More than 350 graduates of St. Petersburg College crossed the stage during the 131th Commencement Ceremony at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks on Saturday, July 23.


A total of 1,030 students earned 1,046 degrees from SPC this term, President Bill Law told the crowd of well-wishers. Graduates ranged in age from 17 to 72, with 15 graduates over the age of 60. Check out all the graduation stats.

With this graduating class, the college has awarded 156,574 degrees since the college was founded in 1927.

Among other milestones, since 1927 SPC celebrated the following:

  • 122,737 associate degrees
  • 9,906th baccalaureate graduate
  • 2,406thbaccalaureate nursing graduate
  • 1,071th baccalaureate elementary education teacher graduate
Sane Haidara

Sane Haidara

Sane Haidara, an international student from Timbuktu, Mali, address fellow graduates and guests.

“I encourage you, graduates of today, to use the skills and knowledge you learned at SPC to help your communities through civic engagement,” Haidara said. “By doing so, you will not only make a difference in the world but you will also feel a sense of great accomplishment.”

At St. Petersburg College, Haidara served as the vice president of SPC’s ICMA (City/County Management Association and received the 2016 Most Engaged International Student award. He participated in Phi Theta Kappa, the American and Arabic Cultural Association and served as the former president of the International Club. Haidara’s mother has traveled to St. Petersburg from their home in Mali to see her son graduate.

Also addressing guests, Darcy Warms, who is graduating with her Associate in Arts degree.

“SPC helped me academically and personally, faculty was always there for me,” said Warms. “We all fail sometimes, we are all humans. All we can do is grow from our mistakes.”

See more photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page or look at the event Tagboard with posts and pictures from the graduations and their family and friends.

Summer16_HeroSt. Petersburg College will hold its 131st commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 23 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Approximately, 390 of the 1,030 summer graduates are expected to participate in the ceremony.

Sane Haidara, an international student from Timbuktu, Mali, will address fellow graduates and guests. He will earn a Bachelor of Science in Public Policy Administration with a 3.3 GPA.

Haidara has overcome many hardships to study in the United States. His family was forced to flee Mali due to political unrest in the country and lost their livelihood. His family has only recently returned to Mali to try to start over. In Mali, Haidara had his own business as a tour guide and saved up enough money to begin his studies.


SPC’s 2016 Summer Graduation by the numbers

At St. Petersburg College, Haidara served as the vice president of SPC’s ICMA (City/County Management Association and received the 2016 Most Engaged International Student award. He participated in Phi Theta Kappa, the American and Arabic Cultural Association and served as the former president of the International Club. Haidara’s mother has traveled to St. Petersburg from their home in Mali to see her son graduate.

“At St. Petersburg College, I was able to gain leadership and community service skills, which I believe will allow me to help the people of Mali address the issues such as malnutrition, illiteracy, and instability,” Haidara said. “SPC has made me feel at home and I was welcomed as a valuable member of the college community.”

Also addressing guests will be Darcy Warms, who is graduating with her Associate in Arts degree.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 156,574 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927. The youngest graduate is 17 years old, the oldest is 72 years old and 15 graduates are over the age of 60. Fifty-nine percent of the graduates are female.

This year St. Petersburg College will bestow the title of Professor Emeritus on six of its retired educators, honoring them for their years of service inspiring generations of students succeed.


The college recognizes the following as its 2016 Professors Emeriti:

Alumni, students and SPC employees are invited to extend their well wishes to this year’s Professors Emeriti online. Visit the emeriti page or the individual emeriti pages to leave a comment and honor these faculty members.



St. Petersburg College and the City of Clearwater are partnering to develop a new joint-use community library on the Clearwater Campus.

The groundbreaking will be:

  • 9:30 a.m. July 21
  • SPC Clearwater Campus, 2465 Drew St., Clearwater 33765

The state-of-the-art, two-story building will be an open-space concept and will replace the existing facility, built in 1964. The $15 million library will house more than 90,000 electronic and print books. Opening remarks will be made by St. Petersburg College President Bill Law and Clearwater Mayor George Cretekos.

“St. Petersburg College is committed to the communities where our students and faculty live,” said Law. “This partnership allows the college and the City of Clearwater to serve the needs of our citizens and students in one place.”

The Clearwater Campus was home to nearly 10,000 students in Fall 2015, and more than 110,000 residents live in the City of Clearwater, making this a valuable college and community partnership.

“The City of Clearwater is pleased with this opportunity to partner with St. Petersburg College,” said Cretekos. “This modern, new facility will provide learning, research, and community benefits for students and residents.”

St. Petersburg College operates two other joint-use libraries in Pinellas County with the cities of St. Petersburg and Seminole. Both are thriving facilities where students and community members share access to an expanded range of resources.

A joint-use library is a place where patrons can discover new ideas and enjoy cultural enrichment opportunities, and students can focus on their academic pursuits.


isps-bannerCandidates for U.S. Congressional District 13, one of the most closely watched races of the 2016 campaign in Florida, will face off in a debate at St. Petersburg College’s Palladium Theater on Sept. 19.

The debate, co-sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions, the Tampa Bay Times and 10 News WTSP, will be three weeks after the Aug. 30 primary. U.S. Rep. David Jolly, a Republican currently representing the district, faces Mark Bircher in the GOP primary. The winner will debate former Gov. Charlie Crist, a Democrat running unopposed. It will air live on WTSP from 7-8 p.m. and will be streamed on tampabay.com and wtsp.com.

