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St. Petersburg College graduate and blogger Maria Thurber now has another entry on her resume – embassy intern.

Maria, who writes the college’s “Ask Maria” blog, also is interning this summer in the Ambassador’s Office at the Ecuadorian Embassy in Washington, D.C. In one of her posts, she creditsembajada-630x210 social media for getting in touch with the embassy about a possible internship.

“I follow the ambassador and her office through Twitter and one day I tweeted to her office regarding possible internships opportunities. She responded back with the contact information to apply,” Maria wrote. “Through this experience I learned to never underestimate social media ever again and that opportunities can come in all formats.”

In May 2013, Maria graduated from SPC with an Associate of Arts degree. She received the Gates Millennium Scholarship, which provides a full-ride, good-through-graduation scholarship to the student’s college of choice. She now attends Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. She has been blogging for SPC, answering questions from potential and current students, since Fall 2013.

Read more about Maria’s internship and other posts on her Ask Maria blog.

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Officials from St. Petersburg College, LumaStream and the City of St. Petersburg recently celebrated the grand opening of LumaStream’s new high-tech manufacturing facility headquarters, where three SPC graduates are now working.

LumaStream, a low-voltage LED solutions provider, relocated from Canada last year to Midtown with the support of St. Pete’s Enterprise Zone initiative. The facility’s launch highlights a job training partnership between LumaStream, SPC and the Florida TRADE Consortium, a federal grant program that St. Petersburg College is spearheading to train workers in advanced manufacturing.

“Our definition of student success is that students finish what they start,” said SPC President Dr. Bill Law. “In working with LumaStream, we put together an idea of how we might do some workforce development differently: How we might start together and finish together at the same time; How our students could benefit by not just our instruction but by being part of the operation itself. And we sit here today with the first results. The students have made it to the finish line. We put the medal around their neck, we congratulate them, and we say ‘what’s next?’ ”

SPC graduates Frank Arent, Brandon Carver and Bryan Calhoun join SPC President

SPC graduates Frank Arent, Brandon Carver and Bryan Calhoun join SPC President Bill Law at LumaStream’s grand opening Friday, May 23.

After completing their 18-week computer numerical controlled (CNC) training, three SPC graduates were hired by LumaStream. For machinist assistant Bryan Calhoun, making the switch from dental technician to manufacturing was much easier with SPC’s training.

“I really had no experience working in manufacturing on this level,” said Calhoun, who worked as a dental technician for 25 years but had a hard time finding work the past three years. “For once, I’m not looking at other places for work. I’m happy, I’m satisfied, and I want to see where this is going.”

Law joined St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman and LumaStream CEO Eric Higgs in cutting the ribbon for the new building at 2201 First Ave. S. LumaStream currently employs 25 people, but will likely need up to 200 over the next five years, as the business expands, Higgs said. The new facility will triple the production capacity of LumaStream, whose primary customer base includes restaurant and retail chains.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity for students,” Higgs said. “They not only learn their specific job but how their job impacts the organization. The college has moved at an astounding pace to make this happen.”

LumaStream partners with SPC through Florida TRADE, which serves displaced, unemployed and incumbent workers, students and veterans. The grant program provides short-term, hands-on training for high-wage, high-demand jobs in today’s technology-driven manufacturing market. Trainees can receive national certifications, paid internships and job placement services in a relatively short amount of time: 18 weeks or less.

“We do not have to move at a snail’s pace,” Law said. “We can, in fact, meet the needs of business and industry on a timely basis, step-by-step every way.”

Another CNC training class begins at the end of July. Students can apply by contacting:

Jill Flansburg, Florida TRADE at SPC Program Coordinator
flansburg.jill@spcollege.edu
727-791-2508

This workforce product was funded by a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration. The product was created by the grantee and does not necessarily reflect the official position of the U.S. Department of Labor. The U.S. Department of Labor makes no guarantees, warranties, or assurances of any kind, express or implied, with respect to such information, including any information on linked sites and including, but not limited to, accuracy of the information or its completeness, timeliness, usefulness, adequacy, continued availability, or ownership. 

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Spenser ReedSt. Petersburg College alumnus Spenser Reed joins Class of 2014 Cornell University graduates on May 25 for the prestigious school’s commencement ceremony in Ithaca, NY. Reed completed a Bachelor of Science degree with a double major in Food Science and Nutritional Science, with a concentration in molecular nutrition.

A serious illness during high school did not keep him from pursuing his education. In fact, he spent most of his high school years in and out of hospitals, unable to go to school and compete in sports.

