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Archive for the ‘bachelor’s degrees’ Category

SPC graduates

SPC graduate Salwa Shamsi addresses fellow graduates.

About 680 St. Petersburg College graduates attended two commencement ceremonies Saturday, Dec. 13, at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. Prior to the 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. processionals, SPC student Robert Kruithoff sang Christmas classics on a stage adorned with lighted Christmas trees and garland. Graduates entered the Worship Center to the cheers and shouts of hundreds of friends and family.

Inside and out, hundreds of tweets, photos and videos were shared on social media.

SPC graduates

SPC graduates enter the morning ceremony.

“Among our 1,888 graduates are 238 who are receiving more than one credential,” said SPC President Bill Law. “One hundred and six are between the ages of 50 and 60, and 20 of us are over the age of 60. Today, our oldest graduate is 70 and our youngest is 17. For every male graduate, there are two female graduates….five of our graduates will receive their diploma on their birthday.

“Including those awarded today, the number of degrees and certificates awarded by SPC since 1927 is 144,074.”

In delivering the morning invocation, the Rev. Clarence Williams from Greater Mount Zion A.M.E. Church in St. Petersburg wished graduates well, noting that “education is the new currency.”

Tammy Mintler speaks at the morning graduation.

Tammy Mintler speaks at the morning graduation.

Of the four students who addressed their peers at the ceremonies, graduate Tammy Mintler traveled the farthest – from Montana. She received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

“To my fellow graduates: You are the one person on whom you can always depend,” said Mintler, who plans to teach vet tech. “The influence of others will wax and wane throughout our lives but we are ultimately responsible for our choices, our successes and failures. … we have achieved a certain level of success today, but our education is a tool that can help distinguish ourselves.

“Education itself is an opportunity and learning is a lifelong process. Learning is what keeps life interesting and challenging. As we learn, we grow. Learning is limited only by apathy, and we only truly fail when we stop trying. Don’t ever hesitate to accept the challenge of a new opportunity.”

Celeste Edwards speaks to graduates

Celeste Edwards speaks to graduates

Graduate Celeste Edwards, who received an Associate in Arts degree with a focus in psychology, delivered a more spiritual message. She plans on working in social work to make a difference in the lives of at-risk Florida youths.

“I’m the eldest of eight children and the last to graduate in my family,” said Edwards. “I remember the day this journey began … it was the way in which God chose for me to re-enter my life … after the loss of the love of my life.

“Now today, December 13, 2014, we all are standing on a foundation of love, encouragement, prayer and strength, along with the help and support from the writing lab, learning centers and tutors for whatever subject we needed help in. And I cannot forget the support and guidance and encouragement from my counselors, professors, instructors here at SPC.

“Class of 2014, keep building on your foundation. Always be an encouragement to others and always be willing to lend a helping hand. Give back what was given to you.”

Salwa Shamsi and Kathleen Bryan post before the afternoon graduation ceremony.

Salwa Shamsi and Kathleen Bryan post before the afternoon graduation ceremony.

The afternoon ceremony featured student speaker Salwa Shamsi, who received her Associate in Arts degree and Kathleen Bryan, who received her Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Services Administration.

In that invocation, Joseph Smiley, dean of Social & Behavioral Sciences, asked that students receive the “grace to make a difference for good, to allow them to make great contributions to society and be a special blessing to all those they touch on life’s highway.”

Shamsi, who plans to enroll at the University of South Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology, told her peers: “We have accomplished one of the most major milestones of our lives: this is the first step in the journey of our unknown future, and we all should be recognized for this significant success.

“The choice we took to further our education has, and will, open many doors of opportunities. But this is not the end of our road; it is instead part of a longer, larger journey within our lives.

“So let us be remembered by holding on to our best values: caring for others, performing random acts of kindness, and leaving a great impact on our fellow humans because we should all be loved and all be valued.

“May our success add to the wealth of excellence that has been part of this great institution since that first graduating class in 1929.”

For Kathleen Bryan, second and third chances were something to celebrate.

“Back in 2009, I was laid off twice in five years,” said Bryan, who traveled to graduation from Dunnellon. “In a whirl wind I was enrolled in college, sitting in a classroom, with no books and no idea what I was going to do.”

Now, three degrees later, Bryan works for a medical company in Ocala.

