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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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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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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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For the past six weeks, 100 recent high school graduates took classes at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater, Seminole, St. Petersburg/Gibbs and Tarpon Springs campuses as part of the annual Summer of Success program. They were all first-generation college students and represented area high schools from Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties.

Students who attended classes at St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus proudly show off their Summer of Success completion certificates.

Their college application fee? Free. Their tuition for the four-credit program? Free. Their textbooks for the classes? Completely free.

Summer of Success is part of the initiative for SPC’s Student Support Services Department, which helps first-generation and limited-income students graduate from college. This year, the featured classes for the program were SPC 1017—Introduction to Speech Communication (3 credits) and CGS 1070—Basic Computer and Information Literacy (1 credit). Career exploration and leadership opportunities, along with weekly career and business tours, rounded out this exciting opportunity for students.

Capping off the students’ educational summer was an awards ceremony held at the Seminole Campus Digitorium. They were recognized for their hard work and awarded completion certificates while their friends and family proudly watched. Ernest Hooper, assistant sports editor for the Tampa Bay Times, was also in attendance as a guest speaker. He gave an inspiring speech to commend the students on their dedication to their education, adding a few sage words of wisdom for them to remember along their academic journey.

Ernest Hooper, assistant sports editor for the Tampa Bay Times, was the guest speaker for the awards ceremony.

“Remember the people who believe in you,” Hooper advised. “Don’t be afraid to get help; don’t be afraid to reach out.”

With the successful completion of the Summer of Success program, students will continue their education at SPC this fall. They have already enrolled in classes and will build upon what they learned and experienced over the summer.

The 2019 Summer of Success program was administered and coordinated at the four participating campuses by Keith Windom, Clearwater Campus; Juan Herrera-Medina, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus; Benjamin Woods, Seminole Campus; and Jackie Addis, Tarpon Springs Campus.

To learn more about the objectives of Student Support Services and how it helps students succeed at SPC through programs like Summer of Success, please visit stpe.co/studentservices.

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Most kids William Maillis’ age recently graduated from elementary school, but Maillis, 11, graduated from St. Petersburg College on Saturday, July 21 with an associate in arts degree.

William Maillis

According to his father, Peter Maillis, it became obvious that William was special when, at seven months old, he began speaking in complete sentences.

“I asked him to lie down in his crib, and he said, ‘I don’t want to,'” Peter recalled. “He also surprised an entire waiting room at the doctors office when he said, ‘I want milk.'”

Early Bird

William was able to identify numbers by the time he was 6 months old, and he could say the alphabet forward and backward by age 1. He was performing multiplication by age 2, learned algebra at age 4, and was declared a genius at 5 by a psychologist, who noted that children like him are about 1 in 10 million.

After starting kindergarten at age 4, William had surpassed elementary school curriculum by the time he began third grade. He transferred to high school, where he had already earned some credits. After earning his high school diploma at age 7, William began studying at a local community college in Pittsburgh, before Peter, a Greek Orthodox priest, was transferred to the Tampa Bay Area. William was enrolled at the University of South Florida and already beginning classes when the family hit an unexpected snag: William is too young to receive federal financial aid. So they dropped all but two classes, finished the semester and enrolled at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Campus.

“We’re out of state,” Peter said, “and SPC was a lot more affordable.”

Earning Respect

William surprised many fellow students and professors during his time at SPC.

“At first, they would ask me how old I was and if I was really in the class,” William said. “But eventually they’d get used to it.”

Not only did he succeed in his classes, he was even a leader in many of them. Peter remembered being approached after one of William’s classes by a “burly” guy who asked him if he was William’s dad.

“He said, ‘at first I thought it was a joke, but when I heard him speak in class, I asked him to be my lab partner,’” Peter said.

Tarpon Springs Campus Provost Rod Davis said that William really didn’t need any extra help.William Maillis

“William was a regular student,” Davis said. “He came here, put his nose to the grindstone and did what he had to do. He worked extremely hard and won all of our hearts.”

Peter said that William got everything he needed at SPC.

“The faculty and everybody over there was very supportive,” he said. “He was very well challenged.”

Still A Kid

Though he is surrounded by adults, William still gets lots of time in with other kids in the family’s church. He enjoys playing tag, hide-and-seek, football and basketball. Like other kids, he also enjoys video games. Unlike other kids, his favorite is a strategic history game, in which players envision alternative histories.

