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Archive for the ‘commencement’ Category

SPC 2018 Graduation

Richard and Mary Cackling

Mary and Richard Cackling met in 1976, and have not left each other’s side since that day. And, at St. Petersburg College’s spring graduation ceremony May 12, that held true as they walked side by side to claim their bachelor’s degrees, his in Sustainability Management and hers in Business.

“It was love at first sight,” Mary said.

The couple, who run a cat rescue and sanctuary in Gibsonton called Gardenland Mission, started college together at Hillsborough Community College in 1978. But then, according to Richard, “Life happened,” and school fell by the wayside. Richard spent years running his own business, while Mary worked in the business world until her mother needed care, and she quit her job to be with her. When Mary’s mother passed away, the two began thinking about what would be next.

“She decided to enroll at SPC,” Richard said. “So I decided to do it too, and finish what we started 40 years ago.”

More than 1,900 graduates

The Cacklings were two of 1,949 students graduating with degrees and certificates at SPC’s 136th commencement. It began with an inspiring invocation from the Rev. Kenneth F. Irby of Bethel AME Church. That was followed by the national anthem led by SPC Professor Nathan Muehl and his music students, the St. Petersburg College Band, and vocalist Gianna Gagliardotto.

SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams welcomed guests, then recognized and thanked instructors, noting the crucial role they play in the lives of students.

“They are committed to teach, nurture, and guide our students on a daily basis,” Williams said. “Thank you, faculty, for investing in our students, for lifting them up and significantly contributing to student success.”

Williams recognized student achievements, including veterans, Honors Program graduates, Honor Society members, and those graduating with Honor, Cum Laude, Magna Cum Laude and Summa Cum Laude distinctions. Williams even gave a shoutout to those graduating with “Thank you, Laude!” distinctions.

Some of the grads were collecting their college diplomas before they had their high school diplomas in hand. The 187 Early College graduates were high school students who were dually-enrolled in their junior and senior years. St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, which has earned an A from the state of Florida every year since it opened in 2004 and was named a 2017 Exemplary High Performing National Blue Ribbon School, also graduated their seniors with associate degrees.

Special awards

Ken Burke, Chair of SPC’s Alumni Association, presented the Apollo and Alumni Achievement awards to this year’s winners, who are chosen for leadership ability, scholastic standing, community service, honors, and awards.

The Apollo Award, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve, has been presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association every year since 1966. This year’s winner, Joey Bower, graduated Cum Laude with his Associate in Science Degree in Technology Management and a 3.55 GPA.

Bower said he was not the average student.

“I’m also a full-time employee, a husband to a beautiful and supporting wife, the first college graduate in my family, and the father of a special needs son who requires 24/7 care,” he said. “I’m also a high school dropout who obtained his GED.”

Bower said he was inspired to go back to school by his father, who frequently urged him to form a good work ethic, telling him that everything he’d ever have in life would have to be earned. After seeing his father struggle to maintain a career in his 50s without a degree, Bower decided to get his. Bower doesn’t know exactly what his future will hold, but he does expect to have a positive impact on the lives of others.

“I don’t have the secret or the magic trick,” he told the audience as he closed his remarks. “But if I can leave you with any advice, it would be to never give up.”

The annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve, is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. This year’s winner, Amanda Hunt, graduated Summa Cum Laude with B.A.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership and a 4.0 GPA.

Hunt graduated with an Associate Degree from St. Petersburg College in 2003 before becoming a Christian missionary. During that time, she got an idea for creating a nonprofit, so she enrolled in a Business Management Bachelor’s Degree program at SPC.

“I realized further education could greatly benefit me in this pursuit,” Hunt said.

While working on her bachelor’s degree, Hunt won the Jane Till nonprofit competition with a business plan presentation for her nonprofit idea, United by Love, which connects people and resources to nonprofits doing good in local communities. She expressed her appreciation for the support she received.

“Thank you to all the people who have helped me along my studies, most notably the St. Petersburg College Foundation and its donors, Women on the Way, and the amazing faculty and staff at SPC,” she said.

