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A large group of people stand in front of a screen showing a live stream. SPC Tarpon Springs Campus Provost Rod Davies welcomed more than 30 people, in person and via Skype, to celebrate SPC’s new partnership with the University of the Aegean (UA) in Rhodes, Greece on Feb. 19. The new collaboration promotes an exchange of experiences and staff in the fields of business, education, humanities and culture. UA Rector Chryssi Vitsilaki and Dean Ioannis Seimenis joined the presentation via Skype.

“We’re very excited to go beyond borders to strengthen our connections with St. Petersburg College and to enhance the learning experience for students,” said UA Rector Chryssi Vitsilaki.

“We’re delighted to build a long-term partnership with the Greek community and to open the eyes of our students to travel and experience a new culture,” said Dr. Susan Demers, Acting VP of Academic Affairs.

City of Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos was instrumental in bringing the two institutions together.

“The signing between St. Petersburg College and the University of the Aegean will offer an excellent opportunity to expand education and offer students and faculties a truly unique view of our interconnected world,” Alahouzos said. “The city is proud, and we look forward to watching the relationship flourish over the coming years.”  

 

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St. Petersburg College is expanding its international footprint by announcing its newest partnership with the University of the Aegean in Rhodes, Greece. Over the next five years, SPC and UA are collaborating to promote an exchange of experiences and staff in the fields of business, education, humanities and culture.

The two institutions will officially sign the agreement at 9:30 a.m. on Feb. 19 at the SPC Tarpon Springs Campus Interactive Gallery in the Fine Arts Building. The University of the Aegean Rector, Chryssi Vitsilaki and Dean, Ioannis Seimenis will be present via Skype.

“SPC is excited to sign this agreement and begin working with the University of the Aegean in Rhodes, Greece,” SPC Director for the Center for International Programs Frank Jurkovic said. “This agreement will allow SPC to offer more international opportunities for our students, staff and community. We hope to have temporary faculty and student exchanges and to work on bilateral and multilateral projects together.”

City of Tarpon Springs Mayor Chris Alahouzos was instrumental in bringing the two institutions together.

“The signing between St. Petersburg College and the University of the Aegean will offer an excellent opportunity to expand education and offer students and faculties a truly unique view of our interconnected world,” Alahouzos said. “The city is proud, and we look forward to watching the relationship flourish over the coming years.”

For more information about the international partnership, contact Frank Jurkovic at jurkovic.frank@spcollege.edu.

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Want to accelerate earning college credit and get a closer to a degree in only 12 weeks? Explore the 12 in 12 program, now underway at St. Petersburg College’s Midtown Center.

The new 12 in 12 opportunity is a unique Express Session at the college that allows students to take four classes, earning 12 credits in just 12 weeks. This helps to take the guesswork out of what to take and when, with the convenience of a schedule that makes sense for your needs. Students who have not yet registered for the spring will still have the ability to complete a full term.

The four classes, humanities, political science, speech communication and English composition, allow students to complete 12 hours of core requirements by attending classes for about four hours per day, Monday through Thursday, for the duration of the session.

The 12 in 12 session begins Feb. 10. Students who are interested should contact their advisor. Or for more information, email Takita Cuthbertson at cuthbertson.takita@spcollege.edu.

Graphic about the 12 in 12 Express Session at the SPC Midtown Center

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Incubator ceremonyWith the Tampa Bay area being among the fastest-growing regions in the country and having the second-largest manufacturing base in Florida, St. Petersburg College is strengthening the talent pipeline by opening a new Workforce Hub at the Tarpon Springs Campus.

More than 40 community leaders attended the grand opening on Wednesday, Jan. 8. The Workforce Hub, located in the BB building on campus, will serve as a resource center for community members and students, providing support through workforce programs and GED training. Also, SPC partnered with CareerSource Pinellas to have a representative in the hub to meet the needs of the local labor force.

“This is a wonderful endeavor for our campus,” said SPC Tarpon Springs Campus Provost Rod Davis. “We’re been actively listening to the community and industry to align departments and services that will provide students with career opportunities.”

