Posts Tagged ‘studentsinaction’

Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Seven of the eight St. Petersburg College students in the inaugural TBTF Exploratory Labs Boot Camp class. From left: Eric Romero II, Rafael Murga, Brenda Braitling, Robert Vigre, Giny Kapili, Rashidat Majekodunmi and Brian Little.

Eight St. Petersburg College students were among 22 who took part in the inaugural Tampa Bay Technology Forum Exploratory Labs, an innovative training solution held March 23-27 that addressed the needs of companies in the Tampa Bay area.

The training took place at local companies Tech Data and Valpak and was designed as a business integration experience that compliments traditional classroom curriculum. The goal: to close the skills gap and increase interest in the technology industry among non-technology degree seeking students.

Training program developers included Pat Gehant, Director of Workforce Initiative at TBTF; Angie Beltz, Vice President for Cisco Solutions Group at Tech Data; Dr. William Law, President of St. Petersburg College; the TBTF Workforce committee, then chaired by Chris Cate, CIO fro Valpak; and a team of educators from SPC and USF St. Petersburg. They worked together for 18 months to create a training solution that:

  • Engages business in the design and delivery of the curriculum
  • Integrates into the academic setting
  • Does not increase the cost or time to complete a degree
  • Provides a new way for companies to source entry level talent

The training consisted of 70 hours in the classroom and more than 40 hours of out-of-class team activities. The curriculum covered topics such as business planning, integrated marketing, emotional intelligence software licensing, Web, e-commerce, data centers, Agile project management methodologies, among others.

“Having an opportunity to solve a current technological challenge with the possibility of having our solution or parts of it utilized in the ‘real world’ is the best learning experience one could imagine,” said Christl Strachen, a student taking classes at SPC through the Tampa Bay Hi-Tech Training Program.

The students spent one day at Valpak learning how Agile methodologies are embraced and effectively deployed throughout a company – not just in Information Technology fields. The students are “chomping at the bit to get started,” said Robert Vigre, an SPC bachelor’s degree student in health administration.

The students graduated during a ceremony at Tech Data on April 14.

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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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With a love for research and a dream to discover some of the world’s future diseases or treatments, St. Petersburg College student Salwa Shamsi wants to make a difference with her life through work in the field of microbiology.

On Saturday, Dec. 13, Shamsi, 22, will cross the stage to receive her Associate in Arts degree. But the path hasn’t been easy; she had to overcome cultural and language differences along the way.

SPC student Salwa Shamsi graduates with an Associate in Arts microbiology transfer degree on Saturday, Dec. 13.

SPC student Salwa Shamsi graduates with an Associate in Arts microbiology transfer degree on Saturday, Dec. 13.

St. Petersburg College’s Fall graduation ceremonies will be at 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 13 at the First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo. Salwa Shamsi, Clearwater Campus, will represent the A.A./A.S. graduates at the afternoon ceremony while Kathleen Bryan will represent the B.S./B.A.S. graduates. Each ceremony should last about an hour and a half.

“I had very little strength in the English language, and I really was not familiar with the culture here,” said Shamsi, who attended the Clearwater adult education center for four months to improve her English language skills before enrolling in SPC’s English to Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program.

“So when I look at myself now and compare it to four years ago, I see that I have really improved a lot in language, personality, and overall everything,” she said.

Born in Eau Claire, Wis., Shamsi was raised in Saudi Arabia and Syria with her family. After graduating high school in Saudi Arabia, she came back to the U.S. with her younger sister in 2010 to live with her grandparents and continue her education.

During her time at St. Petersburg College, Shamsi got involved in student life on campus, joining Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Undergraduate Science Research Society student club. Originally focused on a pharmacy track, she discovered her passion for research during her time at SPC.

“And since I am a member of the undergraduate research society club, I got involved in the research. I enjoyed it a quite a bit,” she said. “I loved going around collecting samples, processing samples, then observing the results. So I kept in mind that I want to do more research in the future.”

In February, along with her Undergraduate Science Research Society colleagues, Shamsi helped conduct research about the antibiotic-resistant bacteria MRSA. The goal was to discover how much of a presence the bacteria had on cell phones, cash and credit cards.

“You can’t imagine how much I loved going around to collect samples, run my samples, and then finally get the exciting results,” she said. “That’s also why I changed my major to microbiology. I am very excited to experience more about microbiology and get involved in more research.”