“Immense struggles with my health served to spur my passion for science and medicine and inspire me to pursue a career as a pediatric endocrinologist,” he said.

After graduating from high school, Spenser studied molecular biology and genetics at SPC, earning an A.A. Degree.

“Isaac Newton once said: ‘If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants,’” Reed said in a speech to the Florida Board of Education soon after graduation from SPC. “My faculty here are my true giants and SPC has provided a superb learning environment with which to realize my academic passions. As I look to the future I can say without a doubt that I am a more dedicated student, have a more inquisitive mind, and see my professional career more clearly because I am an SPC alum.”

After graduating from SPC, Reed transferred to Cornell where he dove into research and published three studies, two as first author. Before applying to medical schools, he plans to complete his research at Cornell and present at major conferences in San Diego, Brazil and Ethiopia.

“It has been so exciting to be involved in research at Cornell, especially in work that is so pertinent to public health and medicine,” said Reed. “I am working on a study now, in collaboration with Israeli scientists involving micronutrient deficiencies, which affect upwards of 4 billion people around the globe.”

Awards:

  • National Science Foundation Scholars
  • Hunter Rawlings III Presidential Research Scholar
  • SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Student Excellence
  • President of the Honors College Consortium
  • All-USA Community College Academic Team
  • Florida Coca-Cola New Century Scholar
  • SPC Presidents Award winner

His struggles, his achievements and his life serve as an inspiration to other students facing obstacles to their education.

“Whatever your passions are – whatever makes you tick – continue to explore your interests and continue to investigate how you can you can use your aptitudes to impact our world.”

Related stories:

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spring 14 graduation

More than 1,200 graduates of St. Petersburg College crossed the stage during the 124th Commencement Ceremony at Tropicana Field Tuesday, May 13.

A total of 2,547 students earned 2,849 degrees from SPC this term, the highest ever for the college, President Bill Law told the crowd of well-wishers. Graduates ranged in age from 17 to 74, with 23 graduates over the age of 60.

With this graduating class, the college has awarded 140,618 degrees since the college was founded in 1927, Law added.

Before diplomas were handed out, the college named its Apollo and Alumni Achievement award winners.

Five outstanding SPC students were finalists for the annual Apollo Award, the highest honor a two-year graduate can achieve. Four students also were finalists for the annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor for a four-year SPC graduate.

Seminole Campus student Oldrin Bataku received the Apollo Award while Clearwater Campus student Eunmi Ko was named the Alumni Achievement Award winner.

“My experiences have had a profound effect and stimulated me in and out of the classroom,” said Oldrin, a math and science tutor and Honors College student. Oldrin attributed his achievement to his parents, who moved from Albania 18 years ago this month “with nothing but a clear vision in mind for a better future. Although at times it has seemed beyond our grasp, I owe any and all success to the hard-working immigrants who made this all possible. I love you mom and dad.”

He plans to attend a research university and pursue undergraduate science and mathematics research.

Originally from Korea, Eunmi Ko said she dealt with language and cultural barriers and family challenges by working harder.

“My situation has given me the chance to be independent,” said Eunmi, who graduated in December with her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education. “With the support of professors, staff and fellow students, I was empowered to achieve my goals.”

Eunmi also thanked her parents in Korean for helping her succeed. She plans to attend graduate school and teach high school mathematics.

Also honored at the ceremony were St. Petersburg Collegiate High School student Salina Som, who became the college’s second Gates Millennium Scholar in two years, following Maria Thurber’s award last year. Helen W. Gilbart was recognized as SPC’s Outstanding Alumnus.

See photos from the graduation on the college’s Facebook page and Facebook posts and tweets at #spcgrad. Or watch the ceremony on the college’s YouTube channel.

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About 1,200 St. Petersburg College students are expected to participate in the college’s 124th commencement ceremonies at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at the 2014 Spring Graduation:

graduation-infographic1

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The Tampa Bay Times reported on SPC’s newest Gates scholar Salina Som, a senior at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School.

Salina will graduate next week with her high school diploma and an associate of arts degree from SPC. She plans to pursue a bachelor’s of science degree in chemistry from the University of Florida, followed by a doctorate in pharmaceutical engineering.

This is the second consecutive year that SPC has produced a Gates Millennium Scholar.

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2013-14 Apollo Award finalists

Five outstanding St. Petersburg College students have been selected as finalists for the annual Apollo Award, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve.

The Apollo Award is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. Winners are chosen for their outstanding leadership abilities, scholastic standing, community service, honors and awards. It has been presented each year since 1966.