The Workforce Hub is just the beginning of a larger-scale project, The Industrial Workforce Business Incubator. This innovative expansion will allow SPC to increase its pipeline of graduates trained for high-skill, high-wage jobs. This will, in turn, close skills gaps for employers and help drive the regional economy. SPC has an appropriation request for the upcoming legislative session that will allow the college to fully implement and utilize the Workforce Hub, sponsored by House Representative Diamond, HB 9157 and Senator Hooper, Form 1917.

The incubator will home to programs such as:

  • Engineering
  • Manufacturing
  • Supply Chain Management
  • Biomedical Technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Information Technology

“This concept was developed by listening to our workforce leaders,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “Collaboratively, we envisioned the incubator as an opportunity for employers to work alongside our students to better prepare them for in-demand careers.”

The one-stop-shop incubator will feature state-of-the-art technology, adaptable co-workstations, cross-functional training spaces and more.

“Economic mobility and community engagement are two of the three foundational pillars for the college,” Williams said. “Through the support of Senator Hooper and Representative Diamond, the Workforce Hub aligns with the college’s vision and is the beginning of a stronger community, region and state.”

To learn more about the new Workforce Hub and the Industrial Workforce Business Incubator, contact Carissa Roldan at roldan.carissa@spcollege.edu.

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People diving for Epiphany cross

Courtesy of the Tampa Bay Times

St. Petersburg College students played big parts in the 114th annual Tarpon Springs Epiphany celebration, which was held on Monday, January 6. Both the dove bearer and the cross diver who retrieved the white wooden cross from the icy waters of spring Bayou are studying at SPC.

This year brought the largest crowd ever to the celebration, with 25,000 people in attendance. There were also dignitaries present, including Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis, and His Eminence Archbishop Elpidophoros, who presides over the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America.

This year, SPC Education Student Cynthia Tsaoussis served as the dove bearer, who carries the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit, from the church and releases it before the dive as a blessing. Tsaoussis told News Channel 8 that she was excited to serve in this role in a very special year.

Hunter and Family“I’ve been excited all week,” she told them. “This is the 100th anniversary of the dove bearer role, because in the first 14 years, the role belonged to a young gentleman. Also, the Prime Minister of Greece and the Arch Bishop will be joining us on this glorious day for the start of 2020, the Epiphany celebration.”

Hunter Sakadales was one of 57 boys, ages 16-18, who took the plunge in hopes of being the one who finds the cross, which is said to bring a year of blessings. Sakadales grabbed the cross within seconds after it was tossed into the water, the Tampa Bay Times reported. The 18-year-old is an Early College student in his second year at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus. He will earn his Associate in Arts degree in May, and hopes to go on to study psychology. Sakadales said that it was his third and final year to be able to dive, and he didn’t expect to be the one to get the cross.

“When I got out, I felt like I should be congratulating someone else,” he said. “But all my friends and family were there, and everyone was smiling and it felt more like a blessing than anything I’ve ever experienced. It was truly beautiful.”

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Photo of Freddy Williams at Keys to Manhood event

Freddy Williams, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Suncoast, speaks at the Keys to Manhood Seminar on Friday, Oct. 11 at the Seminole Campus.

St. Petersburg College hosts the Keys to Manhood seminar each year at one of the college’s campuses. The Keys to Manhood (K2M) seminar engages middle and high school males of color in discussions about college and career readiness, self-awareness and community engagement. Some of the partners who have helped sponsor and support this seminar each year have included Transamerica, GTE Financial, Verizon Wireless, Crown Automotive, Tampa Bay Rays, Silent Rogue and the City of St. Petersburg.

Following the successful Keys to Manhood seminar in the spring, the committee who oversees and organizes the seminars decided to tweak the format. Traditionally, the seminar has taken place on a Saturday in the spring for both middle and high school students.

This year the committee collaborated with Pinellas County schools and 5000 Role Models to develop two unique sessions, one dedicated for middle school students in the fall and one dedicated to high school students in the spring.