After graduation, Shamsi plans to enroll at the University of South Florida to earn a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. Further down the road, her goal is to earn a doctorate in cancer biology or immunology with a microbiology concentration.

“I want to know and understand all there is to know about all the causes for diseases around us,” said Shamsi. “I want to understand the treatments for these specific diseases because I am hoping that one day I’ll reach my goal.”

SPC Undergraduate Science Research Society students Salwa Shamsi and Maria Hernandez participate during a research project about MRSA.

From left: SPC Undergraduate Science Research Society students Salwa Shamsi and Maria Hernandez participate during a research project about MRSA.

According to U.S. Census Bureau statistics, women made up 26 percent of the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) workforce in 2011. In life and physical science, they made up 41 percent of the workforce. Shamsi is excited to be able to pursue her passion for science and research and join the growing trend of women in a historically male-dominated field.

“I want to prove to society and the community that a woman can do it because men are not better than women,” she said. “It’s what I love and I want to do it.”

She said she wants other women to feel inspired to do the same.

“No matter what their goals, no matter whatever the field is, they can do it,” Shamsi said. “We’re in the 21st century; this is 2014. Women can do it. We can go ahead and we can rise.”

Shamsi will serve as the lower division speaker for one of the two commencement ceremonies at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks, 12685 Ulmerton Road, Largo.

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The unique partnership between St. Petersburg College and LumaStream is drawing international interest. On Nov. 21, a group of five distinguished guests representing Ukraine’s government, business, academia, media, arts and non-governmental organizations toured the local LED lighting manufacturer’s plant in Midtown.

The Ukrainian guests were selected by the American Embassy in their country and the U.S. Department of State for the express purpose of finding out about:

  • public-private partnerships in economic development
  • ensuring quality in higher education, youth engagement, community outreach and engagement and
  • the role of public sector organizations in holding government accountable.

The trip was organized by World Partnerships, the official State Department partner for hosting global leaders in the Tampa Bay area. The organization creates professional programs, cultural activities and social networking for international leaders with their Tampa Bay counterparts.

Jill Flansburg, program coordinator for Florida TRADE and Claire Underhill, marketing assistant for LumaStream, hosted the group. Last month, a dozen University of South Florida St. Petersburg journalism students and their professor, Rob Hooker, visited LumaStream to learn how the company teamed up with the college last year to begin providing job training.

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March, Rafael Rivera, Mohammed Shaker, Chris Clark.

Pictured above are: Brenton David, Karen Donovan, Jacob Lurvey, David Creighton, Jeffrey Schultz,Jason Hoven, Madeline Rondo,Kristina Phillips, Jeff Thomas, Representative David Jolly, Bill Fleming, Earnest Gant, David Weatherspoon, Tina March, Rafael Rivera, Mohammed Shaker, Chris Clark.

When the new Pinellas Bayway Bridge opened Oct. 17, members of St. Petersburg College’s Student Veterans Association (SVA) and Males Achieving Excellence (MAX) were on hand as volunteers. Festivities included a 5K run, a paddle board flotilla, a pool party, a beach party and a ceremonial lighting of the bridge.

The SVA and MAX volunteers helped set up the beach bash, provided water at the aid stations for the runners, helped with traffic flow, distributed safety lights to the spectators and moved the equipment from the starting line to the finish line before and after race. The race was so successful that plans are already in the works to do it again next year.

The activities were captured by volunteer photographer Charlie Harris, an SVA member from the Clearwater Campus. Check out all the photos in the SVA Facebook gallery.

Fees from the race topped $15,000 and were donated to the Associated Marine Institute Kids, a program that supports troubled children, and to Tampa BayWatch Marine, an organization that protects and restores the Tampa Bay estuaries.

Article courtesy of Rafael Rivera Nieves, CPO, USCG, (ret.)

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St. Petersburg College student peer advisors participate in a radio interview about the college's peer advising program.

St. Petersburg College student peer advisors participate in a radio interview about the college’s peer advising program.

Three St. Petersburg College student peer advisors accepted an invitation to speak about their experiences in the college’s peer advising program on Tampa Bay Tomorrow, a local radio show that airs on 970 WFLA. The segment aired Oct. 19 and 20.

Listen to the peer advising radio interview on the WFLA website.

“It’s great to be a part of something that sets SPC apart from the other state colleges in Florida,” said Adam Bailey, a student veteran and peer advisor at the Seminole Campus.

