St. Petersburg College (SPC) is continuing to support students and their goals with the help of a $100,000 Perkins grant. The grant is part of the Florida Department of Education’s Entrepreneurial Education and Training (EET) program and will help SPC’s students, faculty and staff cultivate their entrepreneurial mindset and launch high-quality businesses.

The award will be used to support training and curriculum for SPC faculty and teachers with Pinellas County Schools that will help them bring entrepreneurial concepts into their career and technical education (CTE) classes.

“Entrepreneurship plays a vital role in our local economy,” SPC Dean of Workforce Development Michael Ramsey said. “This funding will allow us to further develop the entrepreneurial mindset within the career and technical education students here at the college, as well as the school district. Our desire is to help them chart their path to business ownership, and the foundation we provide will propel them to ultimately become job creators for our community.”

On March 15, SPC will launch an online, self-paced Entrepreneurship Essentials course. In as little as eight weeks, individuals will learn how to develop an idea and launch a business or simply learn to think like an entrepreneur. The college partnered with the award- winning, nonprofit organization Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) to develop the course. NFTE is internationally known to offer programs that empower individuals to own their future.

Florida’s Perkins V State Plan commits to creating a robust entrepreneurial ecosystem through career and technical education. Business equity is the second largest source of wealth behind home equity, and for special populations, self-employment and the ability to effectively create value contributes to Florida’s greater economic security. In short, becoming an entrepreneur is a viable path to improving Florida’s economic and social mobility rates. CTE does not just prepare students to take jobs but to create the jobs of the future. 

For more information about the Entrepreneurship Essentials course, visit now.spc.edu/jobtraining or contact Program Coordinator Sondra Seiter at seiter.sondra@spcollege.edu.

St. Petersburg College and Year Up have been working closely over the last few years to help students complete certificate programs in IT or Business. At the recent graduation celebration for SPC’s Year Up class, SPC was awarded the Cornerstone Award, an annual accolade given to an individual or organization that embodies Year Up’s mission to close the opportunity divide. 

The Year Up team works with our students each week to help them by the providing career mentorship and academic support they need to succeed. After they complete the Year Up program, students begin a six-month professional internship, and then Year Up assists the students with full-time career placement. 

Year Up staffer Walter Joseph said the award celebrates organizations who fully support their cause.

“Cornerstone Award winners go above and beyond to change minds about what is truly possible in this country by supporting our students, our staff, and the Year Up organization as a whole,” Joseph said.

The program takes place at the St. Petersburg College’s Midtown Center, where Associate Provost Patrick Booth says they work closely with the Year Up team to ensure student success.

“Advisors Takita Cuthbertson and Linda Huetson are assigned all of the students in the program and meet each week with the Year Up team to help register the students and provide advisement, Heather Disler’s team helps with tutoring and Roslynn Tarver helps all of the students with their Financial Aid needs,” he said. “We hold a monthly and quarterly meeting with the Year Up team, as well.

In addition, the Midtown team hosts an orientation for the new class, which includes games and prizes. In spite of all their efforts, Booth said the team was completely surprised by the award.

It was awesome – we were really excited about it,” he said. “We were not expecting it when they shared the news during their graduation ceremony.”

To learn more about Year Up, please visit their FL Tampa Bay website

St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools offer students the opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree – all at no cost to the family.

If you are a Pinellas County resident and have a rising sophomore or junior, here’s great news! There is still time to learn more about this award-winning program at the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School – Tarpon Springs by registering for an informational webinar about the campus on March 23. Attendees can learn about SPCHS as well as how to apply.

A Florida School of Excellence, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School has been labeled an “A” school since it opened at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus of St. Petersburg College in 2004. The charter high school has been a highly successful and much sought-after option in the community, so successful in fact, that a second campus was opened in 2019 in Tarpon Springs to accommodate more families, especially those in North County.

Many SPCHS graduates have earned prestigious honors. Counted among SPCHS alumni are a Gates Millennium Scholar, a Bank of America Leadership Program participant, and Ryan Nece Student Service Program members.