“It’s fun to theorize,” William said. “Like, what if Germany had won World War I?”

His father reported that he actually plays more than the average kid.

“He has lots of play time because he learns so fast,” he said. “He might have classes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, but the rest of the time he plays and plays.”

Future Plans

Of all his classes, William said Astronomy was his favorite, and he hopes to become an astrophysicist and work for NASA. He also hopes to explain some of the mysteries of the universe.

“So many people these days think that religion and science are separate,” he said. “But priests and bishops in the olden days used science to talk about God. I want to prove that God does exist through science, so that the world can know.”

William’s plan is to finish his Bachelor’s degree in physics, then earn a PhD in astrophysics by the time he’s 18.

Though it’s time for William to move on, Davis says that he is sure that SPC was the right place for him.

“William found in SPC a place where he could grow and show what he needed to show to the community. I think his experience here speaks volumes not only of him, but also of SPC’s faculty, administration and students. We really care if the student succeeds. That’s why we do what we do.”

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SPC College Visit Day

Eligible Pinellas County seniors are invited to St. Petersburg College’s “College Visit Day” from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 11, for open house events. These open house events count as an official college visit day. While events will vary slightly from campus to campus, students can:

  • Explore different majors – and the careers they lead to
  • Tour campuses
  • Learn how to pay for college
  • Attend College 101 Seminars
  • Learn how to apply to SPC

Students should ask for an official college visit letter to take back to their school as proof they attended the event. Campuses hosting College Visit Days are:

For more information, call 727-341-3400 or visit stpe.co/collegevisitdayfall17.

 

 

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St. Petersburg College wants to help Tampa Bay residents train for a successful career in a high-demand STEM field that could earn workers as much as $68,000 a year.

And the college is getting a boost in order to produce those graduates.

The National Science Foundation (NSF) awarded SPC a nearly $620,000 Advanced Technical Education grant to create a sustainable pipeline of trained biomedical engineering technicians and expand education and career opportunities for this growing industry.

In addition, the grant will allow SPC to develop a new certificate integrating medical device networking and cybersecurity to train technicians in critically-needed skills at the forefront of technological innovation and allow for curriculum dissemination across multiple institutions.

“This highly competitive grant opens pathways for high school students, technicians in the field and veterans to begin a career in biomedical engineering technology as soon as possible, meeting the growing needs of employers,” said Dr. Brian Bell, a Biomedical Engineering Technology professor at SPC and Principal Investigator for the grant.

SPC is already investing in this high-demand program. A brand new biomedical engineering technology lab will open at the Tarpon Springs campus this fall. Students last week got a sneak peek of the lab, outfitted with state-of-the-art equipment.

Biomedical engineering technology, or BMET, is a thriving industry. Last year in Tampa Bay, more than 900 jobs were posted for BMET or similar jobs.  These technologists and technicians offer high level support to doctors and nurses through the complex integration of medical and clinical systems. And with growing security threats worldwide, they also protect from cyberattacks.

“Prior to 2016, there were no accredited BMET programs within a three-hour radius of Tampa Bay,” Dr. Bell said. “Employers in the region had to look elsewhere for advanced technician talent. This grant changes that.”

Tampa Bay ranks second in the state and third in the nation with the most FDA-regulated medical device establishments. With more than 300 companies and over 10,000 employees, the region continues to be a growing, world-class biotech hub.

Locally, Pinellas County alone contributes one fifth of the state’s medical device revenue with 70 percent of the 10,000 regional medical technology jobs.

Demand for BMET jobs is expected to grow by 30 percent over the next decade. US News and World Report lists “medical equipment repairer” as one of the best healthcare jobs to pursue in 2015, and Money Magazine lists the biomedical equipment technician career as one of “The Five Best Jobs You’ve Never Heard Of.”

The three-year grant project will build the college’s new biomedical engineering technology Associate in Science degree by developing curriculum that will help students cross-train between cybersecurity, health sciences and biomedical engineering technology, including the opportunity to obtain industry certifications simultaneously. The project will also create pathways between these degree program areas to recognize an individuals’ prior learning and skills to accelerate their time to degree completion.

Those interested in learning more about biomedical engineering technology at SPC and the different ways the grant could help prospective students, including those with skills in electronics, mechanics, device troubleshooting and repair should visit www.spcollege.edu.

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