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St. Petersburg College will honor its top graduates and alumnus during commencement ceremonies May 16 at Tropicana Field.

This year, for the first time, award winners were notified before the ceremony.

Amy Bhatt was selected as the Apollo Award winner, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can achieve.

James Stanley Lenas 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:

“Education is not just the knowledge received in class. While I acquired my academic intelligence from my courses, much of the practical intelligence I gained came from extracurricular activities at SPC”.

“Education is not just the knowledge received in class. While I acquired my academic intelligence from my courses, much of the practical intelligence I gained came from extracurricular activities at SPC.” Amy Bhatt

Amy Bhatt, Clearwater Campus, Winner

Ms. Bhatt is a 2015 A.A. degree graduate and a member of the Early College Program. She served as co-president of
the Honors College and co-chairwoman of the Pre-Law Committee for the Legal Studies Society. She was named to the All Florida Academic Team. She was the editor of the Sixth Judicial Circuit Pro Bono Newsletter, which acts as a community resource for attorneys and paralegals. Ms. Bhatt has a 4.0 G.P.A.

During her first year at SPC, she received the “Student of the Year” award in Honors Interdisciplinary
Studies, one of the youngest students at SPC to receive the award. In 2015 she was chosen as a recipient of the
Presidential Scholarship Award, which recognizes high school students who have attained academic excellence.

Dr. Richard Mercadante, Faculty Senate President, said: “Amy Bhatt is one of those rare students who excels
in multiple areas: academics, service, and leadership. She has earned the respect of faculty and her student peers
for her ability to serve as a positive role model regardless of the challenges she encounters. When I grow up I want
to be just like Amy!”

Ms. Bhatt’s goal is to earn a bachelor’s degree in paralegal studies at SPC. She would then like to attend Stetson University’s College of Law and pursue her ultimate dream of serving on the Supreme Court.

“I have felt tremendously encouraged and welcomed by St. Petersburg College, especially by the Seminole Campus. Through its resources, my college has taught me that I should not be afraid of my future, but instead step into it with confidence and fervent dedication.

“I have felt tremendously encouraged and welcomed by St. Petersburg College, especially by the Seminole Campus. Through its resources, my college has taught me that I should not be afraid of my future, but instead step into it with confidence and fervent dedication.” Samantha Sue-Ellen Engelhardt

Samantha Sue-Ellen Engelhardt, Seminole Campus

Ms. Engelhardt is a 2015 A.A. degree graduate. She was a member of the Early College Program, the Intervarsity Christian Club, the SPC Community Band, and the Math Club. She has a 4.0 G.P.A.

She has been a math tutor in the Seminole Learning Commons and volunteered as treasurer of the Early College program. She also has volunteered at the Vineyard Inn, an assisted living facility, and at Horses for Handicapped.

She was a finalist for the All Florida Academic Team in 2015, is a Take Stock in Children Scholarship recipient,
and received the Early College Excellence Award for her outstanding academic success and leadership qualities.

Mathematics Instructor Jeff Taylor said: “She displays a level of intelligence and responsibility well beyond her years. The only thing more impressive than her intellect and kindness is her humility.”

Ms. Engelhardt will pursue a bachelor’s degree in civil engineering from the University of South Florida with
the goal of eventually becoming a certified civil engineer.

“St. Petersburg College provides a learning environment for a melting pot of all different types of people. There are high school students trying to better themselves for higher education, retired veterans who want to go back to school, adults who would like to earn a higher degree to obtain a better job to provide for themselves or their families. I believe SPC has not only offered me a better education, but also a better future.” – Anita Thuy An Nguyen

Anita Thuy An Nguyen, Seminole Campus

Ms. Nguyen is a 2015 A.A. degree graduate. She participated in Phi Theta Kappa, Seminole Campus Soccer, the Great Eco Race, and volunteered in the Student Support Center to help plan events and activities. She has a 4.0 G.P.A.