“Nothing can stop you if you have determination and persistence,” said Bryan. “Look around you today; everyone is here to celebrate us and our determination to reach this goal. I cannot tell you how many times I wanted to quit, but with the support of my family and friends they pushed me which made me push myself.

“Just remember whatever dark cloud may linger over you, there is sunshine waiting to follow. Never give up on your dreams, go out and find a career that makes you happy, and you will never work.”

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At the June Board of Trustees meeting, St. Petersburg College officials presented information on the college’s strategic priority of providing baccalaureate education and the success rates and demographics of those students. The typical SPC bachelor’s degree graduate is a 31-year-old female who works at least part-time and takes classes online.

This spring, the Florida Legislature barred all 28 Florida colleges from creating new bachelor’s degree programs for a year. Legislators want to review the rapid growth of such degree programs at state colleges, which produced 5,009 graduates in 2012-2013, nearly double the number from the previous two years.

Since 2001, state colleges have offered bachelor’s degrees to meet workforce needs, such as shortages of nurses and teachers. But lawmakers worry state colleges are competing with state universities. Today, 24 state colleges offer 175 bachelor’s degrees.

SPC began with three bachelor’s degrees, in nursing, education and information technology in 2001. It now offers 24. Since 2008, a total of 7,355 students have earned bachelor’s degrees from SPC, which averages 1,000 graduates a year. Baccalaureate students make up 12% of SPC’s enrollment and 20% of its graduates.

“Our baccalaureate students are not traditional students,” said Jesse Coraggio, Associate Vice President Institutional Effectiveness, Research and Grants. “When we talk about competition that may exist between the state college and the university, once you look at the data, there really is no competition. We’re talking about very different needs of students and very different student groups.”

Typically, bachelor’s degree students at SPC outperform lower division students “because they’ve already made it through that part of their academic career,” Coraggio said. They are more committed to graduating and earn their degrees in an average 6.7 semesters. Nearly 90% complete their program within three years. Their course success rates average 85%, compared to lower division course success rates of 74%.

They also earn more money. A report commissioned by the Legislature shows graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn about $18,000 more than those with associate degrees at the mid-point of their careers.

“These programs have been very instrumental in helping mid-career adults get a credential that will move them forward,” said SPC President Bill Law. “There is not a single program on that list that (University of South Florida) president Judy Genshaft did not sign off on in her office, and in fact most of them started in her office” as a way to take pressure off the university, he said.

BOT Chairman Deveron Gibbons called SPC’s bachelor’s degrees essential for those who cannot afford to attend a state university.

“I’m telling you right now, some of these folks would not be going to college at all if they had to travel, or they had to move,” Gibbons said. “They just wouldn’t be able to go through a full baccalaureate program. They couldn’t do it without all the things that are right here in this county that help them be successful.”

To learn more, view the presentation at the 37:20 point of the video.

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Several news outlets published stories about the work of Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of SPC’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program, and O&P program director Arlene Gillis, who recently traveled to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs.

The underwater study is one of four Gillis’ team is conducting with the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge, whose missions are now part of the school’s curriculum, the Tampa Tribune reported. Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge has partnered with SPC to find ways of building better prosthetics. In addition, participants on this study took part in an operation with a group of young divers from the Tampa Bay area to help restore the Gulf of Mexico’s population of staghorn coral, which was nearly wiped out a few years ago, according to the article.

The News-Press, Stars and Stripes, the Key West Citizen and the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota also carried the story.

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Perhaps you take swimming in the water that helps define the state of Florida for granted. For amputees without legs, however, just getting from a beach chair to the water’s edge can be forbidding.

“When they go to the beach they have to take their leg off and hop to the water,” said Michael L. McCauley, a graduate of St. Petersburg College’s Orthotics and Prosthetics bachelor’s degree program. “We want them to be able to swim without a care in the world like the rest of us. That’s my goal.”

Chris Corbin and Evan Olson participate in last year’s Combat Wounded Veterans Challenge trip to the Florida Keys.

Next week, McCauley and O&P program director Arlene Gillis will travel to the Florida Keys with a group from the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge to conduct research on prosthetic swim legs. McCauley will observe amputees swimming with and without their prosthetic legs to measure their air intake, heart rate and buoyancy and how long it takes to swim certain distances. The results will help improve prosthetics built for water and thereby the quality of life for amputees who want to pursue active lifestyles.

