Laura Carreras, treasurer for the Student Government Association at the St. Petersburg College Gibbs Campus, has been named the February FCSSGA Student of the Month. FCSSGA is the Florida College System Student Government Association. See the Facebook post.
Archive for the ‘academics’ Category
With his wife due to deliver their baby any day, and a job interview scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, SPC Public Policy student and United States Air Force Veteran Peter Parapon expected the coming week would be busier than usual. But when he woke up on Monday, Nov. 17, he could not have dreamed what the next 48 hours would hold.
That night, his wife went into labor. After an exhausting, sleepless night, they welcomed their third child – a little girl – into the world. By the time things settled down, he had just enough time to run home, grab a shower, change into a suit and rush to a job interview for a volunteer position in U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s office on SPC’s Seminole Campus.
“They said: ‘You look so tired, what’s wrong?’” Parapon recounted. “Oh, we just had our third child.”
They were so impressed that he came in for that interview that they hired him on the spot.
“I called my wife and told her the good news,” he said. Then he went to class.
“I was awake for like 36 hours by the end of the day,” he said. “The next morning when I woke up I thought: ‘Did this really happen?’ Then I looked at the hospital bracelet on my wrist and knew it wasn’t a dream.”
Maintaining the school – life balance
Like many students at SPC, Parapon knows that balancing family, school and work is not an easy job. After graduating from Osceola High School in 2001, he started taking classes at St. Petersburg College.
“Before I entered the military I went to SPC without great results,” he said. “I was right out of high school and had to work — and work often trumped school.”
After serving as an Air Traffic Controller Apprentice in the Air Force in Texas he came home to Seminole to give college another try. This time around, the discipline and work ethic he picked up in the service gave him the tools he needed to be a successful student. And his Post-9/11 GI benefits meant he could focus on his education and getting work experience and still help support his growing family.
Parapon earned his A.A. from SPC and expects to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration this fall.
“It is just amazing what the Public Policy and Administration degree encompasses,” said Parapon. “There’s a huge spectrum of what you can do with this degree.”
He remembers the advice of one of his SPC professors, Jeff Kronschnabl, who encourages students to follow their heart and do what makes them happy. For Parapon, serving in politics and government is a dream job.
The value of work experience
Like many degrees at St. Petersburg College, hands-on work experience is part of the curriculum. To complete the 180 hours of work experience for his
Co-Op Experience class, Parapon worked on newly elected Florida Rep. Chris Latvala’s campaign from July-Nov. 2014. He knocked on doors, handed out literature and worked at campaign events.
“It gave me a lot of insight on how running for office works,” he said. “Grass roots campaigns are very important. Getting out there and meeting people face to face plays a huge role in politics and is still a major part of campaigns.”
And since he landed the job in Rep. Jolly’s office, he works about 16 hours a week adding to his already impressive work experience.
“Congressman Jolly’s staff are amazing to work with,” he said. “I’ve learned so much since starting there. I deal with constituent issues every day. It’s very rewarding when you get a chance to help resolve their issues.”
He values the experience so much that even though he has long-since satisfied his classroom requirements, he keeps volunteering with Latvala, knowing that eventually the experience he is gaining will pay off. Eventually, he wants to run for office and serve in a governmental leadership position.
“I may not be ready for a front line position as a candidate, but I am happy right now being behind the scenes helping government officials serve the people well.”
Parapon is one of more than 2,000 veterans that call SPC home. For the fourth consecutive year, St. Petersburg College has been named among the Best for Vets Colleges by Military Times. This year, the college ranks No. 15 among four-year institutions in the U.S.
Parapon is the President of the Student Veterans Association on Seminole Campus and also works about 25 hours per week with Veterans Services through the work study program.
“Veteran Services are a good group of people with a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “I get to see Veterans and I can relate to them. It gives me a good feeling of comradery that veterans miss once we get out of military.”
He shares his continued passion for serving with other veteran students.
“For veterans who want to continue to serve their country, SPC’s Public Policy and Administration degree program is a great way to go.”
