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St. Petersburg College celebrated the milestone of graduating its 150,000th student on Saturday, Dec. 12 in two fall commencement ceremonies at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.

“Our first graduating class, in 1929, had a total of 48 graduates,” said St. Petersburg College President William D. Law Jr., in addressing the graduates. “Today, we celebrate the momentous occasion of our 150,000th graduate. This is a milestone that will not soon be forgotten, and all of you will always hold a special place in the history of SPC as a part of this graduating class.”

During the ceremonies, attendees got to watch videos of six graduates who represent the diversity of SPC alumni and students. The videos were part of a campaign SPC launched to honor current graduates and past alumni who have helped shape the college over the years. The college encourages well wishers, graduates and alumni to visit www.spcollege.edu/wearespc and use #WeAreSPC on social media accounts.

“All of you represent our 150,000th graduate,” Law said. “It is exactly our diversity – of age and gender, of ethnicity, race and religion – that makes SPC the wonderful institution it is.”

SPC’s students “represent single mothers and military veterans … immigrants and grandmothers … students who have overcome adversity … students straight out of high school … and students who returned to their education later in life. They come from various backgrounds and academic programs, but they all share a common dream: to earn their college degree.”

About 820 of the Fall semester’s 1,982 graduates participated in Fall commencement. Of the 2,258 degrees and certificates being conferred this fall:

  • 1,450 are associate degrees
  • 496 are bachelor’s degrees
  • 312 are certificates and advanced diplomas.

This fall’s youngest graduate is 17; the oldest is 79. There are 21 graduates over the age of 60. More than 200 students will earn more than one degree or certificate. See all our graduation statistics.

 

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Share this moment with friends and family by using the #SPCGrad hashtag and any of our images for your social media accounts.

St. Petersburg College will mark its 125th commencement ceremony at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 26, at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. About 350 of the 1,121 graduates are expected to participate.

“We congratulate the students – and their families – who have persevered to this graduation milestone. They always inspire us with their determination,” said President Bill Law.

SPC dates back to 1927 when it became Florida’s first two-year institution of higher learning. There were 48 members of the first graduating class in 1929.

Saturday’s ceremony is expected to last about an hour. Featured speakers include Crystal Hampton, representing four-year programs, and Tait Sorenson, representing lower division programs.

“I’m 35, but (my mom) still treats me like her baby girl, saying how proud she is of my accomplishments and being selected as the commencement speaker,” said Hampton, who will earn a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration. Read her story here.

“The faculty and the advisors at SPC really encouraged me in finding the roadmap that would get me where I wanted to be,” said Sorenson, who will earn his A.A. degree from SPC and pursue a bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida in the fall. Read his story here.

Graduates and guests can check our instructions page for the big day. You can also follow social media posts and catch a live stream of the ceremony on our page dedicated to the ceremony.

Here are our summer graduates by the numbers:

Summer-2014-graduation-infographic[1]

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Tait Sorenson at his NASA internship

Tait Sorenson at his NASA internship

Waiting tables and bartending in St. Petersburg wasn’t cutting it for Tait Sorenson.

After graduating from high school in Montana, Sorenson made his way to Florida in 2008. What he found during the recession, however, was a very unstable living and future.

“During the recession, it was so hard to keep a job or get enough hours to live on,” said Sorenson, who will graduate from St. Petersburg College Saturday with his A.A. degree and will speak at commencement.

Sorenson took a cue from friends who were attending SPC and from his father and brother, both in engineering. This fall, Sorenson will pursue his bachelor’s degree in aerospace engineering at the University of Central Florida.

“I figure it’s a little easier to stay employed as an engineer in a recession rather than sales or something. It’s a little more stable.”

In two weeks, Sorenson will complete a summer internship at NASA, where he has been assisting with the website. He plans to eventually pursue a master’s degree in Space Systems Design.

Sorenson started with only a couple classes at SPC in the fall of 2011 but soon found himself immersed in college life. While taking an Honors class, he was encouraged to become an officer for his Student Government Association. At an SGA event at the Downtown Campus, he signed up for a Study Aboard trip to Costa Rica, where he met some students in Phi Theta Kappa who encouraged him to join them.

