Archive for the ‘academics’ Category

Bridge to BaccalaureateA new “bridge” is coming to Tampa Bay. However, instead of carrying harried commuters back and forth, this bridge will help underrepresented minority students move into high-demand baccalaureate programs in STEM.

The Tampa Bay Bridge to the Baccalaureate (TB-B2B), a partnership among St. Petersburg College (SPC), Hillsborough Community College (HCC) and State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota (SCF), has been awarded a $1.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation, under its Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) program, to increase the number of minority students transferring into a STEM program at the University of South Florida (USF).

The three colleges typically see more than 400 of their minority students transfer into STEM programs at a four-year university every year. The partnering institutions will aim to boost that number by 50 percent over the three-year grant period.

“We are so honored to be a part of this partnership, which will give underrepresented, minority students opportunities to pursue baccalaureate degrees in STEM fields leading to high-wage jobs that can help end generational cycles of poverty,” said Dr. Tonjua Williams, SPC President. “We are grateful to the National Science Foundation and our educational partners for their commitment to equity and diversity in STEM fields – a commitment that is crucial to meeting the ever-evolving needs of the 21st century workforce.”

A cohesive system of new activities, peer and faculty connections and academic supports will help the TB-B2B partner schools move the needle for STEM minority student engagement. The grant also will leverage existing connections through USF’s FUSE initiative, a guaranteed admissions program for students who complete their associate degree at a participating Florida College System institution.

“By preparing and retaining an underutilized talent pool for STEM careers, the LSAMP TB-B2B will have a significant impact on our local, state, and national workforce,” said Bernard Batson, Director of Diversity and inclusion Programs at the USF College of Engineering. “We look forward to partnering with the program leaders and faculty on new efforts that will increase access and broaden participation of underserved students in STEM.”

SPC will serve as the lead of TB-B2B. Faculty and administrators from each of the partner institutions will work collaboratively with local school districts, STEM industry representatives and other educational institutions to ensure underrepresented minority students have the support, engagement and sense of “self” necessary to successfully pursue and complete a baccalaureate education in STEM.

“This Bridge to the Baccalaureate grant exemplifies the great partnerships that exist among our educational institutions in the Tampa Bay area,” said Dr. Jesse Coraggio, Vice President, Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services at SPC. “With this grant opportunity from the National Science Foundation, we can open doors and provide opportunity for underserved students by building line-of-sight pathways to baccalaureate STEM programs at our local State Colleges and the University of South Florida System schools.”

TB-B2B students will engage in undergraduate research and hands-on experiential learning opportunities, increasing their research knowledge base and exploration of STEM interests and careers. A four-year STEM degree leads to higher wages, according to the U.S. Department of Commerce. STEM workers earn about 30 percent more than their non-STEM counterparts do.

“The Tampa Bay Bridge to the Baccalaureate Alliance positions HCC and its partners to expand and enhance our efforts to recruit, retain, and graduate more students from underrepresented minorities with STEM degrees,” said James Wysong, Dean of Mathematics and Sciences at HCC. “A diverse scientific and technical workforce is critical to America’s future, and this alliance supports that goal.”

“We are delighted that the National Science Foundation has funded this Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation consortium grant. In our region and throughout the state, there is a critical need for a well-educated workforce with degrees in a STEM field,” said SCF President Dr. Carol Probstfeld. “In collaboration with our alliance partners, St. Petersburg College and Hillsborough Community College, this grant will help SCF to significantly increase the number of underrepresented minority students that are pursuing a STEM bachelor’s degree.”

Tampa Bay is fast becoming the epicenter of STEM industry and innovation within the state of Florida, and currently ranks as the state’s leading technology hub, according to the Tampa Hillsborough Economic Development Corporation. Enterprise Florida estimates that 15 out of the 20 fastest growing job fields will require a STEM education, and projects the need for 120,000 new STEM workers by 2018 alone.

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SPC student journalist win awards

The St. Petersburg College student newspaper The Sandbox News rocked the student awards in the Florida Society of News Editors (FSNE) Journalism contest by winning 11 out of 24 student awards–all while vying against large universities like the University of South Florida, University of Florida and Florida State University.

The Sandbox is written by students, including dedicated staff writers from the Mass Media Communications program. Volunteers make up the majority of writers, creating a diverse writing atmosphere.

