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St. Petersburg College’s health graduates are currently at the center of a storm that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Health care workers today face longer hours, heartbreaking shifts and potential illness – in addition to the normal rigors of their jobs. Eric Carver, Acting Provost at St. Petersburg College’s Health Education Center, said that, despite the challenges presented to them by COVID-19, SPC’s graduates are serving in many crucial clinical and paraprofessional roles.

“Our Titan health graduates are exemplifying what it means to remain resilient and compassionate during our community’s time of need,” Carver said. “We are so proud of their accomplishments and continued engagement in the fight against COVID-19.”

Carver noted that SPC faculty, staff and campus leaders remain committed to supporting students and graduates, no matter the challenges presented.

“We have more graduates on the way to fill vacant positions within our community health systems,” Carver said. “We will remain Titan strong in our commitment to our students and community throughout COVID-19 and well beyond.”  

Below are just a few of the stories of our graduates who are dedicated to bringing the Titan spirit into their workplaces to ensure the very best patient care.

Andrew Portale with daughter in front of fire engine

Andrew Portale Paramedic/Firefighter

Andrew Portale is a St. Petersburg College triple threat: He attended the Fire Academy, EMT school, and earned a paramedic certification. Currently employed by the Safety Harbor Fire Department in Pinellas County, he works as a firefighter and paramedic. He believes the COVID-19 pandemic has brought out the best in health care workers, which can be seen throughout the ranks.

“People are selflessly coming together to serve a common mission and taking care of their own along the way,” he said.

The importance of mitigating the risk of contamination among the ranks has increased, and he and his co-workers have dedicated themselves to that cause.

“We’re no longer operationally effective if all of our firefighters are on quarantine,” he said.

Portale said he learned in his studies to be ready for anything, which has been a bonus in this unexpected time.

“We learned an important lesson about being flexible,” Portale said. “While our paramedic class dealt with adversity early in the outbreak, (SPC Emergency Medical Services faculty) Dr. Cedric Harrington and his team reminded us that being flexible and having a contingency plan will set us up for a more favorable outcome throughout our career.” 

Portale said that, despite the challenges, he has no regrets regarding his career choice.

“I believe in being a good steward and leaving this planet a better place than how I found it,” he said. “My hope is to make a difference when others need help the most.”

Linette Brodowski – Registered Nurse

Since March 2020, Linette Brodowski has been working on a COVID unit at a Clearwater hospital. She began her studies at SPC directly out of high school, first earning an associate degree in nursing, then a bachelor’s degree in nursing, graduating in 2015. She says she has used what she learned at SPC to advance in her career.

“I have used my knowledge and experience to move up very quickly in my hospital,” Brodowski said. “I currently work as charge nurse on my floor, overseeing all aspects of care.”

Brodowski says COVID has been a testament to the capabilities of health care workers.

“I have seen patients leave and go home to their families, and I have seen people who do not survive this terrible virus, and it tears families apart,” she said. “It has been taxing on every single one of the amazing nurses I work alongside, as well as the great physicians, respiratory therapists and patient care technicians who endure the same struggle.”

She hopes her hard work will make a difference.

“I hope to make my family and friends proud as we go down in history for what we are accomplishing,” she said.

Danielle Kurutz Respiratory Therapist

Kurutz said she chose health care as a career path because she has always been fascinated with the human body and its workings. After graduating from SPC’s Respiratory Care program, she is employed as a Registered Respiratory Therapist at Lakewood Ranch Medical Center in Lakewood Ranch, Fla.

Having come into the respiratory therapy field shortly before the pandemic, Kurutz said it has made a tremendous impact on her career.

“Since this virus is a respiratory-related virus with an increasing demand in oxygen needs, it has propelled RRTs into the spotlight and put us in high demand,” she said. “Now is the time to be in this field and seek further advancement of respiratory therapy, as a whole.” 

Between lab simulations and real-life clinical experience of cardiac arrests, emergent intubations, critical thinking and troubleshooting, Kurutz said she felt prepared in her studies for the high-pressure work situations she has encountered.

“Nobody has seen or experienced anything like this, and it has humbled many and evened the playing field for those who are veterans to the field and those who are new,” she said. “Newer graduates are fresh and have the book knowledge that many veterans have forgotten about. Together, with their experience and the knowledge we gained at SPC, we have been able to unite in this difficult time.”

