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Bridgette Bello

Bridgette Bello

St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees member Bridgette Bello will address SPC Women on the Way meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 24, from 12:30-1:30 p.m. on Clearwater Campus, ES-104.

Publisher of the Tampa Bay Business Journal, Bello was named Business Woman of the Year in 2011 by the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce. Bello will introduce Bizwomen.com, a subsidiary of the Tampa Bay Business Journal that provides women with information and inspiration.

The meeting is open to SPC students, faculty, staff and the community.

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One by one, audience members stood up as their country was called. By the time the 34 countries were announced, 100 people were standing in the Fine Arts Auditorium at SPC’s Clearwater Campus, ready to take the Oath of Allegiance to become American citizens.

Wednesday’s naturalization ceremony held by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) was a first for the college. Since January, SPC has worked with USCIS to host free workshops for those interested in becoming United States citizens.

SPC student Vlora Neziri

SPC student Vlora Neziri

“It’s amazing that SPC helped organize this,” said SPC student Vlora Neziri, who addressed the audience and has been a Student Citizenship Ambassador since the program began. “Not only are they celebrating but we are celebrating with them. It shows that the college is there for the community.”

During the workshops, potential citizens learn about U.S. history and government through conversations with SPC professors and students. SPC students lead lessons plans provided by USCIS covering 100 questions that could be asked on the citizenship exam.

“We are a community institution and we thought this would be a wonderful place to hold this event,” said Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at SPC. “The very essence of our society is based on the Constitution. It’s the most important document to any person becoming a citizen.”

The USCIS ceremony helped commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, held every Sept. 17 in honor of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. This year marks the 227th anniversary of the Constitution. Celebrations are usually held the entire week and this year, USCIS will welcome more than 27,000 new citizens during 160 naturalization ceremonies from Sept. 17-23.

Along with fulfilling class requirements for service, students are getting an opportunity to give back to their community, a focus of ongoing efforts by the college and its Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS) to strengthen civics education and engagement.

“Our students are meeting people from all over the world and seeing America through their eyes,” said Professor Suzanne Preston, who has helped spearhead the citizenship project. “It is a privilege for our students to be a part of this life-changing process.”

After issuing the formal oath, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich congratulated the group on their accomplishment and noted the responsibility that comes with it.

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich

U.S. District Court Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich

“By becoming a citizen, you’ve made a contract with every other person in this room and in the country,” said Kovachevich, herself an SPC graduate. “We are the people and we make this country what it is. Remember this date, Sept. 17, because it is your new birthday.”

The 100 new citizens came from the following countries: Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

“What struck me about the ceremony was the sheer happiness of it,” said Neziri, who went through the naturalization process when she was 20. She will graduate in December with her A.A. degree and plans to pursue her bachelor’s at SPC. “I’m so honored to do this, because it’s important me to inspire people and give them hope. That’s the least I can do.”

USCIS invites new citizens, their families and friends to share their experiences from the ceremonies via social media using the hashtag #newUScitizen.

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To honor Constitution Day and Citizenship Day Sept. 17, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) will hold a naturalization ceremony for 100 new American citizens at St. Petersburg College, a first for the college.

The ceremony will be:
1 p.m., Wednesday, Sept. 17
Fine Arts Auditorium
Clearawater Campus
2465 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33765

The ceremony helps commemorate Constitution Day and Citizenship Day, held every Sept. 17 to honor the signing of the U.S. Constitution. This year marks the 227th anniversary of the Constitution. Celebrations are usually held the entire week and this year, USCIS will welcome more than 27,000 new citizens during 160 naturalization ceremonies from Sept. 17 to Sept. 23.

“We are a community institution and we thought this would be a wonderful place to hold this event, to kick off Constitution Week,” said Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social and Behavioral Sciences at SPC. “The very essence of our society is based on the Constitution. It’s the most important document to any person becoming a citizen.”

Since January, SPC has worked with USCIS to host free workshops for those interested in becoming United States citizens. During these two-hour sessions, citizen candidates learn about U.S. history and government through conversations with SPC professors and student citizenship ambassadors. SPC students lead lessons plans provided by USCIS covering 100 questions that could be asked on the citizenship exam.

“Our students are meeting people from all over the world and seeing America through their eyes,” said Preston, who has helped spearhead the citizenship project. “It is a privilege for our students to be a part of this life-changing process.”

Through the workshops, students have an opportunity to give back to their community, a focus of ongoing efforts by the college and its Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS) to strengthen civics education and engagement.

Last fall, the college and ISPS hosted a statewide forum for academic and administrative officers from the Florida College System (FCS) to find ways to close the civics education gap that many American leaders see as a national crisis. The forum was co-sponsored by the Bob Graham Center for Public Service at the University of Florida, the Lou Frey Institute of Politics and Government at the University of Central Florida, the Education Commission of the States and the FCS Council of Presidents.

