St. Petersburg College President Tonjua Williams

St. Petersburg College President Tonjua Williams will join the Vinoy Business Alliance (VBA) for an afternoon event titled “A Vision for Achieving Economic Prosperity.” This event will be hosted from 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. on Monday, March 11, at the Sunset Ballroom, 600 Snell Isle Blvd., St. Petersburg.

President Williams will discuss her own story of growing up in poverty in Midtown St. Petersburg and her 31 years of experience at SPC that led her to a new vision for the college and community – the creation of an Educational Ecosystem designed to lead to economic growth and prosperity. Her presentation will be followed by a candid one-on-one conversation between Williams and VBA Director Mike McNally about her personal story.

“We value the success of our students and community partners through a shared vision of economic mobility,” Williams said. “We’re committed to investing in the lives of our students’ academic success and partnering with business leaders to enhance the vision of community engagement. SPC is a vehicle for families to thrive and achieve economic prosperity.”

At the event, President Williams will share information about the Ecosystem and SPC’s partnership with the University of South Florida – St. Petersburg and Pinellas County Schools. The Ecosystem expands access to educational opportunities in higher education.

To attend the event, tickets are $25 in advance or $35 at the door. To register, call 727-824-8012.

ParalegalThis month, St. Petersburg College’s Legal Studies programs gained re-approval from the American Bar Association. The approval is for a period of seven years and follows the previous one held since 2012.

According to Dean Susan Demers, there are more than 1200 paralegal programs in the United States, but only 266 have received approval from the ABA. Though there are a few other Associate in Science programs throughout the state, SPC’s is the only ABA-approved program at a state institution.

“This means that this quality degree comes at the bargain state college tuition rate,” Demers said.

Dean Susan Demers

Dean Susan Demers

Since the ABA approves schools and not tracks, all three of SPC’s programs – the Associate in Science, the Bachelor’s of Applied Science and the post-four-year degree certificate – must meet the ABA’s rigorous guidelines.

After working with the ABA education consultant to line up the reporting complexities of the multiple program offerings and then documenting all learning down to the assignment level within the program, a two-member team visited SPC last September and met with students, faculty, administrative staff and the advisory committee to confirm our reports.

Demers said much was learned in the process.

“As with all self-studies, we learned many things that will make the program better and our graduates stronger,” she said. “I deeply value both the final approval and what we learned along the way.”

In an effort to eliminate the academic challenges middle and high school male students experience, St. Petersburg College and community leaders are providing resources through the Keys to Manhood Seminar. This seventh annual seminar for men will be held from 8:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 23, at the SPC Allstate Center, 3200 34th St. S., St. Petersburg.

This year, several graduating high school seniors will be awarded a $1,000 scholarship to St. Petersburg College and one participant will win a grand prize award.

The keynote speaker will be Dr. Koco Eaton, the orthopedic surgeon for the Tampa Bay Rays, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Tampa Bay Rowdies.

Keys to Manhood features a variety of breakout sessions:

  • What’s Going on in Cybersecurity?
  • Your Body is Your Temple
  • Setting Financial Goals
  • Consequences, Decisions and Choices
  • How to Develop your 30-second Elevator Pitch
  • 5 P’s to Destiny
  • Professionalism & Personal Branding
  • Passport to Manhood
  • The Power of Credit

The seminar is free and open to the public, and lunch will be provided. Registration is required at why.spc.edu/max. This event is presented by Transamerica and sponsored by Verizon, GTE Financial, the City of St. Petersburg and Tampa Bay Rays.


St. Petersburg College honors students were the stars at the 12th Annual Collegiate Research Conference, hosted at the Seminole Campus last month.

The annual conference showcases the research skills of the college’s honors students. Topics ranged from gene editing to automation’s effect on labor. 

Honors research conference presentation

SPC’s Honors Program encourages talented and motivated students in creativity, leadership and critical thinking. Since 2003, more than 500 students from 29 countries have participated. Fifty percent of them have a 3.75 or higher grade point average and 15 percent have maintained a 4.0 average.

Student Katrina Johnson presented on how hydroponic farming could be adapted to support an environmentally challenged world. She provided examples of organizations already using the technology and how it could be used in the future.

Next up was a presentation on a misunderstood mammal.

Cayla Olinger and Emily Mitchell shone the bat signal with the Phi Theta Kappa presentation on bat conservation. The two talked about why bat conservation is important and discussed common myths about bats.

