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St. Petersburg College will join USF St. Petersburg (USFSP) for a press conference on May 23, 2018 to detail new initiatives, scholarship opportunities and expansion of existing programs to increase higher education access for all students in Pinellas County. Representatives from the Florida Legislature, USFSP and SPC will highlight how they are creating greater pathways for students from middle school through graduate school to attain their educational goals. The event will take place at 1:30 p.m. at the USFSP Waterfront.

Speakers include:

  • Senator Jeff Brandes, Florida Senate
  • Representative Chris Sprowls, Florida House of Representatives
  • Stephanie Goforth, USF St. Petersburg Campus Board Chair and USF Trustee
  • Martin Tadlock, USF St. Petersburg Interim Regional Chancellor
  • Tonjua Williams, St. Petersburg College President

“A major priority of the Pinellas County delegation this legislative session was to secure critical funding that will expand educational access and begin to provide every student in our county the resources to earn a college degree,” said Representative Sprowls.

During the last legislative session, Senator Brandes, Representative Sprowls and the Pinellas County delegation were instrumental in securing new funds for both USFSP and SPC. Some of these funds will be dedicated toward providing scholarships and programs that create a more seamless transition for SPC students and recent graduates who attained their associate’s degree to attend USFSP and earn a bachelor’s degree.

A new Blue Gold Scholarship will be offered by both USFSP and SPC that officials hope will create a greater pipeline between the two institutions and increase the overall number of students who begin at SPC and go onto USFSP. Nearly 25 percent of USFSP undergraduate students are St. Petersburg College transfers, according to data from the 2017-18 academic year.

“SPC and USFSP are working collaboratively to ensure that middle and high school students in public, private, charter and home schools know there are pathways to higher education in Pinellas County,” said Williams. “Thanks to the legislature, there are now increased resources to support these pathways so students can secure an undergraduate degree from USF St. Petersburg.”

Another scholarship opportunity will increase the number of students eligible for FUSE. FUSE is a partnership between SPC and USFSP that allows students to start earning an associate’s degree from SPC while receiving many of the perks of being a USF student, from access to campus events to specialized advising. When it’s time for a bachelor’s degree, FUSE guarantees that students who earn an associate’s degree in three years with a minimum grade point average of 2.0 will be admitted to either USFSP or USF Tampa, based on which academic path students pursue. The FUSE Program is designed to promote timely bachelor’s degree completion for students who have earned an associate’s degree from a participating regional Florida College System institution.

“USF St. Petersburg and St. Pete College have a longstanding and rewarding partnership. We continue to enhance that partnership in new and exciting ways. These new scholarship opportunities will help ensure that pathways are available for every student in our community who wants to earn a bachelor’s or graduate degree,” said Tadlock.

Other potential initiatives that may come out of the increased legislative funding include increasing the number of higher education advisors in Pinellas County high schools, establishing a winter transition program for SPC students coming to USFSP and establishing education fairs for private schools and home-schooled students.

“As both a graduate of St. Petersburg College and USF St. Petersburg, I know firsthand the impact these institutions have on changing students’ lives, and I am excited to see the ripple effect these new scholarships and programs will have for our community,” said Goforth.

SPC 2018 Graduation

Richard and Mary Cackling

Mary and Richard Cackling met in 1976, and have not left each other’s side since that day. And, at St. Petersburg College’s spring graduation ceremony May 12, that held true as they walked side by side to claim their bachelor’s degrees, his in Sustainability Management and hers in Business.

“It was love at first sight,” Mary said.

The couple, who run a cat rescue and sanctuary in Gibsonton called Gardenland Mission, started college together at Hillsborough Community College in 1978. But then, according to Richard, “Life happened,” and school fell by the wayside. Richard spent years running his own business, while Mary worked in the business world until her mother needed care, and she quit her job to be with her. When Mary’s mother passed away, the two began thinking about what would be next.

