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Peter-Parapon and his new daughterWith his wife due to deliver their baby any day, and a job interview scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, SPC Public Policy student and United States Air Force Veteran Peter Parapon expected the coming week would be busier than usual. But when he woke up on Monday, Nov. 17, he could not have dreamed what the next 48 hours would hold.

That night, his wife went into labor. After an exhausting, sleepless night, they welcomed their third child – a little girl – into the world. By the time things settled down, he had just enough time to run home, grab a shower, change into a suit and rush to a job interview for a volunteer position in U.S. Rep. David Jolly’s office on SPC’s Seminole Campus.

“They said: ‘You look so tired, what’s wrong?’” Parapon recounted. “Oh, we just had our third child.”

They were so impressed that he came in for that interview that they hired him on the spot.

“I called my wife and told her the good news,” he said. Then he went to class.

“I was awake for like 36 hours by the end of the day,” he said. “The next morning when I woke up I thought: ‘Did this really happen?’ Then I looked at the hospital bracelet on my wrist and knew it wasn’t a dream.”

Maintaining the school – life balance

Like many students at SPC, Parapon knows that balancing family, school and work is not an easy job. After graduating from Osceola High School in 2001, he started taking classes at St. Petersburg College.

“Before I entered the military I went to SPC without great results,” he said. “I was right out of high school and had to work — and work often trumped school.”

After serving as an Air Traffic Controller Apprentice in the Air Force in Texas he came home to Seminole to give college another try. This time around, the discipline and work ethic he picked up in the service gave him the tools he needed to be a successful student. And his Post-9/11 GI benefits meant he could focus on his education and getting work experience and still help support his growing family.

Parapon earned his A.A. from SPC and expects to graduate with his bachelor’s degree in Public Policy and Administration this fall.

“It is just amazing what the Public Policy and Administration degree encompasses,” said Parapon. “There’s a huge spectrum of what you can do with this degree.”

He remembers the advice of one of his SPC professors, Jeff Kronschnabl, who encourages students to follow their heart and do what makes them happy. For Parapon, serving in politics and government is a dream job.

The value of work experience

Pictured from left: Peter Parapon and Congressman David Jolly.

SPC Public Policy student Peter Parapon (left) and Congressman David Jolly.

Like many degrees at St. Petersburg College, hands-on work experience is part of the curriculum. To complete the 180 hours of work experience for his

Co-Op Experience class, Parapon worked on newly elected Florida Rep. Chris Latvala’s campaign from July-Nov. 2014. He knocked on doors, handed out literature and worked at campaign events.

“It gave me a lot of insight on how running for office works,” he said. “Grass roots campaigns are very important. Getting out there and meeting people face to face plays a huge role in politics and is still a major part of campaigns.”

And since he landed the job in Rep. Jolly’s office, he works about 16 hours a week adding to his already impressive work experience.

“Congressman Jolly’s staff are amazing to work with,” he said. “I’ve learned so much since starting there. I deal with constituent issues every day. It’s very rewarding when you get a chance to help resolve their issues.”

He values the experience so much that even though he has long-since satisfied his classroom requirements, he keeps volunteering with Latvala, knowing that eventually the experience he is gaining will pay off. Eventually, he wants to run for office and serve in a governmental leadership position.

“I may not be ready for a front line position as a candidate, but I am happy right now being behind the scenes helping government officials serve the people well.”

Veterans Services

Parapon is one of more than 2,000 veterans that call SPC home. For the fourth consecutive year, St. Petersburg College has been named among the Best for Vets Colleges by Military Times. This year, the college ranks No. 15 among four-year institutions in the U.S.

Parapon is the President of the Student Veterans Association on Seminole Campus and also works about 25 hours per week with Veterans Services through the work study program.

“Veteran Services are a good group of people with a wealth of knowledge,” he said. “I get to see Veterans and I can relate to them. It gives me a good feeling of comradery that veterans miss once we get out of military.”

He shares his continued passion for serving with other veteran students.

“For veterans who want to continue to serve their country, SPC’s Public Policy and Administration degree program is a great way to go.”

Read more about St. Petersburg College on Twitter at #spcollege.

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SPC Sign Language Students visit Gallaudet University in D.C.For the third consecutive year, graduates of St. Petersburg College’s Sign Language Interpretation program traveled to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C. with ASL/INT instructors Professor Carol Downing and Dr. Beth Carlson to experience its historically significant environment.

