St. Petersburg College will honor its top graduates and alumnus during commencement ceremonies May 7 at Tropicana Field. Courtney Kent was selected as the Apollo Award winner, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve. Amy Bhatt will receive the Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve.
The Apollo Award is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. Winners are chosen for their outstanding leadership abilities, scholastic standing, community service, honors and awards. It has been presented each year since 1966.
This year’s finalists are:
“As a benefactor of the institutional strengths promoting student development and success, the student centered pedagogy of SPC was fundamental in assisting me to overcoming my own shortcomings to excel as a husband, a student, an employee, and a leader in our community. These experiences have equipped me with knowledge and confidence previously uncultivated that will continue to promote my will to succeed in all my future endeavors.”
Courtney Kent, Clearwater Campus, Winner
Mr. Kent is a 2016 A.A. degree graduate. He served as President of the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association and was St. Petersburg College’s first Financial Assistance Services Peer- Advisor. He participated in Phi Theta Kappa and is a Student National Education Association member. Mr. Kent has a 3.69 G.P.A. As a Pinellas County School Board Mentor, Mr. Kent mentored 4th and 5th grade students at Belleair Elementary School. He also was a 5th grade math and science classroom volunteer. He has volunteered for numerous community events, including: Step-Out 5k, Paint-Your-Heart-Out, Human Trafficking Awareness 5k, SVA Beach Clean-Up and Bellaire Elementary School Open House. Mr. Kent was a Field Advocate for the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention and a volunteer with Alcoholics Anonymous: Tri-County. Mr. Kent received multiple Clearwater Campus Awards, including: Most Dedicated Student of the Year 2014, Student Veteran of Exceptional Character Award 2015, Faculty Governance Organization Award 2015 and Provost Leadership Award 2015. Clearwater Campus Associate Provost Matt Brown said: “Courtney is a student with passion, who constantly strives to do the right thing. He truly is one who puts the needs of others before his own.” His goals are to graduate from SPC with a B.A.S. in Management and Organizational Leadership and obtain a budgeted position within the education community of Pinellas County.
“I have found myself growing academically at SPC. I have been more challenged than I have ever been in school, and that has helped me grow. Also, I have had time to learn about my personal interests and further confirm that I am on the correct career path, as well as prepare me for it. SPC has played a big part in my education. SPC is one of the best, if not the best, decisions I have ever made academically and personally.”
Sydnie Coraggio, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus
Ms. Coraggio is a 2016 A.A. degree graduate. She served as the Secretary for St. Petersburg/Gibbs Student Government Association and Student Ambassador for St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. She is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the National Honors Society. She was a coordinator for the National High School Ethics Bowl team. Ms. Coraggio has a 3.8 G.P.A. She volunteered at Bauder Elementary School, where she assisted teachers with lessons and tutored students. She also volunteered as an administrative assistant for St. Petersburg Collegiate High School. Ms. Coraggio received the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Service Award and Outstanding Junior of the Year Award. She also received the National Honor Society Top Junior Community Service Volunteer Chapter Award. St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Counselor Constance Boyle said: “When I think of Sydnie, I would describe her as bright, persistent, dedicated, honest and inquisitive.” Her goal is to attend the University of Florida and pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Management with the ultimate goal of becoming an entertainment lawyer.
“I must endure several years of college education to become a doctor. Yet, I am looking forward to the process as much as I am the end result. SPC has equipped me with the knowledge and skills to succeed in my bachelor’s degree.”
