Picture attached: From left are Mrs. Colleen Trout, Florida ESGR Committee representative, Brad Clark, Alisha Vitale, and LTC Roger Trout (USAR-Ret).

Alisha Vitale, Director of Pre-Admissions at St. Petersburg College, has been awarded the Department of Defense Patriot Award by Florida Committee for Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR), a Department of Defense program.

James Dicks, Chairman of Florida Committee for Employer Support, awarded Vitale for her “exceptional support of the members of the Guard and Reserve that are employed by the organization.”

United States Air Force Reserve Master Sergeant Brad Clark nominated Vitale for the award.

“St Petersburg College is continually recognized as a veteran-friendly school. It was ranked in the top 30 this year nationwide. It has been a pleasure to work with my Pre-Admissions Team, led by Alisha Vitale,” Clark said in the nomination.

“They have picked up the slack in my absence and they make every homecoming from orders – no matter how short – a happy and effortless experience. My co-workers must do extra work in my absence, and Alisha has to coordinate additional employee documentation on my behalf, but they are always supportive and understanding,” Clark said.

The award was presented to Ms. Vitale on behalf of the DOD by LTC Roger Trout (USAR-Ret) and Mrs. Colleen Trout of the Florida ESGR Committee.

“I am proud to work for an organization that actively supports service member employees,” Vitale said. “I accepted the award for my team, each of whom has a healthy respect for Brad as a wonderful person, coworker, and service member. We can’t be thankful enough for what Mr. Clark and others like him do for us. The team and I are very happy to show our due support and admiration for Mr. Clark and are honored with this recognition.”

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) is a Department of Defense program established in 1972. The mission of ESGR is to gain and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service by recognizing outstanding support, increasing awareness of the law, and resolving conflict through mediation. ESGR volunteers provide free education, consultation, and if necessary mediation for employers of Guard and Reserve employees. As the 35 thousand members of the National Guard and Reserve in Florida and Nationally 1.3 million members continue to perform an increasing number of unique missions that require extraordinary actions on the part of everyday citizens, ESGR will continue to be the informational agency for the employers of citizen warriors. More information about ESGR Employer Outreach Programs and volunteer opportunities is available at Floridaesgr.com, or by calling Roger Trout of the Florida ESGR Committee, at (571)275-8980

The threat to First Amendment rights posed by overzealous political correctness will be debated at a public forum at St. Petersburg College on Jan. 19. The event, part of the SPC Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions’ Dinner Series, is titled You Can’t Say That: Free Speech and the Social Sensitivity Movement.

free-speechThe forum will be from 6 to 8:15 p.m. in the Conference Center at SPC’s Seminole Campus, 9200 113th St. N. Advance registration is required. Admission is $20 for students and educators and $25 for the general public. The dinner is co-sponsored by the Tampa Bay Times and WEDU Television.

The free-speech-suppression movement is a 180-degree shift from the college protest scene of the 1960s. In their day, members of the Baby Boom generation staged mass rallies to protest free-speech suppression. Today’s Millennial generation stages mass rallies to block fellow students and faculty members from expressing views they find offensive.

But it isn’t just on college campuses that free speech is under attack. During the presidential election campaign, dissenters were jeered, even pummeled, at political rallies even as candidates denounced “political correctness.” News reporters were ridiculed for doing their job. And post-election, there is a push to have protest rallies labeled as acts of terrorism if they cause “economic disruption.”

Where is the balance? When does free speech become hate speech? Is the First Amendment’s guarantee absolute? A distinguished panel will explore the implications for academic and political freedom from this movement and engage with the audience in a frank exploration of the First Amendment’s protections – and its limitations.

Opening speaker will be Susan Kruth, Program Officer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education of Philadelphia. She will be joined by Dr. David Liebert, Professor and Academic Department Chair for Social and Behavioral Sciences at St. Petersburg College. Moderator will be David Klement, Executive Director of the Institute.

Advance registration is required at http://solutions.spcollege.edu. For more information: 727-394-6942

captureSt. Petersburg College and The St. Petersburg (FL) Chapter of the Links, Incorporated will host a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) Festival from 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 14 at the SPC St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, 6605 5th Ave. N. The festival is in partnership with the City of St. Petersburg and Pinellas County Urban League.

