Archive for the ‘awards’ Category

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

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St. Petersburg College (SPC) has been listed among the top-ranked schools in U.S. News & World Report’s 2021 Best Online Programs list, released today. It achieved rankings in three categories – Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall, Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business and Best Online Program for Veterans.

Not only did SPC rank nationally for Best Online Bachelor’s Programs in Business for the first time, but it tied for No. 1 within the Florida College System (FCS). The college placed third for Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall and Best Online Bachelor’s Program for Veterans, compared to other FCS institutions.

Among all participating Florida colleges and universities, SPC placed No. 6 for Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business, No. 8 for the Best Online Bachelor’s Program for Veterans, and No. 11 for Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall.

“I’m extremely proud of these rankings and our faculty and staff’s tireless dedication to student success,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “SPC continues to excel and ensure students have access to a first-rate education and the in-demand training they need, especially as they face the many obstacles posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”

SPC is Florida’s first two-year college and the first to offer bachelor’s degrees. The college offers more than 110 degree and certificate programs, including many high-skill, industry-recognized workforce certifications.

“My sincere appreciation and congratulations to all of our bachelor’s program faculty members, whose dedication contributed to earning the Best Online Bachelor’s Program in Business and Best Online Bachelor’s Program Overall distinctions,” said Vicki Westergard, SPC Executive Director of Instructional Design and Development. “Online Learning and Services is honored to support deans and faculty in the development of high-quality online courses for our bachelor’s degree programs.”

SPC Veteran Affairs Coordinator Allison Shenofsky said the rankings illustrate the college’s commitment to supporting veterans.

“This award is a testament to the commitment our entire community has to the brave men and women of our nation’s military, and it is a testament to what we can achieve with hard work and perseverance! We’ve worked very hard to continue serving our students with that same level of quality during COVID-19.  I am so proud to see that the SPC family-students, staff and faculty alike-have continued to thrive and achieve excellence during such challenging times,” she said.

In September 2020, the college announced it ranked third among FCS institutions for the U.S. News & World Report 2021 Best Colleges study.

SPC also ranked #21 among public colleges in the southern region. These are the highest-ranked public colleges out of schools that participated in the 2020 study in the 12 states that make up the regional south.

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U.S. News & World Report ranked St. Petersburg College third among the 28 colleges in the Florida College System, according to their 2021 Best Colleges study.

The ranking is based on the college’s academic reputation as noted by peer institutions, graduation and retention rates, faculty resources, financial resources per student, student selectivity, low student indebtedness rates, social mobility and alumni giving.

“It is a huge honor for SPC to be recognized as a 2021 Best College and we celebrate our faculty and staff for all of their hard work and dedication to our students and community,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “We continue to focus on lifting up our community by offering a high-quality, affordable and accessible education to all who seek pathways to a better future for themselves and their families.”

The report listed SPC #21 among public colleges in the southern region. These are the highest-ranked public colleges out of schools that participated in the study in the 12 states that make up the regional south.

Overall, SPC ranked 68th among all private and public institutions in the southern region.

SPC offers more than 110 degree and certificate programs, including many high-demand, high-skill industry-recognized workforce certifications. The college’s career-focused curriculum is created with input from industry experts to give students the skills they need to meet the needs of today’s employers. SPC’s Pathways Program offers students a clear roadmap to success to ensure they are taking the right courses – in the right sequence – to meet their goals.

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St. Petersburg College received two gold awards as the “Best of the Best,” according to the Tampa Bay Times 2020 rankings.

SPC was voted best local college and best nursing college. The Best of the Best Awards celebrate businesses and organizations loved by the Tampa Bay and North Suncoast communities. Learn more here.

Founded in 1927, SPC is Florida’s first two-year college and the first to offer bachelor’s degrees. The college offers more than 110 degree and certificate programs, including many high-demand, high-skill industry-recognized workforce certifications.

SPC’s College of Nursing has been training registered nurses for six decades. It offers nationally accredited nursing programs, including an Associate in Science program and a nursing bachelor’s program, which is offered online.

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SGA leaders at Florida College System conference in February.

The past few months have been a real challenge for St. Petersburg College students, with more than 1800 classes moving online mid-semester. We would like to honor students who went above and beyond their studies to serve as members of the college’s Student Government Association. Despite being quarantined for COVID- 19, these SGA leaders persevered in their duties. We thank them for their time, service, and dedication to their fellow students and to the entire college.