She served as secretary of the Early College Program, and helped coordinate Spirit Week and the Halloween Costume event. She served as a volunteer math tutor in the Learning Commons on the Seminole Campus, giving over 15 hours a week to help struggling students. She also participated in the St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital 5k run, the SPCA Toys for Toto drive, and Phi Theta Kappa monthly road cleanups.

Ms. Nguyen received the 2015 Early College Academic Excellence Award, and was a recipient of the Presidential Scholarship awarded to students who excel academically and maintain that excellence throughout high school.

Associate Professor Pelagia Mazarakis said: “She is an exceptional student, both academically and personally… respected and admired by her teachers and her peers.”

Her goal is to attend Nova Southeastern University’s College of Optometry with the ultimate career goal of becoming a practicing optometrist.

“Most memorably, SPC gave me the opportunity to realize my leadership potential by leading community service initiatives that benefited children and motivated my peers to go above and beyond.” Bernadette Praxides Mead

“Most memorably, SPC gave me the opportunity to realize my leadership potential by leading community service initiatives that benefited children and motivated my peers to go above and beyond.” Bernadette Praxides Mead

Bernadette Praxides Mead, St. Petersburg Collegiate High School, St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

Ms. Praxides Mead is a 2015 A.A. degree graduate. She was a member of the  Student Government Association. She has served as a First Aid Responder for the Student Athletic Training Program at Boca Ciega High School. She has a 3.9 G.P.A.

She served as vice president of the National Honor Society, where she coordinated holiday gift drives, beach cleanups and social events. She was a member of the Interact Club and coordinated the Red Hand Day Commemoration Event, a worldwide initiative to stop the use of child soldiers. She also served as a volunteer
for All Children’s Hospital.

She received numerous awards, including: the President’s Education Award for Outstanding Academic Excellence from her high school, an Excellent Service Award from Junior Achievement, and the National Honor Society’s Community Service and Recognition for Outstanding Leadership award.

Leadership/Resource Instructor Sally Hoogewerf said Ms. Praxides Mead “represents everything admirable about SPC. Her contributions to class discussions were thought provoking, and she acts with joy in her heart
and a smile on her face.”

Her goal is to attend Georgetown University and become involved in international and development economics and then embark on her dream of helping the people of the Philippines escape extreme poverty.

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 learned about science from SPC professionals who have been in the research/clinical field.

“I learned about science from SPC professionals who have been in the research/clinical field. I was a part of a group that gave me the chance to practice science outside the classroom in a relaxed, educational environment. I am not only proud to be a SPC graduate, but one who represents the school thereafter.” James Stanley Lenas

James Stanley Lenas, Seminole Campus, Winner

Mr. Lenas will receive a B.S. degree in biology. He has a 3.65 G.P.A.

He was a member of the Tau Delta Tau chapter of the National Science Honor Society, a senator in the Student Government Association and is a member of Golden Key.

He presented research in microbiology at the American Society of Microbiology Summit in 2014. He served as a microbiology tutor at the Health Education Center, where he also helped run workshops teaching students various lab techniques that applied to their curriculum. He served as the lead microbiology assistant for more than 120 students on the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus.

He has participated in the Great American Teach-In and served as a judge for the 2015 Pinellas County Regional Science Fair. He was the recipient of an SPC Foundation grant and was named a Biological Research Nominee, an award given to biology program students who complete outstanding research in the field.

Dr. Katherine Siegler said: “Jimmy was one of two students whose research we supported with a stipend funded by the SPC Foundation. He is one of the few undergraduate students I have known that possesses the ability to pose independently, thought-out hypotheses.”

Mr. Lenas’ goal is to work as a medical technologist in the Tampa Bay area.

“I believe I am leaving SPC with a legacy for other students to follow. A legacy that shows them that hard work and integrity can give you a better life.” Robert Hurley

“I believe I am leaving SPC with a legacy for other students to follow. A legacy that shows them that hard work and integrity can give you a better life.” Robert Hurley

Robert Hurley, Clearwater Campus

Mr. Hurley will receive a B.A.S. degree in paralegal studies. He has a 3.69 G.P.A.