“The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College was established to engage our community in ways that promote civic engagement and discourse to advance public awareness of key issues affecting our local citizens,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This debate is a perfect example of that mission and we are honored to host this event, which will help inform voters in November’s election.”

Said Times Editor Neil Brown, “We believe this debate will not only inform the voters of District 13 but will air issues of great importance to the people of the entire Tampa Bay region. A congressional seat has high stakes for all of us.”

WTSP President and General Manager Elliott Wiser added, “10 News WTSP is excited to work with our partners at the Tampa Bay Times. It is part of our larger commitment to highlight political discourse on issue important to our viewers and our digital users.”

Election Day is Nov. 8, and mail ballots go out on Oct. 4. The district became slightly more Democratic because of redistricting. Parts of St. Petersburg that used to be in a different congressional district are in the newly reconfigured 13th District, which covers most of Pinellas County south of Safety Harbor.

The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at SPC is dedicated to advancing academic excellence, community engagement and public understanding through solutions-oriented public policy programs.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Times has produced debates for local, state and national offices for 22 years, including races for Florida governor, the U.S. House and Senate, the GOP presidential nomination and vice president of the United States.

10 News WTSP has been honored over the years for not only its investigative work, but its political coverage as well.

Information on audience tickets to the debate will be available in mid-August.

One in four kids in Pinellas County are food insecure, or, more plainly, hungry. One in seven adults suffer the same hunger pains. Feeding America reported that “31% of households have to choose between food and education.”Capture

Last year, SPC’s Office of Volunteer Services and SPC’s Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement began a mindful effort to connect students to community organizations that help create greater access to food pantries through service learning projects. SPC students continue to work hard to increase awareness of this important issue and create greater access to those resources – not just for their neighbors but for SPC students in need who struggle to go to school and feed their families.

Volunteer Coordinator Yalonda Tearett says it is baffling to learn about student hunger when there are community resources available. “Often, an individual is denied state or federal agency’s service due to specific requirements or grapples with requesting assistance altogether,” she said. “There must be a better way for our students to gain access to placing food on their families’ tables and allow them to focus on their college studies. The fight to eliminate hunger must continue until our households, communities, and the nation are no longer struggling to satisfy a basic need – food!”

Dr. Willie Felton, longtime SPC Faculty member, is currently a board member of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic, which reaches over 60,000 people a month. The Free Clinic offers health services as well as access to food pantry and temporary assistance to transitional families. Their community kitchen serves dinner six nights a week and provides over 100 meals a night. The Free Clinic provides over 3 million pounds of food to the Pinellas County community serving as the largest emergency food distributor to 65 partner agency’s a week including county wide food pantries, community kitchen and shelters disbursed throughout SPC’s service area.

The Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement seeks to connect students and service clubs to help fight hunger in Pinellas County. Last year, SPC students, faculty and staff collected over 5,000 pounds of food to stock local food pantries. They also helped with Pack a Sack, a program that provides weekend food for over 500 food insecure kids a week. SPC students also give time to food pantries like The Kind Mouse, that serve over 300 kids a week or serve at their own church food pantries, all in concert to create greater access to food for our neighbors.

This commitment to end hunger is found across SPC. Dr. Joseph Smiley, Dean of Social Sciences & Human Services, serves as a Director of the Safehouse Food Pantry in the North Green Community of Clearwater and encourages involvement in helping those in need.

The Center for Civic Learning & Community Engagement will continue to create sustainable relationships with community organizations linking students with resources and helping serve our greater community.

Learn more information about hunger in America.


CaptureA change in Federal Aviation Administration regulations for drone operators is expected to bring Florida 3,000 new jobs and $632 million in economic impact by 2017 (Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International). Overall, more than 100,000 Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) jobs over the next 10 years are expected to make an economic impact of $82 billion.

In response to the growing interest in drones, The Workforce Institute at St. Petersburg College is hosting:

  • Five day UAS Pilot Certificate Prep Course
  • 4-8 p.m. July 18-22
  • SPC EpiCenter, 13805 58th St.N., Largo 33760
  • Info: 727-341-4445

“There is a need to understand the responsibility of ownership,” said Susan Garrett, Program Director of Industry Certifications. “There is a need for safety and respect for privacy when operating a drone either as a hobbyist or for commercial purposes. It is important for all drone owners to understand that they are, indeed, aviators.”

To operate the controls of a small UAS under Part 107 of the new regulations, you need a remote pilot airman certificate with a small UAS rating, or to be under the direct supervision of a person who holds such a certificate.

3d image of futuristic delivery drone

The five-day prep course is designed to prepare students to pass the FAA Remote Pilot Certificate exam. The course will be offered through SPC’s Workforce Institute’s Learn to Earn program and will include UAS regulations, flight operations and restrictions, emergency procedures, crew resource management, radio communication procedures, aeronautical decision-making and judgement, and maintenance and pre-flight inspection procedures.

It also includes 6-8 hours of hands-on UAS flight training. Additionally, the College is offering courses including UAS Maintenance and Repair, Ground Pilot Training, UAS and the Law, and Standards and Regulations.

The new FAA rules will take effect in August 2016. They cover a broad spectrum of commercial uses for drones weighing less than 55 pounds, to include certification requirements for UAS pilots.

For more information and to be included in this five-day UAS Pilot Certificate Prep course, please call 727-341-4445.


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