“She decided to enroll at SPC,” Richard said. “So I decided to do it too, and finish what we started 40 years ago.”

More than 1,900 graduates

The Cacklings were two of 1,949 students graduating with degrees and certificates at SPC’s 136th commencement. It began with an inspiring invocation from the Rev. Kenneth F. Irby of Bethel AME Church. That was followed by the national anthem led by SPC Professor Nathan Muehl and his music students, the St. Petersburg College Band, and vocalist Gianna Gagliardotto.

SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams welcomed guests, then recognized and thanked instructors, noting the crucial role they play in the lives of students.

“They are committed to teach, nurture, and guide our students on a daily basis,” Williams said. “Thank you, faculty, for investing in our students, for lifting them up and significantly contributing to student success.”

Williams recognized student achievements, including veterans, Honors Program graduates, Honor Society members, and those graduating with Honor, Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude distinctions. Williams even gave a shoutout to those graduating with “Thank you, Laude!” distinctions.

Some of the grads were collecting their college diplomas before they had their high school diplomas in hand. The 187 Early College graduates were high school students who were dually-enrolled in their junior and senior years. St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, which has earned an A from the state of Florida every year since it opened in 2004 and was named a 2017 Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School, also graduated their seniors with associate degrees.

Special awards

Ken Burke, Chair of SPC’s Alumni Association, presented the Apollo and Alumni Achievement awards to this year’s winners, who are chosen for leadership ability, scholastic standing, community service, honors, and awards.

The Apollo Award, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve, has been presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association every year since 1966. This year’s winner, Joey Bower, graduated Cum Laude with his Associate in Science Degree in Technology Management and a 3.55 GPA.

Bower said he was not the average student.

“I’m also a full-time employee, a husband to a beautiful and supporting wife, the first college graduate in my family, and the father of a special needs son who requires 24/7 care,” he said. “I’m also a high school dropout who obtained his GED.”

Bower said he was inspired to go back to school by his father, who frequently urged him to form a good work ethic, telling him that everything he’d ever have in life would have to be earned. After seeing his father struggle to maintain a career in his 50s without a degree, Bower decided to get his. Bower doesn’t know exactly what his future will hold, but he does expect to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

“I don’t have the secret or the magic trick,” he told the audience as he closed his remarks. “But if I can leave you with any advice, it would be to never give up.”

The annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve, is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. This year’s winner, Amanda Hunt, graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership and a 4.0 GPA.

Hunt graduated with an Associate Degree from St. Petersburg College in 2003 before becoming a Christian missionary. During that time, she got an idea for creating a nonprofit, so she enrolled in a Business Management Bachelor’s Degree program at SPC.

“I realized further education could greatly benefit me in this pursuit,” Hunt said.

While working on her bachelor’s degree, Hunt won the Jane Till nonprofit competition with a business plan presentation for her nonprofit idea, United by Love, which connects people and resources to nonprofits doing good in local communities. She expressed her appreciation for the support she received.

“Thank you to all the people who have helped me along my studies, most notably the St. Petersburg College Foundation and its donors, Women on the Way, and the amazing faculty and staff at SPC,” she said.

Hunt closed her remarks by encouraging the audience to do good things in the world.

“Sometimes one minute is all it takes to brighten someone’s day, give them a hand, or even save their life,” she said. “My message to you today is to always remember to slow down a little and take that one minute.”

Thank you friends and family, especially moms

After hundreds of graduating students had walked across the stage, President Williams asked families and friends to be recognized for their support of the graduates. With the ceremony held the day before Mother’s Day, she gave a special thank you to mothers.

“I know there have been times when you felt that none of your hard work and support of these graduates was appreciated or even noticed. But here you are – and here they are – and these graduates did appreciate you and they did notice you.” Williams told them. “The college appreciates you.”

The Cacklings left graduation to head home to a big party with lots of friends and family ready to celebrate their successes. Mary was recently named COO of the CORE Foundation, a non-profit cat rescue out of Washington, DC, and was awarded a private contract for work with the  Xerox Corporation, which provided a nice raise upon completion of her degree.

