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More than 300 graduates of St. Petersburg College crossed the stage during the 125th Commencement Ceremony at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks Saturday, July 26.

A total of 1,121 students earned 1,257 degrees from SPC this term, just more than 9 percent earning multiple credentials. Graduates ranged in age from 17 to 72, with 14 graduates over the age of 60.

Bter0BHCAAE_ya9With this graduating class, the college has awarded 141,875 degrees since the college was founded in 1927, said President Bill Law.

“We thank our faculty, who are committed to teach, nurture and guide our students on a daily basis,” Law said. “They also contribute to the national reputation this college enjoys, so thank you to the faculty for investing in our students, for taking the time to lift them up and help ensure their success.”

To the graduates, Law said, “I hope you consider the role that SPC can have in your lives. I think it has been made clear today that SPC can put your dreams within reach. You have received the knowledge from some of the finest faculty. Now your challenge is to apply your wisdom, and with that, you will be a success.”

Graduate Crystal Hampton, who spoke for the four-year programs and earned a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration, implored her fellow graduates to “remember your past but live for the future.

“Think back to the challenges, the barriers and the adversity you have faced to get to this place. At the time they seemed insurmountable, but we learned something valuable along the way – Setbacks are just set ups for step ups,” said Hampton, becoming the first college graduate in her family.

Hampton, a nuclear medicine technologist at the Bay Pines VA, pursued a career in the health care field to honor her father, a veteran who died at the age of 53. Her respect for the military led her to the VA, where she hopes her degree will allow her to advance her career and continue helping others.

“We did not arrive here today by ourselves. We must remember the ones who supported us and helped us get here. I would not be standing here today without the support of my loving husband, my family, my friends and the faculty here at SPC,” Hampton said.

“Because of the love and support we have received, we also must remember to lend others a helping hand, to listen, and to support them, just like we have been supported.”

Btevge1CYAAwGFTTait Sorenson, who earned his associate of arts degree and spoke for the lower division programs, repeated the mantra that propelled him through school and other adventures, “Why not… Why not me?”

After working roughly 85 jobs in five states, and feeling rejected in all of them, Sorenson began asking himself why not.

“Things weren’t adding up, but deep down I continued to search for that missing something. I began to realize that I was limited, but as Michael Jordan said in his Hall-of-Fame induction speech, ‘limits, like fears, are often just an illusion.’”

Sorenson began with one class at SPC and soon found himself enrolling in Honors classes, joining student government, studying aboard in Costa Rica, becoming an officer in Phi Theta Kappa and interning at NASA.

“In the next two weeks I will have completed my NASA internship and will be making the transition to the University of Central Florida for Aerospace Engineering where I plan to work towards a Masters in Space Systems Design. And to think all of this because I had a chip on my shoulder and asked ‘why not me’?”

“I want to convey the very real implications of hard work and a genuine willingness to become involved in student group activities. No matter what direction you are headed, there will always be a plethora of ways to get plugged in. To me, this is the key value of networking and collaborating. Always remember that in order to get comfortable you must get uncomfortable. When an individual reaches out of their comfort zone is when new exciting doors of opportunity become visible and attainable. Looking back at my time at SPC, there is no way I could have envisioned my success without learning from others and always keeping an open-mind.”

See tweets about graduation at #SPCGrad, photos on the college’s Facebook page or watch the ceremony on the college’s YouTube channel.

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Avatar-125

Share this moment with friends and family by using the #SPCGrad hashtag and any of our images for your social media accounts.

St. Petersburg College will mark its 125th commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26, at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. About 350 of the 1,121 graduates are expected to participate.

“We congratulate the students – and their families – who have persevered to this graduation milestone. They always inspire us with their determination,” said President Bill Law.

SPC dates back to 1927 when it became Florida’s first two-year institution of higher learning. There were 48 members of the first graduating class in 1929.

Saturday’s ceremony is expected to last about an hour. Featured speakers include Crystal Hampton, representing four-year programs, and Tait Sorenson, representing lower division programs.