He is founder and president of the Legal Studies Society, president of the Titan Blue Club, a senator in Student
Government, treasurer of the MAX program, and has spearheaded scholarship workshops for SPC students.

He has volunteered for the Salvation Army, participated in the Student Veterans Club Trash Cleanup and in the annual Turkey Trot for Student Government. He helped advertise and collect Thanksgiving food contributions with the MAX club, participated in the Christmas toy hand-out through Student Government, and volunteered for Habitat for Humanity through Phi Theta Kappa.

Mr. Hurley received the Lynch-Reed-Wakefield Scholarship, and was a student speaker at the annual SPC Foundation employee giving event.

Student Life and Leadership Coordinator Stephanie Henningsen said: “He has worked tirelessly through the
Student Government Association and helped make students aware of opportunities.”

Mr. Hurley’s goal is to earn an M.B.A. from the University of Florida and return to St. Petersburg College as a professor.

“SPC has given me opportunities I have embraced and used to allow myself to grow as a professional.” Zayda Jania

“SPC has given me opportunities I have embraced and used to allow myself to grow as a professional.” Zayda Jania

Zayda Janiak, Clearwater Campus

Ms. Janiak will receive a B.S. degree in elementary education. She has a 3.75 G.P.A.

She was a member of Kappa Delta Pi and is an active blogger for SPC Learning Resources. She was a member of the
Early College Program, completed ethics training in the College of Education and has attended NASA Professional Development Education Workshops.

She volunteered as a student assistant at the Clearwater Campus Library and served as an intern at M.K. Rawlings Elementary School. She has completed more than 120 field-based hours as a student teacher in language arts, mathematics, and science.

She was the winner of several scholarships, including the prestigious Presidential Scholarship, which is awarded
for outstanding academic excellence. She is a member of Golden Key.

Adjunct Professor Cynthia Freed said: “Over the past seven years I have come into contact with hundreds of students. Few stand out as much as Zayda. She understands the meaning of diligence.”

Her goal is to earn a Ph.D. in education and teach at the college level.

“I and my family are staunch believers in the educational programs at SPC After taking the time to have a family, I decided at the age of 38 to go to college and now I am graduating with honors.” Angela Sue O’Connor

“I and my family are staunch believers in the educational programs at SPC After taking the time to have a family, I decided at the age of 38 to go to college and now I am graduating with honors.” Angela Sue O’Connor

Angela Sue O’Connor, Tarpon Springs Campus

Ms. O’Connor will receive a B.S. degree in elementary education. She has a 3.77 G.P.A.

She was a member of Phi Theta Kappa, the Pinellas Reading Council, and the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics.

She participated in a teaching trip to Jamaica, where she served as lead teacher of third- and fourth-graders. She was a Girl Scout Leader for 15 years, leading her troop to a Bronze Award and a Gold Award, the Girl Scouts’ highest honor.

She has volunteered at the Safety Harbor Library and participated in the Christmas Toy Drive in St. Petersburg.
Dr. Cher N. Gauweiler said: “Angela is among the highest achieving students in the College of Education.

She exudes a positive, friendly spirit and has the ability to make others feel at ease. The glowing feedback I
receive is indicative of her teaching ability.”

Her goal is to earn a master’s degree in education and become a full-time teacher.

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St. Petersburg College will host a Meta Majors Summit on June 5 to bring together community college leaders from across the state to collaborate on processes and systems to implement meta majors and academic and career pathways. The summit, which is closed to the public but open to the media, is being hosted in conjunction with officials from Valencia College and Broward College, each of whom will be sharing how their institution is working with the pathways concept to improve student success.

The event will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 5 at the Collaborative Labs at St. Petersburg College, SPC EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N., Clearwater, and will feature panel discussions and break-out sessions.