We would also like to recognize our 2019-2020 Academic Year student award recipients. The academic performance and dedication to self-improvement demonstrated by these students is exemplary, and they stand as true examples of what it means to be a St. Petersburg College Titan. We congratulate them on their achievements this year and look forward to their continued success.

2019-20 Student Government Leaders

Allstate Center

  • Shi’Niqua Vaught, President

Caruth Health Education Center

  • Brandi Jordan, President
  • Sarah Choi, Secretary
  • Jonah Hoppe, Treasurer
  • Sherie Evans, Parliamentarian
  • Cynthia Faulkner, Sergeant of Arms
  • Harvey Toro, Historian
  • Andy Conway, PTA SGA Representative
  • Chris Kolaxis, PTA SGA Representative
  • Sharon Wattam-Nelson, Radiography SGA Representative
  • Rebecca Byrd, Nursing SGA Representative
  • Whitney Skerritt, Dental Hygiene SGA Representative
  • Katsiaryna Durant, Dental Hygiene SGA Representative

Clearwater Campus

  • Maria Stourgioti, President
  • Nate Dean, Vice President
  • Rajiv Rambaran, Secretary
  • Tera Frazier, Historian

Downtown Center

  • Brittaney Hall, President
  • Saeem Fakir, Vice President
  • Raheim Davis, Secretary
  • Jorge Malacara, Treasurer

Midtown Center

  • Jeff Thomas, President
  • Maria Scruggs, Vice President
  • Rose Adamson, Legislative Liaison/Secretary

Seminole Campus

  • Noora Khaleel, President
  • Grace Galuski, Vice President
  • Kwanjittra Kaeo-Unruean, Secretary/Treasurer
  • Tomás Ortega, Legislative Liaison
  • Jessica Brooks, Historian
  • Jack Brown, Historian
  • Andrew Davis, Parliamentarian
  • Bradley Wojtiuk, Sergeant of Arms

St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

  • Tiffany Albritton, President
  • Christy-Lynne Lapine, Vice President
  • Megan Greene, Secretary
  • Daniel Small, Public Relations Representative

Tarpon Springs Campus

  • Jair Marrero, President
  • Maxime Thiaulier, Vice President
  • Nick Bull, Treasurer
  • Isabel Ribas, Legislative/Jurisprudence
  • Paul Chaves, Event Liason

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The St. Petersburg College Alumni Association has named and would like to congratulate the college’s 2020 Apollo and Alumni Achievement award recipients.

Garrick Roe was selected as the Apollo Award winner, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve. Erika Ostos Perez received the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve.

2020 Apollo Award Recipient

Headshot of Garrick Roe, SPC's 2020 Apollo Award recipient

Garrick Roe

In 2017, Roe received the SPC Student Life and Leadership Award in recognition of founding the SPC Permaculture Club. With collaboration and support from the Gibbs Campus Student Government Association, the Permaculture Club had an amazing year hosting events such as membership drives and middle school class garden tours.

He is an active volunteer within his community. From 2015 – 2018, he served as campus representative, president, and events coordinator for the Honors Program Student Consortium.

Roe plans on pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration at St. Petersburg College and maintaining the Gibbs Campus Food Forest.

“Graduating Summa Cum Laude and earning the distinction of the 2020 Apollo Award would be a testament to future late academic bloomers: that, even though we started later in life, it is never too late to grow, learn and reach one’s potential as students and leaders.”

2020 Alumni Achievement Award Recipient

Headshot of Erika Ostos Perez, SPC's 2020 Alumni Achievement Award recipient

Erika Ostos Perez

Ostos entered the college as an SPC Presidential Scholar. The two-year scholarship allowed her to focus completely on her studies, where she excelled.

She is no stranger to volunteerism. She volunteers in the activities/life enrichment department of Brookdale Senior Living where she assists in the delivery of wellness and recreation programs to meet the specific needs of residents of the assisted living facility (ALF) and of patients in the skilled nursing facility (SNF). In addition, she is a Weekday Warrior for Habitat for Humanity, a volunteer science tutor/mentor at her local church and volunteers at Moccasin Lake Nature Park through the Tri Beta National Biological Honor Society.

She plans to achieve a career in medicine and will be applying for admission to medical schools in Florida, preferably in the fall of 2021.

