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Recipients of St. Petersburg College’s Presidential Scholarship represent some of the best and brightest high school seniors in Pinellas County. This year, 64 students were selected as SPC 2015 Presidential Scholars and will receive a total of $455,000 in tuition scholarship awards.

The group had an average weighted GPA of 4.29, an average SAT score for Reading and Math of 1102 and an average ACT score of 25.

“These are some of the most exceptional students in Pinellas County and we are thrilled they have chosen to attend St. Petersburg College,” said SPC President Bill Law.

Presidential Scholarship Award winners from 2014-15 are honored at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus.

Presidential Scholarship Award winners from 2014-15 are honored at the St. Petersburg College Seminole Campus.

SPC’s Presidential Scholarship provides full tuition for 60 credit hours of study at St. Petersburg College. As Presidential Scholars, this select group of students is invited to join the President’s Scholars Counsel and will meet with President Law during their enrollment to gain an inside look at college operations and activities and share their perspectives on student affairs.

Presidential Scholarship recipients are selected annually based on merit and test scores. The program is open to Pinellas County residents who meet the following criteria:

  • High school seniors attending a school in Pinellas County and anticipating a May graduation with a standard high school diploma
  • Florida resident
  • U.S. citizen, permanent resident alien or Dream Act eligible
  • Anticipate a weighted cumulative grade point average of at least 3.5 at the end of the seventh semester of high school
  • Have taken the ACT/SAT Exams

Until last year, the Presidential Scholarship covered up to 15 credit hours per term for one year following high school graduation. The expanded credit hours covered under the new requirements are intended to help students complete a program of study, whether an associate degree for high school seniors or a bachelor’s degree for those who have already earned an associate through dual enrollment or Early College programs.

“St. Petersburg College offers a quality education that prepares students for personal and professional success, so we want to be their first choice,” said Frances Neu, Vice President for Institutional Advancement & Executive Director of the St. Petersburg College Foundation. “We want to be part of the conversation and in front of students as they are making their decisions about college. We are the most prudent choice there is.”

Since 2004, SPC has awarded more than $3.1 million in Presidential Scholarships. This cohort’s awards total $455,000.

Students apply for the Presidential Scholarship during the fall of their senior year in high school and have until January to submit an application.

Recipients, and the high schools they attend are:

  • Calvary Christian School: Nicholas Grosseibl
  • Clearwater High School: Rachel Ahrens, Rocy Danielle Barruel, Anisa Hasaj, Mediha Muhic, Jacie Parsons, Sofia Romero, Lori Rossi, and Melisa Trockels
  • Countryside High School: Laura Bednark, Amy Bhatt, Abigail Jensen, Thomas Labella, Ciara Ngin, and David Russell
  • Dixie Hollins High School: Racquel Cummings
  • Dunedin High School: Rebekah Brouillette and Erin Murphy-Johns
  • East Lake High School: Doyle Dempsey, Shea Duncan, Thomas Fisher, Lacey Kozlowski-Coward, Halle Kozlowski-Coward, and Brandon Yates
  • Indian Rocks Christian School: William Bechtel, Sophia Davis, Joshua Smith, Steven Turco, and Joseph Williams
  • Lakewood High School: Erica Wells
  • Largo High School: Anthony Del Vecchio, Rachel Kerwood, and Justine Murray
  • Northeast High School: Dylan Brooks, Kirsten Campbell, Dakota Cuthbertson, Sarina Martins, Marcos Perez Bencomo, Adrian Roldan, and Jacari Thompson
  • Osceola Fundamental High School: Abigail Beale, Alexis Deveaux, Samantha Iannotti, Anita Nguyen, Ethan Surprenant, and Magdaliene Vricos
  • Palm Harbor University High School: Austin Burnham, Ryland Carlin, and Alexis Gagliardotto
  • Pinellas County Homeschool: Shelby Henriksen, Emily Smith, and Samantha Witsey
  • Pinellas Park High School: Christian Bekas, Kristine Caraig, Casandra McDonald, Destiny Presley, and Louisa Slobodenko
  • Seminole High School: Etasa Evans, Zachary Hill, Leslie Laperriere, and Cheyanne Wallace
  • St. Petersburg Collegiate High School: Sonya McCabe
  • St. Petersburg High School: Jamie Montgomery
  • Tarpon Springs High School: Shanti Robinson

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Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, SPC College of Business students won first place in the Best Strategy Invitational last week.

