Archive for the ‘veterans’ Category


From left: Jane Strong, Jeffrey Schultz; SVA member at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus; Jeffrey Thomas, vice president of SVA Gibbs; Christopher Clarke, president of SVA Gibbs; and Tina March, academic advisor for SVA Gibbs.

A group of student veterans from the Student Veterans Association at the St. Petersburg College participated in the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Stand Down for Homeless event at the C. W. Bill Young VA Medical Center April 11.

The event provided access to a wide range of services – medical care, free meals, toiletries, hot showers, clothing items, benefits and housing information, and employee assistance – available to homeless veterans and those at risk of becoming homeless.

The student veterans from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, Christopher Clarke, Jeffrey Thomas and Jeffrey Schultz, provided endless energy and information to the Bay Pines veterans about programs at SPC.

“Our SPC veterans informed these veterans of the camaraderie that could be found on the various campuses throughout the college,” said Tina March, Academic Advisor for the SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “Many of the veterans expressed an interest in pursuing a career and a degree.”

Some of these veterans at the VA already have college degrees and some college experience. They just need additional information, names, and networking to proceed.

“The team from SPC met the needs of these veterans as they provided information about the services and assistance from the Homeless Education Waiver,” said March.

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March, Rafael Rivera, Mohammed Shaker, Chris Clark.

Pictured above are: Brenton David, Karen Donovan, Jacob Lurvey, David Creighton, Jeffrey Schultz,Jason Hoven, Madeline Rondo,Kristina Phillips, Jeff Thomas, Representative David Jolly, Bill Fleming, Earnest Gant, David Weatherspoon, Tina March, Rafael Rivera, Mohammed Shaker, Chris Clark.

When the new Pinellas Bayway Bridge opened Oct. 17, members of St. Petersburg College’s Student Veterans Association (SVA) and Males Achieving Excellence (MAX) were on hand as volunteers. Festivities included a 5K run, a paddle board flotilla, a pool party, a beach party and a ceremonial lighting of the bridge.

The SVA and MAX volunteers helped set up the beach bash, provided water at the aid stations for the runners, helped with traffic flow, distributed safety lights to the spectators and moved the equipment from the starting line to the finish line before and after race. The race was so successful that plans are already in the works to do it again next year.

The activities were captured by volunteer photographer Charlie Harris, an SVA member from the Clearwater Campus. Check out all the photos in the SVA Facebook gallery.

Fees from the race topped $15,000 and were donated to the Associated Marine Institute Kids, a program that supports troubled children, and to Tampa BayWatch Marine, an organization that protects and restores the Tampa Bay estuaries.

Article courtesy of Rafael Rivera Nieves, CPO, USCG, (ret.)

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St. Petersburg College is listed among Military Advanced Education magazine's list of Top Colleges & Universities of 2015. For the second consecutive year, St. Petersburg College has been designated a Top School by Military Advanced Education magazine in its 2015 MAE Guide to Colleges & Universities. The publication, to be released in December, measures best practices in military and veteran education.

“I’m very proud of the veteran services team and our veteran student population in general and the efforts they continue to show to establish our footing as one of the most military friendly colleges and universities in the U.S.,” said Jeff Cavanagh, Director of Veterans Services at St. Petersburg College.

MAE’s 2015 Guide to Colleges & Universities arms students with information about institutions that go out of their way to give back to the country’s men and women in uniform. The guide presents results from a questionnaire of the military-supportive policies enacted at more than 600 institutions nationwide, including private, public, for-profit, not-for-profit, four-year and two-year colleges.

The highly-regarded publication regularly boasts covers of “movers and shakers” in the Department of Defense and education, Cavanagh said.

“I’m thrilled that we have been recognized by such a high-profile magazine, the readership of which includes people at the highest levels of education, not only within the military but throughout the country as a whole,” Cavanagh said. The publications often can be found on military bases and installations around the country, in classrooms and in educational centers.

This recognition marks the third veterans’-related accolade the college has received in Fall 2014. Earlier this week, the Military Times announced SPC as ranked No. 15 in its Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 list. In October, SPC was selected as a 2015 Military Friendly® School in the 2015 Guide to Military Friendly Colleges and Universities by Victory Media.

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Logo for the Best for Vets 2015 rankings by the Military Times. For the fourth consecutive year, St. Petersburg College has been named among the Best for Vets: Colleges 2015 by Military Times. This year, the college ranks No. 15 among four-year institutions in the U.S.

Best for Vets provides service men and women a gauge by which to judge whether a school or degree program will truly benefit them. The distinction recognizes SPC for its commitment to providing opportunities to our nation’s veterans.

“We factor in what is, to our knowledge, the most detailed school-by-school data on veteran students’ academic success anywhere, including graduation, retention, persistence and course completion rates,” says Amanda Miller, editor of Bets for Vets.