Founded in 2010, the CWCV works to improve the lives of wounded and injured veterans through rehabilitative challenges and to further the science related to their injuries and treatment. Some of their recent trips have taken them to glaciers in Alaska, the depths of the Grand Canyon and the heights of Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.

SPC O&P students and graduates have joined these trips to conduct research, such as anatomical reactions to changes in environment; the effects of stress, extreme weather and altitude on prosthetics, post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury and the effects of temperature change on overall pain levels, spastic moments in the lower extremity and hand function. McCauley’s love of the ocean has prompted him to focus on activities beyond land.

“There’s very limited research on underwater prosthetics,” said McCauley, who graduated from SPC in 2011 and manages an orthotics and prosthetics practice in Nashville. “Right now, they make swim legs just so they don’t rust. There’s so much more we can do, but we need the research.”

Technology advancements in just the past decade have helped transform modern prosthetics. Today, amputees can reasonably rely on their new limbs to help them conduct daily activities. Beyond that, however, sports like diving require specialized limbs that can be costly.

“Buoyancy is a pretty big deal,” McCauley said. “When we dive, we have to get neutrally buoyant. For amputees, we have to weigh the legs down so they can stay down.”

For his part, McCauley will focus partly on able-bodied swimmers to monitor their swimming styles, propulsion of kicks and angles of feet and knees. The information will help fine tune the mechanics used in the limbs.

The rest of the Combat Wounded Veteran Challenge group will assist SCUBAnauts International, a group of high school marine science students, in cleaning, monitoring and restoring underwater coral reefs in conjunction with MOTE Marine Research Laboratory. The veterans will also mentor the youths in military-centric dive training and underwater navigation under the supervision and instruction of elite United States Army Special Forces Combat Divers.

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Katelyn Sovocool

Katelyn Sovocool

St. Petersburg College alumna Katelyn Sovocool is a finalist for the Jack R. Lamb ESE Rookie Teacher of the Year district award by the Suncoast 176 Chapter of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).

Sovocool, 24, a full-time Autistic Spectrum Disorder (ASD) kindergarten teacher at Plumb Elementary School in Clearwater, completed a bachelor’s degree in Exceptional Student Education (K-12) with a certification in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading Endorsements.

“When I first started the education program at SPC, I wanted to receive a degree in Elementary Education,” she said. “But, after the informational sessions provided, I learned about the Exceptional Student Education program and felt as though I needed to pursue that degree.”

Although none of her family or friends had a disability and Sovocool had little experience with exceptional students, she felt that she was still making the right choice. “Once I was accepted into the program, I knew I was right where I was meant to be.”

“SPC helped me prepare to reach my dreams of becoming an educator by providing me with a quality education and an unsurpassable experience in the educational field,” said Sovocool. She hopes to make a difference through her career by providing each of her students with the highest quality education possible.

Sovocool is in the running with two other new teachers for the award:

  • Marissa Miranda from Hamilton Disston School
  • Crystal Grimmer from Bardmoor Elementary

Finalists will be recognized and winners will be announced at the Suncoast 176 Chapter’s 35th annual banquet at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 25, at Ruth Eckerd Hall.

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The Honors Biology Club is sponsoring the 1st Annual Science Poster Symposium on Monday, April 1.

The symposium is an excellent opportunity for the entire St. Petersburg College community to learn more about the Biology Baccalaureate Program. Biology students involved in undergraduate research, literature reviews or other academic endeavors will present posters describing their projects. In addition, some faculty members will present information on their research interests, which is an excellent way for future students to learn about available research projects.

Please send an email to spchonorsbio@gmail.com and let us know that you are interested in attending.

The symposium will take place from 6 to 8 p.m. on the Clearwater Campus in ES 104.

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The Sarasota Herald-Tribune published an article July 21 about SPC graduate Natasha Clemons, the mother of a Bradenton man who died in an officer-involved shooting on June 11 in Sarasota County. Clemons’ classmates and professor, Dr. Sandra Campbell, helped her afterward. They pulled together to purchase her a new lab coat for work that lists her as having received her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

In the article, Clemons said when she walked down the aisle at SPC’s graduation ceremony she planned to carry a photo of her son. Clemons, 40, is the second in her immediate family to receive a college diploma. Her late son graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in December.

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