Archive for the ‘graduates’ Category

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.


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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In a roundup of graduation news, the Tampa Bay Times included information about St. Petersburg College’s upcoming spring ceremony.

The event will be held May 13 at Tropicana Field.

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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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