This FREE, family-friendly event will feature hands-on learning and interactive experiences geared toward exposing K-12 students to the fields of science, technology, engineering, the arts and math.

In addition, the festival will feature:

  • Special appearance by Tampa Bay Rays Street Team
  • Great Explorations Children’s Museum
  • SPC Planetarium Shows
  • Busch Gardens – Live Animal Exhibits
  • Clearwater Marine Aquarium
  • Performances and studio tours of MIRA (Music Industry/Recording Arts)
  • Drone and Rover Demonstrations
  • 3D Designs
  • Johns Hopkins All Children’s Lifeline
  • Emergency Truck Exhibits
  • Life Size Chess Games
  • Petersburg Fire Department

Register online at:  http://web.spcollege.edu/survey/22967.  For more information, please call 727-791-2636.  This event was partially funded by the MLK Day of Service Award.

The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board in collaboration with St. Petersburg College has awarded approximately $200,000 to local organizations for service activities scheduled in connection with the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday on Jan. 16, 2017.  With the help of State Representative, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, this is the fifth year St. Petersburg College has received funds from the Florida Legislature for the St. Petersburg MLK Day of Service.  These projects will involve nearly 70 nonprofits, organizations and public agencies as part of the MLK Day of Service Advisory Board’s annual effort to transform the holiday into “A Day On, Not a Day Off.”


The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board provides opportunities for groups, businesses, and people of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities through a variety of one day and long term initiatives.  Working with nonprofits, faith-based groups, schools, and local agencies, the MLK Day of Service Advisory Board engages neighbors in meeting critical needs in education, health, the environment, public safety, economic opportunity, neighborhood revitalization and other areas.

The organizations and projects receiving funds are:

5000 Role Models of Gibbs High School and Melrose Elementary “Brother 2 Brother” Mentoring
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter St. Vincent de Paul South Pinellas (SVDPSP) Center of Hope Family Shelter – Family Room Transformation
Anointed Word Fellowship Transformed: Community Unity Day
Association of Naval Services Officers (ANSO) Salvation Army Sallie House Refresh
Bethel Metropolitan Baptist Church Young Lions and Daughters of Imani Multi-Generational Health Fair
Caring For Girls Academy Inc. Shakers and Movers Conference
CASA (Community Action Stops Abuse, Inc.) “May Your Days be Full of Promise and Your Nights Full of Peace”
Christ Gospel Church of St. Petersburg, Inc. Virginia M. Leonard Community Education Center (VMLCEC) Beautification
Churches United for a Healthy Congregation – A program of the James B. Sanderlin NFC Health Visionaries Making a Difference
Community EFX, Inc. Interfaith Bus Tour
Cross and Anvil Human Services, Inc. Cross and Anvil Helping the Homeless
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. (St. Petersburg Alumnae Chapter) Historical Presentation: Hidden Figures Movie Premiere
Dyvine Appointments Salon and Hair Loss Clinic Targeting the World of Hair Loss-Alopecia Awareness Conference and Hair Show
Eta Rho Educational Services / Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Midtown Neighborhood Family Support Care Packages
Everyday Hero Project 3rd Annual Restocking Food Pantries Project
Excellerated Youth Care for Veterans
Faith House Florida, Inc. “Entrepreneurial Start-up for Homeless Veterans and Others”
Florida A&M University College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences The Biggest Loser
Florida Dream Center, Inc Adopt-a-Block MLK Days
Fred G. Minnis Sr. Bar Association Bridge: Pro-Bono Program
Garden Florida Harvest Tools
Girlfriends and 5000 Role Models of Pinellas Park Middle School This Is Our Dream Youth Conference
Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County Habitat’s MLK Day of Service
Hair By Ahsile LLC Giving Back to the Needy
Happy Worker’s Learning Center Inc. Happy Worker’s Wellness Office
Healthy Start at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Healthy Start Infant Academy
HIV/AIDS ACTION COMMITTEE HIV/AIDS Awareness Project & Educational Seminars
Inspirational Ties Girls Inspired Seminar
K-H Edutainment Take A Stand! Show Some Love! Spread the Peace!
Lakewood Elementary School Bullying Awareness Week
Lawson Funeral Home- COLORS C.O.L.O.R.S. – Public Safety Workshop
Love the Golden Rule, Inc. Community Health and Wellness Fair
Melrose Elementary School Girlfriends & 5000 Role Models Hands on Melrose, Neighborhood Project
Meraki Beauti Helping Hands, Feeding Homeless Project
Mercy Keepers, Inc. Knapsacks of Nourishment
Midtown Celebrity Club, Inc. Realizing the American Dream, Home Ownership Workshop
Mt. Moriah Christian Fundamental Academy Neighborhood  Enhancement Project
Mt. Zion Human Services program, Sistahs Surviving Breast Cancer It’s A Family Affair Wellness Festival
My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. Rally 4 Hope – Serving with Dignity, Humanity & Love
New Direction Career Services, Inc Cultivating Future Leaders through Service
New Hope Missionary Baptist Church Hope for The Homeless
Parent Support for Education Council, Inc S.T.E.M. Dream Box
Phoenix UPLIFT (Uplifting People Living in Fire Tragedy) Fire Safety Education
Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc. Chore Services – Yard Work for the Elderly
SCLC OF PINELLAS Bring a Smile to Homeless
Sistahs of Compassion Supporting Cancer Survivors Inc. Caring for Cancer Survivors
Sofia Forte’s Catering Wholesome People (Health education)
Sparkly Clean Services, Inc. 2017 MLK Day of Service – Making our Neighborhood Sparkly Clean!
Spirit of Tampa Bay Community Choir Song Festival and Support for Displace Families
St. Petersburg Police Athletic League “Law and You” Hot Shot Contest
St. Petersburg Pregnancy Center /The Next STEPP Center Keeping Displaced Babies Safe Project
Suncoast Chapter of Jack and Jill of America, Inc. The Sow, Read and Grow Repository Project
Swiyyah Productions Inc. Live your dreams despite your disability
Tampa Bay Living Green/ Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition (SUAC) Urban Food Resilience Gardening Project
Tampa Metropolitan Area YMCA Teen Achievers Service Project
The Clinic at 721, Inc. The Clinic at 721 teaching garden
The Deuces Live, Inc. Movies at the Royal and Family Fun Day
The Gathering of Women , Inc. The Dream Through Our Eyes media production
The Links, Incorporated,  St. Petersburg (FL) Chapter STEAM Festival
The Local Food Project/Local Food Park, Inc. R.A.I.N. – Reaping Abundance to Invigorate Next Generation/Nutrition
The Red Tent Women’s Initiative The Red Tent Women’s Initiative Garden Revitalization
Triumph Learning Center, LLC Gardening With A Mentor
Unitarian Universalist Church of St. Petersburg-UU’s Helping People Homeless Ministry UU Interfaith Picnic for People in Need
Venture House, a program of Bright Community Trust Inc Venture House: Neighborhoods History Project
WestCare GulfCoast Florida, Inc. WestCare – MLK Day Health & Wellness Fair
Williams Park Partnership All Rise! Criminal Justice Education
Workforce Solutions of Tampa Bay, Inc. Employability Skills Seminar
Zeta Phi Beta Sorority Incorporated- Zeta Gamma Zeta Chapter Success Party, Care Packages for Needy


These projects include delivering meals to the needy, refurbishing schools and community centers, collecting food and clothing, signing up mentors, health education, promoting nonviolence, and more. The MLK Day of Service shines a spotlight on service as a powerful force to unite our community. The MLK Day of Service provides each of us with an opportunity to join neighbors and local leaders to tackle community challenges and strengthen our communities.


Go to www.spcollege.edu/mlkservice to find out how to get involved with service projects on MLK Day and learn more about the MLK Day of Service in St. Petersburg.