Read more about St. Petersburg College on Twitter at #spcollege.
Congratulations to the seven St. Petersburg College faculty members chosen to receive the 2014 John & Suanne Roueche Excellence Awards from the League for Innovation in the Community College.
The awards will be presented at the Innovations 2015 conference in Boston in March.
The League is an international, nonprofit organization dedicated to catalyzing the community college movement. It hosts conferences and institutes, develops Web resources, conducts research, produces publications, provides services, and leads projects and initiatives with member colleges, corporate partners, and other agencies in a continuing effort to make a positive difference for students and communities.
The 2014 St. Petersburg College award winners are:
Michael R. Gordon
Outstanding Student Engagement (On-Campus or Blended)
Michael Gordon serves as associate professor in the College of Computer and Information Technology. In response to a grant awarded by the U.S. Department of Labor to help the long-term unemployed gain employment, Gordon designed a blended Cisco Certified Network Associate certificate program that can be completed in just one semester – half the time it normally takes to complete the program. The blended format allows the vast majority of in-class time to be devoted to hands-on lab work.
Results have been outstanding, with 80 percent of the first cohort completing the program successfully and 86 percent of these students passing the CCNA exam on their first attempt. Beyond just academic accomplishment, many cohort members have gone on to find employment with local companies like Tech Data, American Computer Telecom, YMCA, NetWolves, Vology and Cisco Systems.
Cynthia Grey and Wendy Rib
Outstanding Student Engagement – Online
Cynthia Grey and Wendy Rib, professors of Veterinary Technology, collaborated to restructure the curriculum for the college’s online bachelor’s degree program in veterinary technology. During this process, Grey and Rib identified a need for a capstone course that spanned two semesters instead of one, and worked together to implement engaging online learning techniques to create a more individualized, learner-centered experience to improve learner outcomes and increase student success. An interactive activity implemented in the capstone courses is the use of the collaborative technology of WebEx, affording capstone students the ability to share their newly created knowledge in a synchronous online environment. To increase engagement, learners attend at least two presentations besides their own and actively participate in a question and answer period.
Other activities incorporated into the capstone experience are the out-of-class mentors and peer champions. Students contract with a mentor outside of the course whom they have identified as having specific skills that will help them successfully complete their senior project. For peer champions, classmates volunteer to support, encourage, and act as a resource for at least one other classmate’s project.
Students also receive individualized guidance from their professors. Both Rib and Grey spend time consulting with each student, usually by telephone, on their progress throughout capstone journey.
Excellence in Student Coaching and Support
Ray Menard serves as associate professor of Natural Science and has worked to help develop students’ technical skills in microbiology research for about seven years. Students visit the lab on their own time to learn the theory behind the techniques they use and gain hands-on experience in performing the experiments that make them successful and better prepared for the workforce. They develop critical thinking skills, learn to work individually and in groups, and also learn about science in a low pressure environment.
Through his coaching and support, students have investigated how spices inhibit microbial growth, and isolated an antibiotic-producing microbe that was identified as being Bacillus clausii. They have performed several molecular and biochemical analyses, and have isolated and characterized both DNA and proteins. The students have acquired good sterile techniques, are able to successfully culture microbes, and also have learned how to analyze the data and format figures and graphs.
Menard’s work with students also provides out-of-class support. In addition to being available to students in his classes to help with research, he also is available to help them with their other science classes. An unexpected benefit is that the students also help each other through questions they have regarding their classes.
Therezita K. Ortiz
Innovation in the Use of Technology
Therezita K. Ortiz serves as professor in the College of Computer and Information Technology and has been a full-time faculty member at St. Petersburg College since 1999. As of Fall 2014, she has taught more than 165 online courses, including Microcomputer Applications, Operating System Security, and Ethical Hacking, Network Defense and Countermeasures. She also has developed courses for traditional, blended and online formats.