The summit is funded by Student Success Statewide Impact funds through the Completion by Design grant provided to the Florida College System Foundation by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. The convening will allow attendees from across the state to collaborate on best practices and innovative ways to use the concept as they discuss and analyze tangible and replicable ways of creating academic pathways, and cultivate relationships with other colleges.

“Meta majors and clear academic pathways take the guesswork out of degree requirements and course sequencing for our students. By offering our students clear-cut steps they can follow in their pursuit to degree completion, we’re removing roadblocks that have long challenged them,” said St. Petersburg President Bill Law. “This is going to revolutionize the way students plan their course progression, giving them a much better chance at success.”

Davis Jenkins

Davis Jenkins

Nationally renowned educational expert Dr. Davis Jenkins will be the keynote speaker at the summit. Jenkins is a senior research associate at the Community College Research Center at Columbia University’s Teachers College and an Achieving the Dream Coach. Jenkins’ research and thinking have informed the development and spread of innovative approaches to improving student outcomes, including career pathways, contextualized adult technical bridge programs (such as Washington State’s I-BEST), and guided pathways to success (GPS). Jenkins is co-author with Thomas Bailey and Shanna Jaggars of Redesigning America’s Community Colleges: A Clearer Path to Student Success (Harvard University Press, 2015).

“Most students arrive at community college without clear goals for college and careers. Yet, most colleges do little to help them explore their options, choose a program of study, and develop a plan for completing it,” Jenkins said. “This meeting will bring together St. Petersburg College and other Florida state colleges that are at the forefront nationally of finding cost-effective ways to help students choose and enter academic programs quickly so that more are able to graduate faster and at a lower cost.”

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Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Eight St. Petersburg College students were among 22 who took part in the inaugural Tampa Bay Technology Forum Exploratory Labs, an innovative training solution held March 23-27 that addressed the needs of companies in the Tampa Bay area.

The training took place at local companies Tech Data and Valpak and was designed as a business integration experience that compliments traditional classroom curriculum. The goal: to close the skills gap and increase interest in the technology industry among non-technology degree seeking students.

Training program developers included Pat Gehant, Director of Workforce Initiative at TBTF; Angie Beltz, Vice President for Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data; Dr. William Law, President of St. Petersburg College; the TBTF Workforce committee, then chaired by Chris Cate, CIO fro Valpak; and a team of educators from SPC and USF St. Petersburg. They worked together for 18 months to create a training solution that:

  • Engages business in the design and delivery of the curriculum
  • Integrates into the academic setting
  • Does not increase the cost or time to complete a degree
  • Provides a new way for companies to source entry level talent

The training consisted of 70 hours in the classroom and more than 40 hours of out-of-class team activities. The curriculum covered topics such as business planning, integrated marketing, emotional intelligence software licensing, Web, e-commerce, data centers, Agile project management methodologies, among others.

“Having an opportunity to solve a current technological challenge with the possibility of having our solution or parts of it utilized in the ‘real world’ is the best learning experience one could imagine,” said Christl Strachen, a student taking classes at SPC through the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program.

The students spent one day at Valpak learning how Agile methodologies are embraced and effectively deployed throughout a company – not just in Information Technology fields. The students are “chomping at the bit to get started,” said Robert Vigre, an SPC bachelor’s degree student in health administration.

The students graduated during a ceremony at Tech Data on April 14.

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SPC-Champions-Award2St. Petersburg College Facilities department received the Champions Award in Excellence for exceeding State Requirements for Educational Facilities (SREF) from the Florida College System Risk Management Consortium.

The award was presented for the high standards in Sanitation, Casualty, & Safety Inspections (SCSI) that are performed annually across the state college system.

“The Facilities department’s main objective is to help students get to class in the best condition for learning by providing clean and safe learning spaces,” said Diana Wright, Director of Facilities Services. “Abiding by state safety standards requires collaboration from all departments on a continual basis. We are honored to have received this award and thankful for everyone’s contribution.”

