As a way to support students with intellectual disabilities, St. Petersburg College (SPC) has established a new program called Titans-Up. This program is an inclusive college experience that allows students with intellectual disabilities to attend integrated classes, participate in student clubs and campus events, build relationships with student peer mentors and progress on one of four academic certificate tracks.

Beginning the summer of 2019, Titans-UP will begin recruitment efforts for the fall 2019 cohort class of eight to 10 students.  Each year Titans-UP will continue to enroll eight to 12 students for this wonderful opportunity.

“Titans-UP has been in development for almost two years now,” said SPC Executive Director of Retention Services Dr. Misty Kemp. “Notification of the award could not have come at a better time as we have been working on strategies to provide transition opportunities for higher education.”

SPC received a $300,000 start-up grant from Florida Postsecondary Comprehensive Transition Program (FPCTP) at the University of Central Florida to fund Titans Up’s program development and implementation.

The development of an FPCTP is in direct response to state legislation changes, which provide students with intellectual disabilities a traditional high school diploma and therefore direct access to Florida College System institutions, such as SPC.

Titans-UP will focus on increasing SPC’s capacity to serve students with intellectual disabilities, increase academic and life skills and employability and career skills to support long-term employment. SPC has partnered with community vocational services to provide job shadowing, career skills, on the job training and paid employment opportunities including:

  • The Arc of Tampa Bay
  • PARC
  • Pinellas Interagency Networking Council
  • Vocational Rehabilitation

For more information about Titans-UP, contact Dr. Kemp at 727.614.7056.

The MLK Day of Service Advisory Board, in collaboration with St. Petersburg College, has awarded approximately $163,000 to local organizations for service activities scheduled in connection with the Dr. Martin Luther King Holiday on January 21, 2019.

With the help of State Senator, Darryl Rouson, D-St. Petersburg, this is the seventh year St. Petersburg College has received funds from the Florida Legislature for the St. Petersburg MLK Day of Service.  These projects will involve 56 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:

9-11 Angels Kid Fire Safety & ID
Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. – Zeta Upsilon Omega Chapter Credit Restoration
A Plus Alliance Home Care Agency CPR/ First Aid Training
All Kidney Patients Support Group Community Medical Mall
ANSO of Tampa Bay Salvation Army Sallie House Refresh
Babies Lives Matter Baby Bag Bonanza
Belle B, LLC Mental Health Literacy
Boys & Girls Club Northside Boys & Girls Club Refresh
Caring For Girls Academy Inc. Shakers & Movers
CASA Jewelry of Hope
Community EFX Interfaith Bus Tour
Cross & Anvil Human Services Helping the Homeless
Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Evaluating Our Community Workshop
Empact Solutions Veterans Empowerment Workshop & Job Fair
Empath Health Gospel Brunch
Epsilon Beta Sigma Power Kids Knocking Out Childhood Obesity
Eta Rho Educational Services / Eta Rho Chapter of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. Midtown Neighborhood Family Support Care Packages
Florida Dream Center Adopt-A-Block
GFWC North Pinellas Woman’s Club Books Across St. Pete
Gulfport Little League Baseball Legacy Protocol
Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas County Neighborhood Revitalization
Hair by Ahsile Helping the Homeless
High Profile Motivational Services, Inc. Transformed: Community Unity Day
HIV/AIDS Action Committee HIV/AIDS Awareness Project & Education
Holistic Coaching How to Keep Your Soul Food Healthy
Keep Hope Alive, Inc. Fibromyalgia Awareness Seminar
Kidzonomics, LLC Mastering the Socioeconomic Elements of Success
Knights of Knowledge Chess Club Games of the Past
Lakeview Presbyterian Church Healthy Food & Healthy Relationships
Legacy 56 Interrupting the School to Prison Pipeline Through Cultural Literacy & Theater
MayMay & Katie’s Rescue Angels Victory Over Hunger
Mercy Keepers Knapsacks of Nourishment/ Sacks for Seniors
Midtown Celebrity Club, Inc. The Fisher House Experience
Midtown Miracles/ Fists of Faith, LLC Midtown Miracles Escape School
Mt. Zion College Prep 101 Financially, Physically, Academically, Mentally- Are you prepared to play sports in college?  
National Council of Negro Women All Aboard The Bus- Literacy & Learning With NCNW & Friends
Phoenix Uplift Family Fire Safety & Information Day
Paulette’s Place Homelessness Awareness: A Closer Look
Pinellas County Urban League Art For The Soul/Fuel For The Soul
Pinnacle Financial Restoration, LLC Credit Counseling and Financial Literacy Workshop
Shihan School of Survival MLK Jr Open Karate Invitational 2019