Starla Metz, SPC’s Associate Vice President of Accelerated Programs, said SPCHS provides students with a unique and innovative educational experience.

“Our mission is for our students to simultaneously earn a high school diploma, an Associate in Arts degree, and qualify for a Bright Futures Scholarship,” Metz said. “They study the same course material as SPC students, but they get the encouragement and support they need to achieve their dreams.”

In addition to academic excellence, another aspect of the program fosters leadership among its students. They learn business etiquette, are encouraged to seek leadership roles and complete a college leadership course, showcasing their portfolio at their Senior Capstone Event.

“This learning experience is so authentic and supportive,” Metz said. “Our students excel as learners and leaders.”

Erin Murphy, 19, was salutatorian of the SPCHS Class of 2020. Now at Florida State University, she is studying computer engineering in the Honors Program and was the first student-athlete to be selected as a Presidential Scholar at FSU. Erin has taken on leadership roles, as well, especially in her beach volleyball team’s commitment to service hours, for which they won the 2020 Director’s Cup for Service. She alone completed 125 hours of community service, dedicating her time to children, seniors and the homeless. Her mother, Roni Murphy of Pinellas County, partially credits her daughter’s proven leadership to the St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools program.

“At SPCHS, they teach them what they need to know to courageously go forward and pursue their goals,” Murphy said.

The high school experience is not lost in this program. Students are a cohort, so are part of a smaller community within the college campus, though they walk the same halls as SPC students and meet the same high expectations. There are many options for clubs and activities to broaden students’ knowledge and perspective, build confidence, cultivate leadership skills and, best of all, have some fun and bond with their peers.

Program application deadlines are March 30 for entering sophomores and April 6 for entering juniors. The webinar is a requirement for admission, so anyone interested can register here for the March 23 webinar, which will begin at 6 p.m.

Please see the admission requirements, which must complete by the application deadline.

For more information, call Dr. Ian Call, Principal, SPCHS Tarpon Springs Campus, at 727-791-5891 or email him at call.ian@spcollege.edu.

If you missed out on the first round of free and fast credentialing programs at St. Petersburg College, you’ve got another chance. Scholarships are back, and new programs are included.

SPC’s Rapid Credentialing program, which prepares students to work in secure, high-demand jobs in only weeks, is now offering scholarships for eight programs. All offer new employees great salaries.

“Even before COVID, many workers could not meet the rising industry demand for a more skilled and technically competent workforce,” said Michael Ramsey, SPC’s Dean of Workforce Development. “This program helps to bridge the gap between the skills the people in our community have and those that are in demand by employers.”

SPC’s Career Connections Director Jason Krupp said the job opportunities are, indeed, plentiful.

“There are hundreds of local manufacturing jobs that require workers for assembly, soldering and building circuit boards,” Krupp said. “These jobs lead to long-term career opportunities.”

Due to a generous $2.2 million grant awarded to SPC through the Florida Department of Education’s Rapid Credentialing Economic Recovery and Prosperity Initiative, any Pinellas County resident who is unemployed, furloughed or making less than $25,500 per year could qualify for a full scholarship for one of these programs.

With such a wide variety of programs, there is something for everyone. Some of the new programs added are a Public Safety Telecommunications Certificate that can be earned in only eight weeks, with four of those online; a 60-hour Certified Production Technician program, and a 10-week Electrical Lineworker program. All opportunities are listed on the college’s Job Training webpage.

Krupp said these programs not only get people back to work quickly but are stepping stones to stable careers.

“These are great opportunities for quick trainings,” he said. “And these jobs are immune to COVID, so they’re more secure than other occupations.”

Act quickly, as scholarship funds are limited. More information, including eligibility requirements and application information, is available at spc.edu/jobtraining.

To help fill critical local job demands for correctional officers, qualified applicants can train at St. Petersburg College’s Corrections Academy for free.

Scholarship opportunities are available through the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office (PCSO) as well as SPC’s Rapid Credentialing program, which offers residents displaced by and those at risk of losing their jobs due to COVID-19 the chance to quickly gain skills and re-tool for a new, stable career through full-tuition scholarships.