The process requires cooperation from multiple departments across the college:

  • Science departments provide proper labeling and storage of chemicals
  • Building occupants reduce electrical hazards by utilizing college issued surge protectors
  • Custodial Services ensure buildings are sanitized and clean
  • Security performs risk assessments
  • Maintenance Services ensure operability of emergency systems such as backup generators, emergency lighting, exit signs, elevator emergency phones, maintaining proper egress, areas of rescue, fire sprinkler systems and fire extinguishers

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St. Petersburg College Model United Nations 2015 Team

St. Petersburg College’s Model United Nations team received the Distinguished Delegation Award at the National Model United Nations (NMUN) conference held earlier this month in New York. The award places them in the top 13% of the international pool of 5,000 college and university delegates.

Each spring, students from around the world gather in New York to discuss current global issues. At the conference, students serve as a delegation representing a particular country and are evaluated on their delegation’s performance. Visit the SPC Model United Nations Facebook page for pictures from the event.

This year, the St. Petersburg College delegation represented the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. Each delegation is graded on their work on the committee, use of the rules of procedure and their ability to remain “in character” at the conference.

Some of the topics the students tackled included:

  • Prohibiting Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems
  • Women in Development
  • Development and the Rights of Indigenous Peoples
  • Measures to Combat Terrorism in Africa
kane magnuson

Kane Magnuson, lead delegate, SPC Model UN

“The Model UN conference was a wonderful experience,” said Kane Magnuson, an SPC student and one of the team’s head delegates this year. “It taught me how to work with a team and strengthened my analytical, critical thinking and research skills. It also taught me how to use my ideas to make this world a better place.”

Magnuson earned his A.A. Degree from SPC in July and is currently studying International Business at SPC with plans to continue his education at the university level.

“I really appreciate our professor’s support,” he said. “They were very influential in the team’s success.”

SPC professors Earl Fratus and Heather Roberson traveled with the team this year.

“The application process to apply for the Model United Nations Team is rigorous and very competitive,” said Fratus. “We are lucky to have students from all corners of the college and from upper and lower division.”

This year’s SPC Model United Nation delegates were:

  1. Tyler Caley
  2. Yim Chan
  3. Amy Currotto
  4. Alliyah Edwards
  5. Jermaine Evans
  6. Jason Godfrey
  7. Keith Greenberg *
  8. Alex Haydon
  9. Lea Jarnberg
  10. Haneen Kantar
  11. Mason Kerr
  12. Kane Magnuson *
  13. Isabel Martinho
  14. Matthew McMahon
  15. Lewis Morgan
  16. Carlos Ortega Perez
  17. Armando Pellot
  18. Ryan Walker

* Head Delegates

“Once a student is chosen to be on the team, he or she starts the demanding process of researching their assigned country, practicing diplomatic behavior in simulations and speaking in front of groups to help prepare them for the conference,” said Fratus.

SPC students participating in this year’s Model UN team have been researching and training for the conference since January.

“Our students put in several hours a week for at least two or three months to prepare for the conference,” said Fratus. “Many of our students agree that this is one of the most important activities they have ever been involved in during their college career.  They work very hard but they love it.”

The Model United Nations Initiative at SPC places strong emphasis on research and experiential learning. Students gain critical thinking skills and knowledge about international organizations, processes for conflict resolution and how they diplomatically engage one another.

“Our team has produced several students who have decided to change their career goals to international politics or business,” said Fratus. “The Model United Nations sparks a passion in many of these students who might not have been sure what their future might entail.  SPC is producing international leaders through its Model United Nations Team.”

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FLTRADE-spc-logoFlorida’s state colleges, manufacturers and regional workforce boards are teaming up to connect Floridians with great careers in advanced manufacturing. The Florida Manufacturing Career Fair on April 22 will be held at multiple venues across the state and will give Floridians the opportunity to meet with local manufacturers.

