June 2016

Innovation Grant Teaches Students Soft Skills

Student Life and Leadership Coordinators Mary Gerst and Stephanie Henningsen are working to ensure that SPC students are learning social and soft skills. After attending a leadership training, Gerst and Henningsen were inspired to create the Graduate Leadership Academy and received a $3,500 Innovation Grant from the St. Petersburg College Foundation to launch the project.

“One of the main points that employers make is that while people may have an education, they often lack in soft skills,” Gerst said. “It’s so important to learn customer service and how to act in a workplace setting.” Gerst and Henningsen lead training sessions which include Meyers-Brigg personality tests, etiquette lessons, mock interviews and “mocktail” parties where students learn the art of networking.

This dynamic duo also hosts etiquette dinners with new Student Government Association officers and Lunch and Learn sessions to teach leadership and personal success skills.

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April 2016

Alumni Honored at 130th Commencement Ceremony

U.S. Congressman Gus Bilirakis (R) was honored at Spring commencement as SPC’s 2016 Outstanding Alumnus. Bilirakis attended St. Petersburg Junior College before earning a B.A. from the University of Florida and a J.D. from Stetson University.

Prior to being elected to Congress, Bilirakis served four terms in the Florida House of Representatives (1998-2006) where he won bipartisan acclaim for his leadership efforts, including sponsoring the bill that would expand SPJC into a four-year institution making it the first community college in the state to transition.

Also honored were Courtney Kent, Apollo Award recipient and Amy Bhatt, Alumni Achievement Award recipient.

Kent served as president of the Clearwater Campus Student Government Association and was St. Petersburg College’s first Financial Assistance Services Peer-Advisor. He is a member of Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society and the Student National Education


Bhatt graduated with a B.A.S. degree in paralegal studies and was the Apollo Award recipient in 2012. She served as Vice President of the SPC Legal Studies Society, President of the Honors College Student Consortium, was a National Model United Nations Delegate and member of the Golden Key International Honor Society.

The SPC Alumni Association presents these awards to honor graduates who demonstrate exemplary leadership, academic achievement and community service.

Pictured: (Top) Congressman Gus Bilirakis 2016 Outstanding Alumnus; (Right) Courtney Kent 2016 Apollo Award Winner; Alumni Association President John Brown, Dr. Bill Law and Amy Bhatt 2016 Alumni Achievement Award Winner

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March 2016

Students and Donors Celebrate at Annual Luncheon

Donors, students and college leadership celebrated the awarding of over $1.5 million in scholarships to more than 1,900 students during the 2014-15 academic year at the St. Petersburg College Foundation’s 17th Annual Scholarship Appreciation Luncheon on March 31st.

More than 230 guests attended the event, sponsored by RBC Wealth Management and Emceed by Bay News 9’s Veronica Cintron with SPC student Marissa Allen.

SPC students Brenda Vargas, Timora Works and Courtney Kent moved the audience as they shared their educational journeys with guests. Kent who is obtaining his A.A. in science and education, said, “For the donors who have in the past year alone, shared over a million and a half acts of kindness with St. Petersburg College students, thank you all.”

Pictured: Student speakers (from left to right), Timora Works, Courtney Kent, Marissa Allen and Brenda Vargas pose with Bay News 9’s Veronica Citron (center).

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February 2016

SPC Honors Dr. Vilma Zalupski

St. Petersburg College recognized Dr. Vilma Zalupski for her devoted service and tireless dedication to the Women on the Way (WOW) program at a ribbon cutting of the newly renovated WOW Center on Clearwater Campus, named in honor of Dr. Zalupski.

The program offers a lifeline to a better future for many SPC students through scholarship support and programs supporting student engagement, retention and personal growth.

“Working within WOW, and my career in general, I always made it a point to know everyone: how many kids they have, what they are going to school for, their hardships,” Zalupski said. “That general interest kept me connected to what was important.”

“SPC promotes out-of-class support, interaction and help, as well as a genuine college experience to give students a push towards success,” SPC President Bill Law said. “WOW is the best example of that model.” SPC plans to establish a WOW center on every campus in the coming years.

Pictured: Dr. Vilma Zalupski takes part in the dedication of the Clearwater Campus Women on the Way center, which was renamed in her honor

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January 2016

SPC Graduates Its 150,000th Student

St. Petersburg College marked an impressive milestone at its 129th commencement on December 12 when it graduated its 150,000th student during two fall commencement ceremonies at First Baptist Church of Indian Rocks.

“Our first graduating class, in 1929, had a total of 48 graduates,” said St. Petersburg College President William D. Law Jr., in his address. “Today, we celebrate the momentous occasion of our 150,000th graduate. This is a milestone that will not soon be forgotten.”

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