Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg College’ Category

TurboVoteSt. Petersburg College finished among the top three colleges in the nation in 2015 for student voter registrations among 140 colleges and universities participating in a nationwide democracy project known as TurboVote.

SPC, with 1,313 newly registered student voters, finished behind University of Virginia, with 1,718 new student registrations, and California Polytechnic State University, with 1,700. SPC is one of four members of the Florida College System (FCS) finishing among the top 25 TurboVote-partner colleges and universities. Its student voter registrant total accounted for fully one-third of the 3,454 new student voters among FCS institutions participating in TurboVote.

The non-partisan, non-profit TurboVote is designed to make voting easier for today’s technology-savvy students. A total of 24 of the 28 FCS member colleges participated in the statewide effort to use this technology in innovative ways to ensure that students have the materials and information necessary to vote in every election

TurboVote helps colleges and universities meet federal mandates that require institutions provide students with registration information. When students sign up, TurboVote keeps track of all the user’s elections—local, state and national. If students wish to register, update their addresses or request absentee ballots, TurboVote sends them all the forms and information they need with pre-addressed, pre-stamped envelopes. For every election, TurboVote sends text message and email reminders to all users with important election information, dates and deadlines, to ensure that they never miss another election.

Nationwide, more than 30,000 students were registered to vote for the first time during 2015 as a result of the TurboVote initiative.

“We know that students who are civically engaged are more likely to be successful in their academic careers, and in life,” said SPC President Bill Law. “That’s why St. Petersburg College emphasizes experiences like TurboVote for our students, as it helps inform their decision-making and prepare them for active involvement in matters of local, national and global significance.”

The FCS TurboVote project was sponsored for the second year in a row by The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions at St. Petersburg College, which serves FCS from its SPC base. This was the first system-wide project of the FCS Civics Literacy Initiative, which was launched at a forum hosted by the Institute in October 2013 at SPC.

The Institute serves as the clearing house for the Initiative, hosting its workshops and maintaining a website where best practices in civics education are shared throughout the system. The goal of the Initiative is to make civic engagement part of the student experience of every student in the FCS system.

At SPC, the TurboVote project was spearheaded by Dr. Tara Newsom, Associate Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences, and Earl Fratus, Acting Director of the Honors College and formerly an Instructor of Social Science. The two worked with Student Life and Leadership Coordinators and other Student Services staff to integrate TurboVote into the registration and orientation process.

“During the buildup to presidential primaries it is immensely important to get students involved and aware of their civic duty,” Fratus said. “TurboVote helps us do that by registering students to vote, giving them election reminders and locating their polling places.”


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Since the Seminole Community Educational Ecosystem began three years ago, nearly 2,000 elementary, middle and high school students have visited St. Petersburg College to help hone their focus on their academic end goal – a college credential that will change their lives.

The educational ecosystem in Seminole stemmed from a grassroots effort in 2013 among five school principals and their School Advisory Committee members who wanted to reach beyond the traditional role of SACs. The educational ecosystem is based on research and best practices that champion the idea that it takes a community to educate a child.

“It’s about engaging the community in the educational process,” said Jesse Coraggio, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services at SPC. “It’s the idea that educating the youth in the community shouldn’t be the response of just the school district or just the college; it really should be the response of the community and only together are we going to be successful.”

Coraggio helped spark the ecosystem idea when he was a SAC volunteer SAC at Bauder Elementary School, where his daughter attended. He and other parents wanted to explore how groups could work together across grade levels to prepare students and facilitate key transitions, such as those between elementary and middle school, middle school and high school, and high school and college.

As part of the program, fifth-graders visit SPC for “Picture Yourself Here” events, designed to inspire them to think about college at an early age. High school juniors and seniors attend SPC “Majors Fairs” and other programs with their parents to help explore, investigate and decide on college choices, and navigate the steps to successfully enroll and register.

The ecosystem idea has gained momentum and is now sparking conversations among SPC, communities and schools in Clearwater, south St. Petersburg and Tarpon Springs.

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Dejay-MyersThe SPC Honors Program hosted its Ninth Annual Collegiate Research Conference at the EpiCenter Collaborative Labs Thursday, Jan. 28. There was a strong turnout among students, faculty, staff and administrators.