For Pinellas and Hillsborough counties, the fair will be from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the EpiCenter at St. Petersburg College.

The Career Fair brings together the Manufacturers Association of Florida; The Florida Department of Economic Opportunity;  the Florida TRADE Consortium, a coalition of 13 state and community colleges; and members of the CareerSource Florida network at the state and local levels, to connect manufacturers who have job openings with qualified candidates.

“Manufacturers in Florida are growing and hiring,” said Nancy Stephens, Executive Director, Manufacturers Association of Florida. “They want employees looking for meaningful careers that make a difference in other’s lives. Today’s manufacturing is high skill and high wage. Those wages circulate through the economy improving the quality of life for all citizens.”

The Florida TRADE Consortium, a U.S. Department of Labor Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College & Career Training (TAACCCT) grantee, provides accelerated technical training that provides students with the skills needed to compete for jobs in advanced manufacturing.

“Our consortium colleges are located across the entire state of Florida,” said Dr. Gary Graham, Director of Florida TRADE. “The upcoming Manufacturing Career Fair will provide a great opportunity for our students to showcase their training and qualifications.”

“This will be an exciting event for Florida manufacturing businesses and jobseekers as Florida companies will be seeking employees for high-skill, high-wage jobs in manufacturing,” said Jesse Panuccio, Florida Department of Economic Opportunity Executive Director. “Florida’s manufacturing industry ranks in the top 10 in the nation. By engaging an eager and experienced workforce with events such as the Florida Manufacturing Career Fair, we will continue to grow this industry in our state.”

The Florida Manufacturing Career Fair is a component of the “Drive to 1,000,” a Florida TRADE Consortium initiative to place 1,000 Florida TRADE students into manufacturing jobs over the next year; however the Career Fair is open to all and may provide opportunities to anyone interested in a hands-on, high-tech career.

“Advanced Manufacturing is an important industry targeted for future growth in Florida,” said CareerSource Florida President and CEO Chris Hart IV. “CareerSource Florida is a proud partner in this collaborative effort to help Florida’s manufacturers expand and compete, and Floridians secure rewarding, well-paying careers.”

For more information about the Florida Manufacturing Career Fair including locations and times, please visit www.mafmfg.com. For information about the Florida TRADE Consortium, visit www.fltrade.org.

Learn more about the Florida TRADE Consortium at SPC on the college’s website or follow updates at #SPCFLTrade.

#FLManufacturingCareers

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Mark Strickland

Mark Strickland

Mark Strickland will join the Council of Campus Provosts as Interim Provost of the Seminole Campus for the 2015-16 year. This interim appointment provides an opportunity to address transitional matters. He officially begins his new role on June 1, 2015.

In his role as Associate Provost for the Downtown Campus, Mark has been a major contributor in the implementation and success of the College Experience, along with assisting and serving on numerous collegewide initiatives and committees. In addition to his contributions as an Associate Provost, he also has been the Athletic Director since 2007. Mark served in various leadership roles with the Florida College System Activities Association (FCSAA).

Mark joined St. Petersburg College in 2000 as a college recruiter. In 2003, he was promoted to coordinator of Enrollment Management and soon thereafter became the director. Mark left Enrollment Management in 2011 to become the Associate Provost at the Downtown Campus. In addition to Mark’s roles at SPC, he also has been an adjunct instructor for Barry University and the University of Tampa.

Mark’s upbringing as a military dependent allowed for him to live in multiple countries such as: Egypt, Italy, and Germany. In addition to his time overseas, Mark also lived in Georgia, Oklahoma, Alabama, Virginia and Florida.

Mark settled in nicely in Florida, having graduated locally from Seminole High School. From there, Mark went on to earn an associate degree from St. Petersburg College, a bachelor’s degree from the University of South Florida, and a master’s degree from Nova Southeastern. Mark is working towards earning a Ph.D. in Community College Leadership and earned several doctoral credits at Colorado State University.

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