More than 1,200 graduates of St. Petersburg College crossed the stage during the 124th Commencement Ceremony at Tropicana Field Tuesday, May 13.
A total of 2,547 students earned 2,849 degrees from SPC this term, the highest ever for the college, President Bill Law told the crowd of well-wishers. Graduates ranged in age from 17 to 74, with 23 graduates over the age of 60.
With this graduating class, the college has awarded 140,618 degrees since the college was founded in 1927, Law added.
Before diplomas were handed out, the college named its Apollo and Alumni Achievement award winners.
Five outstanding SPC students were finalists for the annual Apollo Award, the highest honor a two-year graduate can achieve. Four students also were finalists for the annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor for a four-year SPC graduate.
Seminole Campus student Oldrin Bataku received the Apollo Award while Clearwater Campus student Eunmi Ko was named the Alumni Achievement Award winner.
“My experiences have had a profound effect and stimulated me in and out of the classroom,” said Oldrin, a math and science tutor and Honors College student. Oldrin attributed his achievement to his parents, who moved from Albania 18 years ago this month “with nothing but a clear vision in mind for a better future. Although at times it has seemed beyond our grasp, I owe any and all success to the hard-working immigrants who made this all possible. I love you mom and dad.”
He plans to attend a research university and pursue undergraduate science and mathematics research.
Originally from Korea, Eunmi Ko said she dealt with language and cultural barriers and family challenges by working harder.
“My situation has given me the chance to be independent,” said Eunmi, who graduated in December with her bachelor’s degree in Mathematics Education. “With the support of professors, staff and fellow students, I was empowered to achieve my goals.”
Eunmi also thanked her parents in Korean for helping her succeed. She plans to attend graduate school and teach high school mathematics.
Also honored at the ceremony were St. Petersburg Collegiate High School student Salina Som, who became the college’s second Gates Millennium Scholar in two years, following Maria Thurber’s award last year. Helen W. Gilbart was recognized as SPC’s Outstanding Alumnus.