Archive for the ‘St. Petersburg College’ Category

Representatives from four higher education institutions who collectively serve 36,000 students in St. Petersburg, Florida are joining together to create a consortium focused on dismantling racial hierarchies. 

After working for months to create a shared vision and reaching out to community and campus stakeholders, their efforts have been recognized by the American Association of Colleges and Universities as one of 78 institutions (and the only consortium) across the nation selected to participate in a four-day summer institute to learn about the Truth, Racial Healing and Transformation (TRHT) framework and develop an action plan. The consortium includes Eckerd College, Stetson University College of Law, St. Petersburg College (SPC) and the University of South Florida (USF) St. Petersburg campus.

“I am very excited to work alongside others to create a campus community, city and county that eliminates racial inequalities, becomes a model for educating the community around issues of social justice and social action, and ensures that all USF St. Petersburg campus faculty, staff and students understand, appreciate and live the ideals of an inclusive community,” said Martin Tadlock, regional chancellor of USF’s St. Petersburg campus.

“SPC is committed to serving as a leader, convener and a catalyst for positive change and our partnership with the TRHT center will connect and enhance resources that cultivate healing and learning,” said Tashika Griffith, provost for the SPC Downtown and Midtown Center. “The establishment of a TRHT Center will assist with ensuring all stakeholders have an opportunity to thrive in an environment that fosters inclusive growth.”

The Association of American Colleges and Universities has been partnering with higher education institutions since 2017 to prepare the next generation of strategic leaders to break down racial hierarchies through the TRHT framework developed by the Kellogg Foundation. TRHT Campus Centers implement action plans with the aim of moving toward the transformative goal of erasing structural barriers to equal treatment and opportunity on campuses, in communities and for the nation around the pillars of the TRHT framework: narrative change, racial healing and relationship building, separation, law and economy.

 “A TRHT Center could provide training for our students and the community on how to have difficult conversations about race, provide opportunities for us to learn about the legal racial history of St. Petersburg and to connect our legislative advocacy work as part of the Florida Law School Consortium on Racial Justice to community advocacy,” said Judith Scully, co-founder of Stetson University College of Law Social Justice Advocacy program and co-chair of the Florida Law Schools’ Consortium for Racial Justice.

Each institution of the St. Petersburg consortium will send three members to the TRHT Summer Institute that will be held virtually from June 22-25, where they will participate in capacity-building workshops.  At the end of the institute, the group will present its action plan. 

“When we first learned of the TRHT Centers and their framework from our colleagues at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, we were awed at the streamlined approach to a subject we have deeply considered in our five-year strategic planning efforts,” said Robbyn Hopewell, director of media and public relations at Eckerd College. “Eckerd College joined the consortium to attend the Institute and learn out how to turn our current programs addressing racial justice into a resource for our whole community.”

Some of the initial goals the representatives hope to develop further include how the consortium will:

  • Play a pivotal role in racial healing and transformation in St. Petersburg by presenting a collective truth to build a collective future;
  • Engage faculty on incorporating issues of race into curricula and providing more truthful narratives about racial history;
  • Develop community seminars related to racial justice from a national, state and local perspective and partnering with local media;
  • Create student opportunities with a racial justice component with community organizations; and
  • Engage in legislative and community advocacy around issues that have been identified by community organizations as key to racial progress. 

The idea for the consortium originated in 2020, when USF’s St. Petersburg campus and community leaders in St. Petersburg and Pinellas County convened a task force to explore how to connect efforts to address inequalities that exist in the region. Task force members met monthly to discuss current initiatives, as well as gaps that might present opportunities for collaboration, and identified the TRHT framework as a beneficial tool that could help strengthen each campus’ commitment to community and inclusion.

The consortium has already received support from community organizations, including the Foundation for a Health St. Petersburg, which has provided a local planning grant.

“Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg supports the work of the consortium and believes the implementation of the TRHT model will transform longstanding institutionalized systems rooted in racism,” said Carl Lavender, chief equity officer for Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg. “The framework for discovering truths about racial harm, jointly working to heal resulting trauma and supporting the role of higher education to uplift the narrative and voices of Black, indigenous and people of color will yield multiple pathways to collectively manifest race equity within the consortium and community at-large.”

To learn more about the TRHT framework and the summer institute, visit here.

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St. Petersburg College celebrated a generous donation from the Patrick Brett Foundation on Thursday, May 20, at the SPC Midtown Center Community Room.

The Patrick Brett Foundation donated $100,000 to SPC to provide students the opportunity for a second chance through the Fresh Start Scholarship. This donation matches a similar $100,000 donation given to SPC in 2020. Terry and Kim Brett created the foundation in 2016 in memory of their son Patrick, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2005.

