Archive for the ‘graduates’ Category

St. Petersburg College graduate Melissa Dohme was recently profiled in a piece from ABC Action News where Bay area leaders, politicians and celebrities are asked 10 questions about themselves.

“Our person of the week is a young woman who is a domestic violence survivor. Melissa Dohme is also a voice for hope,” the article stated.

While attending SPC, Dohme was attacked by her ex-boyfriend. She recovered, went on to graduate with high honors and was one of the student speakers at the graduation ceremony.

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Fox 13 Tampa Bay aired a story about recent St. Petersburg College graduate Mirah Earle as part of its “What’s Right With Tampa Bay.”

Earle makes cards for sick children and sent 3,000 in the past year to everyone from elderly residents in nursing facilities to young cancer patients, according to the report. “Making a card for a child that’s in a hospital can just make the world a better place, and it doesn’t take a lot of money,” Earle said in the report.

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St. Petersburg College’s summer graduation is at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 20 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. About 300 graduates will participate. Student speakers will be Lisa Stevens, Tarpon Springs Campus, representing the A.A./A.S. graduates, and Christopher Blaine, Seminole Campus, representing the baccalaureate graduates. Blaine will be receiving his B.S. degree in Public Policy and Administration.

Faculty and platform guests who have signed up to participate in the processional should arrive at the church Fellowship Center by 9:15 a.m. in full academic regalia. Graduates with honors cords should arrive by 9 a.m. All other graduates should arrive by 9:15 a.m. The ceremony should last less than two hours.

Have a graduation story to share? Post your pictures and graduation information on St. Petersburg College’s Facebook page or tweet it using #spcgrad. We’ll include your submissions in the college’s coverage of the ceremony.

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Gov. Rick Scott wants to put Florida graduates to work. To help with his Hire Florida Grads initiative, Tampa Bay WorkForce Alliance, WorkNet Pinellas and St. Petersburg College are teaming up to host a special event to assist recent graduates with their professional job search.

Attendees can find help with:

  • Job Search Techniques
  • What Employers Look For
  • Resume Writing
  • Interview Skills
  • Professional Networking Groups
  • TBWA & WorkNet Services

10 a.m. – noon
Tuesday, July 9
13805 58th St. N.
Clearwater, FL 33760

Business causal attire

To attend:

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Maria Thurber

A week ago, Maria Daniela Thurber, wasn’t sure she would be able to continue her education after her May 4 graduation from St. Petersburg College. Even with a 3.97 grade point average and a long list of honors, the reality of the cost of a university education was beginning to sink in.

“Education is so expensive,” said Thurber, who’d been dually enrolled at SPC while completing high school. “I had to sit myself down and say ‘you may not be able to do this right now.’”

A few days later, she got a package in the mail. She only got as far as the word congratulations before she knew her dreams had come true. The letter stated that she had received the coveted Gates Millennium Scholarship, giving her a full-ride, good-through-graduation scholarship at the college of her choice.

“I just started jumping up and down and crying,” said Thurber. “My mom and dad were there with me. My mom’s prayers have been answered. She has been praying so much because we can’t afford it. She is over the moon with this.”

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

“This scholarship will pay for her education costs through PhD studies,” said SPC President Bill Law. “In my 25 years of experience as a president, I’ve never encountered such a bountiful award.”

While initially funding undergraduate studies, the renewable program also provides graduate school funding for scholars like Thurber to pursue advanced degrees in fields like education.

The Gates Millennium Scholars Program is one of 400 scholarships administered by the United Negro College Fund. UNCF partners with the American Indian Graduate Center Scholars, the Hispanic Scholarship Fund and the Asian & Pacific Islander American Scholarship Fund to select and provide service to Gates Millennium Scholars.

This fall, Thurber, 17, and her parents will move to Washington, D.C. where she will attend Catholic University of America to pursue dual bachelors’ degrees in education and political science with international relations. She also plans to pursue a PhD.

“International diplomacy has always been a passion of mine,” said Thurber. “Working for the Department of Education is my dream.”

A St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus student, Thurber graduates from SPC May 4 with an Associate in Arts degree where she will also be honored as a finalist for this year’s Apollo Award. Earlier this year, she was named a 2013 Coca-Cola New Century Bronze Scholar and received a $1,000 scholarship from the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation.

While studying at St. Petersburg College, Thurber served as:

  • Student Coordinator and presenter at the Honors College annual research conference
  • Vice President of Leadership for Phi Theta Kappa
  • Member of Student Government
  • Member of the Hispanic Leadership Council
  • Member of SPC’s Model United Nations Team

“I’ve been very involved at SPC,” said Thurber. “It has given me the perspective that I can do this – I can achieve my dreams and succeed.”

