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Graduation 2006

For SPC graduates, it's a year of firsts

Gov. Bush will deliver the commencement speech in the ceremony today at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

Published May 6, 2006


About 900 St. Petersburg College graduates will take part in several "firsts" for the college today - including a commencement speech by Gov. Jeb Bush.

"He will focus on courage and determination and how they are key indicators of future success," said Kristy Campbell, a spokeswoman for the governor.

Bush, who gives several commencement speeches a year, has never done one at SPC. He may even hand out the degrees, although his office could not confirm that Friday evening.

Still, the prospect is "very exciting, especially (since) it's our 100th commencement," said Aeisha Perez, 25, who grew up in the Dominican Republic and will receive an associate's degree. "He supports Hispanic people and I am Hispanic," she said.

The event at 10 a.m. at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg is free to the public. Students were not limited to a specific number of guests because the stadium can hold more than 41,000 people.

The school is 79 years old and shifted from a junior college to a four-year college in 2001. Today's ceremony marks its 100th commencement exercise because, in recent years, SPC has held two or three graduation ceremonies after winter, spring and summer terms, spokeswoman Amelia Carey explained.

In another first for SPC, some students will graduate as veterinary technicians who, with their training, can manage and run animal care clinics. The four-year program is new for SPC. The school's public safety administration program for police officers and firefighters who need additional education to move into leadership roles is also new. Students will graduate from that program for the first time, as well.

The college now has 15 four-year degree programs.

The youngest graduates on the field will be about 40 teen collegiate high school students who earned their high school diplomas and associate degrees at the same time. This is the first year the college will graduate collegiate students who will enter their next terms as juniors.

Perez will get her associate degree and will begin her next term as a junior. She is working toward a bachelor's degree in international business. She is one of the four finalists for the Apollo Award, the highest honor given to a graduating two-year student.

[Last modified May 6, 2006, 08:58:33]

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