Kurutz, who is currently in SPC’s bachelor’s program in Health Services Administration with a subplan in Respiratory Care, said that, despite the challenges, she is very fulfilled by her work.

“I gain immense satisfaction from connecting with and helping my patients,” she said.  

 Monica Nicolas – Registered Nurse

At a young age, Monica Nicolas was surrounded by people who worked in the health care field. She always looked up to them and knew she wanted to do the same thing one day. When, years later, her mother fell ill with cancer, she was grateful to have chosen that path.

“It allowed me the knowledge to care for my mother when she was diagnosed,” Nicolas said.

Amid a full time job, starting a small business and caring for her mother, Nicolas graduated in 2020 from SPC’s BSN program. She is now working as a Registered Nurse in a cardiovascular intensive care unit. She says COVID has added new layers of stress to an already high-pressure job.

“As a frontline health care professional, I risk everything to care for patients,” she said. “I have been a nurse for 11 years, and I have never seen so many deaths and codes. There are times where I am physically and mentally exhausted from working long shifts, and every day when I go to work, I risk my own health and safety to care for others. I also fear that I will get the virus and pass it to my loved ones.” 

The pandemic has also sparked innovation, and Nicolas started her own business, Heart Buddies, LLC., where she teaches basic life support (BLS).

“While working during the pandemic as a health care professional, it has pushed me to help more people,” she said. “It’s my dream that everyone gets certified in BLS, which can save lives. I care for so many post-code patients. Most of the patients go into cardiac arrest in the home, and the ones who received CPR immediately are the ones who have better outcomes.”

Glenn LaPlanteParamedic/Firefighter

Born and raised in St. Petersburg, Glenn LaPlante first began taking classes at St. Petersburg Junior College in 1988. After a few career detours, he found himself back at SPC, finishing emergency medical technician paramedic certifications in November 2020. Not long after beginning his job, things took a wild turn as a global pandemic changed life and work for everyone.

“We had entire chapters and discussions on infectious diseases, but we weren’t truly expecting this to happen,” LaPlante said. “There was an awareness, but you never really think you’d need to use all that information.”

LaPlante, who recently accepted a position as a firefighter with St. Pete Beach, says COVID-19 has affected his job as a paramedic in many ways, from how calls are approached to hours worked to interaction with co-workers.

“COVID calls have increased call volume and hospital capacities, to the point where we sometimes have to go to other cities to find a rehab center or COVID facility with a bed. We’ve taken patients all over Florida.”

LaPlante says he works anywhere between 40 to 60 hours per week and wears a mask almost the entire time.

“The changed protocols mean that we have to stay masked, not just when we’re with patients, but also when we’re with co-workers. In a vehicle, in common areas, everyone must be masked. It adds up for a 12- to 15-hour shift.”

LaPlante says that the mask forces him to find new ways to find new ways to earn a patient’s trust.

“That comforting smile you’re giving them isn’t there any more,” he said. “I try and do it through a sense of humor. I make little jokes with my partner and the patient. Having some fun with the job and each other is very therapeutic for everyone.”

JD TrentRegistered Nurse

All through high school, JD Trent worked as a lifeguard. He loved the adrenaline rush of saving a life, so a career in nursing was an easy decision for him. He earned his associate and bachelor’s degrees in nursing from SPC, and is now a Clinical Coordinator in the intensive care unit at Palms of Pasadena Hospital in St. Petersburg.

Ten years into his career now, Trent says the pandemic has him working 60 hours a week – at double speed. With families not allowed in, he has to balance his time between talking to families on the phone and caring for patients. 

“Every day you get to work and it’s run, run, run,” he said. “Lately, it has been work harder not smarter, instead of the other way around.”

Trent, who is now looking for a master’s program in nursing, said the rigor he experienced in his studies, along with the personal attention he got from his instructors at SPC, prepared him for anything his career in health care might throw at him.

“I love that the classes at SPC are smaller, and I wasn’t just a number. I was taught to have confidence and trust in my abilities. They empowered me to be a better nurse and be an advocate for my patients.”

A young Black man in a black coat works at a computer in an S P C computer lab.

Helios Education Foundation has partnered with St. Petersburg College through an $85,000 grant that will fund endeavors to strategize and plan pathways for Pinellas County African American males to achieve lasting success through higher education.