During the naturalization ceremony, U.S. District Judge Elizabeth A. Kovachevich will administer the Oath of Allegiance to America’s newest citizens, which originate from 35 different countries, including: Bahamas, Bolivia, Brazil, Cambodia, Canada, China, Colombia, Cuba, Czech Republic, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Haiti, Honduras, India, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jamaica, Lebanon, Mexico, Nepal, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Sierra Leone, Tunisia, Turkey, United Kingdom, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Venezuela.

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In honor of National Hispanic Heritage Month, SPC’s International Programs, Clearwater Campus and the Mexican Consulate in Orlando will kick off a year-long International Film Series by screening FRIDA: naturaleza viva, a film biography of Mexican artist Frida Kahlo.

The screening will take place at:
6:30 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 18
SPC Clearwater Campus Arts Auditorium
Free and open to the public

The film portrays how Kahlo creatively channeled the pain of a crippling injury and her tempestuous marriage into her work. The free event includes free refreshments and door prizes. Film contains mature subject matter. Viewer discretion advised.

Prior to the film, SPC will host a Hispanic food and Information Fair from 5-6:30 p.m. in front of the Auditorium. Information from community organizations and food from local Hispanic restaurants will be available as well as campus tours.

Other international film screenings during the 2014-15 year will take place on St. Petersburg/Gibbs, Tarpon Springs and Seminole campuses.

Learn more:
SPC’s International Programs
Frida Kahlo and her work
Hispanic Heritage Month

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right foot flier - FINALSPC students are invited to a free event, Off on the Right Foot: strategies of successful students, to familiarize themselves with college life on Friday, Aug. 22. The event runs from 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the Clearwater Campus in ES 104 and was funded by a 2014 SPC Foundation Innovation Grant.

The goal of the pilot program is to help students discover campus resources, attend workshops to learn good study and life skills, and meet other SPC students, faculty and support staff.

The program includes a number of 40-minute workshops on topics that include:

  • Turn a Syllabus Into a Semester Plan
  • Work Smarter: Tips From ‘A’ Students
  • Balancing School and Life Demands
  • Study Skills for Math and Science Courses
  • Match Your Major to Your Dream Job
  • Maximizing Financial Aid and Scholarships

Free breakfast and lunch is provided and a few students will leave with prizes that include a bookstore gift card, a graphing calculator or a Nook tablet.

Advanced registration is strongly encouraged. Walk-ins are accepted if seats are available on the day of the event. For more information, contact Jenica Ibarra, Reference and Instruction Librarian in Learning Resources, at 727-791-2771.

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Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

Tampa Bay area educators attend the Florida Standards training at the Clearwater Campus.

St. Petersburg College held a Florida Standards training session earlier this week for nearly 75 teachers and school administrators from the Tampa Bay area. The professional development event, held at the Clearwater Campus, was part of a $7.2 million Florida Department of Education grant.

The grant supports the successful implementation of the Florida Standards, the state’s academic content standards for K-12 students. The standards were designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills they need to be ready for careers and college-level coursework.

Indian River State College is the lead institution on the grant, which was awarded to 11 state colleges and two state universities. Together, the institutions will deliver professional development on instructional tools that implement the Florida Standards.

SPC received $325,000 under the grant to develop training on the Interim Assessment Item Bank, which will give teachers a valid and reliable way to diagnose strengths and weaknesses, predict difficulties, set instructional goals, and monitor learning.

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The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College will host a judicial candidates forum for those vying for seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench. The forum will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 6, in the Ethics and Social Science Building on the Clearwater Campus of SPC, 2465 Drew Street, Clearwater. Advance registration is requested at the institute’s website.

Judicial Forum WEB flyer SMEleven candidates are seeking one of five open contested seats on the Sixth Judicial Circuit bench, which serves Pinellas and Pasco counties. One is incumbent Judge Bruce Boyer. Fourteen other of the circuit’s incumbent judges whose terms expire this year are unopposed and thus automatically re-elected.

Circuit judges serve six-year terms and have no limit on how many terms they may serve. To qualify, candidates must be a member of the Florida Bar and have lived in the state for at least five years.

Judicial races may seem obscure to voters since they are, by law,  non-partisan to prevent politics from tainting the impartiality of the courts. Therefore, candidates bear no party labels and are limited by the Judicial Canon in what they may say in their campaigns. They are forbidden to make predictions or promises about issues that could arise once they are on the bench.

Three local experts with extensive knowledge of the court system will question the candidates, within the limitations cited above. They are:

  • The Hon. Irene Sullivan, retired Circuit Court judge and adjunct professor of juvenile law at Stetson University College of Law, Gulfport
  • Curtis Krueger, courts reporter for the Tampa Bay Times
  • Dr. Susan Demers, Dean of the College of Policy, Ethics and Legal Studies at SPC

The forum will be split into two parts: Groups 1 and 2 comprised of five candidates will be questioned from 6 to 7:10 p.m., and Groups 16, 21 and 35 comprised of six candidates from 7:15 to 8:15 p.m.

The public is encouraged to attend to learn more about the background and qualifications of those seeking to sit on the bench. The forum is being co-sponsored by Tampa Bay Times and the Clearwater Bar Association.

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