Archive for the ‘Tarpon Springs’ Category

St. Petersburg Collegiate High Schools will open a new academy devoted to biomedical engineering technology at the St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Campus in Fall 2023.  

At the academy, students can complete an Associate in Science in Biomedical Engineering Technology – completely free – while earning their high school diploma. The A.S. degree trains students to meet the growing need for biomedical equipment repairers, who maintain the sophisticated medical devices that patients’ lives depend on. 

Critical needs 

A Future Florida Critical Workforce Needs Grant funded the addition of the BMET Academy. The grant supports workforce education programs in high-demand fields across the state. 

Graduates of the academy will be prepared for a reliable career in a hot job market, where they can earn an average salary of $49,910 in the United States, $47,130 in Florida and $46,620 in the Tampa Bay area. 

“It’s called ‘critical needs’ for a reason, and these are good-paying jobs,” said Jackie Skryd, Vice President of Workforce Development & Corporate Partnerships at SPC. “Our medical device field is upward of $47,000 with just a certification, and if they get a four-year degree and some experience, it’s double that.” 

The new academy joins SPC’s Collegiate High Schools ecosystem, which opened its first charter school in 2004 at the college’s St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. A North County option in Tarpon Springs was opened in 2019, and the Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) High School at the college’s Downtown Center launched in Fall 2022. The St. Petersburg/Gibbs and Tarpon Springs campus locations were designated as “A” schools by the state of Florida for the 2021-22 school year. The St. Petersburg/Gibbs location has earned an “A” from the state every year since the school opened. 

“SPC has always been proud of our Dual Enrollment offerings, which includes our Collegiate High Schools,” said Catherine Kennedy, Associate Vice President for Accelerated, Honors, International & UPC at SPC. “It is exciting to expand access now with the BMET Academy. This will allow students to simultaneously earn high school and college credentials for a faster track to employment, at no cost to them or their families. It is another way SPC continues to serve its community.” 

Critical impact

The A.S. degree in Biomedical Technology Engineering focuses on innovative technology like cybersecurity and electronic hardware used in medical devices, such as defibrillators, ventilators, patient monitors, and imaging machines. Students take classes in electronics, computers, networking, and biology. 

“Many of us have sat and watched hospital monitors display the status of ourselves or our loved ones at some point. Or we have seen these monitors on television depicting their use in saving lives.” said Sidney Martin, SPC’s Program Director of Engineering Technology. “Each monitor, life support equipment, and other crucial devices must work whenever needed. Our students in biomedical engineering technology are those individuals who keep equipment operational. Each biomedical engineering technology graduate participates in providing health care to patients and participates as a member of the caregiving team, even though they do not often work directly with patients.” 

The BMET Academy will help build a pipeline of personnel who will work within diverse settings that include health care, industry, research and educational institutions. 

“Employment opportunities for technicians are expected to expand greatly in the next decade,” said Natavia Middleton, Dean of Natural Sciences and Engineering at SPC. “This program uses a combination of cutting-edge technical tools and experienced staff to help students learn. It will not only support students by providing resources to excel, but will also create practices that will expand access to the health care field in the future.” 

Brian Bell, lead faculty for SPC’s biomedical engineering technology programs, noted the strong career preparation the program provides. 

“You get to explore health care technology with hands-on learning experiences, and take part in an internship, industry tours, professional association meetings, and technical workshops by industry leaders in the manufacturing of medical technology,” he said. “With the credentials you earn at SPC, you will be able to work in hospitals and at medical device companies, often in the information technology or electronics support technician groups in medical environments.” 

The A.S. degree includes three optional stand-alone certificates, which depend on the student’s area of focus, and transfers to SPC’s bachelor’s degree in Technology Development and Management or the Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Engineering Technology Management at Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis. 

“We are really excited about creating another accelerated option for students at St. Petersburg Collegiate High School North Pinellas,” said Ryan Halstead, Principal of Collegiate High Schools North Pinellas. “The BMET program will provide students another option to pursue career opportunities through education or advance their education opportunities through a career pathway.” 

This material was fully funded by the $9 million federally funded CRRSA ESSER II – Future Florida Critical Workforce Needs Grant. 