“I want to learn all the skills necessary to become an excellent doctor, both intellectually and through outstanding bedside manner.”

She aspires to complete her residency and fellowship programs. Her interests are in General Surgery, Urology and Obstetrics and Gynecology.

“I am the living proof of the effort St. Petersburg College puts into helping its students succeed. SPC has taught me skills well beyond the books by allowing me to have access to an environment that constantly encouraged me to become a better student, classmate and person. I have maximized all of the resources and opportunities my college had to offer me and used them to become not only academically knowledgeable, but also socially responsible.”


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fulbright scholar

Dell-Jones stands before an art installation of silk cocoons by the Moroccan artist Safaa Erruas.

The Chronicle of Higher Education has named St. Petersburg College a Top Producing Institution in the Fulbright U.S. Scholar Program for the 2019-2020 academic year. SPC is one of 26 associate and baccalaureate institutions in the U.S. named in that category.

This recognition comes from SPC adjunct professor Dr. Julie Dell-Jones’ appointment as a Fulbright Scholar in Morocco. Dell-Jones is at Hassan II University at the Ben M’Sik campus, where she taught Media in the US and Educational Technology in the Fall 2019 semester. She is now teaching Intro to Media Studies and Oral Communication.

Ready to Return

Dell-Jones chose Morocco after several trips there; though, when she applied, it had been 15 years since she’d visited.

“I have always loved this country. I wanted to learn about the Amazigh (Berber) culture and history. I read about the tribal jewelry, textiles and other artisan products. Inevitably, I also researched the language and gender issues. I was overdue for a visit, and I wanted to see how much had changed and what had remained the same.”

Her time in Morocco has helped her professionally by allowing her to experience a very different type of educational organization.

“Since I teach non-native speakers of English at SPC, learning how other countries organize their educational system has been a valuable lesson,” she said. “SPC students in ESL benefit from having English available around them in various ways, but it is still necessary to make efforts to get them out of their comfort zones.”

Some things are no different than in the States, including the obstacles students face in getting an education.

“Like at SPC, I try to get to know the real challenges for students, so that I might be able to offer a work-around,” she said. “This may mean creating a new assignment for a student who can’t access WiFi, or bringing a snack for students who have been on campus the majority of the day and will be taking a test on an empty stomach.”

The appointment keeps her on her toes, with most of her time spent planning lessons and teaching.

“Since which courses I will teach is decided very close to the start of the semester, there is a lot of in-progress planning in order to stay ahead of the students,” she said.

The experience is not all work, however. She has been able to travel and immerse herself in the culture and language.

“I attended a conference on multilingualism in Agadir, and I saw the majority of art exhibits during the International Art Festival in Rabat,” she said. “I try to attend various art shows in Casablanca and hope to return to Marrakech to see more of the visual arts there.”fulbright scholar

Dell-Jones, who earned her doctorate in Second Language Acquisition and Instructional Technology from The University of South Florida, has been teaching English for Academic Purposes: Advanced Writing, Reading, Speaking & Listening, and Integrated skills at SPC since 2017. She also teaches French and English as a Second Language at other institutions. Already fluent in French and Spanish, she is also learning Darija, the Moroccan variety of Arabic.

“When I began studying this language via YouTube videos and a former colleague from Casablanca, I learned that the Moroccan Darija is considered the Arabic dialect that is farthest from the classical or formal Arabic,” she said. “I am studying Darija on my own, with an occasional tutor, but my learning is “shweeya,” or, very slow!”

Traveler’s Best Friend

One thing she couldn’t leave behind was her 70lb Australian Shepherd mix, Sophie. Prior to leaving the States, she researched how a dog would be received in Morocco and Casablanca, where many do not see dogs as family pets. Though bringing Sophie has required many logistical challenges, including travel, culture, housing and the effects of the move on her canine friend, she is sure that it was right to bring her.

fulbright scholar

Sophie, Dell-Jones’ Australian Shepherd mix, gets lots of attention and has helped her make friends.

fulbright scholar

“Other Americans who are working here are often surprised by how many Moroccans I have managed to meet and befriend,” Dell-Jones said. “I credit Sophie because she is almost always the catalyst for meeting people. She accompanies me almost everywhere, and I usually encourage people to pet her, resulting in a sort of dog-ambassador role for her. I have lost count of the number of times people have waved to me from across the road and called out her name.”