This year’s finalists are:

Oldrin Bataku

Oldrin Bataku

Oldrin Bataku, Seminole Campus, graduates today with an Associate in Arts degree. He was a member of Honors College and a student editor of the Honors College scholarly journal, META; a math and science tutor in the Learning Commons; and a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Innovative Engineering Club. He has a 4.0 GPA.

He was a founding member of Rotaract where he was involved with a number of community service events such as a silent auction to benefit the Ronald McDonald House and trash pickups along Pinellas beaches and roadways.

He received Outstanding Student awards in chemistry, calculus and Interdisciplinary Studies. Mathematics instructor James Klinedinst said Oldrin is “one of the hardest workers I have ever seen . . . he strives to pursue topics well beyond the scope of the course.”

His goal is to attend a research university and become heavily involved in undergraduate science and mathematics research.

“St. Petersburg College has engrained in me its deep scholastic values and taught me to develop as a student, a friend, an employee and a contributing member of society.”

 

 

 

 

Alia Davis

Alia Davis

Alia Davis, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, graduates today with an Associate in Arts degree. She was a member of Honors College and as a St. Petersburg Collegiate High School student, was a member of its Ethics Bowl team. She also was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, Junior Achievement and was captain of the Seminole High School volleyball team. She has a 3.98 GPA.

She was a Suncoast Hospice teen volunteer and received an award for 67 hours of service to this organization.

In 2013, she was named the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Junior of the Year and received the Dr. Vilma Fernandez-Zalupski Academic Excellence Award in 2011, 2012 and 2013. Communication instructor Lori Madden said, “Students gravitate toward Alia because they know her to be a serious yet kind and approachable person.”

Her goal is to attend Colgate University to study neuroscience and eventually become an M.D.

“St. Petersburg College has not only set a sturdy foundation for learning, but supplied me with tools to expand my knowledge and understanding.”

 

 

 

 

Caitlin Hardwick

Caitlin Hardwick

Caitlin Hardwick, Clearwater Campus, graduates today with an Associate in Arts degree. She was a member of Honors College, the Florida Engineering Society, International Club, Junior Achievement, Student Government, and was interim president of Phi Theta Kappa. She has a 3.98 GPA.

She has been a volunteer math tutor in the Clearwater Learning Support Center and through Junior Achievement, volunteered as a tutor in a local elementary school. She also has volunteered with the Salvation Army and the UPARC Foundation.

She received the Edna Allwurden Andrews Memorial Math Award in 2013 and was named a member of the All-Florida Academic Team in 2014. Political Science instructor Heather Roberson said, “Caitlin’s independent research, experiential scholarship and enthusiastic participation exhibit the traits of a focused learner. She is a model student.”

Her goal is to receive a master’s degree or doctorate in mathematics and continue to participate in community service.

“At SPC, I have discovered a pathway to fulfilling my dreams.”

 

 

 

 

Jasmine Salinas Corona

Jasmine Salinas-Corona

Jasmine Salinas-Corona, graduates today with an Associate in Arts degree. She was a member of Student Government, Spanish Club, Student Music Club and Phi Theta Kappa where she was a part of the Honors and Action Committee. She has a 3.89 GPA.

She was a teen volunteer with Suncoast Hospice with more than 100 hours of service and has participated in roadside cleanups with Phi Theta Kappa. She volunteered as a math tutor in the Learning Commons on the Seminole Campus and has participated in Seminole Campus Welcome Back events for returning students.

In 2008, 2011, and 2012 she received the Dr. Vilma Fernandez-Zalupski Academic Excellence Award. She won first place in her campus’ Tag Competition in 2013. Lisa Borzewski, academic chairman of Mathematics on the Seminole Campus, said, “Jasmine has a willing spirit, caring demeanor and enthusiasm for learning and service – all strong indications there are great things in her future.”

Her goal is to earn a doctorate in pharmacy from the University of Florida.

“SPC has taught me that no matter where someone comes from, no matter the age, no matter the background, no matter the purpose, it is never too late to learn.”

 

 

 

 

Sorany Son

Sorany Son

Sorany Son, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, graduates today with an Associate in Arts degree. She was a member of Honors College, Phi Theta Kappa, Innovative Engineering Club, Junior Achievement and was president of St. Petersburg Collegiate High School’s National Honor Society. She has a 4.0 GPA.

She volunteered as a tutor in chemistry, college algebra and composition/language arts. For the past two years, she has been a volunteer at the Children of the World Preschool, holding mini workshops and reading to the children. She also volunteered as an SPC Student Ambassador.