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St. Petersburg College will be hosting a series of fun Open House events over the next few weeks that are open invitations to one and all to visit campuses for fun, free events and, at the same time, learn more about college life at SPC.

Fun is definitely the headliner for the series of events, which include game nights, a men’s basketball game, movies on the lawn and a Greek festival. During each Open House, visitors can take a campus tour to see landmarks and available resources.

“Visitors can see classrooms, labs and different programs specific to each of the campuses,” Director of Recruitment Services Jacob Wortock said. “Every campus is different, and the programs look a little different.”

Attendees can also find out what clubs and organizations the campuses offer, and there will be just about any type of resource on hand to answer questions.

“We’ll have some academic program leaders their, as well as people from Admissions, Advising, Financial Aid and Recruitment,” Wortock said. “And everyone who comes will have an opportunity to fill out an application, with staff on hand to help them.”

Wortok said the events will hold relevance for current students as well as future Titans.

“We designed the Open Houses to make sure there’s something for everybody,” Wortok said. “It’ll be a fun, low pressure way to come out and see all we offer at SPC and have some fun in the process.”

Check out the lineup:

SPC Game Night at the Downtown Center
November 9, 5:30 p.m.

SPC Game Night at the Midtown Center
November 16, 5:30 p.m.

SPC Men’s Basketball Game at St. Pete/Gibbs Campus gymnasium
November 17 at 4:30 p.m. (Game starts at 7 p.m.)

Greek Festival at the Clearwater Campus
November 18 12-2 p.m.

Movie on the Lawn at the Seminole Campus
November 18 at 5:30 p.m.

Winter Wonderland and Movie at Tarpon Springs Campus
December 9 at 5:30 p.m.

Learn more and save your spot here.

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Young girl draws on white paper with a pencil

Looking for a fun, safe and enriching spring break option for kids? St. Petersburg College’s College for Kids is offering a weeklong Spring Break youth program for kids in grades 4-9 March 15-19.

Program Coordinator Dr. Yvonne Williams said College for Kids campers will experience innovative and experiential activities, both in the community and in small, COVID-19 safe classroom settings, facilitated by trained professionals.

“We will have a strong focus on visual arts,” Williams said. “Tarpon Springs students will visit the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, where they will create art to be displayed, and the St. Petersburg students will visit some local art museums downtown.”

The program will be held in two locations: SPC’s Downtown Center in St. Petersburg, and the college’s Tarpon Springs Campus. Sessions will run from 8 a.m. – 3 p.m. Extended care is available, beginning at 7:15 a.m. and ending at 5:30 p.m., for an extra $25 per week.

The cost is $250, which includes all field trips, a t-shirt, as well as catered, individually boxed lunches with gluten-free and vegetarian options available. Children of SPC faculty, staff and current students will get a 25 percent discount on the tuition.

Extra care will be taken to ensure safety. Students and staff will be screened for symptoms, potential exposure situations and have their temperature taken upon arrival daily. High contact areas will be sanitized throughout the day, student spaces will be six feet apart from others, hand sanitizer will be utilized, and all students and staff will wear masks at all times.

Williams promises a great experience.

“It’s an opportunity to tour a college campus,” she said, “and also be introduced to what the surrounding community has to offer educationally and academically through the visual arts.”

Enrollment is limited to 45 openings per campus, with two classes of 15 students in grades 4-6, and one 15-seat section of 7-9th graders. Register now to ensure a spot!

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Michael Nardone proposes to Amanda Kreplick

Student engagement took on a whole new meaning at St. Petersburg College’s Tarpon Springs Campus in December, when Michael Nardone, 26, and Amanda Kreplick, 23, got engaged there in the very spot where they first laid eyes on each other.

At first sight

A few days into her first semester as an SPC student, Kreplick was handing out water bottles and planners to passing Tarpon Springs Campus students at a Student Life and Leadership Welcome Back event. Nardone was walking by with a friend, and not only did he accept her offerings, he returned the favor.

“He offered me an energy drink packet for my water bottle,” Kreplick said. “He had to run to class, but after that, we spent weeks locking eyes in various clubs and spots on campus, talking more and more.”

That simple act and an instant attraction began what would become a relationship that is now in its sixth year.