“I’m 35, but (my mom) still treats me like her baby girl, saying how proud she is of my accomplishments and being selected as the commencement speaker,” said Hampton, who will earn a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration. Read her story here.

“The faculty and the advisors at SPC really encouraged me in finding the roadmap that would get me where I wanted to be,” said Sorenson, who will earn his A.A. degree from SPC and pursue a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida in the fall. Read his story here.

Graduates and guests can check our instructions page for the big day. You can also follow social media posts and catch a live stream of the ceremony on our page dedicated to the ceremony.

Here are our summer graduates by the numbers:

Summer-2014-graduation-infographic[1]

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Tait Sorenson at his NASA internship

Tait Sorenson at his NASA internship

Waiting tables and bartending in St. Petersburg wasn’t cutting it for Tait Sorenson.

After graduating from high school in Montana, Sorenson made his way to Florida in 2008. What he found during the recession, however, was a very unstable living and future.

“During the recession, it was so hard to keep a job or get enough hours to live on,” said Sorenson, who will graduate from St. Petersburg College Saturday with his A.A. degree and will speak at commencement.

Sorenson took a cue from friends who were attending SPC and from his father and brother, both in engineering. This fall, Sorenson will pursue his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida.

“I figure it’s a little easier to stay employed as an engineer in a recession rather than sales or something. It’s a little more stable.”

In two weeks, Sorenson will complete a summer internship at NASA, where he has been assisting with the website. He plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree in Space Systems Design.

Sorenson started with only a couple classes at SPC in the fall of 2011 but soon found himself immersed in college life. While taking an Honors class, he was encouraged to become an officer for his Student Government Association. At an SGA event at the Downtown Campus, he signed up for a Study Aboard trip to Costa Rica, where he met some students in Phi Theta Kappa who encouraged him to join them.

“I learned from other students how to be successful, how to study and get good grades,” said Sorenson, who was named to the 2014 All-Florida Academic Team for his academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. “I encourage every student to get plugged in, to network and collaborate with others. A lot of students just came and go to class, and they never know what else is there for them.”

Sorenson also credits SPC’s faculty and advisors for getting him on the right path.

“They really guided and encouraged me in the whole process,” Sorenson said. “The advisors sat me down and really helped map out what it would take for me to receive a bachelor’s in aerospace. SPC really helped mold that roadmap for me.”

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Crystal Hampton

Crystal Hampton

When Crystal Hampton crosses the stage during SPC’s summer graduation on Saturday, it will be an achievement not just for her but also for her family.

With a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration in hand, Hampton will become the first college graduate in her family.

“I know they’re all very proud of me,” said the native of London, Ky. “My mom talks about being proud of me all the time. I’m 35, but she still treats me like her baby girl, saying how proud she is of my accomplishments and being selected as the commencement speaker.”

Prior to pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she completed an associate degree in nuclear medicine from Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Ky., and worked for two years at the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Hampton pursued a health care career because of her late father, Carl Cupp, a veteran who died of heart disease at age 53.

“Nuclear medicine is a field that involves cardiac imaging, among other things,” she said. “I thought maybe I could help keep another daughter from losing their father by working in this field.”

Hampton’s deep respect for the military and sacrifices made by U.S. military servicemen led her to pursue a career at the VA.

“My father was a veteran, but I also have the utmost respect and appreciation for all veterans,” Hampton said. “It’s nice to be able to give back and help serve those that so bravely served us.”

In addition to being a full-time student, Hampton also works full-time as the Lead Nuclear Medicine Technologist for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

“Working full-time and going to school full-time was challenging, especially while trying to maintain my 4.0. GPA,” said Hampton, who has leaned upon the steadfast support of her husband, Troy Hampton, and the advice and guidance of her SPC advisor and professor, Floyd Butz. To fit in classes around her busy work schedule, she mainly took classes online.

She is considering going on to pursue a master’s degree in health care administration. Her ultimate goal is to continue working at the VA and to move up as a health care administrator or manager in radiology and to continue help saving lives and serving our nation’s heroes.

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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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