All posts by Barbara Wolter

College business classes inspire success for local banker

College business classes lead to more than just a degree – they lead to success in business.

Recent SPC grad and local banking professional Carolyn Riggins took what she learned in her college business classes and used it to lead her team to the top.

Check out her inspiring story.

After graduating from high school in 1981, Carolyn Riggins went to then St. Petersburg Junior College and earned her AA Degree. She got married, had two kids and started on her bachelor’s degree at the University of South Florida. As an adult learner with work and family she felt out of place and didn’t finish her degree.

Climbing the ladder in banking

Carolyn Riggins takes what she learned in her college business classes to lead her team at work to the top.
Carolyn Riggins, SPC graduate and local banking professional

Ten years later, in 1991 she started working as a Customer Service Representative for Mercantile Bank, now TD Bank. For the next 23 years she worked her way up the ladder for the same bank.

One of four children whose mother only completed 5th grade, all of Carolyn’s siblings had bachelors and masters level degrees. She always knew she would finish her bachelor’s degree, but the timing was always off.

As her two children were nearing college age, and she had climbed the corporate ladder as far as she could without a bachelor’s degree, she decided to go back to SPC. A part of TD Bank’s Achieve Program, her firm funded her degree.

College business classes help take local bank to the top

In January 2016, Carolyn started her SPC Capstone, the final class in SPC’s B.A.S. in Management and Organizational Leadership. In the class, student teams compete internationally, using the concepts they learned in their business classes to develop, market and run a virtual company.

Meanwhile, as the manager of a new team at TD Bank, her branch’s performance was at the bottom of the list ranking 21 out of 22 branches.

During her capstone she encouraged her fellow students to use the SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) model to evaluate and make decisions.

“I had learned about it but didn’t know the impact that using it properly could make,” she said. “The more we used it the better we got. And I thought – if it was successful in an imaginary business – let me apply it at work.”

While everyone wasn’t on board at first the changes were hugely successful, bringing the branch from last place to first in product sales in the span of just a few short months.

Jonathan Staron, Assistant Manager under Carolyn, was all smiles as he talked about his boss and the things the team learned from her.

“She brought new things to work as she was learning them,” he said. “It really helped us see what we are looking at and why we do what we do.”

A new way of thinking

“I always tell people SPC is a great college. They changed my way of thinking. I approach problems differently now, not just at work but also in my personal life.”

hatA longtime millenary, Carolyn has designed Kentucky Derby hats for years. When she took an entrepreneurship class with SPC Professor Amy Sauers, she was about ready to give up the side business as it wasn’t going well.

“When I met Amy she was so inspiring – very genuine – and she kept in touch with me even after I was no longer her student,” said Carolyn.

In the class, she learned about creating and presenting a business plan and how to market her business. Today, Hats with Elegance is thriving. People are buying her hats in places like Thailand, England, Canada and across the U.S. Once again, applying what she learned in her St. Petersburg College business classes paid off.

Earlier this year, the same year her daughter graduated from high school, Carolyn Riggins finished her B.A.S. in Management and Organizational Leadership.

“I always pushed education, education, education and that it doesn’t stop after high school. It stops when you get your four-year degree or higher,” she said. “In order to preach it, I knew I had to practice it and SPC inspired me to never give up.”

CEO club, faculty attend national conference

Two Collegiate Entrepreneurs’ Organization (CEO) club members and SPC faculty attended the 2016 CEO National Conference and Pitch Competition recently in Tampa.

SPC business students Amanda Hunt and  Michael Pleasant joined College of Business Academic Chair and CEO Co-Advisor, Dr. April Bailey at the event at the Tampa Convention Center Oct. 27-29.

CEO students prepare for SPC competition

Dr. April Bailey and Amanda Hunt pictured at recent CEO National Conference.
Dr. April Bailey (right) and Amanda Hunt (left) pictured at recent CEO National Conference.

The goal was to prepare the students to make a professional pitch if they choose to enter their Business Plan at SPC’s Annual Business Pitch Competition on April 27,  2017, at the Seminole Campus.

During the conference they attended information sessions on how to increase club participation as well as sessions from successful business owners.

Explore SPC’s Business Entreprenuership Certificate and Business Administration A.S. Degree subplan where students learn how to develop a business plan and manage and market their own business.