Michaela Polmann, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, Tarpon Springs Campus
Ms. Polmann is a 2016 A.A. degree graduate. She participated in the Tarpon Springs Campus Early College Club, Pinellas County 4-H and Phi Theta Kappa. Ms. Polmann served as the president of the Rotaract Club and was a member of the Dunedin High School National Honor Society. She has a 4.0 G.P.A. As president of Rotaract on the Tarpon Springs Campus, Ms. Polmann represented her club and SPC while participating in many events, including International Day, Veteran’s Day and Welcome Back Week. She mentored high school juniors and taught college success skills. Ms. Polmann volunteered at the Florida Hospital North Pinellas, where she assisted Medicare patients and case managers. She coordinated a campus-wide clothing drive for the Tarpon Springs Shepard Center. Ms. Polmann was recognized in the Mayor’s Showcase of Achievement and was a National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Scholar. She won first place in the 2016 Governor Rick Scott and First Lady Ann Scott’s Black History Month Essay Contest. Early College Program Academic Counselor Alice Hall said: “Michaela is the consummate student who takes joy in the learning process. She maintains the highest expectations for herself in every area of study and vigorously pursues fields of study that interest her both inside and outside of the classroom.” Her goal is to attend the University of Florida to become a registered Dietician, with the ultimate goal of obtaining an M.D. specialized in Internal Medicine.
“I found incredible mentors here who taught me about the amazing resources and opportunities available. Through their assistance and example, they encouraged me to challenge myself, and gave me the tools necessary to meet those challenges. With those characteristics, SPC has set me on the road for success and showed me how to continue forging my path”
Iliana Yanes, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus
Ms. Yanes is a 2016 A.A. degree graduate. She was the President of the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Student Government Association and Treasurer of SPC Gibbs Student Government Association. She participated in Phi Theta Kappa, the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Ethics Bowl, Rotary Interact and was the winner of the 2015 SPC Great Debate. She has a 4.0 G.P.A. She regularly volunteered for the North Branch Community Library, Youth United for Global Awareness and Action and Community Tampa Bay. Through Community Tampa Bay, Ms. Yanes worked with an association dedicated to promoting equality and attended their Lobby Days in Tallahassee to advocate in support of a bill that would protect victims of human trafficking. Ms. Yanes received numerous awards, including the St.Petersburg Collegiate High School Service Award, Anne Frank Humanitarian Award, National Hispanic Recognition Award and the Vilma Fernandez-Zalupski Academic Excellence Award. St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Principal Starla Metz said: “I have known Iliana for the past three years as her principal and know her to be a dedicated scholar and compassionate leader who demonstrates a level of maturity and poise beyond her years.” Her goal is to pursue a baccalaureate degree and higher education while improving her community through advocating for human rights, education reform and equality.
Alumni Achievement Award Finalists
Four outstanding St. Petersburg College students have been selected as finalists for the annual Alumni Achievement Award, the highest honor a bachelor’s graduate can achieve.
The Alumni Achievement Award is presented annually by the SPC Alumni Association. Winners are chosen for their outstanding leadership abilities, scholastic standing, community service, honors and awards.
This year’s finalists are:
“I am an embodiment of SPC’s mission of ‘Student success through education, career development, and self-discovery.”
Amy Bhatt Clearwater Campus, Winner
Ms. Bhatt will receive her B.A.S. degree in paralegal studies. She has a 4.0 G.P.A. Ms. Bhatt is Vice President of the SPC Legal Studies Society, President of the Honors College Student Consortium, a National Model United Nations Delegate, an Acting Representative for the Florida Model Legislator and a Member of the Golden Key International Honor Society. Also, as Co-Chair of the SPC Pre-Law Committee, Ms. Bhatt organized an interactive visit to Stetson University College of Law for fellow students. She volunteered for the Teen Court Arbitration Program and mentored the Model United Nations Team at Countryside High School. Ms. Bhatt coordinated the annual Legal Clinic hosted by SPC’s Legal Studies Society that offers free legal advice to students. Ms. Bhatt received numerous awards, including: the SPC Alumni Association Apollo Award, the All-Florida Academic Award, the Dr. Theodore J. Mazzu Scholar of the Year Award and the Honors College Student of the Year Award. Interim Director for the SPC Honors Program Earl Fratus said: “Amy Bhatt is the type of extraordinary student who faculty only get the honor of interacting with a few times in their career.” Her goal is to earn her J.D. at Florida State University College of Law and then L.L.M degree from Harvard University College of Law. Her hope is to work her way up from Attorney to Justice on the United States Supreme Court.