“I learned from other students how to be successful, how to study and get good grades,” said Sorenson, who was named to the 2014 All-Florida Academic Team for his academic achievement, leadership and service to the community. “I encourage every student to get plugged in, to network and collaborate with others. A lot of students just came and go to class, and they never know what else is there for them.”

Sorenson also credits SPC’s faculty and advisors for getting him on the right path.

“They really guided and encouraged me in the whole process,” Sorenson said. “The advisors sat me down and really helped map out what it would take for me to receive a bachelor’s in aerospace. SPC really helped mold that roadmap for me.”

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Crystal Hampton

Crystal Hampton

When Crystal Hampton crosses the stage during SPC’s summer graduation on Saturday, it will be an achievement not just for her but also for her family.

With a bachelor’s degree in Health Services Administration in hand, Hampton will become the first college graduate in her family.

“I know they’re all very proud of me,” said the native of London, Ky. “My mom talks about being proud of me all the time. I’m 35, but she still treats me like her baby girl, saying how proud she is of my accomplishments and being selected as the commencement speaker.”

Prior to pursuing her bachelor’s degree, she completed an associate degree in nuclear medicine from Bluegrass Community and Technical College in Lexington, Ky., and worked for two years at the Orlando VA Medical Center.

Hampton pursued a health care career because of her late father, Carl Cupp, a veteran who died of heart disease at age 53.

“Nuclear medicine is a field that involves cardiac imaging, among other things,” she said. “I thought maybe I could help keep another daughter from losing their father by working in this field.”

Hampton’s deep respect for the military and sacrifices made by U.S. military servicemen led her to pursue a career at the VA.

“My father was a veteran, but I also have the utmost respect and appreciation for all veterans,” Hampton said. “It’s nice to be able to give back and help serve those that so bravely served us.”

In addition to being a full-time student, Hampton also works full-time as the Lead Nuclear Medicine Technologist for the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System.

“Working full-time and going to school full-time was challenging, especially while trying to maintain my 4.0. GPA,” said Hampton, who has leaned upon the steadfast support of her husband, Troy Hampton, and the advice and guidance of her SPC advisor and professor, Floyd Butz. To fit in classes around her busy work schedule, she mainly took classes online.

She is considering going on to pursue a master’s degree in health care administration. Her ultimate goal is to continue working at the VA and to move up as a health care administrator or manager in radiology and to continue help saving lives and serving our nation’s heroes.

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Almost 1,200 graduates participate in Spring commencement

The ceremony, the 118th in the college’s history, was held May 8 at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg. Check out our Facebook gallery.

Among the highlights:

  • Helen Krauss Leslie was honored as the college’s Outstanding Alumna. Leslie enrolled in St. Petersburg Junior College in 1940, where she was the only female in her Mechanical Drawing class. Since then, she has been an advocate for the college and for women. This is the 31st time in its 85-year history that the college has bestowed the Outstanding Alumni award.
  • Alistair Glover won the Apollo Award, the highest honor an associate degree graduate can receive. He has received many awards, including USA Today’s 2012 All-USA Community College Academic Team and the Florida’s 2012 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar award.
  • Board of Trustee member Ken Burke, whose term has ended, was recognized for his long service to the college.
  • While about 1,200 participated in the ceremony, a total of 2,322 earned a certificate or degree from the college this spring.
  • Of those, 204 received more than one credential.
  • 102 were between the ages of 51 and 60.
  • Two were older than 70.
  • The oldest graduate was 74.
  • Among the associate degree graduates were 70 members of the St. Petersburg Collegiate High School Class of 2012.
  • For every two male graduates, there were three female graduates.
  • President Bill Law recognized the 33 college faculty and staff members who are retiring this year, noting their combined service of 720 years.
  • Christopher Grissett, one of the first to receive a bachelor’s degree in Biology from SPC, was the student speaker.

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The college’s 117th commencement took place Saturday, Dec. 17, 2011 at 9:30 a.m. and at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks. A total of 564 graduates participated in the two ceremonies.

View Fall 2011 Graduation image gallery.

Watch the 9:30 a.m. ceremony

Watch the 1 p.m. ceremony

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Astronaut Nicole Stott speaks to graduates at St. Petersburg College’s commencement exercises on Saturday, May 8. Stott is a Clearwater native who graduated from Clearwater High School and attended SPC. Her first NASA space mission was last year, when she spent about four months on the International Space Station.

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