Photo of students at Keys to Manhood event

The middle school boys attended sessions learning about different generations and soft skills.

The Keys to Manhood seminar dedicated to middle school students took place on Friday, Oct. 11. Thanks to the partnership with Pinellas County Schools and 5000 Role Models, this year’s seminar achieved the highest turnout with over 160 middle school students attending from 10 schools.

The seminar’s topic, Generation Z, provided students an opportunity to learn more about five generations and gain soft skills. The president and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Suncoast, Freddy Williams, inspired the young men as the seminar opened. Students also participated in a drone activity and two lucky students won drone prizes.

The next Keys to Manhood event for high school students is set for spring 2020.

Photo of boys flying drones at Keys to Manhood event

The boys were very excited to learn about drones and a lucky few even got to fly one.

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ribbon cuttingWhen St. Petersburg College and the community play together, everybody wins! On Tuesday, Sept. 10, SPC celebrated the ribbon cutting for the new Lurie Civic Building at SPC Seminole Campus. The building, a shared space with the City of Seminole’s Chamber of Commerce, will include public meeting spaces as well as classrooms and event spaces for SPC students.

The idea for the building, a collaboration between the college and the community, originated when Dr. Ed and Vivian Lurie proposed a donation of $500,000 for the construction of a civic building in Seminole. Dr. Lurie, who helped establish SPC’s entrepreneurial program at the Seminole Campus, has long had a relationship with the college, and SPC’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to accept the generous donation and offered space at the Seminole Campus.

“This is an awesome example of a community coming together, which, in turn, will benefit its citizens,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams.

Seminole Provost Mark Strickland says the building will help SPC students as they prepare to enter their career fields.

“Since the Seminole Chamber will be housed there, our students will be able to network, intern and shadow with local businesses that are charter members,” he said.

Strickland also noted opportunity for civic awareness.

“Because it will serve as a meeting place for local clubs like Kiwanis and Rotary, our students will be able to become civically engaged and participate in activities led by those clubs,” he said.

In addition to the Luries, many Seminole community members contributed to the project. Mark Ely donated technology in the classroom meeting spaces, while Pat Marlowe from Flooring America donated flooring for the area.

“The Seminole Community came together and raised 80 percent of the funds to construct this building,” Strickland said. “This is a prime example of a community understanding the vision of Dr. Lurie, who believed there should be a building in Seminole that allowed for local clubs to meet, the chamber to be housed, and for our students to be engaged.”

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The highly sought-after St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) has opened a second location at the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus. A ribbon-cutting ceremony will be hosted from noon-1:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 30 at the Bilirakis Building at the college campus.

Now St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools, SPCHS offers students in grades 10-12 the opportunity to simultaneously earn a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree. This immersive program allows students to flourish and mature in the college culture, which provides a unique, nurturing and powerful experience.

“The faculty, staff and I are extremely excited to bring this high school model to residents in North Pinellas,” SPCHS Tarpon Springs Principal Ian Call said. “Our students are enjoying the Tarpon Springs Campus and are looking forward to taking advantage of all the educational opportunities offered by St. Petersburg College.”

This location will serve more than 150 students in the inaugural class and is expected to expand to 240 student by 2020-2021. Families in North Pinellas County will now have the convenience to access the accelerated program.

“Our campus is very fortunate and excited to embark on this new journey,” SPC Tarpon Springs Provost Rod Davis said. “We feel that the Collegiate High School will serve our community well and believe it will be another great opportunity for our North County students and parents.”

The original Collegiate High School at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, which opened in 2004 and serves 233 students, has consistently been recognized as a high-performing, national ranked school. It has earned an “A” rating from the State of Florida since opening. Niche recently ranked the school as #1 in the 2020 Best Public High Schools in Tampa Area list.

“I am excited that Pinellas County Schools and SPC have partnered to provide this distinctive educational choice to the students of North Pinellas,” Associate VP of Collegiate High Schools Starla Metz said. “The rigorous curriculum, leadership development and campus activities will provide students with a strong academic foundation and the skills needed to reach for their dreams.”

