February 1, 2023 by St. Petersburg College
February is Career and Technical Education (CTE) month, and St. Petersburg College is celebrating by sharing some of our CTE students’ success stories.
Some of the fastest-growing occupations in Florida only require short-term degrees or certifications, which is why CTE programs are integral to SPC’s mission to ensure that our students are workforce-ready and prepared to take the next steps on their academic journey.
More than 500 companies advise SPC to help shape the college’s curriculum to local workforce needs. SPC currently offers more than 110 programs, including more than 30 two-year Associate in Science degrees and 60 one-year certificates to get graduates in the workforce, and thanks to our career-focused programs, almost 90 percent of our Associate in Science graduates are employed or continue their education after graduation. The college also offers over 90 short-term training opportunities that provide individuals and corporations with the skills and certifications to meet evolving workforce demands.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has made it a goal for the state to be the best in the nation for workforce development by 2030 through the Get There initiative.
Read our students’ stories and see how their lives were changed for the better by our CTE programs.
Adelle LeCroy raised four children, and when she was down to two still at home, both young adults, she decided it was time to do something for herself. LeCroy, who had worked in maintenance for years, decided to pursue her Associate in Science degree in Computer Networking Administration at SPC in 2016.
“I first attended SPC right after I graduated high school, but then I had my daughter and had to give it up,” LeCroy said. “I’d been working in maintenance for three years, and I just knew there was something else I needed to do. I needed to do something for me.”
LeCroy, who is currently employed by SPC in Technical Support, earned her Cisco Certified Network Associate Certificate in 2017. She felt so empowered that she decided to go ahead and finish her AS degree. She wrapped that up in 2020 and still wanted to go farther.
“I’m hoping to earn my bachelor’s in Technology Development and Management in 2024,” she said. “The project management element of this degree has helped me so much. I feel more confident and comfortable dealing with faculty and students in my current position. Plus, the job helps me to contextualize what I’m learning in class.”
LeCroy wants to give back to the college. She’s a member of college organizations and clubs like Women on the Way and their advisory board, as well the SPC Foundation’s Scholarship Committee.
“I am reaching for the opportunity of growth and education in my college career,” LeCroy said. “I chose SPC because, not only was I allowed to learn in ways that I liked, but I was also given a community that supported me and allowed me to become who I am today.”
LeCroy credits her studies at SPC as a catalyst to bringing dreams to life – dreams that she didn’t fully believe she could achieve.
“My biggest fear was to not be able to gain and maintain a successful career,” she said. “But I love my work so much, and that’s a lifelong dream for me. It didn’t happen overnight, and I still have a little way to go. I’m not perfect, but I’m so proud of myself.”
Benjamin Harris, Crime Scene Technology
Benjamin Harris, 26, was 95 percent of the way through a fire academy in Hillsborough County when he found out he could never be a firefighter because he has asthma. He picked himself up, dusted himself off and scored a job as a crime scene cleanup technician, where he found a calling.
“I always wanted to help people,” Harris said. “I grew up in foster care, so helping families through rough times feels really rewarding to me.”
After two years as a crime scene cleanup technician, he decided to take the career to a new level and came to SPC to study crime scene technology. But not long after starting the program in January 2021, Harris suffered a stroke that left him wheelchair bound. He sat out that semester, but after months of physical, occupational and speech therapies, he returned to his studies more determined than ever before.
“I bore down and took four to six classes each semester to try and catch up and graduate on time,” he said. “My advisor helped me through the initial withdrawal so it wouldn’t affect my GPA, and then got me set up with online schedule when I was ready to come back but was still in a wheelchair.”
Accessibility Services helped with accommodations that made school possible.
“I had a knee, foot and ankle orthosis, so I couldn’t do stairs, and I needed a special desk and seat. They made sure I had everything I needed.”
Harris graduated in December 2022 and is currently enrolled, taking classes for a second AS in Digital Forensics and Computer Investigations.
