Donors and Students Inspire each other at Annual Luncheon
SPC Foundation donors, partners, students and college leadership celebrated the awarding of more than $1.8 million in scholarships to over 2,400 students during the 2016-17 academic year at the St. Petersburg College Foundation’s 19th Annual Scholarship Luncheon on March 21.
More than 200 guests attended the event, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management and Emceed by Bay News 9’s Veronica Cintron. SPC students Chelsea Echols and Malique Ferrette moved and inspired the audience with their stories of triumph and success. Malique Ferrette, said, “Words prove insufficient in expressing my gratitude for what you as donors have done for my life and for the lives of so many others. Yet still, I say on behalf of all SPC students…. thank you!”
Offering a donor’s perspective, Mike Brewster, Chief Production Officer at Monin, spoke about his company’s partnership with SPC and the impact scholarships have in developing our local workforce.
SPC President Tonjua Williams closed out the program and thanked the donors who support our students, saying “If it were not for you, we would have many students who would give up on their dreams.” Williams said donors’ generosity affects more than just our students. It impacts generations. “You’ve changed the lives of their children and the children to come,” she said.
Students Find Success in Cell Phone Repair Program
Two years ago, the last thing on Quincy Youngs’ mind was pursuing an education. Quincy was living in a homeless shelter in St. Petersburg and struggling to find work due to a past criminal record. Luckily, Quincy was encouraged to enroll in SPC’s PITCH (Persistence Incorporated into College, Hired) program, a course designed to help at-risk African American men gain work readiness skills, obtain workplace certifications and enroll in postsecondary education.
The PITCH program provides cell phone and tablet repair instruction and is funded in part through the Silverberg Family Academic Excellence Grant. SPC Instructor Dwayne Johnson is enthusiastic about the program’s success. He said, “All the students in the course have given 110 percent to the program. Each day I see them putting in the hard-work needed to be a success in the field. It has been my honor help these young men get the real-world experience they need.”
Quincy’s impressive commitment to the PITCH coursework led to a position as an Instructor Assistant where he will mentor other students. His confidence has soared; upon completing the PITCH program he enrolled in SPC’s Cybersecurity program and has his sights set on a career with Apple.
Every morning Juanita looks at a photo of herself meeting two police officers as a child. For as long as she can remember, Juanita wanted to be a cop. In 2014, Juanita started her career as a dispatcher for the Tarpon Springs Police Department; however tragedy struck during her very first shift. Juanita was the dispatcher for Officer Charles Kondek the night he was fatally shot while on duty. “I learned so much that night, I realized how quickly things can change,” said Juanita.
In mourning with the entire Tampa Bay Law Enforcement community, Juanita learned what it meant to be part of the “Thin Blue Line” and felt support all around her. This experience prompted her to follow her dreams and enroll in SPC’s Police Academy. Juanita was awarded the Tampa Bay Area Chiefs of Police Association Law Enforcement Scholarship through the SPC Foundation which paid for the full cost of her Police Academy training. “It was really humbling to be chosen as a scholarship recipient. It helped me keep everything under control financially but also has allowed me to be part of something larger than myself,” said Juanita. Through this scholarship Juanita has been able to network with Tampa Bay Police Chiefs and has found a new job as a Patrol Officer for the Temple Terrace Police Department. She is proud to be serving the Tampa Bay area and is excited to put her training and experience to work in the field.
SPC is working to ensure that no call for help goes unanswered. Telecommunicators in 911 call centers are essential to public safety, says Pinellas County Safety and Emergency Services Bureau Director James Fogarty. “As a first point of contact for the public, and the ongoing communication conduit for police, fire and EMS, telecommunicators’ training and education cannot be underestimated.”
To meet the growing need for stream-lined training, SPC in partnership with Pinellas County Safety and Emergency Services and several local public safety agencies will be offering a Public Safety Telecommunicator Certification Program starting in January. This certification will provide training to Pinellas County Emergency Management agencies to fill the employment gap for Public Safety Telecommunicators (PST) county-wide.
The PST curriculum is a hybrid learning environment with 80 hours of interaction with current dispatchers, 52 hours of face-to-face training and 100 hours online. After completing the certification, students will receive 12 college credits. “This educational program for telecommunicators is long overdue. Years from now the industry will not understand how we could have done without it,” said Fogarty.
Silverberg Family Honored at SPC Bay Pines STEM Center
St. Petersburg College Foundation Board of Directors, family and friends gathered at the new SPC Bay Pines STEM Center on November 16 to honor the Silverberg Family for their long-time support. Jane Silverberg designated $150,000 earlier this year to name the Community Center at the college’s newest facility.
Jane Silverberg and her late husband Donald have been ardent supporters of St. Petersburg College and created the Silverberg Endowment for Academic Excellence Award in 1982 to help support, enrich and develop programs that benefit SPC, its students, and the broader community. Over the years, the Silverberg family has taken great pride in providing funding for a broad range of projects that enhance the learning experience for students of St. Petersburg College.
Pictured: Jane Silverberg (seated) is joined by members of her family at the SPC Bay Pines STEM Center following a reception to honor Jane and recognize her contributions.