As shown in this event, SPC has a strong Mass Media Communications department that utilizes the newest and strongest skills to best serve the news landscape and help students succeed.

SPC Mass Media Communications Professor and Newspaper Mentor Kathy Bryson said writing for The Sandbox is a great opportunity for any student.

“All careers are impacted by or look for coverage in media,” she said. “Everyone has a story, and working on the paper helps you learn how to communicate it effectively, whether in print, video or photos. We’re very proud of our FSNE winners who did great work!”

The winners and their respective categories can be found below. To read more about the awards and students visit our Communications blog

Non-Deadline Reporting 3rd David Jolly on his Senate Race Fred Arnold
Commentary 1st To METI, or Not to METI? That is the Question! Douglas  Marshall
Commentary 2nd The Islamic State Viviana  Angelini
Commentary 3rd Cell Phone Apps Help Meet Transportation Needs Pat  Denney
Sports 3rd Make Your Volunteer Time “Special” Juliana  Rangel-Acevedo
Multimedia 2nd St. Pete Action Sports Fred Arnold
News Photography 2nd Shine On St. Pete! Angel  Gonzalez
News Photography 3rd American Victory Merchant Marine Museum Nicolas Gatti
Sports Photography 1st Lady Titans vs. Skagit Valley College Robert  Gale
Sports Photography 2nd Titans First Loss Does Not Upset Jenna  Jean
Sports Photography 3rd Lady Titans Fall To Broward College Seahawks Chris Demmons

See photos from the FSNE banquet on Facebook.

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Since the Seminole Community Educational Ecosystem began three years ago, nearly 2,000 elementary, middle and high school students have visited St. Petersburg College to help hone their focus on their academic end goal – a college credential that will change their lives.

The educational ecosystem in Seminole stemmed from a grassroots effort in 2013 among five school principals and their School Advisory Committee members who wanted to reach beyond the traditional role of SACs. The educational ecosystem is based on research and best practices that champion the idea that it takes a community to educate a child.

“It’s about engaging the community in the educational process,” said Jesse Coraggio, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services at SPC. “It’s the idea that educating the youth in the community shouldn’t be the response of just the school district or just the college; it really should be the response of the community and only together are we going to be successful.”

Coraggio helped spark the ecosystem idea when he was a SAC volunteer SAC at Bauder Elementary School, where his daughter attended. He and other parents wanted to explore how groups could work together across grade levels to prepare students and facilitate key transitions, such as those between elementary and middle school, middle school and high school, and high school and college.

As part of the program, fifth-graders visit SPC for “Picture Yourself Here” events, designed to inspire them to think about college at an early age. High school juniors and seniors attend SPC “Majors Fairs” and other programs with their parents to help explore, investigate and decide on college choices, and navigate the steps to successfully enroll and register.

The ecosystem idea has gained momentum and is now sparking conversations among SPC, communities and schools in Clearwater, south St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs.

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Dejay-MyersThe SPC Honors Program hosted its Ninth Annual Collegiate Research Conference at the EpiCenter Collaborative Labs Thursday, Jan. 28. There was a strong turnout among students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“This conference has inspired students to conduct research, analyze the results, prepare a presentation, and present in front of an audience,” said Honors Program Interim Director Earl Fratus. “It provides undergraduate students at St. Petersburg College an opportunity to share their projects and be recognized and celebrated for their exceptional work.”

This year’s conference featured the largest number of student presentations to date with 46 podium presentations, posters and artwork spanning a wide range of topics including biology, medicine, social science, law, history and the humanities.

“Each project reflects the effort of our students through academic research and exploration,” said Fratus.

Watch our area of study blogs in the coming weeks for student posts detailing their research projects.

Keynote speaker inspires students to live a life of experience

Humanities Professor Linda Yakle

Humanities Professor Linda Yakle

Keynote speaker Professor Linda Yakle has taught Honors Interdisciplinary Studies classes for more than 25 years. Her keynote address drew from her experiences during four pilgrimages on the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage in Spain. In 2013 she brought her pilgrimage directly to the students by teaching her online humanities class as she made the 500-mile trek. Today, she encourage students to create their own experience.