In 2012-13 she received the William Ketchum Memorial Award for Mathematics and was a presenter at the Honors College annual research conference. Communication instructor William Range said, “I can recall very few students who stand out the way Ms. Son does. Her complete devotion to acquiring a sublime education is unmistakable.”

Her goal is to become a physician and make modern medical facilities more accessible to people throughout the world.

“SPC has helped me develop leadership skills, such as communication, research, service and proper etiquette needed for life after college.”

 

 

Alumni Achievement Award finalists

Four outstanding St. Petersburg College students have been selected as finalists for the annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve.

The Alumni Achievement Award is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. Winners are chosen for their outstanding leadership abilities, scholastic standing, community service, honors and awards.

 

This years finalists are:

Lauren Frantzis

Lauren Frantzis

Lauren Frantzis, Tarpon Springs Campus, today receives a bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education with ESOL and Reading endorsements. She has a 3.97 GPA.

She was a member of Golden Key International Honor Society and the American Sign Language Club, where she donated 39 hours of volunteer work.

She was a Pinellas County Schools volunteer with 130 hours of volunteer service and also has volunteered with Toys for Tots, Tampa Bay Coastal Cleanup and several projects on her campus.

She was the winner of several scholarships including the Cecil B. Keene Memorial Scholarship, the Domidion Education Grant and the Florida Alpha Delta Kappa Scholarship. Elementary Education Professor Cher Gauweiler said, “Lauren exudes creativity, a positive spirit and collegiality . . . Her peers say she is a future teacher to emulate.”

Her goal is to have her own classroom where she can help empower students toward fulfilling their educational dreams.

“The skills, knowledge and experiences I have gained at SPC have made me the teacher I am today.”

 

 

 

Eunmi Ko

Eunmi Ko

Eunmi Ko, Clearwater Campus, received a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education in December. She had a 3.6 GPA.

She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi, Golden Key International Honor Society and the International Club where she assisted other international students with registration, student issues and composing their My Learning Plans.

At the Tampa Korean Reformed Presbyterian Church and Dunedin Highland Middle School, she volunteered as a math tutor.

She was the winner of several scholarships including the Alpha Delta Kappa Scholarship, the Anna Lawson Endowed Scholarship in Education and the Sel Rel Inc. Scholarship for first generation immigrants. In 2013, she was chosen for the All Florida Academic Team. International Student Representative Angela Cole said “Eunmi is an exemplary student, polite and courteous. She has a positive attitude in all she does.”

Her goal is to enter graduate school and teach high school mathematics.

“I have learned that if I work hard with confidence, others will step forward to help me reach my goals. I want to help students achieve their goals just as others have helped me.”

 

 

Diana Moulton

Diana Moulton

Diana Moulton, Clearwater Campus, today receives a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education. She has a 3.98 GPA.

She was president of Kappa Delta Pi, a founding member of the Math Club and a club representative to Student Government.

She was a member of the All Children’s Hospital Guild and volunteered at local schools as a member of student advisory councils and fundraising committees.

She was the recipient of several St. Petersburg College Foundation scholarships and received the Outstanding Achievement in Calculus award. She also received the Outstanding Achievement in Field Biology of Florida award and the Outstanding Achievement in Environmental Science award. Mathematics Education Professor Andrea Kelly said “Diana is an exemplary student with consistently high grades and a deep commitment to the teaching profession. “

Her goal is to pursue a doctorate in Mathematics and one day teach in SPC’s College of Education.

“St. Petersburg College has prepared me to juggle the commitments of work with those of service and family. I enjoy giving to my community and seeing the positive effect I can have on others.”

 

 

Melanie Poirier

Melanie Poirier

Melanie Poirier, Caruth Health Education Center, today receives a bachelor’s degree in Dental Hygiene. She has a 3.8 GPA.

She was a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, the American Dental Hygienists’ Association and the Pinellas County Dental Hygiene Association.

She participated in Give Kids a Smile, an event that provided free dental care to children in need, and the Back to School Care Fair at the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Public Health Center. She also made weekly visits to local elementary schools to provide oral health education to children. She was active in volunteer activities at her church.

In 2012, she received the Hu-Friedy Golden Scaler Award given to a student with high academic and clinical standards. She received scholarships from the SPC Foundation, the West Coast Dental Association and the Pinellas County Dental Hygiene Association. Dental Hygiene Instructor Sandra Marcil said “Melanie’s personal traits and skills make her an outstanding dental hygienist and an asset to any dental team.”

Her goal is an MBA in Health Care Management.

“SPC has given me the knowledge to be a well-informed and diverse professional who will provide excellent, quality care to every patient.”