Two years ago, only 11 percent of the hundreds of schools surveyed could provide that level of detail. This year, that figure is up to 45 percent.

“By recognizing only the schools that do the most, we believe we’re helping to raise the bar in veteran student services,” Miller said.

The detailed survey requires schools to meticulously document a tremendous array of services, special rules, accommodations and financial incentives offered to military and veteran students and to describe many aspects of veteran culture on a campus.

“I’m so excited,” said Jeff Cavanagh, Director of Veterans Services at SPC. “The passion of our veterans services staff and veteran student assistants that has helped elevate SPC in the eyes of the military community. Our students mean everything to us.”

This year, St. Petersburg College has served more than 2,167 student veterans, according to the VA-ONCE certified database.

SPC ranked No. 27 on the list of four-year institutions in 2014. The college ranked No. 15 in 2013 and No. 47 in 2012.

This is the second honor for the college’s veterans-related efforts this fall. In October, SPC was selected as a 2015 Military Friendly® School in the 2015 Guide to Military Friendly Colleges and Universities by Victory Media.

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MFS15_200x200St. Petersburg College has been named a 2015 Military Friendly School by Victory Media, Inc.

SPC was recognized for going above and beyond to provide transitioning veterans the best possible experience in higher education.

Victory Media is a veteran-owned business that surveys thousands of institutions and compiles lists that capture best practices in recruitment and retention of military personnel and civilian employees, students and franchisees.

Its lists of Military Friendly Employers, Schools, Franchises and Cities are published annually in G.I. Jobs, Military Spouse and Vetrepreneur magazines.

View all participating institutions on the list of Military Friendly Schools for 2015.

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Students from the Student Veterans Association (SVA) and Men Achieving eXcellence (MAX) clubs at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus volunteer at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

Students from the Student Veterans Association and Men Achieving eXcellence clubs at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus volunteer at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

The Student Veterans Association and Men Achieving eXcellence organizations at St. Petersburg College served those in need at a homeless shelter in Clearwater on Saturday, July 26.

“We got a lot accomplished that day,” said Jeff Thomas, treasurer of the SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. A group of nine students from the two clubs and MAX’s club advisor volunteered their time to clean the kitchen and spray for bugs at the Pinellas Hope Catholic Charities homeless shelter.

“It was hard manual labor, but we worked as a team and got it done,” Thomas said. “Overall, it was a very successful event.”

Student veteran Christopher Clark said he found the experience initially very shocking.

“When we first got there, we found out how many homeless veterans we have in the area who are living in tents and in some limited facilities,” said Clarke, President of the SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “While they didn’t have much, they were giving everything they could to help support us.”

“They were so very appreciative for the help we gave them,” Thomas said. One of the student veterans brought his son with him to volunteer, putting him to work taking out loads of trash.

“I was very proud of our SVA at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus for the way they stepped into the community service role,” said Jeff Cavanagh, Director of Veterans Services at SPC. “They continue to shine for St. Petersburg College in that aspect.”

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State Sen. Jack Latvala of Clearwater announced Wednesday at a press conference at St. Petersburg College’s Clearwater Campus that he will sponsor a bill in the Florida Senate that would clear the way for the children of undocumented residents to pay in-state tuition in Florida.

State Rep. Ed Hooper of Clearwater joined Latvala in support.


Latvala said he “decided in good conscience that there’s no reason the parents’ immigration status should be the determining factor of the tuition that our young people pay. Taxpayers in Florida get a reduced tuition rate….In this particular case, these children are the children of taxpayers in Florida who pay our sales tax, who pay our gas taxes, in many cases pay other taxes.

“I just think this is a disparity and a discriminatory issue that needs to go away,” he said.

The bill also includes language that would allow honorably discharged veterans to pay in-state tuition.

The legislators were joined for the announcement by SPC President Bill Law; Clearwater Campus Provost Stan Vittetoe; Sandra Lyth, CEO of the InterCultural Advocacy Institute (Hispanic Outreach Center); Maria Edmonds, chairwoman of the Juvenile Welfare Board; and three SPC students.

Celeste Pioquinto, 17, who is an Early College student at the college, said she was born and raised in Clearwater, has attended Pinellas schools all her life and has always been on the honor roll.

“Ever since elementary school, I have dreamed about college or university. Now instead of dreaming it, I am preparing for it. I have applied to universities. I have applied for scholarships, but there is a barrier. I am not eligible for in-state tuition despite being documented because my parents are both undocumented,” she said. “This bill not only affects me, but affects many of my close relations.”

See more: Watch the video on the college’s YouTube channel.

See more: View photos from the conference on SPC’s Facebook page.

Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Tribune

Read more: Coverage in the Tampa Bay Times

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