Since it began in Fall 2013, the peer advising program has enjoyed great success. In addition to being able to assist other students, peer advising also gives students an active learning experience.

The program, which originally was funded by the Student Government Association, began with two students and has since expanded to include five student peer advisors. Each peer advisor goes through a month of intensive academic advising training before they can start helping other students.

Some peer advisors assist up to 20 students a day, said Malena Buck, Student Life & Leadership Coordinator at the Seminole Campus.

Peer advisors have met with more than 800 students since its beginning. The program is expanding into different departments, with peer advisors now assigned to Veterans Services and Career Services. They also provide assistance with the My Learning Plan in the Learning Commons on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 7 pm.

Being able to share about their experiences during the radio interview was an exciting learning experience for the peer advisors.

“It was such a privilege to represent SPC and share about a program that enhances the college experience,” said Melissa Joy Petrescue, student peer advisor.

“The peer-to-peer experience is what I’m going to hold onto for a long time,” said Melissa Dabydeen, student peer advisor at the Seminole Campus. “The leadership skills and experience gained will assist me with future endeavors.

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When Sheila Cowley saw a need for quality, student-created content for MYRA – Make Your Radio Active – the student radio station at St. Petersburg College, the adjunct instructor jumped in head first.

Cowley began her first semester at SPC in the fall by teaching an Audio for Broadcast course in the Music Industry/Recording Arts program at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. Now students are creating content for the station.

“Our aim is to fill the MIRA station with new original content that constantly reflects what’s happening at SPC,” said Cowley, who worked at WMNF radio for nearly 25 years. As operations manager, she oversaw the equipment, facility, training, FCC compliance and engineers.

For the MYRA radio station, she wants to produce announcements, feature interviews, live broadcasts and public service announcements. Students in her class have already produced station IDs and promotional spots for the Palladium Theater and are crafting features about the Music Industry/Recording Arts program to draw prospects to the workforce program.

“All the work in the class is practical and hands on, since radio’s a skill you only develop by doing,” Cowley said. “There’s no sitting around. While there are some really good written references, really everything we do is listening and working.”

In September, SPC students toured WMNF to see the transmission process – an experience that will help prepare them for the Society of Broadcast Engineers’ exam so they can earn certified radio operator credentials in the future.

“The skills you learn for radio – writing for broadcast, broadcast production standards, editing for length and content – those are skills that serve you well in many fields, including film and video,” Cowley said.

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SPC Career Outreach Specialist Rosaria Pipitone and Music Industry/Recording Arts student Nathan Doyle at the One Direction concert at Raymond James Stadium.

SPC Career Outreach Specialist Rosaria Pipitone and Music Industry/Recording Arts student Nathan Doyle at the One Direction concert at Raymond James Stadium.

While hordes of screaming fans waited for the One Direction concert to start on Friday, Oct. 3, students and alumni from the Music Industry/Recording Arts program at St. Petersburg College were front-and-center, working the show at Raymond James Stadium.

Three Music Industry/Recording Arts students were brought in to work alongside the international pop band’s touring staff to prepare for the anticipated 65,000 fans. When the doors opened, MIRA alumni greeted and directed thousands of guests, controlled VIP party entrance and assisted with photography.

The opportunity was the result of the workforce program’s growing national reputation.

“MIRA is producing alumni who are sustaining careers in music locally and regionally, which helps the visibility of the program and our work with employers,” said Rosaria Pipitone, career outreach specialist at the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus. “Providing students with the opportunity to work with a national tour has opened their eyes to a new spectrum of employment opportunities. It’s important to bring these kinds of recruitment opportunities to students. I want them to know they have on-campus support when it comes to employment opportunities.”

VIP Nation and CID Entertainment contacted Pipitone to ask about having Music Industry/Recording Arts students work two of their Tampa shows for Luke Bryan and One Direction. The One Direction performance marked the first international touring act to contact SPC for students and alumni to work the show. Two national touring acts, Luke Bryan and Tim McGraw, previosuly requested students and alumni from MIRA.

“It was super impressive to think of the huge scale of the operation and how many people were attending,” said MIRA student Nathan Doyle, who was excited about the experience of working at a live show. Doyle said he was surprised to learn that it took about three days for the touring crew to set up all the stage and lighting for the show.

After completing their shift, the MIRA team and Pipitone were granted free entrance to the sold-out show to experience the massive production close-up.