“I first noticed her kindness and her great sense of humor,” Nardone said. “She was so thoughtful towards me and everyone around her.”

A well-laid plan

By 2020, Nardone was ready to propose, and though he’d been dropping some heavy hints about his intentions throughout the year, by the time December 19 rolled around, he had a plan that was designed to keep his lady guessing.

“He said he wanted to take me to dinner that night, and he told me to pick anywhere I wanted to go,” Kreplick said. “I suspected he was going to propose wherever I picked, which is exactly what he wanted me to think.”

On that day, Nardone took her to lunch at the taco place where they had their first date, and they grabbed some donuts in that same plaza, which was strategically chosen for its proximity to SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus.

“He suggested we drive through the SPC campus to reminisce,” she said. “I just really thought he was buttering me up for the dinner proposal. He suggested we take a pic in the spot where we met behind the BB building. I always do a video rather than taking just one pic, so the video was going, and we were in the spot we met. As soon as I turned around from setting up the camera on my phone, he dropped down to one knee and asked me to marry him.”

Love must be in the air on that campus, because Kreplick and Nardone are the second couple to meet and get engaged there. Nardone felt it was the perfect spot.

A bright future

“Without SPC Tarpon, we would have never met,” he said. “We wouldn’t share all of the memories of fun times working out with Kim, the physical trainer, laughing with our friends and peers, meeting up between classes to go to campus events together, and so much more.”

Nardone graduated in 2017, and Kreplick in 2018, both with Associate Degrees. Kreplick is now a student at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg, majoring in Psychology, and Nardone is at USF in Tampa studying Engineering. They are planning an August wedding in Palm Harbor, another special place for them.

“We spent many years living there as teenagers in high school, college students attending SPC, living together for the first time, and eventually, it’s where we plan to start our family,” Kreplick said.

Nardone said they will always hold SPC’s Tarpon Springs Campus close to their hearts.

“It’s where we met, fell in love, and got engaged,” he said.

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Jaques Hakim with shoesWhen St. Petersburg College Tarpon Springs Professor Jacques Hakim was growing up in Lebanon, his family had little money. Each year when school started, Hakim said if he was able to get a new pair of shoes, it was transformative. That’s why, when he was looking for a way to help those struggling in the community, he decided to donate 500 pairs of shoes to needy children in Pasco County.

“We were talking about the kids going back to school, and how a lot of them can’t afford new shoes,” Hakim said. “I remember when I was a kid, if I got new shoes, I felt like I could run faster and jump higher. It affected my self-confidence.”

Filling a Need

Hakim, who has been teaching Finance and Banking at SPC for 11 years, is also an entrepreneur whose business ventures include an online retailer, goSASS.com. Last year, when he decided to help, school was about to start and time was crunched.

“I only had about a week and a half to come up with shoes,” he said. “I bought 250 pairs, and vowed to have 500 the next year.”

Hakim made that goal, and over the next year, when buying shoes for his retail business, he set 10 percent of the pairs aside to donate. He hopes to double the number every year.

“We want to make sure that no kid goes to school any given year without brand new shoes on their feet,” he said.

Hakim delivered the shoes on Friday, Aug. 28, at an event, where he was joined by Congressman Gus Bilirakis, County Commissioner Mike Wells, representatives from FBI Tampa and Pasco County School Superintendent Kurt Browning. The schools will distribute the shoes through clothing closets and school social workers.

Dreams Do Come True

Hakim left Lebanon at the age of 18, with his 16-year-old brother and $400 in his pocket. The boys joined their cousins in New York and began the process of learning English and making the American dream a reality. Hakim enrolled at a community college in New Jersey, earned his bachelor’s from Rutgers and then an MBA from the University of Connecticut.

“I was the architect of my own destiny,” he said. “You have to believe in what you want to do and see it and go for it.”

Hakim’s work doesn’t end with the annual shoe donation. In addition to huge clothing and toy donations, he’s also heavily involved with his church and his community. When recently a young girl and her grandmother were invited into Hakim’s warehouse to select some free items, the girl told him that no one had ever done anything like that for her.

“I just told her, ‘Remember this, and when you grow older and can, do this for someone else,’” he said. “It’s not about the thanks, but it really made me feel like we were reaching the right people.”

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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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