The Helios-SPC Titan Achievement Program (H-TAP) will create a holistic and comprehensive program with existing partners, including Pinellas County Schools, the Pinellas Education Foundation, the University of South Florida (USF), Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU), and the University of Central Florida (UCF).

The program will target recruitment and engagement of African American male students, as well as postsecondary enrollment and retention at SPC. This initiative will include summer programming, career and academic support, tutoring, and social engagement opportunities aimed at helping these students transition to a four-year program at SPC or a partner institution – with ample support to attain graduation and career placement milestones.

“Thank you Helios Education Foundation for this generous and vital gift aimed at overcoming the achievement gap,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “This partnership offers much-needed opportunities for African American male students that will inspire, motivate and support them so they can fulfill their dreams of education, economic stability and a successful future.”

SPC will research and identify resources for the program in January. The college will then move ahead with plans to fully integrate and launch the initiative in Summer 2021.

“Helios Education Foundation is excited to partner with St. Petersburg College to close the postsecondary attainment gap and address barriers experienced by African American students”, said Paul J. Luna, President and CEO of Helios Education Foundation.  “Ensuring all students are not only inspired, but also aspire to unleash their potential seeds this partnership and fuels our commitment to student success.”

Helios Foundation is dedicated to creating opportunities for students in Arizona and Florida to experience success in postsecondary education.  By addressing education gaps and advancing the academic preparedness of all students, particularly first-generation, low-income, and underrepresented students,  Helios seeks to shape the type of impact that changes lives an strengthens communities.

“Helios Education Foundation’s gift makes a huge difference to the students, faculty, and staff at SPC,” said Jesse Turtle, SPC Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of the SPC Foundation. “Our students go on to build better lives for themselves, their families and our community, so an investment in SPC is an investment in all of our futures.”

Two St. Petersburg College Titans recently made Tampa Magazine’s 2021 Top 10 Under 40 list! Belinthia Berry is the Director of SPC’s Corporate College, and Samyr Qureshi, an outstanding SPC alum, is the CEO of Knack, a technology platform.

Each year, Tampa Magazine names 10 of the community’s best and brightest entrepreneurs, businesspeople and philanthropists who are under 40 years old, are leaders in their fields, and still find the time to give back to the community.

Belinthia Berry

Berry, a graduate of Florida A&M University, oversees SPC’s contract training programs with companies and municipalities, as well as programs like Kids’ College, recreation and leisure, and Silver Scholars. She told Tampa Magazine that her main goal is to lift people up.

“I’m helping people get where they need to go in life, whether it’s the employer or the individual — giving them the keys to success,” she said.

Berry’s work doesn’t stop at SPC – she is also the president of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women’s Tampa Bay chapter and serves on the Hillsborough County charter review board. She is also on the board of directors of the Tampa Bay Healthcare Collaborative, which helps navigate the healthcare system. She told the magazine that the Healthcare Collaborative is a pet project, due to health issues she has struggled with over the past few years.

“When I was approached to join the Healthcare Collaborative board, I said, ‘I need to be that voice and that advocate for other people [dealing with their own health issues],’” she said.

See Berry’s profile in Tampa Magazine here.

Samyr Qureshi

After SPC, Qureshi went on to be the co-founder of Knack, a technology platform that partners with colleges and universities to facilitate peer tutoring programs. He said that after a stint in the corporate world, he wanted to make more of a difference with his work.

“Working in education has been an incredible experience that allows me to make a direct impact on the lives of others,” he told Tampa Magazine.

See Qureshi’s profile in Tampa Magazine here.

Berry said she believes in giving back to the community that has given her so much.

“There were many mentors who poured into me about serving our community, and I do that by providing my time, talent and treasures (donations),” she said. “I encourage many other young professionals to step up, lead and give back to the community in any way.”

St. Petersburg College alumnus Samyr Qureshi will help adult learners at St. Petersburg College (SPC) receive free tutoring support through his co-founded platform Knack, a unique tutoring service that pairs students with peers who have excelled in the courses they are taking.

Knack has partnered with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay, Pinellas County Urban League (PCUL) and LEAP Tampa Bay College Access Network to support returning students who desire to complete their education or training through the Complete Tampa Bay (CTB) initiative.

St. Petersburg College alumnus Samyr Qureshi, Knack’s Co-Founder & CEO

“As the Tampa Bay community continues to flourish, and given this time of immense need, it is essential that we come together to support innovative programs like Complete Tampa Bay that ultimately help meet the needs of our local workforce,” said Qureshi, Knack’s Co-Founder & CEO.