Gallaudet University was the first college established for the Deaf in the United States. Students in SPC’s Sign Language Interpretation Program learned about Gallaudet’s long and rich history, the first deaf president of the university and the importance of accessible education for the Deaf. They also experienced deaf-friendly architecture, from past to present, and the impact and importance of the Deaf Community. Also of significance, this year was Gallaudet University’s 150th anniversary.

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From left: Melissa Joy Petrescue, Melissa Dabydeen, Madeline Stubbs and Sydney Mundorff speak as part of a panel during a session that was added to the schedule by NACADA Executive Director Charlie Nutt.

From left: Melissa Joy Petrescue, Melissa Dabydeen, Madeline Stubbs and Sydney Mundorff became the experts on a panel during a recent conference on peer advising.

Four St. Petersburg College students became the experts on a panel at the National Academic Advising Association Summer Institute in St. Petersburg on July 29.

The students, who serve as peer advisors at SPC’s Seminole Campus, attended the conference to learn how to bolster the college’s Peer Advising Program, which launched in October 2013.

Initially attending the conference to learn about different advising methods, the students soon found the tables turned when they were suddenly asked to answer questions regarding their experiences as peer advisors.

“All eyes were on our students,” said Malena Buck, Student Life and Leadership Coordinator who started the SPC Peer Advising Program at the Seminole Campus. “The students were constantly challenged with questions regarding their own student experiences and with their experiences as peer advisors.”

The students were asked to explain SPC’s program in detail and answer questions specific to their roles as students and peer advisors.

“This was a great opportunity to hear these experiences directly from students,” said Charlie Nutt, Executive Director of NACADA. He said participants raved about the quality of SPC’s peer advisors.

For the students, the experience of not only attending but actively participating in the summer institute was exciting and enlightening.

“This conference boosted my confidence as a peer advisor,” said Melissa Dabydeen, an Associate in Arts student at the Seminole Campus. “The detailed information that I learned in the sessions was extremely helpful and the opportunity to sit on a panel was a wonderful experience.”

Madeline Stubbs, newest peer to the Seminole team, said she was excited for the privilege to share the college’s Peer Advising Program with other colleges across the nation.

“This conference has provided me with a much better understanding of the purpose behind the peer advising program,” said Melissa Joy Petrescue. “I have a greater sense of purpose as I see how my role fits in with the big picture.”

The peer advisors are working with Buck and the NACADA faculty, to create a mission statement and action plan to help raise awareness of the program throughout student services.

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Tampa Bay Times coverage

Bay News 9’s coverage

To help strengthen the skills of Tampa Bay’s future workforce, St. Petersburg College will award $520,000 in scholarships through a National Science Foundation grant to academically talented and financially disadvantaged students who pursue degrees in STEM – science, technology, engineering and math.

The initiative will support students as they earn a degree and find employment in STEM fields. The grant will target women and minorities, who have been historically underrepresented in those areas. The program, called Tampa Bay SEEDS (Scholarships for Education & Employment Development in STEM) will also help fill a crucial gap in skilled workers in the Tampa Bay area, Florida and the United States.

“This grant demonstrates SPC’s deep commitment to accessible, learner-centered instruction and STEM education,” said President Bill Law. “The program will ensure a diverse applicant pool for potential STEM scholars at our college. It is very exciting for me personally because the project harmonizes with a student success initiative called The College Experience.”

Through the grant, students will engage in The College Experience by using integrated academic and career advising, tutoring centers, a project-specific orientation and career mentoring. Over the five-year grant, 80 students will be selected to take an employment-centered curriculum that includes job shadowing and internships. Students will work with newly created Campus Faculty Champions, who will give each student a “road map to graduation.” Using this road map, students will identify academic goals, determine which academic support services they need and investigate STEM careers.

“St. Petersburg College is to be commended on its efforts to help students achieve success through a higher education in STEM,” wrote Abdul Lateef, chief executive officer for local manufacturing firm Plasma-Therm, in a letter of support for the project. “This one project could have a lasting impact on the Tampa Bay region and help prepare future workers for high-demand careers in STEM.”

At the state level, Florida will need 120,000 new STEM workers by 2018, according to the Florida Department for Economic Opportunity. In addition, Enterprise Florida estimates that 15 out of the 20 fastest growing job fields in the state will require a STEM education.

Locally, a study commissioned in 2011 by the Tampa Bay Partnership projects that job growth in the high technology electronics and instruments industry and marine and environmental industries will grow by 10% by 2020, resulting in 22,000 new jobs. This report also notes there are 19 billion-dollar corporate headquarters in the Tampa Bay area, with four being Fortune 500 companies. Recently, several national technology companies have located facilities in the area and need an educated workforce with STEM skills.