 

 

 

 

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The St. Petersburg College Alumni Association annually presents this award to honor alumni who, through their accomplishments, have made meaningful contributions to their professions and their communities. They are persons who exemplify how best to use and develop the education they gained at SPC and who, as a result, are outstanding representatives among our alumni.

Helen GilbartHelen W. Gilbart

St. Petersburg College as we know it today would look much different if it were not for this year’s Outstanding Alumna. Helen W. Gilbart graduated from St. Petersburg Junior College in 1964 with her Associate in Arts degree and returned to the school just five years later after completing a bachelor’s degree in English, Speech, and Journalism. Helen started out as a faculty member at the Clearwater Campus where she later became the program director for Humanities, Fine Arts and Communications.

A true example of a life-long educator and advocate of student success, Helen has published several student reading skills and test preparatory manuals throughout her career. She was one of the founding members of Women on the Way resource and support center, and along with her late husband Donald, was one of the early members of the St. Petersburg College Foundation’s Legacy Society. Helen continues to provide scholarship support for St. Petersburg College students through the Donald and Helen Gilbart Scholarship Fund, which recognizes outstanding students in the fields of Education, Social Service, Mental and/or Physical Health.

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Salina Som, a senior at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, has been named a Gates Millennium Scholar for the Class of 2014. More than 52,000 students applied for this honor which distinguishes her as a Leader for America’s Future™.

Aimed at helping minority students with financial needs for college funding, the Gates Millennium Scholarship program also provides academic support, leadership training and professional development for the 1,000 students chosen nationwide each year.

Salina’s strong leadership, community service and academic achievements contributed to her selection.

As a Gates Millennium Scholar, Salina will receive a scholarship to attend any accredited college or university in the United States. The renewable scholarship initially funds undergraduate studies, and can also fund Salina’s education through the master’s and doctoral levels.

This is the second consecutive year that St. Petersburg College has produced a Gates Millennium Scholar. Maria Thurber won the award last year and is now a student at Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., studying international relations.

Salina plans to pursue a B.S. in Chemistry from the University of Florida followed by a doctorate in Pharmaceutical Engineering. She discovered her passion for the lab in a Organic Chemistry class at St. Petersburg College’s Collegiate High School.

“One of the last labs was a multi-synthisis lab for Acetanilide, which is aspirin,” she said. “On the last day of the lab I just put the flask down and the crystals started forming from the solution. It was really big crystals because it was pure. I was so excited. It was the first real drug I synthsized.”

Exposure to college science labs and a research paper on the Evolution of Drug Discovery also fueled her passion for medicine.

Born in Cambodia, her family moved to Boston when she was 3 months old and then to St. Petersburg when she was in first grade. Her father, Savonn Som, just celebrated 10 years on the custodial staff at St. Petersburg College. Her father is still trying to take it all in.

IMG_0003

Savonn Som and his daughter, Salina

“I can’t tell you because it is too much,” he said. “My whole life I never thought about something like this.”

After escaping from Cambodia and then to Thailand and eventually America, he never even dreamed of things like having a car or getting an education. He gives his daughter all the credit.

“I just worked hard to put her in school,” he said.

Salina came to SPC as a high school sophomore from St. Petersburg High School’s pre IB program.

“It was a great program but just not a good fit for me,” she said. “Here I found more hands-on learning. The teachers gave me more attention when I needed help. It was less competitive and more collaborative.”

“I am so proud of Salina,” said SPCHS Principal Starla Metz. “She is a humble and hardworking student who is most deserving of this honor.”

 

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GradSt. Petersburg College’s 124th graduation ceremony is at 10 a.m. Tuesday, May 13, at Tropicana Field. About 1,200 graduates are expected to participate.

The ceremony will last about two hours. Winners of this year’s Apollo Award and Alumni Achievement Award will address their fellow graduates and guests.

Graduates will enter the stadium between 9 and 9:15 a.m. through Lower Gate 6 and proceed down the corridor to the field where marshals will assist in seating them.

Faculty and staff will be able to park free in Lot 1 by showing parking attendants their college ID badge. Full-time faculty members participating in the processional should arrive by 9:15 a.m. and enter the stadium through Gate 3A. Be sure to bring or wear your academic regalia. Others, including guests of graduates, will enter through Gates 3B and 5.

Platform guests, with academic regalia, will park in Lot 1 and enter the stadium through Gate 4.

Band members, marshals and volunteers will park in Lot 5 and enter the stadium through Lower Gate 6. They need to be in place by 8 a.m.

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