St. Petersburg Pregnancy Center Inc dba The Next STEPP Center Here We G.L.O.W. Guarding & Loving The Life in Our Womb
The Bartlett Park Community Garden Community Gardens Keeping The Dream Alive
The Gathering of Women Inc. Shakers & Movers
The Harvest is Ripe Outreach Center, Inc God’s People Helping God’s People
Workforce Solutions of Tampabay, Inc. Employability Skills Seminar
Youth Development Foundation of Pinellas County Beautification/ Clean-up Refresh Project for The Elderly

These projects include delivering meals to the needy, refurbishing homes and community gardens, 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 oversee 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 Joseph Tomljanovich Account Support Technician, at 727-341-4602 or tomljanovich.joseph@spcollege.edu


This holiday season, St. Petersburg College has partnered with Operation Toy Soldier to help collect holiday gifts for families of our service members at several SPC campuses through Dec. 14. Donations are welcome from staff, faculty, students and the local community, so please help spread the word.

Operation Toy SoldierOperation Toy Soldier collects new and unwrapped toys for children of all ages, which are then distributed to parents or guardians to give to their children. One thing to keep in mind is since older children can be harder to buy for, great gifts for them could be movie theater gift cards, mall and specific store gift cards, and Visa and MasterCard gift cards.

Jim Rudolph, the owner of Veterans Funeral Care in Pinellas County, helped start the non-profit organization a few years ago to give back to service members who have sacrificed so much.

“Holidays and back-to-school time are big “stress points” for military families because of the financial demands placed on them. Operation Toy Soldier helps relieve some of that pressure,” Rudolph said.

Even though Operation Toy Soldier is a nationwide toy drive, all the toys that you donate stay local.

“Each of our communities are very dear to us, so it is essential that when we participate in a national drive, our local community benefits from the donations,” Rudolph said.

How to Donate

To donate to Operation Toy Soldier, please visit the campus locations listed below.  Donations will be accepted until Friday, December 14.

  • Tarpon Springs Campus, AG Building, Veterans Services Center, Room 132
  • Clearwater Campus, SS Building, Veterans Services Center, Room 102
  • Seminole Campus, UP Building, Veterans Services Center, Room 179
  • St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus, SA Building, Veterans Services Center, Room 133
  • Midtown Campus, Jamerson Center, Main Lobby
  • Downtown Campus, Main Lobby
  • Health Education Center, Main Lobby
  • Allstate Center, Main Lobby
  • Epicenter Campus, Workforce Institute Lobby
  • District Office, Main Lobby

For more information on Operation Toy Soldier or the donation process, click here or contact Fred Tucker at 727-791-2409 or tucker.fred@spcollege.edu.

Operation Toy Soldier flier

Fall 2018 SPC Graduation

Jalessa Blackshear was a single mom working three jobs at the Jersey Shore when she decided it was time to make a change. So she and her daughter Gia, now 4, moved to St. Petersburg, where she has lots of family. She started looking around at colleges and settled on St. Petersburg College, setting her sights on an Associate in Arts degree. On Saturday, Dec. 8, Blackshear walked across the stage to receive her diploma at the college’s 138th commencement.

SPC awarded degrees, certificates and workforce certifications to more than 2,400 students this semester with approximately 900 attending the ceremony at Tropicana Field. The youngest Fall 2018 graduate was 18, and the oldest was 76 years old. Eight of them, including SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams, were also celebrating their birthdays. She praised all of the graduates in her address.

“You inspire us with your determination,” she said. “Our students are far from ordinary – they are extraordinary.”

This graduation marked 174,637 certificates and degrees awarded by SPC opened its doors in 1927.

After a processional of faculty and administrators entered to the tunes of the St. Petersburg College Band, directed by Acting Academic Department Chair Nathan Muehl, Williams welcomed the large crowd of graduates, friends and families. The Rev. Andy Oliver of Allendale United Methodist Church offered the invocation. SPC student Hannah White sang the National Anthem and later the Alma Mater. Williams thanked the faculty for their work in educating SPC students.

“You teach, nurture and guide our students on a daily basis,” she said. “Thank you for lifting them up.”

Survivor stories

SPC Graduate Ronelia Bailey

SPC Graduate Ronelia Bailey

Two students offered inspiration, encouragement and gratitude to their fellow graduates and those who helped them reach their goals.

Ronelia Bailey, who received her Associate in Arts degree in Business, spoke about her health challenges and thanked many of her instructors for their support and encouragement.

“I am a kidney failure survivor,” she said, before thanking her anonymous kidney donor. “I am a Lupus survivor. I am a kidney transplant survivor. I was able to get through because of the love of my family, friends, and faculty and staff at SPC. Grads, I implore you to thank those who helped you along the way.”

Alexander Fisher captured the audience with his story of how, eight years ago, he was homeless and completely dispirited with life. He was encouraged by someone to do the work it took to make things different, and he took that advice and started taking steps to make changes and shake off the fear that had prevented him from moving forward for so long. He encouraged his fellow graduates and their family and friends to forget any fears that might be holding them back.