CTB offers a personalized coaching model to assist returning adult learners. The program helps them:

  • understand how to find available education and training options
  • discover available financial support
  • access tutoring
  • connect with local education partners that can support the completion of their education and training goals

Complete Tampa Bay’s local education partners include SPC, the University of South Florida, Hillsborough Community College, Pinellas Technical College and Hillsborough Technical Colleges.

“In these critical times, it is more important to focus on educational advancement, especially when we have seen the impact of COVID-19 on our customers.  The key to future growth of any individual is utilizing all the resources available to them to achieve a better place in the workforce,” said the Rev. Watson L. Haynes II, President & CEO of the Pinellas County Urban League.

Urban League staff and the CTB Completion Coach will work together to identify other community resources that might be available to students in some cases; for example, those whose careers have been impacted by COVID-19.

“As a Completion Coach, I work to remove any barriers the student may have previously faced or are currently encountering so they can return to college and be successful,” said Matt Smith of Complete Tampa Bay.

“This hands-on approach to college and training enrollment will help streamline the frequently overwhelming process experienced by returning adult learners,” said Chuck Tiernan, Director of LEAP Tampa Bay. “We are honored to partner with PCUL and work together to serve their clients and to make Knack’s tutoring support available to them.”

“Knack is also excited to partner with LEAP on the Complete Tampa Bay initiative to help support returning adult learners with free tutoring that aids in their progression towards degree completion,” Qureshi said.

A former Student Government President at SPC, Qureshi became interested in the higher education process. He graduated in 2011 with an Associate in Arts as an Early College student and transferred to the University of Florida to study pre-law. After completing UF in 2014, he began his entrepreneurship journey as the co-founder of Knack. He, along with Knack co-founder Dennis Hansen, was named to Forbes’ 2020 Class of 30 Under 30.

Three Generations Food Truck’s Kenneth Walker, Owner Melissa Gardner and Michelle Gardner (Melissa’s mom)

As a Community of Care, St. Petersburg College is always proud to see alumni doing good work in the area. On Christmas morning, SPC alum Melissa Gardner showed her Titan spirit when she used her food truck to cook 500 meals for people in need on Christmas morning.

Gardner, affectionally known as Chef Melly, is a software engineer by trade, but a chef by choice. Just over a year ago, she took a leap of faith to start a food truck business, Three Generations Food Truck, with the encouragement – and recipes – of her mom and grandmother, hence the name.

Along with her grandmother, Thelma, and mom, Michelle, Gardner cooked all 500 Christmas Day meals, with Florida Blue covering the cost of all the food and ingredients. Each meal was individually wrapped to be delivered to Feeding Tampa Bay’s Trinity Café, a free, full-service restaurant that offers a three-course, chef prepared meal that’s served with dignity and respect to anyone in need, 365 days of the year.

On the menu was Cajun turkey, honey ham, collard greens with smoked turkey, gouda and cheddar mac-n-cheese, roasted garlic mashed potatoes and green beans. For dessert, there was banana pudding and Christmas cookies.

Chef Lisa of Florida Chefs Workshop in St. Petersburg also gave a helping hand. Feeding Tampa Bay picked up and delivered all 500 meals to both locations of its Trinity Café in Hillsborough County – before 11:30 a.m. on Christmas morning.

Lissette Campos, Regional Communications Lead for Florida Blue, said Gardner is an extraordinary woman to help in these extraordinary times.

“Chef Melly is positively, a Tampa Bay Treasure,” Campos said. “With so many people racing put 2020 behind them, she stopped to help. Our teams at Florida Blue, the Lightning and Feeding Tampa Bay are grateful to her for joining our efforts.”

Gardner said a passion for cooking and community service fueled her desire to be a part of this project with Florida Blue, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Feeding Tampa Bay.

“The most fulfilling moment in this food life is giving back to people in the community,” Gardner said.

Chef Melly’s grandmother Thelma was on hand to help prepare the 500 meals for Feeding Tampa Bay’s Trinity Café on Christmas Day. The name of her business – Three Generations Food Truck – pays homage to the recipes passed down to her from grandma Thelma and Mom Michelle.