“We are keenly aware of the worrisome shortage of new graduates entering the workforce in the STEM fields,” said Ed Peachey, president and CEO of CareerSource Pinellas. “We are pleased that as students in the Tampa Bay region look to transition to an institution of higher learning, they will find an abundance of STEM training and degree opportunities at St. Petersburg College. For years, SPC has demonstrated its commitment to STEM and to helping attract a diverse group of students.”

SPC will bring its prior experience with STEM scholarship programs to bear, since it has ten years’ experience with similar National Science Foundation grants and initiatives. For example, from 2007 to 2011, Scholarships in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (S-STEM) were awarded to 152 students, exceeding the project’s goal of 100.

The $6,500 individual scholarships will be available beginning Spring 2015.

STEM-enrollment

STEM-grant-recipients

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Event

The Seminole Community Library will be the location of the grand opening of the SPC’s new Innovation Lab next week.

YOU’RE INVITED:
SPC employees and the public are invited to the grand opening
Tuesday, June 3
11 a.m. to noon and 6 to 7 p.m.
Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St., Seminole, LI 201.

The lab serves as a creative environment, often called a makerspace, that will provide people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts a location to socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. Visitors to the SPC location will be able to learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

The lab offers:

  • 3-D printer
  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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The public is invited to the grand opening of the Innovation Lab
Date: Tuesday, June 3
Time: 11 a.m.-noon and 6-7 p.m.
Where: Seminole Community Library at St. Petersburg College
9200 113th St, Seminole, LI 201

Beginning in June, budding creators and innovators can share ideas, create robots, learn or sharpen programming skills and build objects using 3-D printers at St. Petersburg College’s new Innovation Lab. The space, located in the Seminole Community Library, provides a modern, technologically advanced version of your dad’s garage, so to speak.

The lab’s grand opening is June 3 in room 201 from 11 a.m. – noon and 6 to 7 p.m. at SPC’s Seminole Campus. The event, at 9200 113th St., Seminole, is open to the public.

These creative learning environments, often called makerspaces, are growing in popularity, said Information Services Librarian Chad Mairn, who received a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation to start the lab.

“For years we’ve been more consumption oriented, but now the trend is moving towards creating while discovering things yourself,” said Mairn. “With these technology tools, you can design and build things, learn, and share ideas instead of passively consuming information.”

The space will provide an area where people with common interests like computers, technology, science or digital arts can socialize and collaborate on ideas and learn new skills. In SPC’s lab, which is open to the public, visitors can learn how to program different devices, such as the Raspberry Pi, the Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board and the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce shows off the cookie cutter she created in SPC’s Innovation Lab.

“That lab is going to be phenomenal,” said Instructional Technologist Nancy Munce, who used the 3-D printer to create a cookie cutter she designed from scratch. “Those printers are still wickedly expensive; too expensive to have at home. The potential to learn valued skills is remarkable.”

Munce saw Mairn’s enthusiastic Facebook post about the lab and took him up on his offer to get involved. She was looking to prepare cookies for a friend who was graduating from the University of Florida’s College of Veterinary Medicine.

She figured out how to use Adobe Illustrator to create an outline for the cookie cutter and then used a 3-D CAD (computer-assisted design) program for the rest.

“I poked around and somehow figured it all out,” said Munce. “Basically this saved me from having to cut three dozen cookies by hand.”

In addition to the printer, the lab will have:

  • FreeFab3D Monolith 3D Printer built locally using other 3D printers
  • littleBits Synth Kit
  • Arduino Genuine Mega 2560 Circuit Board Experimentation Kit
  • Avid Fast Track Duo Audio Interface with Pro Tools Express
  • An iMac, 2 Linux computers, and 1 Windows computer
  • A variety of Open Source Software applications for 3D printing, design etc.
  • MaKey MaKey: Original Invention Kit
  • Cubelets KT06 Kit
  • ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Board
  • 2 CanaKit Raspberry Pi Ultimate Starter Kits
  • Apollo Precision Tools 53-Piece Tool Kit
  • Parallax Programmable Boe-Bot Robot Kit
  • Elenco Deluxe Learn To Solder Kit
  • Samsung 32-Inch 1080p LED HDTV with Logitech TV Cam HD for Skype Calls
  • Chromecast
  • Online File Distribution System for access to project files, open access resources, etc.
  • Reference collection including books and magazines

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drum6The drumbeats were steady and deliberate, echoing through the halls of SPC’s Midtown Campus. Within minutes, students who had never seen a West African Djembe or Ashiko drum were enthralled, captivated by the rhythm they were creating in the room.