“We are very excited to partner with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office and all the possibilities this presents,” SPC Public Safety Programs Director Michael Dibuono said. “We look forward to working together, filling these immediate vacancies in the workforce and ensuring a safer community.”

Individuals interested in this program should visit now.spc.edu/correctionalofficer to find out if they are eligible for this opportunity and ready to apply.

Students sponsored through PCSO are eligible to receive a salary of $39,220 during the 13-week training and will earn $50,000 a year once they complete the State Officer Certification Exam.

The sponsorship covers academy tuition, books and Florida Department of Law Enforcement certification exams. The agency offers opportunities for special assignments, career development, opportunities for promotion and advancement, and benefits, including life insurance, health insurance, dental and vision insurance, shift differential, Florida Retirement System (FRS), educational assistance, uniforms, and paid vacations, holidays and sick leave.

“The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is excited to partner with SPC to offer scholarships that will take a financial burden off of students as they train to become correctional officers,” Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri said. “This money opens the door to a viable career in protection and service to the community.”

Since this certification is recognized statewide, an individual also can attend the Corrections Academy as an “Open Enrollment Student” who is not sponsored by PCSO. Once certification is completed, they will become eligible to fill vacancies in correctional facilities anywhere in Florida. 

To be considered for admission to the academy, applicants need to be at least 19 years old and must meet SPC admission requirements and minimum qualifications, including a background check and physical assessment.

At the academy, recruits are trained in correctional operations and procedures, firearms, defensive tactics, first-responder techniques, officer survival, and emergency preparedness.

“Correctional officers are a vital part of our community’s essential workforce,” SPC Dean of Workforce Development Michael Ramsey said. “We are thankful that the Governor and the Florida Department of Education have made it possible for us to offer scholarships for this program as a part of the Get There Florida initiative.”

Corrections Academy graduates looking to advance their career can continue their education at SPC seamlessly. All courses are transferrable to SPC’s Associate in Science in Criminal Justice Technology degree program, which transfers to the college’s bachelor’s degree in Public Safety Administration.

Young girl draws on white paper with a pencil

Looking for a fun, safe and enriching spring break option for kids? St. Petersburg College’s College for Kids is offering a week-long Spring Break youth program for kids in grades 4-9 March 15-19.

Program Coordinator Dr. Yvonne Williams said College for Kids campers will experience innovative and experiential activities, both in the community and in small, COVID-19 safe classroom settings, facilitated by trained professionals.

“We will have a strong focus on visual arts,” Williams said. “Tarpon Springs students will visit the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, where they will create art to be displayed, and the St. Petersburg students will visit some local art museums downtown.”

The program will be held in two locations: SPC’s Downton Center in St. Petersburg, and the college’s Tarpon Springs Campus. Sessions will run from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Extended care is available, beginning at 7:15 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m., for an extra $25 per week.

The cost is $250, which includes all field trips, a t-shirt, as well as catered, individually boxed lunches with gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Children of SPC faculty, staff and current students will get a 25 percent discount on the tuition.

Extra care will be taken to ensure safety. Students and staff will be screened for symptoms, potential exposure situations and have their temperature taken upon arrival daily. High contact areas will be sanitized throughout the day, student spaces will be six feet apart from others, hand sanitizer will be utilized, and all students and staff will wear masks at all times.

Williams promises a great experience.

“It’s an opportunity to tour a college campus,” she said, “and also be introduced to what the surrounding community has to offer educationally and academically through the visual arts.”

Enrollment is limited to 45 openings per campus, with two classes of 15 students in grades 4-6, and one 15-seat section of 7-9th graders. Register now to ensure a spot!

Man sits in chair, smiling at something off camera, with laptop open in front of him

Student needs extend far beyond money for tuition and books. In fact, some of the greatest necessities for St. Petersburg College students right now are technology based. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, the college has loaned out hundreds of laptops, wifi hot spots and webcams to students.

