When Dr. Vilma Fernandez-Zalupski joined the staff at St. Petersburg Junior College as a counselor on the Clearwater campus in 1966, she made her position more than a job – she turned it into an impressive body of accomplishments. When she retired 29 years later, she left many lasting legacies that still stand strong today. The entire SPC family is mourning the passing of Dr. Zalupski on March 27, 2018.
During her career, “Dr. Z,” as she was affectionately known, earned the love, respect and admiration of Clearwater faculty, staff and students. After four years of advising students, she became the Dean of Women and later became the Associate Dean of Students. She spent a year as Acting Assistant to the President before being the first woman in the state of Florida to become a college provost.
“Dr. Zalupski’s appointment as the first female provost in the entire state is a testament to her dedication to the students and the community,” said St. Petersburg College President Dr. Tonjua Williams. “She proved herself over and over as a trailblazer who opened doors for students and staff. She believed that all students could learn, and she made it her life’s work to put systems in place to help everyone succeed.”
Understanding one of the greatest needs of SPC students, Dr. Zalupski worked with the Foundation to create the Dr. Vilma Zalupski Women on the Way Scholarship and the Fernandez-Zalupski Scholarship. Collectively, these funds have awarded more than 50 scholarships to-date.
Among her greatest contributions was the establishment of Women on the Way (WOW), a resource and support center for women, that she founded along with Maria Edmonds and Bobbie Hinson in 1981. WOW, which started with 15 women on the Clearwater Campus, now has more than 500 women participating college- wide. The Clearwater WOW center was named in Dr. Zalupski’s honor in 2016. Dr. Zalupski will be missed by the entire SPC community and her legacy will live on through the countless students whose lives she helped improve.