“I don’t want your journey to be just metaphorical,” she said. Common phrases among other travelers on the Camino include “everyone walks his own Camino” and  “Buen Camino” – which translates “Good Road.”

With many of the honors students in the audience in their final year of college, on the verge of stepping out into the next chapter of their life, she explained some of the lessons she learned along the way that she hoped would resonate with them.

“I am here to call you to action,” she said. “To suggest to you that you at least consider living a life of experience instead of one of material acquisition.”

Honors program staff and students help organize event

Amy Bhatt, president of the Honors Program Student Consortium, served as event chair and collaborated with other consortium members and honors program staff to organize the event. Bhatt also moderated the 60-second speech presentations, a crowd favorite.

Earl Fratus and Amy Bhatt

Earl Fratus and Amy Bhatt

Honors Program Staff

  • Earl Fratus, Interim Director
  • Tara Hunter, Executive Assistant
  • Joshua Owens, Student Assistant
  • Roberta Spathari, Student Assistant

Honors Program Student Consortium members

  • Amy Bhatt, President
  • Laura Valdes, Vice President
  • Kayla Li, Events Coordinator
  • Brenna Garcia, Public Relations Director
  • Alexander Haydon, Secretary
  • Garrick Roe, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Representative
  • Ronda Bailey, Seminole Campus Representative
  • Adam Robinson, Tarpon Springs Campus Representative

Related links

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More than 100 attendees converged Thursday on the Holiday Inn Harborside in Indian Rocks Beach for the 2016 Annual Conference of the Florida Association for Institutional Research. The two-day conference was packed with workshops and panel discussions on how to best use data in college environments to improve student outcomes.

FAIR serves professionals in postsecondary education institutions and agencies whose interests include research, planning and policy analysis. Most FAIR members work in the institutional research branches of their respective schools or organizations. Their roles and numbers have increased dramatically in recent years as accountability in higher education rises.

“Senior leaders now come to us because data is critical in understanding the risks in their decisions,” said Marie Zeglan, Assistant Provost and Director of Institutional Planning and Research at the University of Florida. “We are asked to identify patterns that can translate into successful policies and planning … We can no longer afford to be data taxicab drivers. We have to be first-rate data tour guides instead.”

Historically, institutional research departments have focused on compliance, particularly with IPEDS, the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System that institutions are required to report massive data to.

“We used to be the autopsy arm, reporting data after the fact,” said Jesse Coraggio, SPC Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services, who moderated a morning panel discussion. “Now we are moving beyond reporting and into facilitating change. It’s so much about relationships and communication. We have become more like consultants.”

By analyzing what’s going on during the term rather than at the end, college leaders can make stronger policy decisions aimed at helping students.

“That way we can make a difference to the student at the time they need help,” Coraggio said.

“We’re helping students learn how to learn,” said panelist Christina Hart, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at Indian River State College.

The conference covered many intricacies and shifts in data analytics, such as data visualization.

“It’s not enough to run reports,” said Robert Lucio, Director of Academic Assessment at Saint Leo University. “Data is useless unless you have someone who can analyze it and tell the story behind it.”

“Making the data easy to understand is crucial,” Hart added. “It’s got to be very visible and clear as to what’s happening.”


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Courtney Ducharme

Courtney Ducharme

Two St. Petersburg College students from the Tarpon Springs Campus were selected as 2015 Coca-Cola Leaders of Promise Scholars. They were chosen for outstanding academic achievement and leadership potential from more than 1,100 Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society applicants worldwide. The Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation sponsors the program, providing more than 200 students with the $1,000 scholarship.

Phi Theta Kappa is an international honor society for two-year colleges. Members must demonstrate honor and service to others and maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher.

Courtney Ducharme is an A.A. student on the Tarpon Springs Campus, is the Vice President of Fellowship for the campus PTK chapter. She plans to pursue her bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education at SPC.

Gabriele Prause

Gabriele Prause

Gabriele Prause is a dual enrollment A.A. student on Tarpon Springs Campus and a member of the Alpha Zeta Tau chapter of Phi Theta Kappa.