Two SPC campuses – Seminole and St. Petersburg/Gibbs – have bat houses. 

Van Le shared her love of astronomy with her presentation on the Draco Constellation. She discussed the mythological significance of the constellation, the binary star Kuma and the deep sky objects in the constellation.

Following the presentations, keynote speaker Dr. Rich Mercadante, an instructor in speech communication, honors public speaking, and honors philosophy, addressed the conference during lunch. At the end of the conference, students participated in a 30-second impromptu speech competition. Winners were Sara Bernard and Chloe Bean who each received a Starbucks gift card. 

More than 147,000 children in Florida are currently living without health insurance, but may be eligible for low-cost or completely free health insurance through Florida KidCare.

St. Petersburg College has partnered with Florida KidCare through a $15,000 grant to increase awareness of how the state’s children can have access to affordable, quality health care from birth through the end of age 18. This initiative aligns with the college’s culture to be a community of care through civic engagement.

With four unique Florida KidCare programs – Medicaid for children, MediKids, Florida Healthy Kids and the Children’s Medical Services Managed Care Plan – the simple and free application process is designed to identify the best fit for the family.

All four Florida KidCare coverage options include:

  • Doctor visits
  • Check-ups
  • Hospital stays
  • Surgeries
  • Immunizations
  • Prescriptions
  • Emergencies
  • Vision and hearing
  • Dental
  • Mental health services and more

Most families pay nothing at all, and many families pay as little as $15 or $20 a month. Families not eligible for subsidized coverage may purchase Florida KidCare at the full-pay monthly premium, which is competitively priced. A free online eligibility calculator is available to help Florida families interested in applying for Florida KidCare. This tool utilizes two key pieces of information — family size and annual household income — to estimate a family’s monthly premium payment for Florida KidCare coverage.

Applying is both easy and free, and with year-round enrollment, families can apply for Florida KidCare at any time. Just fill out one application and Florida KidCare will match you with the right option based on your children’s ages, household size and family income. Parents can apply online or call 1-888-540-KIDS (5437) to apply over the phone or have an application mailed directly to them.

St. Petersburg Collegiate High School (SPCHS) student Calvin Finley earned the highest possible ACT composite score of 36. Only two-tenths of 1 percent of students who take the ACT earn a top score. In the U.S. high school graduating class of 2018, only 2,760 out of more than 2 million graduates who took the ACT earned a top composite score of 36.

ACT CEO Marten Roorda described Finley’s achievement as “significant and rare.”

The American College Testing (ACT) is a curriculum-based achievement exam that measures what students have learned in English, mathematics, reading and science on a scale of 1–36. A student’s composite score is the average of the four test scores, and those who earn a 36 composite score have likely mastered all of the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in first-year college courses in the core subject areas.

Finley is a 15-year-old junior at SPCHS, where he’s a dual enrolled student simultaneously earning a high school diploma and an Associate in Arts degree from St. Petersburg College. He’s also a student-athlete at Boca Ciega High School as a player on the basketball team.

In addition to his scholarly achievements and sports, he’s actively involved in the SPCHS National Honor Society, Student Government Association, Interact service club, and is a member of Junior Achievement, where he teaches financial literacy to Pinellas County public elementary schools in grades 1 -2.

“Calvin epitomizes the SPCHS vision of becoming a successful learner and leader,” SPCHS Principal Starla Metz said. “Not only does he excel academically, but he demonstrates the hallmarks of the SPCHS National Honor Society of scholarship, leadership, service, and good character. I am immensely proud of him.”

Finley desires to attend Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and plans to major in Data Analytics.

“Stay dedicated to your studies and passions, because they will lead you to great places,” Finley said.


Share your talent with the community at the Good Vibes Only Art & Music Festival on Saturday, April 6. The festival, a joint venture between St. Petersburg College and USF St. Petersburg, is a celebration of student art and music.

Student musicians, bands and visual artists can apply to participate in the one-day event from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. at Williams Park, 350 2nd Ave N., St. Petersburg. All applicants must apply by Feb. 14 and be a current student of SPC or USF. To apply to perform at the festival, visit spc.edu/vibes.

Attendees can enjoy this family friendly, free event featuring headlining talents Alex Harris and CeCe Teneal & The Soul Komotion. The festival will also include:

  • Food Trucks
  • Rock climbing wall
  • Nomad art bus
  • Silent disco and more

For more information about the festival, contact Frank Jurkovic at jurkovic.frank@spcollege.edu or (727) 341-7974.