“This conference has inspired students to conduct research, analyze the results, prepare a presentation, and present in front of an audience,” said Honors Program Interim Director Earl Fratus. “It provides undergraduate students at St. Petersburg College an opportunity to share their projects and be recognized and celebrated for their exceptional work.”

This year’s conference featured the largest number of student presentations to date with 46 podium presentations, posters and artwork spanning a wide range of topics including biology, medicine, social science, law, history and the humanities.

“Each project reflects the effort of our students through academic research and exploration,” said Fratus.

Watch our area of study blogs in the coming weeks for student posts detailing their research projects.

Keynote speaker inspires students to live a life of experience

Humanities Professor Linda Yakle

Humanities Professor Linda Yakle

Keynote speaker Professor Linda Yakle has taught Honors Interdisciplinary Studies classes for more than 25 years. Her keynote address drew from her experiences during four pilgrimages on the El Camino de Santiago, a 500-mile pilgrimage in Spain. In 2013 she brought her pilgrimage directly to the students by teaching her online humanities class as she made the 500-mile trek. Today, she encourage students to create their own experience.

“I don’t want your journey to be just metaphorical,” she said. Common phrases among other travelers on the Camino include “everyone walks his own Camino” and  “Buen Camino” – which translates “Good Road.”

With many of the honors students in the audience in their final year of college, on the verge of stepping out into the next chapter of their life, she explained some of the lessons she learned along the way that she hoped would resonate with them.

“I am here to call you to action,” she said. “To suggest to you that you at least consider living a life of experience instead of one of material acquisition.”

Honors program staff and students help organize event

Amy Bhatt, president of the Honors Program Student Consortium, served as event chair and collaborated with other consortium members and honors program staff to organize the event. Bhatt also moderated the 60-second speech presentations, a crowd favorite.

Earl Fratus and Amy Bhatt

Earl Fratus and Amy Bhatt

Honors Program Staff

  • Earl Fratus, Interim Director
  • Tara Hunter, Executive Assistant
  • Joshua Owens, Student Assistant
  • Roberta Spathari, Student Assistant

Honors Program Student Consortium members

  • Amy Bhatt, President
  • Laura Valdes, Vice President
  • Kayla Li, Events Coordinator
  • Brenna Garcia, Public Relations Director
  • Alexander Haydon, Secretary
  • Garrick Roe, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus Representative
  • Ronda Bailey, Seminole Campus Representative
  • Adam Robinson, Tarpon Springs Campus Representative

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More than 100 attendees converged Thursday on the Holiday Inn Harborside in Indian Rocks Beach for the 2016 Annual Conference of the Florida Association for Institutional Research. The two-day conference was packed with workshops and panel discussions on how to best use data in college environments to improve student outcomes.

FAIR serves professionals in postsecondary education institutions and agencies whose interests include research, planning and policy analysis. Most FAIR members work in the institutional research branches of their respective schools or organizations. Their roles and numbers have increased dramatically in recent years as accountability in higher education rises.

“Senior leaders now come to us because data is critical in understanding the risks in their decisions,” said Marie Zeglan, Assistant Provost and Director of Institutional Planning and Research at the University of Florida. “We are asked to identify patterns that can translate into successful policies and planning … We can no longer afford to be data taxicab drivers. We have to be first-rate data tour guides instead.”

Historically, institutional research departments have focused on compliance, particularly with IPEDS, the federal Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System that institutions are required to report massive data to.

“We used to be the autopsy arm, reporting data after the fact,” said Jesse Coraggio, SPC Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness and Academic Services, who moderated a morning panel discussion. “Now we are moving beyond reporting and into facilitating change. It’s so much about relationships and communication. We have become more like consultants.”

By analyzing what’s going on during the term rather than at the end, college leaders can make stronger policy decisions aimed at helping students.

“That way we can make a difference to the student at the time they need help,” Coraggio said.

“We’re helping students learn how to learn,” said panelist Christina Hart, Vice President for Institutional Effectiveness at Indian River State College.

The conference covered many intricacies and shifts in data analytics, such as data visualization.