He plans to eventually open his own crime scene cleaning business. He is grateful for the support he received in trying to better himself through education.
“If it wasn’t for that support, I would have dropped out,” Harris said. Now I feel like I’m finally on a career path.”
Isaiah Chavez, Information Technology
As a young boy, Isaiah Chavez was always tinkering. His mom would procure an old computer, and he’d pop it open and marvel at the intricate workings inside. Now 34, Chavez earned his Associate in Science degree in Networking Technology and Administration at SPC in May 2021, and he understands a lot more about what he sees inside those machines.
Chavez earned his bachelor’s degree in radio and television production in 2010. In 2019, he was working at a Tampa Bay area television station as a camera operator when his company offered a new perk: free college tuition.
“I was like, ‘free education? I can do anything I want!’ My company was hiring for IT positions, so I went that route,” Chavez said.
After earning two certificates – Computer Support and Linux Administration – Chavez completed his internship at his place of employment and was offered a position immediately, which made big changes in his life – including more than doubling his salary.
“This degree has given me the opportunity to pay off my home faster, save money and live and have fun without the pressure of having to make ends meet,” he said. “Plus, my new career is just easier and more fun.”
Chavez said he chose a fast track and took only 8-week session classes at SPC. He said the classes were challenging enough, but when compressed into half the time of normal semester, life takes some planning.
“The 8-week sessions set me on a fast track to success,” he said. “It was fun, but I had to plan my time wisely. But if I can do it while working two jobs, I think just about anyone can do it.”
Now firmly established in his new position and hoping for a promotion in the near future, Chavez emphasizes the impact of a good internship experience.
“The internship taught me so many things,” he said. “I learned a lot about the basics of an IT job. If you do a good job at your internship, it will help you immensely.”
Chavez said he would encourage anyone to continue their education.
“It could take a little while but keep going. There is a light, and you can reach it.”
Steven Gould, Hospitality and Tourism Management
Growing up, Steven Gould saw himself on track to become an attorney, but after attending a high school magnet program focused on criminal justice, he realized that he didn’t really want that career enough to dedicate himself to a decade of studies. When he decided to attend SPC to get his core curriculum finished before transferring to a university, he didn’t expect to find his life’s calling there.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do,” Gould said. “My friend worked at a local hotel, and it seemed like it might be fun, so I decided on SPC’s Hospitality and Tourism Management program.”
Gould earned Food and Beverage certificate, as well as a Rooms Division certificate. While in the program, he needed an internship. One of his classmates owned a travel agency, and she offered him an internship at her business.
“At first, I didn’t take that career field seriously, but once I got my feet wet in the business, I loved it,” he said. “It was one of those things that opened me up to a different world. I wouldn’t be where I am today if not for that internship.”
Gould credits caring professors and counselors in his program for offering him support, both academically and financially.
“Dr. Robert Meyer, who at the time was the director of the program then, had so many contacts, and he helped me get scholarships. And the Food and Beverage and Rooms Division certificates I earned, though I don’t work directly in those areas, really rounded me out so that I could learn different segments of the industry and understand all the jobs.”
After earning his associate degree at SPC in 2010, Gould opened his own agency, Gould’s Travel. He also continued his education, and through one of SPC’s University Partnership Center, he completed a bachelor’s degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management, Upper Division at Florida International University, and later a master’s degree in Public Administration. In addition to owning Gould’s Travel, he is co-owner of a luxury travel agency, Luxera, and also dabbles in real estate and e-commerce. He also serves on SPC’s Hospitality Advisory Committee because he believes others can succeed, just like he did.
“There are so many facets to a hospitality degree. It isn’t just the hotel world, there’s travel, supplies and food service. And though travel agents are kind of like realtors – there are a lot of us – the job isn’t going anywhere because there is such a need.”
To learn more about the different CTE degrees and certificates that SPC offers, please visit stpe.co/WorkforceEd.
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