“Strive for the life you want,” Fisher told them. “Work hard, and your dreams will come to fruition. You are all good enough – you just have to believe in yourselves.” he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Management & Organizational Leadership.

SPC Graduate Alexander Fisher

SPC Graduate Alexander Fisher with SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams

Setting an example 

With her degree in hand, Blackshear is passionate about what she can achieve in her future. She will pursue a bachelor’s degree and would like to initiate education reform and help communities reach their full potentials. She admits that, at times, it was a struggle to work two jobs, be a mom, volunteer in her community and succeed academically. She is thankful for the support services offered at SPC.

“I spent 20 hours a week at the Downtown campus with tutors. It was the only way I was going to pass,” she said.

And pass she did, because Gia and her family cheered her on as she received her diploma.

“I wasn’t going to walk,” Blackshear said. “But then I thought about my daughter and how it would be good for her to see me do this. I walked for her.”

See more photos from the event on the college’s Facebook page.

St. Petersburg College will hold its 138th commencement ceremony at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 8 at Tropicana Field, One Tropicana Dr., St. Petersburg.

The youngest graduate is 18 years old, the oldest is 76 years old and 19 graduates are over the age of 60. Sixty-two percent of the graduates are female.

With this graduating class, St. Petersburg College will have awarded 174,637 degrees since the college – Florida’s first community college – was founded in 1927.

SPC will award:

  • 1075 Associate in Arts degrees
  • 399 Associate in Science degrees
  • 298 Bachelor of Applied Science degrees
  • 211 Bachelor of Science degrees
  • 483 Certifications

Ronelia Bailey and Alexander J. Fisher address fellow graduates and guests. Fisher will earn a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Management and Organizational Leadership. Bailey will earn an Associates in Arts in Business.

Fall 2018 Graduation By The Numbers

Dr. Angela Cashwell CarneySt. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua Williams fondly remembers her time working at the Health Education Center with her friend, the late Dr. Angela Cashwell Carney. The two often lunched together, planning their career moves and solidifying plans to earn their doctorate degrees. On November 29, Williams was one of several to speak in honor of Carney, whose husband, Dr. Conferlete Carney, endowed a scholarship for SPC Health Information Management students in her memory.

“She had such a warm, giving heart,” Williams said. “I’ve seen her do miraculous things for people at this college, including myself. It was such a blessing to the college to have had her here.”

Based on financial need, The Dr. Angela Rose Cashwell Carney Endowed Scholarship for Health Information Management Studies will be awarded each year to two students who are pursuing the Health Information Technology associate degree or the Health Service Administration bachelor’s degree. It covers the students’ tuition for the entirety of their program, as long as they stay eligible. Allied Health Sciences Dean Deanna Stentiford said Carney left a legacy that will live on forever.

“She dedicated her career to her students and SPC, and she really demonstrated the difference people can make,” Stentiford said. “Her legacy was spearheading and transforming the program into what it is today, and she was integral in getting the courses online in order to reach more students. She was a wonderful role model and example of what a professor should be. The endowment of this scholarship will allow her legacy to live on forever.”

Dr. Tonjua Williams, Denise Fonzo and Dr. Conferlete Carney

Dr. Conferlete Carney, a retired SPC educator and administrator, decided upon the endowed scholarship as a way to keep his wife’s name going and hopes it will generate awards to students for years to come.

“I wanted to do something good that was bigger than the human experience of Angela and I,” he said. “There is no better way to do this than with this scholarship.”

Keys to ManhoodOn Saturday, February 23, 2019, St. Petersburg College will be host the seventh annual Keys to Manhood Seminar at the Allstate Center from 8:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. The event, sponsored by Transamerica Corporation, aims to address issues faced by male students.

Call for Proposals

The college is inviting community partners to submit proposals that focus on a range of engaging topics specifically for middle and high school students. If you’d like to submit a proposal, please complete this survey

About the Event

Our keynote speaker will be Dr. Koco Eaton of Eaton Orthopedics. Dr. Eaton also serves as the orthopedic surgeon for the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rowdies. Students will learn firsthand about the obstacles Dr. Eaton had to overcome as a man of color. Breakfast and lunch will be provided to all student participants.

This year’s breakout sessions will include:

  • Career and professional development
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Masculinity/personal identity
  • Social/community engagement
  • Hands-on activities

Scholarship Opportunities

During this year’s Keys to Manhood seminar, 10 high school seniors will be awarded scholarships to attend SPC. These scholarships are sponsored by Verizon (five $1,000 scholarships), GTE Financial (one $1,000 scholarship), and Transamerica Corporation (one $1,000 scholarship). More scholarship sponsors are expected.

For more information, please contact Todd Smith at Smith.Todd@spcollege.edu.