One of her proudest accomplishments this year was the development of the Gabe Cazares Scholarship, named after Clearwater’s first Hispanic mayor.

“I never thought I could do something like that,” she said. “I live in a community with a large Hispanic population and I brought my concerns to SPC. They gave me their feedback and now we have a $20,000 endowment.”

A native of Guayaquil, Ecuador, Thurber moved with her family to St. Petersburg at age 9.

“My motivation for trying my hardest to do well in school is my dad,” said Thurber. Her U.S. Air Force veteran father did not graduate from high school and later obtained his GED. “My parents really are my inspiration, and I want to be one of the first in my family to obtain a higher education.”

While Thurber has been a shining star at SPC, her path has not been without challenges. A few years ago, she began to have back problems that required intense physical therapy. Her mom drove her to school and back every day because riding the bus was too difficult.

“We have all had to make a lot of sacrifices so I could continue to go to SPC,” she said. “It has been a real family effort with my education for the past two years.”

In addition to being fluent in Spanish and English, Thurber studied French at SPC and volunteered as a peer tutor in the Learning Support Commons on her campus.

“I have received so much from SPC that I just want to keep giving back,” she said. “I feel like it is my duty.”

Long after all the service learning projects and volunteer hours were completed — Thurber keeps on giving. She continues to work at the Ronald McDonald House where she has cleaned rooms for the families of critically ill children for the past two years. She plans to spend her summer volunteering on campus at the library and training next year’s Phi Theta Kappa and Student Government leaders.

“I spend more hours at SPC every day than I do at home,” she said jokingly. “I’ll just keep volunteering if they let me.”

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SPC Fall 2012 graduation ceremonies

The student speakers at SPC’s 120th Commencement ceremonies spoke about dreams, aspirations and hope. Their words earned cheers and, in one case, a standing ovation.

About 600 students walked out of the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks with diplomas on Saturday, Dec. 15.


Melissa Dohme

Among them was Melissa Dohme, the survivor of a brutal domestic violence attack earlier this year. Dohme earned an associate degree and graduated with high honors. She didn’t talk in detail about what had happened to her. Instead she focused on her recovery, being named Clearwater campus’ student of year and the future.

Dohme told the audience that she went from learning how to walk again to being able to walk across the stage at the ceremony. She did it in high heels and without a cane. The crowd responded by getting to their feet and applauding.

It is these moments that define who we are and what we can become, Sam Frontera told his fellow graduates during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. He received a bachelor’s degree in Technology Management. During the afternoon ceremony, Health Services Administration graduate Patricia Colin and Ryan DeJesus, who earned an associate degree, addressed the crowd. “It is never too late to reinvent yourself,” Colin said. “Aspire to leave your own legacy. Don’t strive to be the next Steve Jobs. Be the next you,” DeJesus said.

SPC President Bill Law congratulated the graduates and their families during the commencement ceremonies. But, before the diplomas were handed out, he talked about the shooting at an elementary school in Newton, Conn. Twenty-six people were killed including 20 children.

“These are all of our children,” Law said. “We should all hug each other a little tighter today.”

Area news agencies were at the morning commencement ceremony and reported on Dohme’s graduation including Bay News 9, the Tampa Bay Times, ABC Action News and 10 News – WTSP.com.

Watch the morning and afternoon graduation ceremonies on the college’s YouTube channel or see photos on SPC’s Facebook page.

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When Melissa Dohme stands before her fellow St. Petersburg College graduates on Dec. 15 and talks about perseverance and determination, she won’t just be uttering the usual ceremonial ideals.

She will stand as a living example.

Dohme , 21, suffered 18 deep stab wounds to her head, neck and face in January. Her ex-boyfriend has been charged with the attack. Within days of her release from the hospital in February, she was back in class, determined not to let the attack keep her from her goals.

“My therapist told me to be prepared not to make the grades that I was making,” Dohme said. “I was determined more than ever to prove my therapist wrong and to not let him (her attacker) win.”

She will graduate in the morning ceremony with high honors, including A’s in the two courses she took during her initial recovery, and will earn an Associate in Arts degree.

She met with her instructors three days after her release from Bayfront Medical Center. They advised her to drop two of her four classes and concentrate on catching up in her Sociology and Humanities courses.

Her drive earned the respect of those on the Clearwater Campus, who voted her the Dr. Theodore Mazzu Student of the Year in May. Dohme plans to become a nurse practitioner and will begin classes at St. Petersburg College in the fall in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. She is delaying her enrollment until August because the trial of her ex-boyfriend is scheduled for March.

“I feel that I’m a year behind where I wanted to be academically and that bothered me for a while,” she said, “but I have let that go and am now just thankful for where I am.”