“It’s not enough to run reports,” said Robert Lucio, Director of Academic Assessment at Saint Leo University. “Data is useless unless you have someone who can analyze it and tell the story behind it.”

“Making the data easy to understand is crucial,” Hart added. “It’s got to be very visible and clear as to what’s happening.”


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This week, St. Petersburg College honored Dr. Vilma Zalupski for her dedication to the college, even into her retirement, and her continued support of Women on the Way, the college’s resource and support center for female students.


Dr. Vilma Zalupski takes part in the dedication of the Clearwater Campus Women on the Way center, which was renamed in her honor.

About 50 college administrators, faculty and students gathered Tuesday, Jan. 26, at the Clearwater Campus to take part in a reception for Zalupski. The event also served as a dedication where the campus’ WOW center was renamed in her honor.

Zalupski holds strong ties to the college. Her rise to the top began with a degree in counseling that led her on a path to become the college’s Dean of Women. Later named Clearwater Campus Provost, she is the first woman in Florida to have served as a community college provost.

Working closely with Women on the Way in its infancy, Zalupski has seen it grow into a program able to change the course of women’s lives. Even though she is now retired, she remains a WOW benefactor.

“I live in Tampa. If I lived closer… I would volunteer. But I do what I can. You know what they say, ‘Old soldiers never die’,” Zalupski said.

One thing WOW promotes is interconnectedness. That is, the ability to come together and achieve success through the help and determination of others.

“Working within WOW, and my career in general, I always made it a point to know everyone: how many kids they have, what they are going to school for, their hardships,” she said. “That general interest kept me connected to what was important.”

Words that have inspired Zalupski in her mission to help others: “It is in identifying yourself with the hopes, dreams, fears and longings of others that you may understand them and help them.” – Wilfred A. Peterson (Art of Awareness), March 2005

To Zalupski, WOW offers women a way to succeed beyond their expectations. Through scholarship initiatives, clothing programs and general support, the program offers students a shoulder to lean on.


Rebecca New, an SPC WOW member and education major, and WOW Coordinator Shirley Crumbley

“I know plenty of women who would not be able to go to school full time without the help from scholarships that WOW has given us,” said Rebecca New, an SPC WOW member and education major.

Some of the other unique opportunities WOW has given students involve textbook lending, workshops, class planning and access to resources for tutoring, housing and shelters.

And it does not stop there.

“They do this thing called Adopt-a-Family for Christmas,” New said. “The ladies in WOW literally bought my son a bike!”

SPC President Bill Law said WOW is a shining example of the college’s message to and goal for its students.

“The school promotes out-of-class support, interaction and help, as well as a genuine college experience to give students a push towards success,” Law said. “WOW is the best example of that model.”

Law reiterated that a plan is in place to put a WOW center on every campus.

WOW already has expanded to SPC Midtown, said WOW Coordinator Shirley Crumbley. The organization is scheduled to get centers at the Seminole, St. Petersburg/Gibbs and Tarpon Springs campuses by 2017.

As a leading lady behind WOW’s success, Zalupski feels it is a dream come true to see the program expand.

“Without her, WOW wouldn’t be as strong as it is today, and without her I probably would not have stayed at SPC for my bachelor’s,” New said.

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What is Vladimir Putin up to? With the annexation of Crimea in 2014 and continued support of secessionists in Ukraine, the Russian President has elbowed his way to the center of the geopolitical stage as the United States – along with its western partners – worries about domestic politics and international terrorism.

The implications of Putin’s power grab will be clarified at St. Petersburg College on Feb. 23 by Marvin Kalb, veteran journalist, Russian scholar and author of an important new book on Putin and Russia. Kalb will speak at a dinner program sponsored by SPC’s Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions and co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times, WEDU Television, and WUSF Public Media. The event will be held from 6 to 8:15 p.m. at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. Admission to the dinner and program is $25 for the general public; $20 for students and educators. Advance registration is required.

Putin’s actions in Crimea and Ukraine are part of his strategy to reposition Russia as a global superpower and to set the stage for creation of a 21st century Russian empire, Kalb asserts in the book, Imperial Gamble: Putin, Ukraine and the New Cold War.  In contextualizing the Crimea and Ukraine actions, Kalb undertakes a critical review of Russian history. Ukraine’s status as an extension of Imperial Russia, going all the way back to Peter the Great and Catherine the Great, must be acknowledged in what portends to be a new world order, he writes.