“The Patrick Brett Foundation believes in investing in others, even people they don’t know,” SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams said. “I am so proud and thankful to the young people who started it, and I am most grateful to the parents of Patrick Brett who are allowing us to remember Patrick for his love for people and for helping them to succeed.”

The Patrick Brett Foundation believes in second chances and the only requirement is – keep going!

SPC student Danielle Steward

After facing many hardships, SPC student Danielle Steward decided to reenroll in college in 2017 to pursue her dreams. One of her professors encouraged her to apply for scholarships through the SPC Foundation to ease some of her worries.

“I poured my heart into my essay but what I didn’t expect was for someone to hear me. The Brett family heard me,” Steward said. “The next semester I was awarded the Patrick Brett Foundation Scholarship and I got a fresh start.”

Since receiving the scholarship, Steward has earned her Associate in Arts degree and is working to earn her Bachelor of Science in Biology, with the hopes of becoming a dermatologist. One day she hopes to return the favor to other students and be to them what the Brett family has been for her.

“It’s so meaningful to wake up every day to know that you’re going to be a part of changing someone’s life,” said Jesse Turtle, SPC’s Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Executive Director of Foundation. “The Patrick Brett Foundation and family has been a part of this community for so long and it has been an honor to work with them and be included in this successful endeavor.”

“I want to thank the SPC Foundation for the great stewardship they’ve provided. Also, to our corporate and individual sponsors, thank you for believing in our vision,” Terry Brett said.

Over the years, the Patrick Brett Foundation has donated more than $375,000 to SPC in support of scholarships for individuals like Linda Johnson. Johnson was the Brett Foundation’s first scholarship recipient to graduate. She earned a Bachelor’s of Applied Science Management and Organizational Leadership degree from SPC in 2018. She decided to go back to school to gain a competitive edge in the workforce and be a role model for her daughter.

SPC graduate Linda Johnson

“I wanted a degree to ensure my future was stable,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to the Patrick Brett Foundation for giving me the opportunity for a fresh start.” Johnson is currently employed at Raymond James Financial in the Information Technology Department and feels her employer has already seen a change in her. “This (opportunity) will help me advance in my career. I’m a lot stronger and confident, and people see that” she said.   

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St. Petersburg College would like to honor students who went above and beyond their studies to serve as members of the College’s Student Government Association throughout the 2020-21 academic year. These SGA leaders persevered in their duties. We thank them for their time, service and dedication to their fellow students, their respective campuses and to the entire college as a whole.

St. Petersburg College Student Government Association              


Tiffany Albritton SGA President 2020-2021


Tera Frazier SGA President 2020-2021
Deanna Harmon SGA Vice President Fall 2020
Keenan Murray SGA Secretary 2020-2021
Vy Pham SGA Historian 2020-2021


Darren Shay SGA President 2020-2021
Raheim Davis SGA Vice President 2020-2021
Adam Gaetz SGA Legislative Liaison 2020-2021
Emilee Stratman SGA Secretary 2020-2021


Jeff Thomas SGA President 2020-2021
Maria Scruggs SGA Vice President 2020-2021
Rose Lee Adamson SGA Secretary 2020-2021

Health Education Center/Veterinary Technology Center              

Sherie Evans SGA President 2020-2021
Samantha St. Martin SGA Vice President Fall 2020
Kat Durant SGA Historian 2020-2021
Michell McDaniel SGA Sergeant at Arms Fall 2020
Vera Law SGA Vice President Spring 2021
Keith Taylor SGA Treasurer Spring 2021
Taryn Liberatore SGA Secretary Spring 2021
Lorena Fonseca SGA Sergeant at Arms Spring 2021
Bibin Thomas SGA Parliamentarian Spring 2021


Andrew Davis SGA President 2020-2021
Tomas Ortega SGA Vice President 2020-2021
Keely Johnson SGA Secretary 2020-21
Fatimah Khaleel SGA Historian 2020-21

St. Petersburg/Gibbs

Daniel Small Student Government Association President
Christy-Lynne Lapine Student Government Association Vice-President
Nathan Poinsette Student Government Association Secretary

Tarpon Springs

Eleftherios Venieris SGA President 2020-201

Florida College System Student Government Association Recognitions 

Tiffany Albritton FCSSGA Region 2 Coordinator
Tera Frazier FCSSGA Region 2 Secretary
Raheim Davis FCSSGA Region 2 Legislative Liaison
Vera Law FCSSGA Region 2 Service Chair

We would also like to recognize our 2020-21 Academic Year student award recipients. The academic performance and dedication to self-improvement demonstrated by these students is exemplary, and they stand as true examples of what it means to be a St. Petersburg College Titan. We congratulate them on their achievements this year and look forward to their continued success.