CEO Mission Statement

The College Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a 501 C (3), not-for-profit corporation whose mission is to “inform, support and inspire college students to be entrepreneurial and to seek opportunity through enterprise creation.”

From its inception in 1984, the national organization has grown to approximately 4,500 members, representing nearly 250 college and university chapters.  Each year they sponsor an informative, action packed national conference that attracts, on average, nearly 1,000 students (and their faculty advisors), from colleges and universities across the United States. During the three-day conference, attendees network with other entrepreneurial-minded students and listened to presentations from seasoned entrepreneurs, subject matter experts, motivational speakers and fellow students who are making the transition from dreamers to doers.

For more information about SPC’s CEO Club, contact Pamela Levering at or 727-394-6946.

Learn more about the College Entrepreneurs’ Organization at

Culinary students awarded scholarships

Culinary students given scholarships at local event
Pictured above from left are SPC faculty Nicolle Panuthos, April Bailey, Michael Poliquin (also on the Ryan Wells Foundation Board of Directors), and Sandy Decarlo.

On April 22, SPC College of Business Hospitality and Tourism faculty attended The Ryan Wells Foundation’s Evening with the Chefs event at the Sheraton Sand Key Resort on Clearwater Beach.

Culinary students work with local chefs

Pinellas County culinary students worked alongside local chefs at the event to prepare gourmet appetizers, small plates and desserts for the fund raising effort. There was also a live auction and presentation of student scholarships. The foundation has raised almost $800,000 in scholarship funds for local students.

Local Executive Chefs at the event included:

  • John Harris, Rusty’s Bistro at Sheraton Sand Key
  • Doug Bebell, Mystic Fish
  • Scott Bebell, Guppy’s
  • Chris Ponte, Cafe Ponte
  • Tyson Grant, Parkshore Grill
  • Mark Hyrcko, Island Way Grill
  • Jeffrey Jew, Stillwaters Tavern
  • Stephen Jordan, Caretta on the Gulf at Sandpearl Resort
  • Mark Heimann, Vinoy Renaissance Resort & Golf Club
  • Justin Harry, Rum Fish Grill at Trade Winds Island Resort
  • William Brown, William Dean Chocolates

The Ryan Wells Foundation’s Mission is to improve the culinary arts and hospitality education of Pinellas County students through scholarships for post-secondary education and support of high school and vocational culinary programs.

Network with local insurance employers at Feb. 9 event

Insruance Networking EventDemand for insurance agents, underwriters and claim representatives is on the rise. The job outlook for insurance agents is projected to grow 10 percent through 2022.*

Recently, U.S. News and World Report ranked Insurance Agent as #7 in a list of 2015 Top Business Jobs with a median salary of $48,210 in 2013. Completion of SPC’s Insurance Services A.S. degree includes receipt of your 440 license through the State of Florida.

Learn more about SPC’s Insurance Services A.S. track and explore a career in:

  • Claims Adjuster
  • Customer Service Representative
  • Claims Service Representative
  • Insurance Specialist
  • Insurance Sales Agent

Networking event details

On Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2016, from 5:30-7:30 p.m., St. Petersburg College will host a Risk Management and Insurance Career Networking Event at the SPC EpiCenter, 13805 58th St. N., Clearwater, FL 33760. During this event you can:

  • Learn about career opportunities in the dynamic and growing risk management and insurance industry
  • $700 scholarships
  • Network with local insurance employers
  • Learn about employment advancement opportunities
  • Ask employers questions in an informal setting
  • Learn more about what degrees you can earn at SPC to make you more marketable in this field

The event is sponsored by SPC and the Florida Association of Insurance Agents (FAIA). View printable event flyer.

Reserve your spot for this event

Seating is limited. Please R.S.V.P. online today or call 727-302-6487.

* Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 

Business grads join SPC’s 150,000th grad event #WeAreSPC

SPC 150,000 grad

This December, we will celebrate an historic event – SPC’s 150,000th grad. What does an SPC graduate look like? Check out our graduates’ stories and be prepared to be inspired.