In 2017, the school received the honorary National Blue Ribbon as an Exemplary High Performing School by the U.S. Secretary of Education. Newsweek named them the 55th best high school in America in 2016. Only one of 10 in Florida to make the list, SPCHS held the second ranking in the state.

In an effort to expand the number of high quality charter schools in Florida, SPC was awarded a two-year $550,000 grant from the Florida Department of Education’s Office of Independent Education and Parental Choice (OIEPC) to assist with opening the second location.

For more information, visit spchs.spcollege.edu.

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Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

What are the numbers involved when a Business Analytics grad decides to propose to his girlfriend? For SPC alum Nathan Myles, it only took nine weeks, 200 hours of preparation, a 43-page itinerary and a 13-hour proposal day involving 35 accomplices, 15 stops and room 262 on the Tarpon Springs Campus’ Lyceum building.

Skylar Daigle first saw Myles in their American Government class at the Tarpon Springs campus in 2015. But they never actually talked.

“We were there a whole semester and I never spoke a single word to him,” said Daigle, noting her extreme shyness.

But the two crossed paths at a mutual friend’s birthday party in July 2015, and she recognized him from class. They chatted, discovering a shared love for all things Star Wars, Marvel Comics and the TV sitcom, How I Met Your Mother. To Daigle’s regret, they parted ways without exchanging numbers. But fate was still at work.

“When I got home,” she said, “I logged into my Facebook on my computer – which I almost never do. He was at the top of my suggested friends list.”

She sent him a friend request, which he instantly accepted, and then he sent her a movie trailer they’d discussed at the party. They began talking, and the two, both dual enrollment high school students, began spending time studying and seeing each other around their class schedules. After getting to know one another – and after Myles gained permission from Daigle’s parents to date their daughter – they went on their first official date in December 2015.

Over the next four years, the two earned associate degrees from SPC. Daigle went on to get her degree in Elementary Education from the University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg, and Myles a bachelor’s in Business Analytics and Information Systems from USF Tampa. Once they’d both finished their programs and found jobs, Myles felt like it was time to pop the question. When he got the all-clear from her parents, he began to orchestrate a very intricate plan.

“I planned every second,” Myles said. “Including the positioning of the sun. That factored in twice.”

The day began as a normal Saturday, with the couple having breakfast at their favorite place. Though they had discussed marriage, there had been no proposal, nor was Daigle expecting one that day. She’d even told Myles that he’d have to shave off the beard he’d grown before he even thought about proposing to her.

“I had no idea,” she said. “My hair was all frizzy and air-dried. I wasn’t dressed right at all.”

But when Myles stepped out to “take a call”, the waitress came over with a dozen roses and her first clue:

I had to leave without saying goodbye, because it is about that time for me to go shave my face…  But it’s okay, while I am gone, I arranged for you to go on an adventure and you won’t be alone.  As you step outside of this restaurant, you will be stepping into our new life. Go outside right now and see who is joining you! It’s time to make some room on that ring finger…

Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

When she stepped outside into her new life, she found her boyfriend gone and a rented GMC Yukon waiting with a driver, Myles’ brother Christian, who picked up a couple of Daigle’s friends and took them through several more stops, leading them with clues and treats like a new dress and shoes, hair, makeup, nails, lunch and coffee, until at 5 p.m., they pulled up at SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus – the 12th stop of the day – where Daigle was instructed to jettison her friends and proceed to the Lyceum building, room 262, the same place they first saw each other in their American Government class four years before.

“I figured it was just another stop,” Daigle said. “I had no idea that’s where he’d do it.”

She quickly saw that this would, indeed be the place, when she walked into the classroom, which had been transformed with low lighting and glowing battery-operated candles. There was an aisle set up, with the created walkway carpeted with rose petals and Ed Sheeran crooning in the background. Not the actual Ed Sheeran, but the song “Thinking Out Loud” playing on a loop through the portable speaker (see itinerary, page five, under room setup). Framed photos of the happy couple were placed all around.

