Seventy-five recent high school graduates were honored Monday night at the 2015-16 Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Scholars celebration at the Music Center at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.
SPC President Bill Law welcomed the students, who attended with family members and friends.
“We couldn’t be prouder of you,” Law said.
The annual scholarship – one of the college’s most comprehensive – honors the legacy of Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke, an educator and humanitarian who spent her life improving the lives of others. Clarke taught in Pinellas County public schools, Bethune-Cookman College and Florida A&M University. She served as Dean of Gibbs Junior College serving African-American students in the 1950s. When Gibbs became part of St. Petersburg Junior College in the 60s, she became Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs.
The award covers tuition for 12 credit hours per term for two consecutive years. It is offered to disadvantaged and/or other underrepresented Pinellas County high school students with at least a 3.0 GPA.
Destinee Bullard, a spring 2015 SPC graduate and 2013 Clarke Scholar who is headed to the University of Florida this fall, spoke to the students about the importance of getting involved in the activities and organizations the college has to offer and seeking out help from tutors and professors should they need it.
Bullard talked about how much she has grown, personally, at St. Petersburg College.
“SPC has become home to me…The faculty and staff at SPC are amazing,” Bullard said.
She encouraged the new Scholars to use all of the resources the college provides, from free tutoring to academic and career advising.
And she challenged them to challenge themselves: “Do something that scares you, because something great will come out of it,” she said.
The evening included musical selections by Joy Gann, who was accompanied on piano by Geoffrey Nugent. The event also included the presentation to the honorees, and a reception with refreshments. The Master of Ceremony was Darryl Henderson, Senior Administrative Services Specialist, and closing remarks were given by Dr. Albert Farr, President of the Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Chapter of the National Council on Black American Affairs.