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, two St. Petersburg College Business students, won first place in the final leg of The Business Strategy Game, an international competition where students create a company and compete with other colleges and universities in a simulated global marketplace.

Part of the students’ final capstone project at SPC, the online assignment/competition teaches students the business and leadership skills of running a multimillion dollar company, as they work to sell branded and private label athletic footwear.

Two other SPC teams came in second and sixth in the competition. To qualify for the invitational, the three SPC teams had to place first in a first-round simulation. In the final round, 216 teams from around the world competed in 18 different industries.

To win the first place spot, Yore and Calle-Schuler competed against students from California State, University of Texas and other large universities.

“Our capstone projects are another way we are preparing our students for the real world,” said SPC President Bill Law. “The fact that they are competing on an international level against thousands of university students and winning is a testament to both the students and the faculty!”

To date, SPC has had 32 winning teams that went on to compete in the international invitation with the following results:

  • 1st place – seven teams
  • 2nd place – eight teams
  • 3rd place – three teams
Business-Strategy-Game

Pictured above from left after a recent College of Business Capstone presentation are Robin Wilber, SPC professor; Susanne Whitfield, International Business student; Tom Philippe, SPC professor; Victoria Yore, Business Administration student; Nicole Calle-Schuler, International Business student; Wendy Huehn-Brown and Amy Sauers, SPC professors. Yore and Calle-Schuler went on to place first in the international invitational.

“I think it’s just amazing that 18 out of 32 teams from SPC have placed in the top three in a world business competition,” said Robin Wilber. “I am so proud of our students.”

SPC students’ success earned Wilber and SPC Professor Tom Philippe the designation of Master Professors in the Business Strategy Game Hall of Fame in 2011.

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SPC student Erik Durneika has been selected as a 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Bronze Scholar. Durneika’s selection was based on his scores in the All-USA Community College Academic Team competition, for which more than 1,700 applications were received this year. This program is sponsored by the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation and is administered by Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.

To be selected for the scholarships, Durneika had to make it on the Phi Theta Kappa All-Florida Academic Team. Phi Theta Kappa is an international honor society for two-year colleges. Members of PTK must demonstrate honor and service to others and maintain a 3.5 GPA or higher.

The New Century Scholars program honors the top scoring Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team nominee from each of the 50 states in the U.S. Since 1989, the Coca-Cola Scholars Foundation has awarded $60 million in scholarships to more than 5,400 outstanding students.

Phi Theta Kappa will recognize the 2015 Coca-Cola Community College Academic Team Scholars at the Celebration of Scholars Networking Social on Saturday, April 18 held during the Phi Theta Kappa International Convention (NerdNation).

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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.

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Peter-Parapon and his new daughterWith 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

Pictured from left: Peter Parapon and Congressman David Jolly.

SPC Public Policy student Peter Parapon (left) and Congressman David Jolly.

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.”

Veterans Services

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.

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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

SPC faculty Michael Gordon

Michael 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

SPC veterinary technology faculty Cynthia Grey and Wendy Rib receive an award from the League for Innovation.

From left: Cynthia Grey and Wendy Rib

Outstanding Student EngagementOnline

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.

Ray Menard

SPC natural science faculty Ray Menard

Ray Menard

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

SPC faculty Therezita Ortiz

Therezita 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..

Ortiz holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico and a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern University. She has held Microsoft certificates and is CompTIA Network+ certified.

Anthony Valentine

SPC faculty Anthony Valentine

Anthony Valentine

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

SPC faculty James Wallis

James 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.

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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.

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