The funds provided by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation not only aid college completion, but provide students with the opportunity to engage in society programs and develop leadership skills to become future leaders in their communities,” said Dr. Nancy Rieves, CEO of the Phi Theta Kappa Foundation. “Research shows that Phi Theta Kappa members are four times more likely to complete a college degree than their peers. The Leaders of Promise Scholarships recognize students for what they have achieved already and assure that financial need isn’t an obstacle to achieving their academic goals.”

Phi Theta Kappa is the largest honor society in higher education with 1,285 chapters on college campuses worldwide. More than 3 million students have been inducted since its founding in 1918.

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St. Petersburg College has been selected as one of only 30 community colleges in the nation to participate in a three-year intensive Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC).

Supported by funding from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Pathways Project will help build capacity for community colleges to design and implement high-quality, structured academic and career pathways for all students, aligned for both university transfer and jobs with value in the labor market.

“The development of our Academic and Career Pathways Program has been a priority initiative at St. Petersburg College over the last few years, and we are honored to be recognized as a leader in this area,” said SPC President Bill Law. “This designation builds on the work we’ve done to implement meaningful support systems to help students successfully earn degrees and certifications more quickly – while mitigating debt burdens – so they can find gainful employment and boost their earnings. We know these systematic steps change students’ lives and benefit our community in countless ways.”


Pathways Project, led by the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC)

This fall, SPC successfully launched 184 academic and career pathways within 95 certificate, associate and bachelor degree programs that were developed to provide students with a logical sequence of courses offerings and embedded programmatic certificates and industry recognized certifications.

The purpose is to provide students with a clear and concise roadmap to graduation, while allowing them to earn stackable credentials along the way that can increase their earning potential. While the pathways provide students guidance on the most effective sequencing and number of classes to take each semester – as well as clarity regarding which semester courses are offered – students still have a great deal of flexibility in their choices.

The pathways include comprehensive wraparound support services and a robust integration of curriculum designed with input from with local industry leaders to ensure students are workforce ready at graduation.

“We have taken the guesswork out of course selection to ensure that students can achieve academic milestones more quickly, so they can get into the workforce or move up in their careers sooner,” said Jesse Coraggio, SPC’s Vice President of Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services. “Pathways are going to revolutionize the way students progress along their academic journeys, and allow them to gain credentials along the way that will help them earn more in their respective fields.”

St. Petersburg College is one of only four colleges in the state to be selected for the program. The others include Broward College, Indian River State College and Tallahassee Community College.

Building on emerging research and experience in the field, the project reflects AACC’s commitments to follow through on recommendations set forth in the 2012 report of the 21st Century Commission on the Future of Community Colleges, Reclaiming the American Dream, and the 2014 implementation guide, Empowering Community Colleges to Build the Nation’s Future.

Since 2012, St. Petersburg College has focused on improving student success by using intensive and collegewide analysis of student data. SPC created the College Experience, an ambitious series of five core student success interventions that were simultaneously executed based on the belief that in order to truly identify and address barriers to student achievement, the college must employ a holistic and comprehensive strategy. Among those efforts, career counseling and academic planning were integrated to provide students clear educational paths that lead to employment. SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is the culmination of those efforts.

College Experience support services and interventions have resulted in successfully increasing student achievement across the board, and in particular for First-Time-In-College (FTIC) students and African American and Hispanic males. This kind of analysis allows for SPC to better understand student performance over time – analyzing how students are performing and why, and which students are falling behind and when – to focus efforts where large-scale gains can be attained.

As part of the AACC Pathways Project, SPC will collaborate with institutions that have complementary goals and student success-centered practices that could be scaled or replicated. As part of the project, SPC will work with Pathways Project colleges to determine:

  • how students experience and understand program pathways, and the career and further education opportunities to which they lead
  • how prescriptive should colleges be regarding students’ program-related decisions
  • what supports help students choose and enter a program of study efficiently
  • the costs to redesign colleges’ new student intake processes to help students better choose and enter a program of study

“I truly believe SPC’s Academic and Career Pathways Program is a ‘game-changer’ for our students,” Law said. “So, we are particularly excited to share what we’ve learned, have the opportunity to learn from others, and collaborate with colleges and partnering institutions to help develop a sustainable model for educational institutions across the nation.”

Six institutes will be held over the course of the three-year program. A team of five SPC representatives will attend the first of the AACC institutes in San Antonio, Texas in February, 2016.

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