Ortiz was the first in CCIT to implement the use of virtual machines for students in her courses. She also implemented the use of LABSIM, a web-based tool that created real-world, high-fidelity lab simulations, for networking, operating systems, Linux and security-related courses. Her use of multiple online communication resources like showmewhatswrong.com has allowed her to generate step-by-step video tutorials as she provides assistance to her students by walking them through particular tasks. This tool also enables the student to generate videos of what they are doing – right down to their key strokes as they work on assignments and projects. This capability is an asset to any learning environment, especially if it is online..
Innovative Pedagogical Approaches to Teaching and Learning
Anthony Valentine, instructor of Communications, teaches communication and theater courses at St. Petersburg College. Valentine has more than 30 years’ experience as a professional actor and as an acting coach, including appearances on Days of Our Lives, Miami Vice, Night Court, Cybill and Murder, She Wrote, in addition to numerous professional plays.
He incorporates his professional performance experience into his speech courses by demonstrating to students how speaking in public is a form of performance that is similar to acting onstage. His acting experience helps students with both the performance and the business sides of theater and film, and his research includes acting for the camera based on a model of interpersonal communication, public speaking as performance, and teaching diversity in the classroom.
Valentine holds a bachelor’s degree in mass communications, a master’s degree in communication/performance and a doctorate in fine art/theatre. He currently teaches Introduction to Speech Communication, Public Speaking, Introduction to Theatre Arts, and Acting for the stage and for the camera.
James A. Wallis
Innovation in the Use of Technology
James Wallis, professor of Natural Science, teaches at the Tarpon Springs Campus. His research background is in the development of science-oriented virtual field trips. His interest lies in developing multimedia presentations that provide virtual experiences that are comparable to those of students who physically access natural habitats, when it is not possible to visit those locations.
Many of the students attending St. Petersburg College cannot attend field trips due to restrictions on their time, such as taking night classes or traveling to locations that are a great distance from the college. Students often are place-bound with respect to engaging in activities, such as field trips, that may enhance the educational experience in the sciences. As an alternative, Professor Wallis has developed a repository of completed virtual field trips (VFTs), videos and images to be used to develop multimedia presentations to support classroom instruction. The images have been collected during trips throughout Florida, Belize and Costa Rica. The repository includes a collection of images that are focused on topics in natural science and ecology. Images are sorted into groupings for quick reference, such as tropical species, reefs, aquatic species, and images of students engaged in science-related activities.
Many of the visuals collected were the result of a grant from the Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning to purchase materials needed to develop virtual field trips. They have been housed on Dropbox to allow access to the materials by other instructors who are interested in developing lessons that need relevant visual support. All materials are freely available for use by other SPC instructors to develop classroom support materials. This provides open access to a growing collection of images and video covering various topics. To date, 700 images and videos are available for use in developing classroom materials by interested SPC instructors.
Award-winning animation artist Esteban Valdez will give an insider’s view of the animation industry during a lecture at St. Petersburg College at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 21 in the Seminole Campus Digitorium. The public is invited to this free event.
Valdez is the founder of Echo Bridge Pictures, a full-service animation company in St. Petersburg and the winner of many prestigious animation awards including an ADDY Award from the American Advertising Federation. He has worked with Universal Music Group, McKinney and Edelman and his work has been featured on Comedy Central, Nickelodeon, FOX, FX, PBS, BBC and YTV.
Valdez also will lead a workshop from 2-4 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 29 at the Seminole Campus, where he will discuss animation fundamentals, production techniques and methods, and how an artist can best utilize his or her time and space to propel animation forward. The workshop is open to SPC students and the general public.
Read more about the event on the Learning Resources blog.
Peg Connell, director of Disabilities Resources, who is retiring in December, was honored at Tuesday’s Board of Trustees meeting. She began her career with St. Petersburg College in March 1998.
“Ms. Connell, throughout this time, has insisted on and maintained high standards for herself and her staff, which has resulted in several federal grant awards to the college and the establishment of the Able Trust Grant, which has placed more than 100 students with disabilities in professional, career-oriented employment since its inception two years ago,” Dr. Bill Law read from the resolution honoring Connell.