Graduation details

Ceremonies are Dec. 15 at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. The first begins at 9:30 a.m. (when Melissa will speak), the second at 1 p.m.

If you are attending the upcoming SPC graduation ceremonies, tweet your pictures and comments to #spcgrad.

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More than 600 graduates are expected to participate in the college’s 120th commencement exercises Dec. 15 at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.

The morning ceremonies begin at 9:30 and the afternoon session starts at 1. The church is located at 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

Melissa Dohme will be the morning speaker for the associate degree programs and Sam Frontera will be the baccalaureate representative.

In the afternoon, Ryan DeJesus will be the associate degree speaker and Patricia Colin will represent the baccalaureate programs.

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From left: President Bill Law, Public Policy and Administration graduates Amy Griffith and Trinity Anzur, and Jeffrey Kronschnabl, Instructor in Charge, Public Policy and Administration Baccalaureate Program.

Trinity Anzur and Amy Griffith made college history on July 21 when they became the  first Public Policy and Administration graduates.

The Public Policy and Administration program launched in fall 2010. The four-year degree program, which began with 10 students and now has about 75, offers an opportunity to gain knowledge and understanding of policy development and implementation through direct government action. The primarily face-to-face courses are offered at the Seminole and Clearwater campuses but some blended courses and limited online courses also are available.

“The success of the program has been extraordinary,” said Jeffrey Kronschnabl, Instructor in Charge for Public Policy and Administration at the Seminole Campus. “We’ve had students interning all over the county — in the Clearwater Chamber of Commerce, the Town of Belleair — and they have been doing extremely well.”

Kronschnabl worked extensively with Anzur and Griffith in several classes.

“These two ladies worked very hard and have shown a strong commitment to their education,” he said. “They took an overload of classes. They were successful in every endeavor.”

Meet the graduates

Trinity Anzur

Trinity Anzur

As a single mother, Trinity Anzur recognized the importance of an education. It would help make a better life for her and her 6-year-old son, Cooper.

After moving to St. Pete Beach around 2000, the northwestern Indiana native began taking classes for an associate’s degree the following year.

“I was trying to look for something that I could do that is close to home, and something that would be good for me and my son,” said Anzur, 36.

Although she then moved away for about seven years for employment opportunities, she returned to pick up where she left off with her degree.

While visiting with an academic advisor in 2010, the new Public Policy and Administration baccalaureate degree came up.

“They told me about the program and I thought it sounded interesting,” she said. “I think having a bachelor’s degree is a big benefit. Especially in the job economy today, it’s just an advantage.”

With the program being so new, the classes were smaller, helping Anzur and her fellow students form study groups and develop relationships that will last beyond the July 21 graduation day.

“It really made things more comfortable when there were speeches that had to be done and stuff like that,” she said. “Knowing everybody made it a little easier.

“I had a friend that graduated from USF and she didn’t have the group connection that I have here with my classmates,” Anzur said. “With my classmates, we still talk on the phone and text. We’re even going to lunch in the next couple days.”

She hopes the example she has created of getting a bachelor’s degree will leave a good impression on her son.

“I think it will have a positive effect on him,” she said. “He didn’t like that I was gone at school all the time, but he understands that I was doing it to benefit our family.”

Anzur  is interested in pursuing a law degree with a focus on family law.

“It’s something I’ve thought about but I’m a little burned out on school right now and I might take a semester or two off,” she said. “But it’s still something in the back of my mind.”

Amy Griffith

Amy Griffith

After taking classes at institutions such as Temple University, La Salle and even Penn State University, Amy Griffith’s academic path took a turn when her Coast Guard engineer husband, Steve, received relocation orders to St. Petersburg three years ago.

When the Philadelphia native began looking into the programs at St. Petersburg College, she was impressed.

“Even from just calling SPC and actually talking to a real person,” said Griffith, 29. “It beat the other schools hands-down.”

She enrolled at SPC and began working toward an associate’s degree in nursing when an advisor told her about the new Public Policy and Administration bachelor’s degree program.

“I thought that would be perfect because I wanted to work in hospital administration and not really patient care,” Griffith said. “So the Public Policy and Administration really looked good for me.”

Only needing a few more classes to get a general Associate in Arts degree, she changed her major to liberal arts and graduated with her associate’s degree. She then enrolled in the bachelor’s degree program.

“The program itself is great. The classes build upon each other, and the way they have them scheduled is perfect,” she said.

“I loved it here,” she said. “I’ve been through bigger universities in Philadelphia, and this program, and the college, was the best experience out of all of them.”

She already has received two job offers from the state of Florida and from a hospital. She next wants to pursue a master’s degree in health administration from Penn State or St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

“All of the counselors I’ve talked to for master’s degree programs said the public policy and administration degree looks really good for doing any kind of health administration.”


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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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