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SPC students will host two question and answer sessions with Adrian Wyllie, the Libertarian candidate for Florida Governor on Sept. 23. The sessions will be:

12:30 to 1:30 p.m.
5 to 7 p.m.
ES104, Ethics and Social Sciences Building
Clearawater Campus
2465 Drew Street
Clearwater, FL 33765

Two student clubs – the Legal Studies Society and the Civics Club – have organized the events, to which all students and the public are invited. Wyllie plans to discuss his ideas and plans for higher education for the State of Florida. This is a great opportunity for all SPC students to help define this candidate’s views and plans for higher education and job opportunities for graduating students.

The college welcomes all elected officials and candidates running for office, so students can become engaged in the political process. Civics education and engagement have been the focus of ongoing efforts by the college and its Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.

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Lori VanValkenburg, SPC alumna of the Veterinary Technology program at St. Petersburg College.

Lori VanValkenburg, SPC alumna of the Veterinary Technology program at St. Petersburg College.

Lori is another wonderful example of our alumni. Through her efforts in her job and in the professional organizations she participates in, the quality of our graduates is reflected. This further solidifies our position as the leader in veterinary technology education.”
Rich Flora, dean of the School of Veterinary Technology

St. Petersburg College alumna Lori VanValkenburg credits the faculty in SPC’s Veterinary Technology program with helping her succeed in the field of veterinary medicine and education and for providing guidance throughout her education and beyond.

VanValkenburg, 39, serves as Program Director for the Veterinary Technician and Veterinary Assistant programs at Pima Medical Institute in Houston. Since it’s a new program, she has been preparing the program to earn AVMA accreditation.

“The knowledge and skills that I learned while taking courses at SPC have prepared me well for my career field,” VanValkenburg said. “Every single course that I have taken in my degree program at SPC has made a positive impact on my career.”

Veterinary medicine and education is actually VanValkenburg’s second career. She worked in the medical industry for nearly 10 years as a surgical assistant, but realized it wasn’t humans she wanted to spend her life treating; her sights were set on taking care of man’s best friend and teaching others how to do so.

“I always loved animals and I had the opportunity while I was married to be able to go to school and really do what I wanted,” said the now single mother.

After earning her associate degree in veterinary technology from the Lone Star College System, VanValkenburg wanted a veterinary bachelor’s degree. But she had trouble finding a local program that could meet her demanding schedule as a busy working professional.

While searching for veterinary technology bachelor’s degrees online, she came across the St. Petersburg College website and was excited to discover the program was offered entirely online. VanValkenburg also found SPC’s faculty very caring and dedicated.

“They were just so personal and understanding, and they connected with students really well,” said VanValkenburg.

While in school, VanValkenburg faced personal family challenges that made it difficult to keep up with her studies and appreciated the support she received from some of her vet tech faculty, even when she took a break from classes. She eventually graduated cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in veterinary technology from SPC in Summer 2011.

She has remained in touch with her instructors since then.

“I feel like they are proud of who I have become and that I can contact them any time for further guidance. I guess you could say they are my cheering section.”

Cynthia Grey, professor of Veterinary Technology, describes VanValkenburg as a creative, goal-oriented individual.

“As a learner, it was not enough for her just to complete something,” Grey said of her former student. “Lori went beyond looking at her degree path as a series of assignments to check off when completed. She capitalized on having an enriching learning experience.

“I think what further contributes to Lori’s success both academically and professionally is her passion for veterinary medicine … She is enthusiastic and proud of herself and her profession, and this is reflected in her successes.”

Rich Flora, dean of the School of Veterinary Technology, said VanValkenburg always looked beyond the surface and wanted to understand the deeper principles.

“Having a student like Lori, who loves our profession and has dedicated herself to it, assures me the future is in very good hands,” Flora said.

VanValkenburg has always been active in her field. Since February 2010, she has taught full-time veterinary technology classes and written exam questions for the Veterinary Technician National Examination (VTNE) national boards. She currently serves as Director-at-Large for the Association of Veterinary Technician Educators and recently served as president of the Texas Association of Registered Veterinary Technicians (TARVT).

On Sept. 20, she expects to graduate from the University of Phoenix with a master’s degree in adult education and training. She is considering working on a doctorate degree once her 5-year-old son, Nathan, gets older.

“I’m a single mom and he’s just known me as doing my homework all the time,” said VanValkenburg. “I’m sure that him seeing me as a student like this will be a positive motivation for him in the future.”

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