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.
JPMorgan Chase Partners with SPC to Develop Regional Tech Talent Pipeline
JPMorgan Chase has awarded a grant of $250,000 to develop a new program that will help local residents land jobs in Tampa Bay’s growing technology industry, while meeting the industry’s demand for skilled workers in this space.
In partnership with the Tampa Bay Technology Forum, SPC will provide classroom and online training for students looking for careers in technology, create a database of support tools and develop a website that links students and educators directly to local employers looking to fill open positions.
“This project is an example of how education, industry and workforce can come together to address the critical challenge most industries face – finding and retaining top talent,” said SPC President Tonjua Williams. “We are grateful to JPMorgan Chase for their investment.
Pictured: L-R: SPC Board Member Deveron Gibbons, JPMorgan Chase VP State Government Relations Rick Mahler, SPC President Tonjua Williams, JPMorgan Chase Executive Director of Banking Technology Clayton Schnelker, JPMorgan Chase VP Commercial Banking Kyle Thomas and SPC Board members Katherine Cole and Bill Foster
SPC leadership moved quickly and decisively as it became apparent that Irma would move through Pinellas. Students, faculty and staff received timely notification about the college closing and regular updates regarding class schedules and reopening plans.
Once the storm passed, SPC students and staff checked on neighbors, family and friends as the recovery process began. While dealing with damage and power outages at their own homes, crews of SPC staff sprang into action to clean campus buildings and grounds, restore internet connectivity, answer students calls, and much more. Power was restored to all campuses by Friday evening and the college reopened on September 18. In a college-wide email, President Williams said, “Despite the challenges we faced in the wake of Hurricane Irma, we have come through it even stronger than before. Thank you all for your patience and kindness to one another during the storm. At SPC, we are a family.”
Pictured: SPC Facilities Specialist Tom McNaughton removes debris at Seminole Campus after Hurricane Irma