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The Patrick Brett Foundation is generously donating $100,000 to St. Petersburg College (SPC) to provide students the opportunity for a second chance through the Fresh Start Scholarship. This donation matches a similar $100,000 donation given to SPC in 2020. Terry and Kim Brett created the foundation in 2016 in memory of their son Patrick, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2005.

The donation announcement will be held at noon on Thursday, May 20, at the SPC Midtown Center Community Room, 1300 22nd St. S., St. Petersburg.

“We are so grateful for the continued support of the Patrick Brett Foundation, which honors the legacy of a dynamic and compassionate young man who sought to make a difference in the lives of others,” said SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “The Fresh Start scholarships are transforming the lives of students who just need a little extra support to make it to the finish line.”

Patrick Brett

Patrick Brett valued education and celebrated positive change in people, so as a way to celebrate his life, the Patrick Brett Foundation has championed the success of individuals seeking to improve their lives. The foundation’s mission is to offer guidance, nurture ambition, promote leadership and encourage positive change in the community.

Over the years, the Patrick Brett Foundation has donated more than $375,000 to SPC in support of scholarships for individuals like Linda Johnson. The first scholarship recipient, Johnson graduated with a Bachelor of Applied Science in Management and Organizational Leadership from SPC in 2018. Johnson decided to go back to school to gain a competitive edge in the workforce and be a role model for her daughter.

“I wanted a degree to ensure my future was stable,” Johnson said. “I’m very thankful to the Patrick Brett Foundation for giving me the opportunity for a fresh start.” 

Johnson, who is currently employed at Raymond James Financial in the Information Technology Department, feels her employer has already seen a change in her.

“This (opportunity) will help me advance in my career. I’m a lot stronger and confident, and people see that,” she said.   

The foundation has also made a difference in the lives of families like Fresh Start Scholarship recipient Danielle Stewart, who has overcome adversity while pursuing her education.

“The Patrick Brett Foundation has supported my family and me through some of the hardest times, and I was able to push forward because of it,” Stewart said. “Being chosen for the scholarship allowed me to show my children what is possible to obtain and that there are people in this world who have hearts of gold who care wholeheartedly.”

Those interested in applying for the scholarship can contact Caity Carter, SPC Scholarship Manager, at Carter.Caity@spcollege.edu or (727) 614-7220.

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James Fackrell, an Early College student at St. Petersburg College’s Seminole Campus, knows how hospitals work. From a very young age, he struggled with asthma and recurring pneumonia that had him in and out of the hospital many times. But something positive came out of the experience. By the time Fackrell was seven years old, he knew he wanted to be like the people who had helped him so much over the years.

“I had so many amazing doctors who inspired me to be like them,” Fackrell said. “I knew I wanted to be a physician so I could help people.”

Fackrell, who just earned his high school diploma in addition to an associate degree in SPC’s Early College program, got what may be the most exciting letter of his life: An acceptance to Brown University’s Liberal Medical Education program, a liberal arts program for future doctors. The Ivy League program allows him to move right into Brown University Medical School without applying or taking the MCAT, and will make him an MD by the time he’s 24.

“I’m super excited, and all the pressure is off my shoulders, since I don’t have to apply to med school and I know where I’m going to university,” he said.

Fackrell was one 63 accepted students of 3,200 applicants to Brown’s elite program. He credited SPC Seminole Campus Early College Academic Coach Kelly Rich for her support.

“I have to thank Ms. Rich for everything she’s done for me and for all of the ECP kids,” Fackrell said. “She’s really been here for practically every step of the path, always encouraging us and being someone we can go to if things happened – both good and bad.”

Through a partnership between St. Petersburg College and Pinellas County Schools, Early College allows students to spend their high school junior and senior years attending all classes at one of three SPC campuses: Clearwater, Seminole or Tarpon Springs. Students simultaneously earning a high school diploma from their assigned school and an Associate in Arts degree from SPC. There is no cost for the college application, tuition or textbooks. This year, SPC graduated 177 students in the Early College program.

James and Nadia, behind separate podiums, give their commencement speech

Fackrell was chosen, along with his best friend Nadia Fahmy, to be a class speaker for the Seminole Early College graduation celebration. He thanked teachers and advisors and also encouraged his fellow grads to go out and do great things.  

“Aim to change the world,” he said. “Not just for yourselves, but for all of us.”

Learn more about SPC’s Early College Program on our website.

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St. Petersburg College graduate Chikara Parks wanted to walk away from college, but she found the strength to keep going through the encouraging words from the SPC family. 