Kalb also includes critical analysis of the Western – especially United States’ – “haughty arrogance” toward Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. The West’s – and especially President Barack Obama’s – emphasis on upholding Article 5 of the NATO Agreement precipitated Putin’s power grab, Kalb asserts. Article 5 states that an attack on one NATO member is considered an attack on all and will generate a full military response, if necessary. This was at a time when Ukraine’s leaders were actively seeking admission to NATO.

Kalb and his brother Bernard were well-known correspondents for CBS News in the 1950s and have co-authored two books, one a biography of Henry Kissinger and the second on the collapse of Saigon in 1975. They were part of the reporting team known as “Murrow’s Boys,” a cohort of some of modern America’s most illustrious journalists assembled by the iconic broadcast newsman Edward R. Murrow. Marvin Kalb went on to host Meet the Press on NBC News and later joined the Harvard Kennedy School as founding director of the Shorenstein Center on Media, Politics and Public Policy, where he remains as a professor and senior fellow.

Kalb’s connection to Russia began with his undergraduate study at Harvard. Preparing for his Ph.D.in Russian history in the early 1950s, he agreed to serve as a translator at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. His travels in Russia during the Cold War led to freelance reporting on the Soviet Union for the New York Times and eventual recruitment by Murrow for CBS’s Moscow Bureau.

This program is another in the Institute’s Dinner Series, an initiative that addresses the most vital policy issues of the day in a civil and informal setting. For more information, call 727-394-6942.

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It might have been any other Saturday at the college’s St. Petersburg College/Gibbs Campus. But not for Wallace Thomas Johnson.


Area resident Wallace Thomas Johnson receives a plaque honoring him as SPC Athletics’ number one fan from Dr. Tonjua Williams, senior vice president of Student Services, and campus provosts Jamelle Conner and Mark Strickland.

On Jan. 23, students and staff at St. Petersburg College awarded him a plaque, acknowledging him as SPC Athletics’ number one fan.

Prior to the men’s basketball game between SPC and State College of Florida, Johnson, 69, stood under an SPC Titans’ canopy, an area he has called home for most of his tenure as a SPC volunteer. He smiled as he handed a student a hot dog – a kind smile that said, “I’m here and being here is happiness.”

A computer science instructor, Johnson taught as an adjunct faculty member at SPC for 13 years. During that time he was offered a job with Florida Power in South Carolina, where he worked for three years. He eventually returned to Florida and found his passion for SPC sports.

“I live close to the college,” he said. “You know, one day I heard some noise in the gym, I walked in, and boy was I hooked.”

He has shown his love of SPC sports in many ways. He’s donated thousands of dollars for signs, chairs, tables and other odds and ends for the teams. And he’s a regular at any SPC game – whatever the sport – that he can possibly attend where students and staff greet him as Mr. Johnson or Tom.

“Volleyball is my favorite, but the basketball team is awesome as well,” he said. “They always put on a good show.”

Trouble struck, however, when he learned he had stage four lung cancer. He has since been going through chemo treatments to fight the disease.

“I just keep going,” he said.


SPC sports fan Wallace Thomas Johnson and SPC Head Baseball Coach Ryan Beckman

Dedication and kindness are words that define Johnson, his fans at SPC said. Seeing him push through his illness every day to support something he loves has had a positive effect on the entire SPC community.

“Thank you, Mr. Johnson,” said Davie Gill, Student Life and Leadership Coordinator and Athletic Director at SPC. “I don’t think he realizes how much he impacts the students and players, but we are grateful.”

The college also named the corner where he has pitched the SPC Titans’ canopy for so many games “Tom’s Corner” in honor of the wonderful things he has accomplished.

“It’s nice to see a dedicated fan,” Gill said. It’s even more special, he added, considering the challenges Johnson faces to attend the games.

Johnson shows no sign of slowing down. The chemo treatments keep him somewhat shaky at times, but he shrugs it off, ready for the day.

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