Dr. Jamelle Conner

Congratulations to Dr. Jamelle Conner, St. Petersburg College’s Vice President of Student Affairs, who was named a Patriotic Employer by the Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a U.S. Department of Defense program designed to promote collaboration between Reserve Component Service members and civilian employers.

In an effort to foster a culture where all employers support National Guard and Reserve members, ESGR created this award to highlight the efforts made to support employees who serve through flexible scheduling and allowing time off for deployment.

“These citizen warriors could not defend and protect us at home and abroad without the continued promise of meaningful civilian employment for themselves and their families,” the ESGR website says. “Together, we all serve!”

Conner was submitted for this award by Dr. Eric Carver, SPC’s Acting Provost for SPC’s Health Education Center, Veterinary Technology Program and Allstate Campus, who is a U.S. Air Force Reserve officer and serves as the Director of Clinical Operations for the 919th Special Operations Wing.

“This is the first time I’ve ever won this award, and it was an absolute surprise,” she said. “I didn’t even know I’d been nominated.”

Having several family members who have served in the military, Conner said she truly appreciates those in the armed forces.

“Our Reserve members are willing to continue to serve in addition to their civilian careers – to aid, support, and protect us and our country in current crises and emergencies,” she said. “It means a great deal that Dr. Carver knows he is supported in his continued service as a Reserve member.”

Carver said Conner is consistently supportive.

“Dr. Conner’s support of SPC student veterans, military veterans, and Reserve and Guard service members has been unwavering,” he said. “She remains flexible and supportive, and we are grateful for her efforts in showing that St. Petersburg College is an inclusive and inviting place for student veterans, military service members, and family members of those who have served.”  

Salina Som, SPCHS Gates Millineum Scholar, in SPC Lab

St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools (SPCHS), located on SPC’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs and Tarpon Springs campuses, are hosting information webinars to assist Pinellas County students entering grades 10 or 11 with the application process for the 2021-22 school year.

SPCHS students have the opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from SPC. Students enjoy a distinctive educational experience with all of the challenging academic rigor of college, balanced with social events and exemplary support to become successful learners and leaders.

Designated an “A” school each year since opening in 2004, SPCHS boasts a consistent high school graduation rate of 100 percent and an AA graduation rate of 96 percent or higher for the past eight years. SPCHS has consistently won state and national awards, including being named the #1 Charter High School in Florida by Niche and also named a School of Excellence by the State of Florida.

SPCHS provides a variety of clubs, school-sponsored extracurricular activities and a leadership program so students can enjoy a well-rounded high school experience.

Applicants with a minimum unweighted GPA of 3.0 and qualifying PERT scores are selected for admission through a random lottery.

There are two campuses from which to choose:

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School – Tarpon Springs, which was opened in 2019 to create more seats in the highly sought-after program, as well as to make Collegiate High a feasible option for North County students.

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School – Gibbs, which opened in 2004 and has consistently been recognized as a nationally ranking, high-performing school.

Student and parent attendance at one of the information webinars is required for application. The application deadline is 2 p.m. on Feb. 10, 2021. Junior applicants must meet all entrance criteria by the application deadline.

To register, click on the date of the information session below you would like to attend:

Jan. 19, 2021, 6 p.m.
Jan. 21, 2021, 6 p.m.

Visit our website at spchs.spcollege.edu, or contact us to learn more:

Tarpon Springs: Dr. Ian Call at 727-712-5891 or call.ian@spcollege.edu
St. Petersburg/Gibbs: Raquel Giles at 727-341-4610 or Giles.Raquel@spcollege.edu

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is portrayed with the text, MLK Day of Service

In his acceptance speech for the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “I have the audacity to believe that peoples everywhere can have three meals a day for their bodies, education and culture of their minds, and dignity, equality, and freedom for their spirits. 

Each year, on King’s birthday, volunteers all over the country come together to try to make that belief a reality. This year, St. Petersburg College has partnered with Hope Villages of America to challenge students, faculty, staff and the community, as well, to help distribute food boxes to those in need on Friday, Jan. 15, at the college’s Clearwater and Midtown campuses.

Dr. Misty Kemp, SPC’s Executive Director of Retention Services, and Dr. Tara Newsom, Director of SPC’s Center for Civic Learning and Community Engagement, are overseeing the event. Kemp says she hopes it will support Dr. King’s desire to make sure people don’t go hungry.

“We recognize the need is there,” Kemp said. “Food insecurity continues to increase, and this is one way we can give back.”