Help us spread the word and share your own story today on social media by adding the hashtag #WeAreSPC to your posts and tweets on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

B.S. Degree in Business Administration

Amanda Cummings does not shy away from hard work. After serving two tours in the United States Navy, the single mom chose St. Petersburg College as the place to begin her second career. Here, she used her GI Bill benefits and found flexible scheduling and a new life she loves.

A.S. Degree in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Sergio Cubero spent the first three months of his life in a neonatal intensive care unit – trying to conquer the cerebral palsy that had afflicted his brain. By surviving, Sergio proved everyone wrong. This fall, when he graduates with his hospitality degree from SPC, he will prove them wrong again, when he goes to work for Walt Disney World, fulfilling his lifelong dream.


Prepare for in-demand jobs in Supply Chain Management at SPC

Supply Chain Management program graduates group photo

St. Petersburg College’s new Supply Chain Management program offers students training courses in eight entry to mid-level industry certifications preparing them for in-demand jobs in logistics. The training includes internships, apprenticeships, on-the-job training opportunities and is offered through a $1.5 million federal LINCS grant.

Jobs in logistics expected to rise 26%

The demand for supply chain talent is on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, jobs in logistics are estimated to grow by 26 percent from 2010-2020!

Supply chain management involves all activities that bring products and services to market, including planning, procurement, manufacturing and logistics and include job roles as logistics assistants, warehouse and production associates, supply chain specialists and analysts, fulfillment supervisors, purchasing, fleet and transportation managers.

Upcoming Info Session
Learn more about a career in Supply Chain Management at SPC’s LINCS Supply Chain Management Information Session, Tuesday, June 30, at the Clearwater Campus, ES-127.

New classes start July 7

Students can choose from any or all of the six-week classes in Supply Chain Management that start next month:

  • Warehousing Operations – July 7
  • Transportation Operations – July 9
  • Supply Chain Management Principles – July 13
  • Customer Service Operations – July 15

During the program, students will get real world experience as they engage with industry leaders through guest lectures, networking events and industry tours.

St. Petersburg College recently awarded 20 CSCMP Supply Chain Management Certifications to the first group of students, pictured above, that were enrolled in the new program.

Free career and academic support

At SPC, your success is our top priority. Designated staff will work closely with each student to provide:

  • Career counseling
  • Internship and job search support
  • Academic support

Contact Sondra Seiter, Student Success Specialist, at 727-791-5978 or for more information or to enroll in the program.

SPC Business professor joins expert panel on professional networking

Rina Coronel teaches SPC students about professional networking

St. Petersburg College Business Professor Dr. Rina Coronel joined other education professionals recently on a panel of experts speaking at a workshop on the importance of professional networking.

The panel focused on power networking and developing quality connections that will help students personally and professionally.

Cornel teaches her SPC College of Business students the same concepts about the importance of professional networking.

The basics of networking

Coronel explained that networking is a requirement everyone must master.

“Networking not only helps us in our personal lives, but also in our relationship with others, and in our careers,” she said.

She uses the acronym PIE to reminder three key aspects of networking:

  • P: Performance – You must demonstrate your ability to perform the job; exceed requirements. Show others how you are the best and only choice.
  • I: Image – Portray the image that you look the part of the desired position; others can visualize it too. Consider all social media sites and how you appear to others.
  • E: Exposure – Not only do you need to know the people that can and will help you, but they also need to know you.

Professional networking using LinkedIn and other social media sites

Social media sites such as LinkedIn, are a great tool for others to learn more about your professional accomplishments, but think about the quality of your contacts. Review the appearance of your profile; use a picture that is inviting. Keep in mind that it is not about the amount of contact, but the quality of your contacts. You want to turn your contacts into lasting relationships. If they have a birthday coming up – wish them a happy birthday. The same applies with work anniversaries. This reminds them of you, and that you are thinking about them. If they have helped you, find ways that you can help. You may recommend someone that they may need – this will help two people and multiply your efforts.

When using Facebook – set up a privacy setting. Stay in touch with friends and family. Do not post boring updates – Twitter is good, but you must have time to update it, and keep it interesting; you do not want one follower.

Professional networking events

In the panel Dr. Coronel spoke on the dos and don’ts of professional networking, and if it is appropriate to bring a resume to a networking event.