Hunt closed her remarks by encouraging the audience to do good things in the world.

“Sometimes one minute is all it takes to brighten someone’s day, give them a hand, or even save their life,” she said. “My message to you today is to always remember to slow down a little and take that one minute.”

Thank you friends and family, especially moms

After hundreds of graduating students had walked across the stage, President Williams asked families and friends to be recognized for their support of the graduates. With the ceremony held the day before Mother’s Day, she gave a special thank you to mothers.

“I know there have been times when you felt that none of your hard work and support of these graduates was appreciated or even noticed. But here you are – and here they are – and these graduates did appreciate you and they did notice you.” Williams told them. “The college appreciates you.”

The Cacklings left graduation to head home to a big party with lots of friends and family ready to celebrate their successes. Mary was recently named COO of the CORE Foundation, a non-profit cat rescue out of Washington, DC, and was awarded a private contract for work with the  Xerox Corporation, which provided a nice raise upon completion of her degree.

“That’ll buy a lot of cat food,” she said.

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St. Petersburg College will hold its 136th commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. Saturday, May 12 at Tropicana Field, One Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg College. Approximately 1,300 of the 1,949 graduates are expected to participate.

The youngest graduate is 16 years old, the oldest is 68 years old and 19 graduates are over the age of 60. Sixty-seven percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 169,426 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 1,042 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 342 Associate in Science degrees
  • 265 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 251 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 72 certifications

Joey Bower, winner of the 2017-18 Apollo Award, and Amanda Hunt, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, will address their fellow graduates and guests.

Bower received an A.S. degree in Technology Management in 2017 with a 3.55 GPA. Bower is an active volunteer and donates his time to The Family Café, which exists to connect individuals with disabilities and their families with information, training and networking opportunities. He is also active with Cure Congenital Muscular Dystrophy, and is the Chairman of the School Advisory Council for the Nina Harris School.

“Imagine being the parent of a special needs child, working full-time, who decided to go back to school at 40 years old. Not only did I finish my degree, but I graduated Cum Laude,” Bower said.

Hunt will receive her B.A.S. degree in Management and Organizational Leadership and has a 4.0 GPA. She is a member of the College Entrepreneur’s Organization and Aletheia Christian Club.  Hunt won the 2017 Jane Till Nonprofit Startup Competition and received funding to start her charity organization, United by Love. As a dedicated volunteer, Hunt serves at the St. Vincent De Paul soup kitchen, organizes her local church youth group and empowers children through Global Celebration.

“I am extremely grateful for all that I have gained, learned and experienced from my time at St. Petersburg College. I will enter the nonprofit community knowing that I now have the skills and knowledge that align with the passion I have always had: to love people and help them however I can.”

Spring 2018 Graduation Infographic

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Hundreds of people became St. Petersburg College’s newest alumni after graduating in the college’s 135th commencement ceremonies on Saturday, Dec. 9.

More than 1,500 graduates earned degrees and certificates this fall term at SPC. Among the top awards were bachelor’s degrees in nursing, management and organizational leadership, and business administration. In addition, the college awarded more than 600 associate degrees.

Photo of SPC President Tonjua Williams and Fall 2017 graduates

“Today, we congratulate our students and their families who have persevered to the graduation milestone,” SPC President Tonjua Williams said to the crowd. “You inspire us with your determination. Today we celebrate your accomplishments.”

Graduates share their stories

Four student speakers addressed their fellow graduates and relatives with messages of perseverance, courage, and hope that drew cheers from their audiences.

Jay Patrick came to SPC as a veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps. Graduating with a perfect GPA and an Associate in Arts degree, Patrick talked to those attending the morning graduation ceremony about the camaraderie he found with other students very different from himself and the strength he found in that diversity.

“I learned more about honor then I ever could have imagined from fellow students who stood by me through all the struggles college life would ever have to offer. I learned more about courage then I ever thought possible from the visually impaired student who took on any assignment or challenge with more devotion then I could ever muster. Last but not least I learned the true meaning of commitment from the single mother, who despite working full time, would show up to classes with the hope of bettering the future for her and her child,” Patrick said. “Individuals brought together from all walks of life can accomplish anything. Their diversity is their strength and not their weakness. So today graduates remember, that while we may all look different and maybe even talk different, today we are all wearing the same shade of blue.”