Technology Tools

Meeting the technology needs of students is one of the reasons why the St. Petersburg College Foundation is holding a 30-day donation drive, which began February 15 and will run until March 15. All donations will go to the Titan Fund, which supports students, faculty and staff by sustaining academic programs, scholarships, innovative programming, students support services and more.

“We make assumptions that everyone today has wifi access and computers,” Theresa McFarland, SPC’s Executive Director of Advancement Services, said. “But we have many students doing their homework in our computer labs. That’s why we’re doing this campaign in support of our students and focusing on their technology needs this time.”

Investing in Success

The Titan Fund offers support for much-needed wraparound services for students, which McFarland says is key to student success.

“(SPC President) Dr. Williams always says it’s the scholarships that get them in the door,” she said. “But it’s our programs and services that get them across the stage.”

SPC Titan Fund gifts are unrestricted, which gives the College the flexibility to quickly allocate support where the need is greatest. Making a gift today ensures that students are equipped with the resources necessary to succeed and have a better future.

“Your gift, no matter the size, 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.”

Join us by committing to a tax-deductible gift to the SPC Titan Fund.

This month St. Petersburg College will celebrate the grand opening of the Power Florida Training Center at the college’s Allstate Center location. A collaboration with Duke Energy and PowerTown Line Construction, the training ground will serve as the home of SPC’s new electrical lineworker program.

On Monday, Feb. 22, the college will host a socially distant, ribbon-cutting ceremony with community partners at the Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S., St. Petersburg.

“SPC is committed to partnering with businesses to streamline access for our students to gain valuable skills and meet local workforce demands,” SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams said. “Thank you Duke Energy and PowerTown Line Construction for your generosity and support of student success. Also, thank you to all of the other members of the SPC Lineworker Consortium for your industry expertise, which was invaluable in making our Power Florida Training Center a reality.”

In an effort to find local and diverse talent, Duke Energy generously donated $100,000 to develop the training facility, hire an instructor and purchase classroom equipment. The program also was funded by the Florida Department of Education’s Rapid Credentialing Grant, which came out of the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

“Duke Energy Florida is proud to collaborate with St. Petersburg College on its new electrical lineworker program. It strengthens the diverse workforce pipeline needed to provide reliable power and provides our neighbors good paying jobs to support the vitality of our communities,” said Melissa Seixas, Duke Energy Florida state president. “This curriculum ensures graduates will be ready to work with the necessary knowledge and skills to be successful.”

As a member of the SPC Lineworker Consortium, PowerTown offered industry insight on the project and oversaw construction of the training yard. Steve Magenheimer, PowerTown Line Construction Training Director, will teach the program’s first training cohort next month.

“PowerTown is excited to collaborate with St. Petersburg College to bring more than 30 years of experience to the classroom,” Magenheimer said. “Not only will students be prepared for various roles, the training program will also instill the principles of diversity, safe work practices, proper work methods and team building.”

Students can complete the electrical lineworker program in as little as 14 weeks. They will gain hands-on, essential lineworker skills and receive additional CPR/First Aid, commercial driver, and OSHA 10 training.

In Florida, where tropical weather can regularly interrupt the power supply, electrical line installers and repairers are in demand. The state boasts the fourth highest employment level for this occupation in the nation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Electrical power line installers and repairers earn a median annual salary of $52,770 in the Tampa Bay area.

The program’s first 14-week class will start March 15. For more information and to register, contact Dan Fumano at Fumano.Dan@spcollege.edu.

Michael Nardone proposes to Amanda Kreplick

Student engagement took on a whole new meaning at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Campus in December, when Michael Nardone, 26, and Amanda Kreplick, 23, got engaged there in the very spot where they first laid eyes on each other.

At first sight

A few days into her first semester as an SPC student, Kreplick was handing out water bottles and planners to passing Tarpon Springs Campus students at a Student Life and Leadership Welcome Back event. Nardone was walking by with a friend, and not only did he accept her offerings, he returned the favor.

“He offered me an energy drink packet for my water bottle,” Kreplick said. “He had to run to class, but after that, we spent weeks locking eyes in various clubs and spots on campus, talking more and more.”