“That’ll buy a lot of cat food,” she said.

St. Petersburg College will hold its 136th commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12 at Tropicana Field, One Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg College. Approximately 1,300 of the 1,949 graduates are expected to participate.

The youngest graduate is 16 years old, the oldest is 68 years old and 19 graduates are over the age of 60. Sixty-seven percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 169,426 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 1,042 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 342 Associate in Science degrees
  • 265 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 251 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 72 certifications

Joey Bower, winner of the 2017-18 Apollo Award, and Amanda Hunt, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, will address their fellow graduates and guests.

Bower received an A.S. degree in Technology Management in 2017 with a 3.55 GPA. Bower is an active volunteer and donates his time to The Family Café, which exists to connect individuals with disabilities and their families with information, training and networking opportunities. He is also active with Cure Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, and is the Chairman of the School Advisory Council for the Nina Harris School.

“Imagine being the parent of a special needs child, working full-time, who decided to go back to school at 40 years old. Not only did I finish my degree, but I graduated Cum Laude,” Bower said.

Hunt will receive her B.A.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership and has a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of the College Entrepreneur’s Organization and Aletheia Christian Club.  Hunt won the 2017 Jane Till Nonprofit Startup Competition and received funding to start her charity organization, United by Love. As a dedicated volunteer, Hunt serves at the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen, organizes her local church youth group and empowers children through Global Celebration.

“I am extremely grateful for all that I have gained, learned and experienced from my time at St. Petersburg College. I will enter the nonprofit community knowing that I now have the skills and knowledge that align with the passion I have always had: to love people and help them however I can.”

Spring 2018 Graduation Infographic

St. Petersburg College (SPC) is ranked second in Florida and sixth in the nation, among associate colleges, for sending students abroad, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE) 2017 Open Doors Report. Over the last year, more than 140 SPC students have traveled to other countries.

Study Abroad report

Dr. Ramona Kirsch, Director of the Center for International Programs, celebrated the report naming SPC among leading institutions for study abroad education and emphasized the importance of out-of-classroom experience for students.

“When I arrived at SPC a little more than five years ago, SPC was not even on the radar for study abroad,” said Kirsch. “Now, in just a little over five years, we have increased study abroad participation by 113 percent.”

SPC has a broad range of study abroad programs throughout the world. The upcoming 2018-19 programs include:

  • Veterinary Techology students will be working to assist troubled sea turtles in Australia
  • Students will discover what makes India a cultural and religious force
  • Social psychology in a global context will be explored in Ireland
  • Students will be working with varying ecosystems and scuba diving in Israel
  • Students will be studying World Literature and Culture in Japan
  • High school students will say Bonjour Québec as they study International Relations and do service learning activities in Canada

Learn more about SPC’s study abroad program online or email studyabroad@spcollege.edu

Hundreds attended the April 21 grand opening of the Clearwater East Community Library at St. Petersburg College.

Clearwater East Community Library at St. Petersburg College Grand Opening

Years in the making, the joint-use facility at the SPC Clearwater Campus marks the college’s third such partnership with municipalities. Other library partners include the cities of St. Petersburg and Seminole.

“This is a facility where we convene the dialogues and strengthen the bonds that make this a world-class community and SPC an outstanding institution of higher education,” said SPC Clearwater Provost Stan Vittetoe.

“This is a monumental day for all of us,” said Clearwater Library Director Jennifer Obermaier. “Today we celebrate our partnership with St. Petersburg College. Through this facility, we can change lives: of children, families and students young and old. Today we celebrate knowledge, information, learning and imagination.”

Grand Opening of the Clearwater East Community Library at St. Petersburg College

The $15 million project was cooperatively funded by St. Petersburg College and the City of Clearwater.