Women on the Way member Rekeytah Hassan received her bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Leadership. “Be courageous while pursuing your dreams, and do not let anyone or any circumstance or any perceived disadvantage get in your way!” said Hassan, a single mother of three girls who she thanked for their love and support. “They have been involved with me every step of they way and have attended many late night and weekend study sessions with my teammates and I. They are the reason why I made this commitment and challenged myself to see it through.

“My story is testament that nothing is more powerful than a made up mind,” she said. “Destiny is not a matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not something to be waited for but rather something to be achieved.”

At the afternoon ceremony, graduate Antoine Sullivan said becoming a college student helped him to achieve his dream to become successful. And the assistance he found at SPC allowed him to realize his goals. Awarded his associate’s degree, he served as president of the college’s Men Achieving Excellence program and as a member of student government.

“Many of us believed we were not smart enough to succeed in college or may have been told that we would never graduate or earn a degree. However, with the love, support, and opportunity presented here at St. Petersburg College, we are graduating today,” Sullivan said. “The truth is, to become a successful student, you must be willing to sacrifice the now for the future. St. Petersburg College has given a small town kid a chance to become a success story.”

The day’s last speaker, graduate Michele Marks, shared the story of her 4-year-old son, who was diagnosed with autism. Marks, awarded her bachelor’s degree in Veterinary Technology, said she focused intensely on making sure he would succeed, through consultations with doctors and specialists, a plan for his progress, and the support of her family.

“As I reflected on my graduation, I realized that there was correlation between my success completing my bachelor’s and Jacob’s. In both instances, it required determination, participation, flexibility, a plan, and support,” Marks said. “So, fall Class of 2017, congratulations again on completing this educational milestone. Remember that you can do it again. If you choose to, you can challenge yourselves further and continue your education. Or you can do something different, something that challenges you in a completely separate way. It doesn’t matter what you choose because, once you believe in your success, the possibilities are endless.”

Graduation by the numbers

At Saturday’s ceremony, the youngest graduate was 17 years old, the oldest was 72 years old and 13 graduates were over the age of 60. Fifty-six percent of the graduates were female.

With this graduating class, SPC has awarded 166,174 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

See more photos from the morning and afternoon ceremonies on the college’s Facebook page.

 

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St. Petersburg College will hold its 135th commencement ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 9 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

The youngest graduate is 17 years old, the oldest is 72 years old and 13 graduates are over the age of 60. Fifty-six percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 166,174 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 622 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 300 Associate in Science degrees
  • 283 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 262 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 68 certifications

Rekeytah Hassan and Jay Patrick will address fellow graduates and guests during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Hassan will earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Business Management in Organizational Leadership with a certificate in Project Management. Patrick will earn an Associate in Arts.

Michele Marks and Antione Sullivan will address fellow graduates and guests during the 1 p.m. ceremony. Marks will earn a Bachelor of Science in Veterinary Technology Practice Management and Sullivan Associate in Arts in Education.

Infographic for SPC's Fall 2017 commencement statistics

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St. Petersburg College held its 134th commencement ceremony on Saturday, July 22 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks in Largo.

SPC Summer 2017 Graduation

SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams celebrated the graduates’ achievements, thanked faculty, staff and the Board of Trustees for the support and care they’ve shown students, and shared in the applause as the new alumni showed gratitude to their families and friends. Williams thanked the students for choosing SPC to pursue their education.

“We were privileged to serve you,” she said.

President Williams also had a special message to share with the new graduates.

“St. Petersburg College is a special place where opportunities are endless, hope is never deferred and dreams come true,” she said.