There are two ways to get involved. Those who wish to take part can share the news of food availability with neighbors, co-workers, students and families, or they can help with food distribution at either campus. Kemp says social distancing will be strictly followed at the outdoor event, as face masks and gloves will be required of volunteers, and those picking up food will not leave their vehicles.

Boxes will be filled with non-perishable items such as canned fruits, vegetables, and meats, as well as pasta, sauce, peanut butter and soup. Community members who are in need are invited to come and get a food box during the event. Parking lots will be set up for a drive-through distribution, and people will be asked to remain in their car. They will also be required to fill out a survey before having items loaded into their vehicle. There are a limited number of boxes, so it will be first come, first served.

When:  Friday, Jan. 15, 9-11 a.m.

Where:
SPC’s Clearwater Campus
  2465 Drew St
  Clearwater, FL 33765

 SPC Midtown Center
  1300 22nd St S
  St. Petersburg, FL 33712

For more information, please contact either Dr. Misty Kemp at kemp.misty@spcollege.edu or Dr. Tara Newsom at newsom.tara@spcollege.edu.

Two gentlemen wearing dark suits and face masks stand on either side of a large pile of toys and an evergreen tree decorated with ornaments.

The Community of Care spirit has been especially prominent at St. Petersburg College in 2020, a year marked by unforeseen obstacles and a stronger desire to lend a helping hand to those in need.

SPC students, faculty and staff across the district have been finding different ways to support Pinellas County residents during the COVID-19 outbreak from creating food packages for the hungry to working on the frontlines of the pandemic to help slow the spread of the virus.

At the Tarpon Springs Campus, the Provost Office organized its own campus-wide toy drive to help bring joy to less fortunate children who may need a little extra holiday cheer this season in the face of economic hardship. Campus faculty and staff were encouraged to contribute items that would then be donated to Toys for Tots before the end of the semester.

“Toy drives are all super important, however, this year’s toy drive is extremely significant to our campus and students—considering the impact COVID-19 has had on our community,” said Dr. Rodrigo Davis, Provost for the Tarpon Springs Campus. “This year’s drive also allowed for further discussion of establishing a plan for next year with more community partners and engagement. The beauty here is that we all win with successful toy drives; getting everyone to pitch in can be infectious.”

The Tarpon Springs Titans came through with flying colors for their toy drive and managed to donate 136 toys in total to Toys for Tots, including a very generous 100 unwrapped toys from adjunct faculty member Jacques Hakim.

Professor Hakim is no stranger to acts of kindness, either. Just this past August he donated 500 pairs of shoes to children in Pasco County, doubling his 2019 total of 250 pairs. The Tarpon Springs Campus toy drive was just one more way Hakim could give back to the community.

The college is certainly lucky to have so many thoughtful and generous people as part of the SPC family and looks forward to seeing what kind of joy its Titans spread in 2021!

Wayne Kruger

Wayne Kruger, Executive Director of Financial Assistance Operations at St. Petersburg College, was recently honored by The National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA), when they named him an MVP: Most Valuable Professional.

MVP: Most Valuable Professional is an occasional series that features a brief Q&A with a different NASFAA member.

Kruger has worked in financial aid for 20 years, with 11 years at SPC, and got his start in higher education as a federal work-study student in the admissions office during his undergraduate years at Sacred Heart University, where he was a first-generation college student. He later earned his master’s degree in College Student Affairs and Administration at the University of South Florida.

In addition to being the Executive Director of Financial Assistance Operations at St. Petersburg College, Kruger has held several leadership positions with the Southern Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (SASFAA) and the Florida Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (FASFAA) and has been a guest on the NASFAA “Off the Cuff” podcast.

In the Q&A, Kruger said he chose to work in financial aid in higher education because he wanted to make an impact by helping people figure out how to pay for college.

“As I decided to continue to work in higher education,” he said, “I decided that working in financial aid might be the most impactful position within a college. The idea of helping others navigate the finances of higher education, and help others learn from my own mistakes, really drew me in.” 

He also noted why he loves working at St. Petersburg College, which is largely due to the college’s diverse and nontraditional student population.

“Having vocational training, certificates, associate and bachelor’s degrees while being open-access, we serve students from all walks of life,” he said. “The experiences you see daily are ever-changing and keep you on your toes.” 

Read Kruger’s spotlight interview on the NASFAA website.