform their struggles into a positive force. “These students are examples of people who have decided to use them to connect deeply with others and bring forth good and healing into the world.”

Each of the graduates has their own story about how they were led to pursue a degree in Human Services:

David Oppenheim said he battled an addiction to opioids, including heroin, from age 18 to 28. Now recovered, he wants to help others overcome similar struggles.

Destiny Gibbons shares her plans to help others who battle addiction, as it is something that has affected several members of her family.

Jamie Miller has dreams of becoming a mental health counselor. She speaks of being bullied from a young age and plans to help those affected.

Lady Funcke wants to help people that are getting out of prison. She has gone through her own challenges after being released from prison and wants to alleviate similar challenges for others.

Theresa Tripucka struggled with substance abuse alongside her husband. Now that she has beat her addiction, she wants to assist others in finding a healthy, substance-free life.

Each person from this graduating class has plans to develop their skills further and use their expertise for the greater good of others.

The new bachelor of science degree in human services, offered at the Palm Beach State College Lake Worth campus, prepares students to treat people in need. Students learn to assess people with disabilities, substance abuse disorders or mental illness. Graduates pursue professions working with children, families and senior citizens.

Palm Beach State’s Lake Worth campus sits on 114 acres at 4200 Congress Ave. and is the college’s largest and oldest campus. It serves over 30,000 students annually. The campus is home to the Dr. Floyd F. Koch Honors College, Panthers sports teams and the Duncan Theatre and features an educational and information resource center for Palm Beach County immigrants.

For further information about the human services degree, contact Don Gladney at 561-868-4132 or


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