The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board is a local group of citizens, community leaders and business professionals that leads the annual MLK Day of Service in St. Petersburg, in collaboration with St. Petersburg College. For more information or to sign up to volunteer visit our website: www.spcollege.edu/mlkservice or contact Dr. Shameka Jones, MLK Day of Service, Project Manager, at 727-341-4601 or jones.shameka@spcollege.edu

Approximately 700 of St. Petersburg College’s 1,778 fall graduates crossed the stage at the two graduation ceremonies held Saturday, Dec. 10 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.


SPC President Bill Law welcomed guests and celebrated the accomplishments of the many students who were graduating with honors.

“The graduation ceremony is a time to honor you – the graduates – as well as a time to honor those who have helped make this college the great institution it is today,” Law said.

This term’s youngest graduate is 17 years old and the oldest is 68 years old. Seventeen graduates were over the age of 60. Sixty-seven percent of the graduates were female.


Lindsey Velde and Samantha Spoto addressed fellow graduates and guests during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Velde earned an Associate in Arts degree and Spoto earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

Jacob Thompson and Tara Hunter-Dexter addressed fellow graduates and guests during the 1 p.m. ceremony. Thompson is a dual enrollment student who earned an Associate in Science degree in Digital Arts, Media and Interactive Web Design. Dexter earned a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Services Administration.


Thompson was the Web Arts and Visual Media (WAVE) Club president and managed many student video projects during his college career.

“I have given this a lot of thought and I’ve come to the conclusion that the entire point of college isn’t to teach us things to think about, but to instruct us on how to think about things,” Thompson said.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College has awarded 158,775 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

At the 132nd commencement, SPC awarded:

  • 800 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 370 Associate in Science degrees
  • 237 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 314 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 85 certifications


Hunter-Dexter gave a moving speech that highlighted her triumphs through serious life challenges, including a stint of homelessness and the death of her mother.

“Throughout my academic career I’ve had some of the most motivating and compassionate instructors here at SPC and for that I am grateful. I’m also grateful for the (SPC) Foundation scholarships that were awarded to me during my time here at St. Petersburg College,” she said. “St. Petersburg College gave me the opportunity, in the midst of my adversity, and afforded me the tools and support needed to succeed. I’m proud to stand before you as a SPC graduate and a graduate of the Health Services Administration program.”

See photos and updates from commencement on the college’s Facebook page or at #spcgrad.

summer16_spotlightSt. Petersburg College will hold its 132nd commencement ceremonies at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 10 at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Approximately 700 of the 1,778 fall graduates are expected to participate in the ceremonies.

The youngest graduate is 17 years old, the oldest is 68 years old and 17 graduates are over the age of 60. Sixty-seven percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 158,775 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 800 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 370 Associate in Science degrees
  • 237 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 314 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 85 certifications

fall-2016-graduation-infographicLindsey Velde and Samantha Spoto will address fellow graduates and guests during the 9:30 a.m. ceremony. Velde will earn an Associate in Arts and Spoto a Bachelor of Applied Science in Veterinary Technology.

Jacob Thompson and Tara Hunter-Dexter will address fellow graduates and guests during the 1 p.m. ceremony. Thompson is a dual enrollment student who’s earning an Associate in Science in Digital Arts, Media and Interactive Web Design. Dexter will earn a Bachelor of Applied Science in Health Services Administration

featured-300x126The St. Petersburg College Model UN team participated in the Florida Model United Nations Conference in Gainesville on Oct. 21-22. The conference allowed for students at Florida colleges and universities to discuss global issues and propose solutions to those issues. All but one of the SPC team was new to Model United Nations. The group discussed issues such as:

  • Implementing International Year of the Pulses (IYP) 2016
  • Protecting Women and Minorities in Armed Conflict: The Case of Yazidis in Iraq
  • Achieving the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development
  • Combating Zika and Other Mosquito Viruses
  • Drugs and International Terrorism: Breaking the Links
  • Increasing Support Systems for Women in Agriculture

The group won the following awards:

  • The delegates representing Poland received Distinguished Delegation Award.
  • The delegates representing Japan received Honorable Delegation Award.
  • Maura Salac, representing Poland, received Outstanding Position Paper Award.

On Thursday, November 10, a team of 10 students will travel to Washington, DC, to participate in National Model United Nations Conference. The team will represent the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.