“Graduating from SPJC was the best day of my life,” says alumna and State Representative Kathleen Peters. “My parents were in the audience and my dad had this unmistakable and amazingly loud whistle. When I crossed the stage, I heard it and for a half a second it was tempting to feel embarrassed. Instead, I was so incredibly proud.”
The youngest of seven children, Peters was born in Northbrook, Illinois, and moved to Florida with her husband and one-year old son in 1985. After overcoming some of life’s toughest challenges, she enrolled at SPJC in 1992 as a mother of three sons and with another on the way. She attended both day and evening classes, worked at the family business, cared for her growing family and managed to do catering jobs on the side to help make ends meet.
Peters became the first of her siblings to graduate from College in 1996. She attended Eckerd College, earning a Bachelor’s degree in 1998, and went on to work at the Juvenile Welfare Board and the St. Petersburg YMCA.
In 2008, Peters began her impressive career in public service. While working as VP of Public Affairs for the Clearwater Regional Chamber of Commerce, Peters was elected to the South Pasadena City Commission. A year later, she was selected by her fellow Commissioners to serve as Mayor. She continued to serve in that roll until 2012 when she was elected to the Florida House of Representatives.
Over the years, Peters has received numerous awards and accolades for her leadership. As a State Representative, she has championed mental health awareness and worked to protect consumers, improve our schools and grow our economy. SPC students have benefitted through her efforts as well; Peters helped secure state funding for the College’s Orthotics and Prosthetics program, the Bay Pines STEM Center and, most recently, for the Student Center on the St. Pete Gibbs campus.
Peters says SPC made the difference in her life, “The superior faculty taught me to love learning– even statistics! And I made lifelong friendships. But most importantly, I felt valued and successful for the first time. That experience and my education is something no one can take away.”