In addition to teaching and learning, Dell-Jones has some projects working, as well, including a reading club, a mini photography course, and, thanks to Sophie, a visual ethnography of Casablanca’s dog park community.

“I have become a regular at the dog park near my neighborhood,” she said. “There is such an interesting mix of ages, economic backgrounds, languages spoken, and, of course, types of dogs. I’m really interested in the perspectives of dog owners in this community regarding how dogs are viewed in Casablanca.”

Can’t Win if You Don’t Enter

Dell-Jones’ advice for anyone interested in applying for a Fulbright? Don’t give up.

“This was not my first application, so I am perhaps a model of ‘try, try again,’” she said. “As a graduate student, I had applied to do research in Sweden, but I was not selected. After graduation with my doctorate, I applied as a scholar in Mexico and was selected as an alternate. I explained this to my friends as getting fourth place at the Olympics, which, ultimately, is not an ideal outcome. When I found my latest Fulbright attempt was successful, I was ecstatic to come to Morocco.”

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St. Petersburg College (SPC) is ranked in the top tier of Florida schools listed by U.S. News & World Report as the 2020 Best Online Programs for Veterans and Best Online Bachelor’s Programs. The college placed second in both categories among Florida College System (FCS) institutions that participated in the rankings. In Florida, SPC was listed seventh for Best Online Programs for Veterans and eighth for Best in Online Bachelor’s Programs.

In the southern region, SPC ranked 16th for Best Online Programs for Veterans and 21st for Best in Online Bachelor’s Programs, according to U.S. News & World Report. Nationally, the college was listed 39th in the first category and 58th in the second.

“We are proud to be recognized for the work we’re doing to help our students thrive and find pathways to a brighter future,” said Dr. Tonjua Williams, SPC President. “These rankings reflect the dedication, passion and talent of our faculty and staff, who put our students and their success first.”

In the category Best Online Programs for Veterans, U.S. News & World Report recognized SPC for its affordable, accessible and reputable programming.

“At SPC we love our veteran students,” said SPC Veteran Affairs Coordinator Allison Shenofsky. “We understand the commitments of our nation’s military, and we work hard to continuously provide those brave men and women with quality education that is approved for study under their Active Military, Reserve/National Guard and GI Bill benefits. Our commitment is to our students’ success, and I’m so glad to see that we are being recognized as having been successful in this commitment!”

The ranking criteria for Best in Online Bachelor’s Programs included engagement, services and technology, faculty credentials and training, and expert opinion.

“Offering online courses for more than two decades, St Petersburg College continually searches for new ways to innovate, engaging students in the online classroom and providing a full range of online services to support students outside the classroom,” said Vicki Westergard, SPC Executive Director of Instructional Design and Development, Online Learning and Services. “We serve students who can’t come to campus due to distance, as well as local students who want to complete a degree on their own time, without having to put aside job, home and family.”

In September 2019, the college also announced it placed sixth among Florida public and private colleges that participated in the 2020 U.S. News & World Report Best Colleges study. SPC ranked 17th as a top public school in the southern colleges region. These are the highest-ranked public colleges and universities within its ranking category among 12 states in the regional south.

SPC also ranked 45th as a top performer on social mobility out of 84 schools in the southern region. This ranking highlights the college’s effort to advance economically disadvantaged students who are less likely than others to finish college.

On the ethnic diversity index, SPC scored .57 among public and private colleges in the southern region.



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Growing up in Syracuse, New York, St. Petersburg College’s Engineering Technology Program Director Lara Sharp came from a science-minded family. Her mother and grandmother were nurses, her father a science teacher and grandfather a math teacher. So when her seventh-grade math teacher invited her to take an exam that would allow her to take a higher-level math class, she didn’t even flinch.

“She gave us all a study packet. I brought it home, and every night after dinner for the entire school year, I would walk across the street to my grandparents’ house, where my grandfather would tutor me,” Sharp said. “It was hard, and sometimes there were tears, but he wouldn’t let me quit.”

The hard work at her grandparents’ kitchen table paid off when Sharp made a perfect score on the test. Years later, it’s still paying off, because on Sept. 13, Sharp was named one of the 2019 STEM Women of the Year from Girls Inc. of Pinellas.

Girls Inc. of Pinellas offers opportunities for girls to explore science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields through hands-on experiences and leadership roles, giving them room to take risks and make mistakes, free from distractions. Each year, the organization honors local people who encourage young women to enter careers in STEM.