“I was crying,” Daigle remembered. “He even thought to go ahead and do our engagement photos right then and there, so we could mark that off.”

After the agreement was sealed with a kiss and the engagement photos done, the couple headed out to a nice dinner, then on to Sand Key for a sunset walk. The night ended more than 13 hours after it began, at 10:15 p.m. after a visit to the site of their first meeting: Cold Stone Creamery, where they had dessert.

Photo Courtesy of K. Fiorey Photography

“I reserved the same table we’d sat at,” Myles said. “I had it all set up for when we got there.”

Myles said he’d had some inspiration from different sources for the scavenger hunt.

“I’d seen some scavenger hunts on different TV shows, like Parks and Recreation,” Myles said. “And I’ve always loved scavenger hunts because my family does them every year for Christmas.”

The wedding is tentatively planned for July 2020, and in the meantime, Daigle will settle into her new career as a kindergarten teacher, and Myles will continue in his position as a DevOps Developer at a software company.

Though the location of the wedding is to be determined, there was never any question in Myles’ mind as to where to propose.

“The first year of our relationship was at SPC,” Myles said. “It was the first place we saw each other, the first place we ever kissed. We spent so many afternoons there together before we could technically date. It’s where we really got to know each other.”

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A lot of people loved back-to-school shopping as children. There was something about freshly sharpened pencils, a pristine box of crayons, and a new backpack that would make the impending school year feel more tangible and exciting.

But not everyone has the luxury of new school supplies. For some, a new backpack every year ranks low on the priority list when money is stretched thin, and you have bills to pay and a family to feed.

The Care Fair was a family affair, with older siblings helping younger brothers and sisters pick out their favorite backpack design from 20 options.

That’s where Junior League of St. Petersburg (JLSP) and Community Health Centers of Pinellas, Inc. (CHCP) step in.

In partnership with the St. Petersburg College Midtown Center, the two local organizations hosted the 23rd Annual Back-to-School Care Fair on Saturday, July 27. SPC frequently teams up with area groups and businesses both on- and off-campus as part of its Community of Care initiative. A large part of the college’s mission is to make sure that the entire SPC family—students and employees—as well as the surrounding communities, have what they need to lead a healthy and productive life.

The Care Fair was busy from start to finish, with many guests showing up before it began at 8:00 a.m. Not only were there a plethora of local vendors and community resources located inside of the Jamerson Building at the Midtown Center, including an SPC recruitment table, but school-aged children could also pick up a free backpack filled with new school supplies. The backpacks and supplies were provided by JLSP and kids were able to choose from 20 different colorful designs.

Just next door at the Johnnie Ruth Clarke Center, students received complimentary medical and dental exams from CHCP, ensuring that they show up on the first day of class with a bright smile and clean bill of health. Ten local barbers were also on-site to provide fresh haircuts for the kids.

Members of CHCP leadership officially cut the ribbon on their new Mobile Health Center at the Care Fair.

Outside in the SPC parking lot, fairgoers were treated to a live DJ, a drumline, fitness activities, a multitude of vendor tents, and even a police K-9 demo. Representatives from area professional sports teams handed out branded giveaways while the always colorful NOMAD Art Bus acted as a canvas for anyone feeling creative. Kids were given free teddy bears from the Tampa Rough Riders and a close-up look at a fire engine from St. Petersburg Fire Rescue’s Station 3.

The Care Fair was also an opportunity for CHCP to cut the ribbon on their new Mobile Health Center. The completely paperless clinic on wheels will allow for greater patient accessibility and is even equipped with a dental chair and dental x-ray machine. It is also wheelchair-friendly.

Overall, the Care Fair was a great success, and many kids and parents left the festivities with big smiles on their faces. SPC was happy to collaborate with so many local organizations and vendors as it continues to cultivate a Community of Care in Pinellas County.

To learn more about SPC’s Community of Care initiative, please visit stpe.co/communityofcare.

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