“It’s going to get loud in here,” said facilitator and drum circle leader Steve Turner as he welcomed students to Meg Delgato’s Biological Issues class earlier this semester.

It got so loud, in fact, that they were soon asked to drum outside, where students who had not participated much in class came alive.

“I’m not really a science person, but I love music,” said Antonio Williams, who is studying business. “To be able to combine something I don’t like with something I do like was great.”

YOU’RE INVITED:
See what the students in Meg Delgato’s Biological Issues class learned by combining music and science.
May 1
11 a.m.to 1:30 p.m.
Royal Theater, 1011 22nd St. S
across from the Midtown campus

“This was one science class I knew I couldn’t do without,” said Devin Plant, who graduates this semester and plans to study psychology. “We’re making it scientific and finding out it’s fun.”

Those words are, ahem, music to Delgato’s ears.

With the help of a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation, Delgato created the semester-long class project called Instrumental Change: Using Drum Circles to Teach the Art of Science. Through the grant, students in her Midtown and Tarpon Springs classes partnered with staff from Giving Tree Music to research and investigate connections between art, music and science.


On May 1, from 11 a.m.to 1:30 p.m., her Midtown students will host a school-community drum circle event at the Royal Theater to unveil what they learned.

“Drumming helps people heal physically, boosts their immune system, creates a feeling of well-being and releases emotional trauma,” said student Lashondala Teagle, who plans on becoming a teacher. “It’s great for stress release and anxiety, which is why we’re holding our event around finals week.”

Teagle has worked with Turner before, when he visited the YMCA where she works.

“The kids love it,” she said. “It brings out the kid in all of us.”

Through Giving Tree Music, Turner sells his hand-made drums and leads “drum circles for human empowerment” for businesses, schools, at-risk youth, special needs groups, festivals and corporate team building seminars. He finds the energy incomparable.

“People make such powerful connections when they drum together,” said Turner, a graduate of SPC. “This really shows the power of teamwork and what it can do.”

drum1

Making science accessible

Ultimately, Delgato wants to make her Biological Issues class mean something more than checking a box to fulfill a life science requirement. She wants her students to make strong connections with science so they are prepared for a world that is flooded with information.

“The one thing I want to give my students is scientific literacy so they can make sense of the information they are bombarded with on a daily basis,” said Delgato, who has received Innovation Grants the past three years for various learning projects. “They need to be able to know what’s going on and be equipped to analyze the source of the information, not just accept things at face value.”

As voters and citizens, students continually make decisions about their communities and issues that affect them, like hurricane threats, air pollution, land usage, endangered species, flooding, waste, genetically altered food and pesticides, among others, Delgato said.

“I wanted to find innovative ways to make learning relevant and meaningful to them. Most of them won’t go to work in the sciences, and they have not had positive experiences in other science classes. But at the end of the day there are some very basic skills that we all need because the information that comes out of the sciences drives all that we know and do.”

What students discovered

In their research, students found studies that say drumming is a valuable treatment for chronic conditions such as stress, fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, asthma, chronic pain, arthritis, mental illness, migraines, cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, paralysis, emotional disorders and a wide range of physical disabilities.

As for relieving stress, medical researchers have found that drumming increases the production and release of neurotransmitters and neurohormones like melatonin, norepinephrine, serotonin and prolactin into the bloodstream, which may contribute to patients’ relaxed and calm mood.

Students will present these findings, along with the cultural and historical aspects of drumming at their event.

“You’re really helping yourself when you do the research,” Teagle said. “Plus you can share all this research with your family and friends. It was a lot of work but it was fun. I’m comfortable with science now.”

Why scientific literacy matters

Being able to discern fact from fiction is a crucial skill in our advancing civilization. Consider:

  • A week’s worth of the New York Times contains more information today than a person was likely to come across in a lifetime in the 18th century.
  • In every minute of 2012 there were:
    • 72 hours of video posts
    • 347 blog posts
    • 700,000 Facebook entries
    • 30,000 tweets
    • 2 million e-mails sent
    • 12 million text messages
  • More data cross the Internet every second than were stored in the entire Internet 20 years ago.
  • There are currently 2.1 billion pages on the World Wide Web.

Sources: International Data Corporation, Harvard Business Review and MIT Technology Review

Credibility: What makes a good source

To check the credibility of sources, particularly on the Internet, Delgato recommends looking at the following.

  • Timeliness – when was the information published?
  • Authors – who wrote it? Are they clearly identified? What is their background? Do they have biases?
  • Authority – does the domain use edu, .gov, .org, or .net? (These are often more credible sources than .com.)

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