“They saw something in me that I would have never seen in myself, ever,” Parks said. 

On May 8, SPC held its 142nd commencement ceremony virtually. Parks was one of two student speakers at the event. She shared a personal story of overcoming adversity and preserving while grieving the loss of her unborn child at 4 months old. Parks turned her pain into purpose and crossed the graduation finish line. 

SPC Graduate Chikara Parks

“Although there were so many odds placed against me, I had a dream, a vision and I was determined to live it out in the wake of real life,” she said. “The best things in life are worth waiting, fighting, believing and never letting go.”

Graduate Christy-Lynne Lapine also spoke at the ceremony and shared how she embraced courage and found acceptance at SPC as a transgender woman. 

“I was welcomed, encouraged and celebrated as I came out of my shell, and my mind shone with every new lesson and course,” she said.

Lapine also reminded her peers of their resilience as they all navigated a changing world. 

“Even with the unexpected changes we all faced this last year, you rose to the challenge and earned your place here,” she said. “That kind of thinking, that kind of courage, will still be with your regardless the obstacles you find in your futures.”

SPC Graduate Christy-Lynne Lapine

A celebration to remember

For the Spring 2021 Term, SPC awarded 2,168 degrees and certificates. The youngest graduate was 17 years old, the oldest was 76 years old and 15 graduates are over the age of 60. With this graduating class, SPC will have awarded 185,204 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

During the ceremony, SPC President Tonjua Williams thanked the college’s leadership, faculty and staff for their commitment to students. She also said SPC students are more than ordinary for overcoming obstacles to change their lives. 

“You preserved through many challenges this year,” Williams said. “It is a testament to your resilience and determination that you are here to cross the finish line. You are a diverse group of students from all walks of life, who have turn obstacles into opportunities in order to succeed.”

Florida Sen. Ed Hooper joined the celebration too as a guest speaker and commended the virtual graduates on their accomplishments. 

“You made it, you’re here and that’s the most important part of your journey,” Hooper said. “I hope this day brings opportunities to you and your family that you’ve always longed for.” 

President Williams closed the special occasion and told graduates, “St Petersburg College is a special place, where opportunities are endless, hope is never deferred, and dreams come true.”

To watch the graduation ceremony, visit spcgraduation.com.

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St. Petersburg College will hold its 142nd commencement ceremony virtually starting at 11:45 a.m. EST on Saturday, May 8. The ceremony will include remarks from SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams and student speakers, followed by the formal conferring of degrees and credentials.

Friends and family can watch the commencement on:

  • YouTube starting at 11:45 a.m.
  • In Pinellas County, viewers can watch the event on Channel 636 with a Spectrum cable TV box or on WOW! TV Channel 19.
  • After the event, the entire ceremony will be available on demand at spcgraduation.com.

SPC will award 2,168 degrees and certificates for the Spring 2021 term, including:

  • 938 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 443 Associate in Science degrees
  • 281 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 236 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 150 certifications  

The college’s youngest graduate is 17 years old, the oldest is 76 years old and 15 graduates are over the age of 60. With this graduating class, SPC will have awarded 185,204 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

To learn more about the virtual ceremony, visit. spcgraduation.com.

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St. Petersburg College faculty members are true innovators. Among them, you will find distinguished award winners, published authors and sought-out subject experts. With the end of Community College Month, we’re shining a spotlight on a key part of what makes St. Petersburg College great: our faculty.

Prioritizing Student Learning

SPC’s exceptional faculty members continuously engage in conversations and training to help them deliver content to students in ways that provide meaningful engagement and increased learning. Paralegal Studies Professor Rachel Bennett is the Director of the Center of Excellence for Teaching and Learning at SPC. She said that when students need extra support, she and her fellow faculty members are prepared to go the extra mile.

“I know so many SPC faculty who give out their cell phone number to students,” Bennett said. “Offering to communicate with students in this way shows that faculty are concerned about one thing: being there for their students.”

Many SPC faculty see it as their job to not just lead the class but to ensure that their students understand the information.

“It would be much easier to just point students to other resources if they need extra help, but instead, so many of us take the time to change what we’re doing to serve our students,” Bennett said. 

Encouraging Success

Along with teaching, another role instructors play is cheerleader. SPC senior Christy-Lynne Lapine said she never considered graduate school until her professor, Anna Seuss, encouraged her to do so.

“We used to have long talks, and she would always say, ‘You are going to grad school. You are going to grad school,’” Lapine said. “So many professors encouraged me. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have had the desire or the foundation to go further.”