“It is very humbling to get this award,” Sharp said. “Though I never thought of myself as a trailblazer or a woman engineer. Only an engineer. I can’t imagine doing anything else.”

A Scientific Journey

Sharp, who earned an undergraduate degree in chemical engineering from the University of Buffalo, said her interest in the field stemmed from one of her sci-fi heroes: the chief engineer aboard the U.S.S. Enterprise, Scotty.

“The first time I ever thought about being an engineer was after seeing a Star Trek movie,” she said. “Everyone wants to be Kirk, but I wanted to be Scotty. It wasn’t Kirk saving the day. It was Scotty.”

Sharp went to work as a chemical engineer after earning her degree, and immediately began work on a Master’s in Business Administration at the University of Massachusetts. Though she loved her engineering job, she wanted to teach like her father and grandfather, so she began teaching high school chemistry. Sharp’s career trajectory ultimately brought her to her current position at SPC four years ago.

“Education is where I belong,” she said. “I love it. Being able to do both engineering and teaching is very rewarding.”

Sharp, who just finished a second master’s degree from the University of South Florida three years ago, said that as a woman, she understands the challenges that young women entering STEM fields face.

“I was one of three girls in a class of 40, with no female instructors,” she said. “At times it was difficult. One professor actually told me it was a privilege for women to be able to go to college.”

The opposition only motivated her more.

“I may have had to work harder in undergrad than the boys,” Sharp said. “I probably did have something to prove, and I had to develop a shell. But I never had to compromise who I was. I didn’t have to stop being a woman.”

A Role Model

SPC Workforce Institute Program Director Susan Garrett nominated Sharp for the award, noting her creativity, innovation and inspiration in furthering SPC’s efforts to encourage women and young girls to enter STEM fields.

“Lara is a great role model of a STEM professional,” Garrett said. “Not only has she overcome some stereotypes of women in engineering, she has also worked hard to mentor and encourage other women to be bold and take the steps to the career paths they have both interest in and intelligence for. She is a great role model.”

SPC Lab Specialist Sara Warmouth earned her Associate of Arts degree in Engineering Technology under Sharp’s tutelage. She says Sharp inspired her and gave her space to develop confidence in her own abilities.

“She was always supportive as a teacher,” Warmouth said. “But her ideas never outweighed mine. It was always a collaborative effort. She wanted me to carve my own path and succeed.”

Sharp says that though great strides have been made in making education more equitable, there is still important work to be done.

“One stat that bothers me is the fact that more women are getting degrees, but the numbers aren’t changing in the workforce,” she said.

Sharp says she is humbled by the honor of the award.

“I’m very proud, and I like being recognized for my achievements, but I look forward to a time when there are no more “firsts” when it comes to women in STEM, and there is total equity in the educational and professional world, and people are recognized not as men or women who are leaders in their field, but as people being the best at what they do.”

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St. Petersburg College (SPC) is ranked first in Florida and sixth in the nation among associate colleges for sending students abroad, according to the Institute of International Education (IIE) 2018 Open Doors Report. Over the last year, more than 150 SPC students have traveled to other countries while earning college credit.

SPC Study Abroad in ParisDr. Ramona Kirsch, Director of the Center for International Programs, highlighted that the program’s success is attributed to a collegewide collaboration and the students’ willingness to expand their out-of-classroom experience.

SPC student Maria Dotsok strongly encourages other students to travel abroad and experience new cultures.

“It is a wonderful experience to travel abroad and become a global citizen,” Dotsok said. “I would give one bit of advice to the students: don’t think – do it!”

SPC has a broad range of study abroad programs throughout the world. For 2019-20, the planned programs include:

  • Students will study the Maori culture in New Zealand while living with host families in the Maori village.
  • Social and health sciences students will study at the Nelson Mandela University in South Africa.
  • Humanities students will travel to Greece and the island city of Kalymnos.
  • Students will travel to Costa Rica to study biology.
  • Students will study the theatre arts in England, which includes viewing a performance at the Globe Theatre and visiting Shakespeare’s home Stratford on Avon.
  • Students will study the Spanish language in Spain.
  • Dental hygiene students will travel to Jamaica to offer community volunteer services.

Learn more about SPC’s Center for International Programs online, or email studyabroad@spcollege.edu.

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