SPC Board of Trustees Vice Chair Katherine Cole noted how the new library epitomizes the vision of the college and SPC President Tonjua Williams to create a “Community of Care.”

Other speakers included City Manager Bill Horne and SPC Senior Vice President for Instructional and Academic Programs Anne Cooper.

In his remarks, Clearwater Mayor George N. Cretekos noted that students of all ages will experience a college environment when they attend the library and reminded attendees to “read a book tonight.”

See more photos on the college’s Facebook page.

New library details

The 40,000-square-foot library includes 10,000-square-feet of dedicated public space, 15,000-square-feet of dedicated college space and 15,000-square-feet of shared space.

The library is located on the SPC’s Clearwater Campus at 2465 Drew St. in Clearwater. Canerdy, Belfsky + Arroyo Architects of St. Petersburg designed the building and Creative Contractors of Clearwater coordinated construction.

Clearwater East Community Library at St. Petersburg College

Highlights of the new building include:

  • more than 90,000 electronic and print books and audio-visual materials covering a variety of disciplines and subjects
  • more than 100 print journals and magazines of general and academic interest
  • streaming videos, audiobooks, images, citation tools and music
  • thousands of online research databases; group and individual meeting areas
  • computers, scanners, printers, photocopiers and wifi
  • a dedicated program room and a children’s section
  • a drive-through for item return and pickup

Clearwater East Community Library at St. Petersburg College Grand Opening

Enjoy the Titan Trot 5K at St. Petersburg College and help support student scholarships at the college.

The Titan Trot 5K is scheduled for Saturday, April 14, and starts at the SPC Clearwater Campus.  The race begins at 8 a.m. on the campus quad and continues down a trail to Cliff Stephens Park. It’s is open to the community as well as SPC students and employees. Please register online.

All levels are welcome. Run or walk. Can’t make it to race day? Sign up as a “virtual” runner and record your race time for yourself another time. Separate scholarship donations also will be accepted.

Prices for participants are:

  • $10 for current SPC students
  • $20 for SPC employees
  • $30 for the public

All proceeds will fund SPC student scholarships.

SPC’s Faculty Governance Organization (FGO) is hosting the event and would like to thank the businesses and individuals who are sponsoring the 5K including:

• Green Bench Brewing Co.
• Orangetheory Fitness
• Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office
• Publix
• PureMolecular, LLC
• St. Pete Running Company
• USA Ultra Triathlon
• Sears Cleaning Services and Sears Garage Doors
• SPC Natural Sciences Department
• Dr. Eric Carver
• Dr. Katherine Woods
• Dr. Tonjua Williams

Check out our hashtags on social media to keep up with the action leading up to the race: #SPC5K and #TitanTrot2018. Or check out our Facebook event page for updates.

St. Petersburg College (SPC) is pleased to announce a partnership with Community Foundation of Tampa Bay (CFTB), an organization focused on connecting donors, nonprofit organizations and community leaders in an effort to make Tampa Bay a better place to live. Through this partnership, SPC was awarded a $15,000 grant to expand its mental health awareness efforts on campus.

This funding will allow SPC Faculty and Staff to undergo training that will help them identify and support students with mental health issues. In addition, each SPC campus will have a designated mental health awareness ally who will serve as a liaison between students and campus and community mental health resources.

Community Foundation of Tampa Bay

“Our students come to SPC with challenges beyond the classroom experience,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “To help them be successful, we’re committed to being a student-ready college by expanding our social support resources for mental health. We’re excited about our partnership with Community Foundation of Tampa Bay.”

“We are very excited to partner with St. Petersburg College,” says Marlene Spalten, President and CEO of the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay. “St. Petersburg College has made an incredibly positive impact in the community and we are honored to continue to support their efforts.”

The Community Foundation of Tampa Bay connects donors with nonprofit organizations and community leaders to create a meaningful impact in the Tampa Bay region and beyond. In 2015, donors with the Community Foundation of Tampa Bay provided over $12 million in grants to causes and organizations within the community.