“There have been many joys, memories, and also bumps in the road, but through it all the support I received from administrators and my professor was awe-inspiring.”
Sara Jenkins, Tarpon Spring Campus
Ms. Jenkins will receive a B.S. degree in education. She has a 3.5 G.P.A. She is a member of Kappa Delta Pi and Secretary of SPC Student Government. She traveled to Costa Rica with the science department and became a member of the Florida Reading Association after attending the 2015 conference. Ms. Jenkins is an active volunteer with United Way and assists with day care at local churches. She also runs a basketball ministry in Port Richey with her husband. She was recognized on the President’s Honor List every semester while obtaining her bachelor’s degree. Calusa Elementary School ESE/Intervention Teacher said: “I believe that Sara will continue to grow and become an amazing educator. She has the intellect, passion and motivation to become an outstanding teacher.” Ms. Jenkins’ goal is to work with ESE children who are in need of an individualized education.
“SPC has been instrumental in my success and I fully intend to be a part of theirs.”
Giny Kapili, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus
Ms. Kapili will receive a B.A.S. degree in technology development and management. She has a 3.8 G.P.A. She participated in the inaugural Exploratory Lab Boot Camp and helped promote the program to other students both on campus and online. She also is a student member of the
SPC Workforce Council and Advisory Committee. Ms. Kapili volunteered with the Pinellas County School system, helping to enhance the reading skills of high school students. She also volunteered as a computer programming tutor on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs campus. She was recognized by the Oracle Certification Program as an Oracle Certified Associate, Java SE Programmer. She also was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation from SPC for her service as a tutor. Learning Resources Team Leader Dr. Gail Lancaster said: “Giny is a very talented, selfless young woman. She is gifted in the area of computer programming and openly shares her gift with others.” Ms. Kapili’s goal is to be hired as a Systems Analyst Programmer I at the City of St. Petersburg and ultimately start an apprenticeship program for SPC students.
“My experience at SPC has instilled honorable values and has given me great opportunities to prepare me for my next steps.”
Miseanne (Nguyen) Tang, Clearwater Campus
Ms. Tang will receive a B.S. degree in biology. She has a 3.8 G.P.A. She is a member of the Golden Key International Honor Society, High Achiever’s Club and Tri Beta Biological Honors Society. She also participated in the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association. Ms. Tang volunteered as a Researcher at Bay Pines VA Medical Center and as a Receptionist at Homeless Emergency Project Dental Clinic that provides free dental care to the homeless through volunteer dentists. Through Junior Achievement, she taught a first-grade class about the meaning of community. She was awarded the Excellence in Writing award by the B.S. Biology faculty and was recognized on the President’s Honors List throughout her time at SPC. SPC Professor Dr. Katherine Siegler said: “I have rarely met an individual so focused on her final goal. She sees this as a tribute to her family and their struggles to provide her with every opportunity to success and obtain her goals.” Ms. Tang’s goal is to become a dentist and hopes to attend dental school next year.
“New and flexible characteristics have become part of my learning devices that have helped push my passion and desire to succeed; while teaching others to strive and never give up on their dream as well.”
Robert Vigre, Caruth Health Education Center
Mr. Vigre will receive a B.A.S. in health services administration. He has a 3.5 G.P.A. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa and the Golden Key International Honor Society. He participated in the inaugural Exploratory Lab Boot Camp and the Capstone Student Experience. Mr. Vigre volunteered at the Awana Kids Club and East Bay Rehabilitation, a 120-bed skilled nursing facility. He received a scholarship from St. Petersburg College Foundation as well as the Nadine and Dan Carlisle “New Life” Education Scholarship. Lakeside Community Chapel Pastor Ben Kreloff said: “Rob Vigre is a hardworking, devoted husband, giving of his time to serve those around him.” Mr. Vigre’s goal is to obtain a master’s degree and become a servant leader, helping co-workers succeed and lead in their respective industry.
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