At Saturday’s ceremony, the youngest graduate was 18 years old, the oldest was 68 years old and 10 graduates were over the age of 60. Fifty-eight percent of the graduates were female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College has awarded 164,366 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC awarded:

  • 611 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 150 Associate in Science degrees
  • 61 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 20 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 175 certifications

Ann Donald and Karen Sanford addressed their fellow graduates and guests. Donald earned a bachelor’s degree in Educational Studies and Community Leadership and Sanford earned an Associate in Science in Veterinary Technology. Both speakers shared inspiring messages with their fellow classmates in the Class of 2017.

“Take with you today a sense of pride in your accomplishment, and be optimistic at all of the prospects the future brings,” Sanford said. “If you should stumble and lose your way, remember it is okay to make mistakes. Be willing to make the difficult choices and have the resolve to accept challenges as they arise, but above all, be a student of life, and seize opportunity when it presents itself. You, too, may just find your happiness along the way.”

“As we embark on our exciting next steps in our lives, remember, when the road gets tough I encourage you to draw on your strengths that helped propel you to get here today,” Donald said.

SPC Summer 2017 Graduation

Ann Donald

Donald said it took her 10 years to graduate, as she was raising a child and working full time.

“I leave you with three things. One, do not be afraid of failure. Failures are the stepping stones to success. What’s important is picking yourself back up, and learning from them,” Donald said. “Second, reach back and help another student or potential student. Tell them your story. It only takes one person to change another person’s life. And finally, as you pursue your future goals surround yourself with positive people, people who lift you up, keep you grounded and push you to never stop achieving your dreams.”

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St. Petersburg College will hold its 134th commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 22 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

The youngest graduate is 18 years old, the oldest is 68 years old and 10 graduates are over the age of 60. Fifty-eight percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 164,366 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 611 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 150 Associate in Science degrees
  • 61 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 20 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 175 certifications

Ann Donald and Karen Sanford will address fellow graduates and guests. Donald will earn a Bachelor’s of Science in Educational Studies and Community Leadership. Sanford will earn an Associates of Science.

Summer 2017 Graduation By-The-Numbers

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Approximately 1,400 of St. Petersburg College’s 1,982 Spring 2017 graduates participated in the college’s 133rd commencement ceremony on May 13 at Tropicana Field.

Spring 2017 Graduation

SPC President Bill Law welcomed guests and celebrated the accomplishments of the many students who were graduating with honors.

“Today we congratulate the students and families who have persevered to the graduation milestone,” Law said.

The Honorable George W. Greer was honored as the 2017 Outstanding Alumnus. Greer, a 1962 graduate of what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, served as a Circuit Court judge for 18 years before his retirement in 2010.

The youngest graduate was 17 years old, the oldest was 68 years old and 15 graduates were over the age of 60. Four graduates were also celebrating their birthdays. Sixty-eight percent of the graduates were female.

St. Petersburg College has awarded 162,262 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

This spring, SPC awarded:

  • 1,014 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 404 Associate in Science degrees
  • 215 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 268 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 81 certifications

Theodore E. Martin, Jr., winner of the 2016-17 Apollo Award, and Alexis Gagliardotto, recipient of the Alumni Achievement Award, addressed their fellow graduates and guests.

Martin served as the Student Government Association Representative for Phi Theta Kappa and was also an active member of Men Achieving Excellence and the SPC Health and Fitness Club. Martin, who plans to continue his education wants to become an astronaut, received an associate degree in Engineering and currently has a 3.35 G.P.A.

“I know at 28 I’m off to a late start, but if the dream can still live in me, think of how many people I can inspire along the way,” Martin said.

Gagliardotto graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science degree in Orthotics and Prosthetics and currently has a 4.0 G.P.A. She was the president of the SPC Orthotic and Prosthetic Student Society and was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, as well as the Golden Key International Honor Society. Ms. Gagliardotto also was St. Petersburg College’s Honors College Ambassador for the Tarpon Springs campus and Early College Club Historian.

“SPC has been the training ground where I discovered my purpose in life and built the foundation of my career. Upon that foundation, I will continue to construct my future,” Gagliardotto said.

Gagliardotto thanked the faculty that helped her reach her goal.

“My professors were my ultimate mentors, wise and sage in their ways,” she said.

See more from graduation on the college’s Facebook page and on Tagboard.

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