Connell has served as the president of the Florida Special Needs Association and the St. Petersburg College chapter of the Florida Association of Community Colleges. She was a founder of Florida AHEAD (the Florida Association on Higher Education and Disabilities) and served as the association’s president in 2011-12. She received the association’s Award of Excellence in 2013.
Connell will always be remembered for her work in establishing the highly successful Narrowing the Gulf annual conference at SPC, which brings more than 200 people to the EpiCenter each year to address the needs of under-represented college students across the state.
According to NASA, more than 30,000 applicants submitted their names for 150 VIP passes to the launch. NASA required applicants be accredited scientists, engineers, or educators in the space science field; have recently published a space science-related article, paper or book; be a “social media extravert”; and be in good standing in the scientific community.
The two-day event will provide Professor Paris the opportunity to tour NASA facilities at Kennedy; meet and interact with NASA engineers, scientists, and astronauts; learn about NASA’s Orion Spacecraft and the importance of this historical test flight; view and take photographs of Orion at the launch pad; meet fellow space enthusiasts who are active on social media; meet members of NASA’s social media team; and have VIP access to the launch of Orion.
According to NASA, “Orion spacecraft is built to take humans farther than they’ve ever gone before. Orion will serve as the exploration vehicle that will carry the crew to space, provide emergency abort capability, sustain the crew during the space travel, and provide safe re-entry from deep space return velocities.”
The Orion test flight on Dec. 4 will be a two-orbit, four-hour flight to test many of the craft’s systems most critical to safety, including avionics, attitude control, parachutes and the heat shield, according to the NASA website.
Collegiate Model United Nations Conference
The Model United Nations Team at St. Petersburg College received top international honors at the Collegiate Model United Nations Conference held Oct. 31-Nov. 2 in Washington, D.C.
A team of 12 students competed in a UN simulation with more than 800 American and international students. The SPC team was awarded the top prize of Outstanding Delegation putting the group in the top seven percent of teams that competed.
Two SPC students, Kane Magnuson and Mason Kerr, also were awarded the Outstanding Delegate in Committee award for their work on reducing inequality on the Economic and Social Council.
“The Model United Nations Team at St. Petersburg College is a very serious and successful academic team,” said Earl Fratus, social science instructor, who along with fellow instructor Randy Lightfoot traveled with the team. “Our students work very hard, for weeks and months to prepare for their competition and they consistently do a wonderful job of representing us.”
The students represented Austria in the simulation and prepared for the conference by researching issues, practicing diplomatic simulations and drafting solutions to global issues.
“The Model United Nations Program at SPC provides a platform for students to learn about global issues while researching and drafting solutions for issues from the perspective of countries they might not know much about,” said Roy Slater, social science professor. “Students gain valuable research and writing skills, and public speaking skills.”
Slater is one of three faculty advisors, along with Heather Roberson, associate professor of Social Science, and Roberto Loureiro, academic department chair of Social and Behavioral Science.
The students who competed in the Model UN Team for SPC include:
- Andi Menaul
- Maxximilian Seijo
- Jermaine Evans
- Isabel Martinho
- Mason Kerr
- Alexander Ramnath
- Amy Currotto
- Ryan Walker
- Haneen Kantar
- Jordon Liggett
- Kane Magnuson
- Lewis Morgan
Florida Model United Nations – Gainesville
SPC teams also competed in the Florida Model United Nations simulation with nearly 20 other Florida institutions in early October. SPC had three teams competing – one earned an Honorable Mention award (ranking in the top 20 percent) and a second team earned a Distinguished Delegation award (ranking in the Top 14 percent).
The teams represented Belgium, Republic of Korea and Austria.
The students traveling were:
- Carlos Ortega Perez
- Derek Hopkins
- Matthew McMahon
- Lindsey Velde
- Amy Currotto
- Ryan Walker
- Armando Pellot
- Keith Greenberg
- Alexander Haydon
- Lea Jarnberg