That simple act and an instant attraction began what would become a relationship that is now in its sixth year.

“I first noticed her kindness and her great sense of humor,” Nardone said. “She was so thoughtful towards me and everyone around her.”

A well-laid plan

By 2020, Nardone was ready to propose, and though he’d been dropping some heavy hints about his intentions throughout the year, by the time December 19 rolled around, he had a plan that was designed to keep his lady guessing.

“He said he wanted to take me to dinner that night, and he told me to pick anywhere I wanted to go,” Kreplick said. “I suspected he was going to propose wherever I picked, which is exactly what he wanted me to think.”

On that day, Nardone took her to lunch at the taco place where they had their first date, and they grabbed some donuts in that same plaza, which was strategically chosen for its proximity to SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus.

“He suggested we drive through the SPC campus to reminisce,” she said. “I just really thought he was buttering me up for the dinner proposal. He suggested we take a pic in the spot where we met behind the BB building. I always do a video rather than taking just one pic, so the video was going, and we were in the spot we met. As soon as I turned around from setting up the camera on my phone, he dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Love must be in the air on that campus, because Kreplick and Nardone are the second couple to meet and get engaged there. Nardone felt it was the perfect spot.

A bright future

“Without SPC Tarpon, we would have never met,” he said. “We wouldn’t share all of the memories of fun times working out with Kim, the physical trainer, laughing with our friends and peers, meeting up between classes to go to campus events together, and so much more.”

Nardone graduated in 2017, and Kreplick in 2018, both with Associate Degrees. Kreplick is now a student at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, majoring in Psychology, and Nardone is at USF in Tampa studying Engineering. They are planning an August wedding in Palm Harbor, another special place for them.

“We spent many years living there as teenagers in high school, college students attending SPC, living together for the first time, and eventually, it’s where we plan to start our family,” Kreplick said.

Nardone said they will always hold SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus close to their hearts.

“It’s where we met, fell in love, and got engaged,” he said.

Headshot of Davie Gill in a tan suit.

St. Petersburg College’s very own Davie Gill, Athletic Director, will be recognized for his contributions to the student experience and inducted into the Hall of Fame for the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA) on Friday, Feb. 12, 2021. Gill served as a Student Life & Leadership Coordinator for the college for 11 years before being named Athletic Director in May of 2015.

According to the FCSAA website, “The FCSAA Hall of Fame is comprised of Administrators, Coaches, Advisors, Officials, Students, and other nominees that have contributed a minimum of ten years to FCSAA or one of its member institutions. They have been selected by their peers on the merits of their community and state college contributions and achievements as well as significant accomplishments.”

Gill was nominated for induction into the FCSAA Hall of Fame by the Student Government Division. His career in higher education has shown him to be very dedicated to ensuring that students achieve in all aspects of their lives. He has served in several different roles, including as a Retention Specialist, Academic Advisor in TRIO programs, and coordinator of programs designed for at-risk student populations. Gill has also worked in various leadership roles within the Student Government Division of the FSCAA, including District III Advisor from 2015–2016 and State Advisor from 2017–2018.

Davie shaking hands with members of the Titans baseball team.

“This induction really does mean a lot to me,” said Gill. “To be nominated and unanimously approved by my peers around the state is very special. This organization has taught me so much and the personal and professional relationships gained will be there forever!”

Currently, Gill is a member of the Florida College System Council of Athletic Affairs and the Conference Chair for the Suncoast Conference. Some of his accomplishments and recognitions within FCSSGA include:

  • Selected to represent St. Petersburg College in the FCSAA as an At-Large Member of the Executive Board on two separate occasions
  • Named “Advisor of the Year” in District III twice during tenure
  • Student Governments that Gill has advised have received numerous awards including, but not limited to, Most Outstanding SGA, Distinguished Service awards, Best Leadership group, as well as many scholarships and grants.

SPC is exceptionally happy to see Gill’s accomplishments recognized and appreciates everything he does for our Titans. Congratulations, Davie!