When COVID-19 shut down classrooms, instructors had to put their courses online in only a couple of days, as well as learn how to use new software. Nursing Professor Jeffrey Briggs, President of SPC’s Faculty Governance Organization, said the quick course changes were important but lifting his students up during a trying time was just as crucial as course content.  

“We had to make the change to our course modality seamless for the students, so there weren’t any major interruptions,” Briggs said. “But the most important part was outwardly facing: keeping a positive attitude and cheerleading. My students were all working nurses, and they were upset. I made a point to talk to them about what they were going through.”

Recent phlebotomy tech graduate Gina Wright credited her instructors for support, both academically and personally.

“They are awesome,” she said. “They motivate you to do more and go out of their way to better the community and help people. I figure, if they can invest that much in me, I can, too.”

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It’s time to sign the kids up for summer activities! St. Petersburg College’s College for Kids offers safety, fun and enrichment at a very reasonable price, and might just encourage kids to start envisioning themselves as students on a college campus.

Dr. Yvonne Williams, Coordinator of SPC’s Corporate College, said this isn’t the first time the college has offered a summer camp for kids. But this year’s camp moves the experience from public school campuses to St. Petersburg College sites.

“We wanted our students to experience the look and feel of a real college campus,” Williams said. “Introducing this at an early age could spark their desire to attend college in the future and greatly increase the chances of them doing so.”

The program runs for five weeks, starting June 14, with classes from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. Extended care is available from 3-5:30 p.m. Registration is now open.

Students will experience innovative and experiential activities, both in the community and in small, COVID-19 safe classroom settings. Williams said state-certified instructors will be teaching and looking after students who attend the program.

“It’s so important to us to provide our curriculum via credentialed instructors in order to ensure that our students are learning in a safe environment from people who are experienced in teaching a diverse group of learners,” she said.

Visual and graphic arts, arts and crafts, and STEAM activities are just a part of the many activities College for Kids will be offering. Activities will vary, depending on the site.

“Students attending the Downtown Center summer experience will have walking tours of the Downtown St. Petersburg area, as well as tours of some of the many art museums located there,” Williams said. “The Tarpon Springs Campus is home to the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, where students will create art and have it displayed in the museum.”

Teresa Wilkins, Executive Director of the Leepa-Rattner Museum of Art, said the exposure to art will proffer the mindset that is required for college success, including creative problem solving, effective communication, empathy and an openness to differing points of view.

“When children are able to engage in the artistic process, their social and emotional capacity and their understanding of the world around themselves grows,” Wilkins said. “When the artwork they produce is displayed, it reaffirms this process of discovery and boosts self-esteem and willingness to continue to grow and learn.”

For $80 per week, kids entering grades 4-9 will receive:

  • Quality instruction led by credentialed teachers
  • Access to a St. Petersburg College campus
  • Fun, active, entertaining experiences, including field trips – without the pressure of tests or grades
  • A T-shirt

For more information, view program details online, review the program flyer or call 727-302-6436.

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St. Petersburg College’s application fee will be waived for attendees of its Explore SPC virtual college fair, which will be held May 4 and 5. Participants can connect with faculty, along with financial aid and academic advisors, to get their questions answered online in real time and take the next step toward their education.

Plus, Florida high school students who graduated in 2020 or will graduate this spring and who attend this event may also be eligible for a $500 scholarship.

Explore SPC will offer day and evening sessions from 6-8 p.m. on May 4 and 10 -11 a.m. and 5-6 p.m. on May 5. The event will feature:

  • Online breakout sessions, including “How to become a Titan”, “How to Pay for College”, “Titan Student Life” and more
  • Virtual expos for participants to learn more about SPC’s academic community and student services
  • Live Q&As with career and academic advisors

“Students and their families should take advantage of Explore SPC,” SPC Director of Admissions and Records Eva Christensen said. “This virtual event really allows you to maximize your time while the chat and drop-in features let you engage with college staff as though you were a traditional face-to-face event.”

SPC offers more than 110 degrees and training programs that lead to high-wage and in-demand careers. Expert speakers will provide insight on how SPC will support students throughout their academic journey from application to graduation and beyond. Speakers include:

  • SPC Director of Recruitment Services Reggie Reed
  • SPC Online Student Activities and Services Coordinator Brandie Ebert
  • SPC Executive Director of Financial Assistance Services Todd Smith
  • SPC Director of Admissions and Records Eva Christensen

Attendees can learn more about SPC’s university partnerships with the University of South Florida System (FUSE) and Florida A&M (Ignite). These partnerships guarantee admission into select bachelor’s degree programs for eligible students who complete their associate degree at SPC.

For more information about Explore SPC, visit spc.edu/explore.

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