According to Dr. Coronel people in high power positions can quickly spot if you are speaking to them, because they have something you want. You do not want to make them feel used. She offered these tips:

  • Take time to listen, and learn from what they have to offer, and any experience they want to share.
  • Listen attentively, and smile. Create a positive and inviting environment.
  • You may not have much time so please do have your elevator speech memorized, and make it memorable.
  • Do have business cards with you, but write something on the card that they can read later and remember you.
  • Offer to help others; do not expect anything in exchange.
  • Form long lasting relationships, and prepare questions.
  • Yes, bring your resume, but do not hand it out unless they ask.
  • Follow-up with those people that show interest. Find a standardized format that will help you organize your contacts.
  • Nurture the relationship by keeping in touch you can send an email; maybe invite him/her for a light lunch or coffee. You want the relationship to continue, and not only when you need something.

Do not expect immediate rewards. Do not be shy and remember PIE-networking is about building relationships, an important component to further your goals. If you need to bring a friend for support that’s fine, but do not spend so much time with your friend that you isolate yourself from others. Avoid too much self-promotion as this type of tactic can annoy most people. Also, do not drink too much or appear intoxicated; this does not help your image. Do not walk into closed groups (two people facing each other involved in a deep conversation) – watch the body language.

Dr. Rina Coronel teaches a variety of business classes at St. Petersburg College, focused primarily on Project Management. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Massachusetts; Her MBA in Management from Fitchburg State College, in Massachusetts and her PhD in Organizational Management in Information Technology. Coronel also mentors students and attends local Project Management Institute (PMI) events to keep a pulse on the industry for current trends.

SPC students win international business competition

group of people together at business competition

Victoria Yore and Nicole Calle-Schuler, two St. Petersburg College Business students, won first place in the final leg of The Business Strategy Game, an international competition where students create a company and compete with other colleges and universities in a simulated global marketplace.

Part of the students’ final capstone project at SPC, the online assignment/competition teaches students the business and leadership skills of running a multimillion dollar company. Two other SPC teams came in second and sixth in the international business competition.

Read more about this on the SPC News Blog.

Business Administration alumnus lands MBA and job

Business Administration Alumnus in graduation robe holding cap, standing outside under a tree laughing

SPC Business Administration alumnus Andrew Lawrence graduated from the University of Florida this spring with a Masters of Business Administration.

Lawrence was one of only 60 students admitted to the one-year accelerated M.B.A. program in 2014.

“I am very proud of Andrew, but not surprised by his accomplishments,” said Dr. Robin Wilber, SPC Professor of Finance. “Andrew was an outstanding student of mine. He is very intelligent, articulate, and competitive.”

Lawrence earned a B.S. Degree in Business Administration from SPC in 2013, focusing on Financial Services. After an initial position as a sales manager he recently secured a job as a Business Operations Analyst in Oldsmar, Florida.

“One of the most important things I learned at SPC was the importance of teamwork,” he said.

During the SPC capstone program, he and his team mates earned first place as Business Strategy Game champions and went on to earn second place in the international version of the same competition.

Earth Day is every day for Sustainability students

Earth Day 2015 group photo outside next to tree

On Earth Day 2015, SPC students showed their love of all things green at campus events and in the classroom. SPC’s Net Impact Chapter held a tree dedication on Earth Day. The group seeks to empower a new generation to drive social and environmental change. Learn more about Net Impact on their blog. View our Earth Day 2015 image gallery on Facebook.

On Earth Day, prepare for green-collar careers

St. Petersburg College offers fully-online Sustainability Management degree options to prepare you for “green-collar” jobs. SPC sustainability courses help you understand the broad concepts and systems involved in developing and managing sustainability business practices. We give you knowledge and management skills in technology, people, economics, natural and energy resources. You’ll be prepared to be a valuable contributor to growing sustainability needs worldwide.

Career options include:

  • Construction Managers
  • Facility or Property Managers
  • Program Coordinators
  • Project Managers
  • Sustainable Management Consultant
  • Sales or Field Representatives
  • Industrial Compliance Manager
  • Health and Safety Manager
  • Sustainable Management Consultant

Major in saving the planet

Our business certificates give you specific skills and are part of our Associate in Science degrees, which can help you earn more money. Our A.S. business degrees transfer to our bachelor’s degrees.

Learn more about how you can major in saving the planet with St. Petersburg College’s Sustainability Management degrees.