All posts by Donna Smith

UFC Award Winners Named

UFC Award winners, joined by UFC President, hold giant $500 check

Universal Financial Consultants (UFC) welcomed St. Petersburg College Business students on Monday, May 3 to present them with a $500 check and declare them the winners of the inaugural UFC Analysis Accuracy Award.

The award is a new aspect of the partnership between SPC and UFC. UFC Data Analyst Jeff Mowry, an SPC graduate, has been key to maintaining a connection with his professors and giving other talented Business graduates their first jobs in the field.

The annual Capstone Business Strategy Simulation competition puts students on a nine-week run to the finish of their degrees. Teams are given a shoe company to run, with problems thrown up along the way that they must navigate with good decision-making based on what they have learned. The teams earn a Bull’s Eye award if they accurately forecast their companies return on equity, earnings per share and image rating. GOATS earned five Bulls Eye awards out of nine possible, which St. Petersburg College Professor Dr. Robin Wilber said is quite an achievement.

“This competition is all about making decisions,” she said. “Some groups don’t get any bullseyes, and five is a really impressive number.”

This year’s winners, Nicole Fisher, Blake Detelich and Christian Koch, called their company Greatest of All The Shoes, or GOATS. The trio shone in the competition despite having never been in the same room together until Monday’s award presentation.

“Since we couldn’t be together, we needed a lot of communication skills, really good teamwork and multiple hours dedicated to the project each week,” Koch said.

According to Fisher, the team found that they would actually be amazing business partners in real life.

“Through all the work we did together, the relationship transcended from just partners to a real friendship,” she said. “It was a great experience. It was lot of fun and will look great on our resumes.”

At the award presentation, the team also met UFC President Vince Munno and other SPC alumni who are employees there. Jen Joyner earned her degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance from SPC four years ago. She is one of four of the college’s graduates currently working at UFC who were hired by Mowry.

“Jeff keeps us involved,” Joyner said. “I’ve watched Capstones and gone to career fairs. We’re SPC nerds – we still consider ourselves part of the SPC family.”

Though $500 isn’t easy to divide three ways, Detelich, like a good business student, had it figured.

“It should come out to $166.666666…” he said.

Students Sweep Business Strategy Competition

Overhead shot of eight people gathered around a wooden table working on laptops and tablets together

Each year, students in St. Petersburg College’s Business Administration and Management and Organizational Leadership bachelor’s programs participate in The Business Strategy Game as part of their MAN 4900 Strategic Capstone Project.

This year, three out of four of our Fall 2020 business graduates who went to the international competition placed in the top three! As SPC College of Business Dean Marta Przyborowski stated, “It is wonderful to see our bachelor’s graduates competing at this high level against major universities.”

Simulating Business Operations

In this simulation, teams are tasked to operate an athletic footwear company, where they must assess market conditions, determine how to respond to the actions of competitors, forge a long-term direction and strategy for their company, forecast upcoming sales volumes, and make many other decisions critical to the success and operations of their company.

Those who win their class industry competition are invited to the Business-Strategy Invitational world competition. SPC’s Fall 2020 capstone class had over 200 students, and four out of six of the top Capstone teams participated in the global competition.  

Our Fall capstone students who ended their 2020 year on this high note are: 

  • First Place – Thomas Walsh and Michelle Rutkowski Martin, with an overall score of 108 in Industry 1.  They outcompeted nine other global college and university teams to win!
  • Third Place – Stephen Padgett faced intense competition and had an overall score of 107 in Industry 2.
  • Third Place – Karen Goode was also in a highly competitive industry and earned an overall score of 108 in Industry 3.
  • Sixth Place – Nicole Mastrodonato had an overall score of 81 in Industry 4.

See the scorecard here.

A History of Success

Dr. Robin Wilber said that almost all eligible students compete each year.

“Since 2010 over 85 percent of our class industry winners choose to compete after finishing this class and graduating from our program,” she said. “These students make over 200 strategic decisions daily for two weeks in this international competition.”

According to Professor Roni Murphy, the SPC College of Business has a strong history of doing well in this competition.

“We have had 73 SPC top teams going to the international competition and ranking in the top three,” Murphy said. “To-date, 12 teams earned first place, 14 second place, and 11 third place.” 

The competition was stiff, with some students coming from master’s programs. This international competition included Clemson, Florida State, Penn State and University of Florida, plus Universities from Canada, France, Mexico, India, China, United Kingdom, Korea, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, South Africa and dozens more. 

According to Dr. Tom Philippe, many students participate every year.

“The Business Strategy Game has been used by 46,906 students in 2,850 classes/sections at 493 college/university campus locations in 49 different countries.”

Dr. Wende Huehn-Brown said that the College of Business is very pleased with the success of SPC graduates.

“We are so proud of every student that goes to this competition, as this simulation is very challenging,” she said. “It’s also a very realistic portrayal of managing an international corporation.” 

CTE Month Spotlight: CatZe Worrell

CTE Month Spotlight. CatZe Worrell.

This profile is part of a series celebrating Career and Technical Education (CTE) Month at St. Petersburg College. Be sure to check out the full story to read more about the experiences of SPC students. To explore all of our degrees and credentials, visit

When CatZe Worrell, 27, stepped off the Auto Train in Orlando on a sweltering July day in 2018, she had her boyfriend, her car and a plan to attend St. Petersburg College. After a week in a hotel, the two settled into their own place and Worrell began the Hospitality and Tourism Management program at SPC.

“I chose SPC because I wanted a school that was financially attainable, highly rated and offering a Hospitality Management program,” Worrell said. “And we were looking for a place to live that offered convenience to both of our schools. Luckily, SPC offered multiple locations and a fully online program to accommodate my needs.”

Worrell, who grew up in her family’s restaurant on Virginia Beach’s oceanfront, said she always had a love for the restaurant business, and though it was exciting start college after putting it off for a few years, Worrell faced bouts of homesickness.

“The first six months were the most difficult in being away from my family and friends,” she said. “But I found comfort and distraction in my coursework as well as utilizing the campus.”

Worrell is now deciding where to complete her internship, and she expects to graduate after the Summer 2021 term. In the course of her studies, she has already earned Rooms Division Specialist and Rooms Division Operations certificates and will earn four more by the time she graduates. With the industry bouncing back after taking a hard hit from the pandemic, Worrell believes that, together with her internship and work experience, she has several interesting opportunities open to her.

“I would like to land a management position at a hotel or resort that prioritizes their environmental impact,” she said. “My long-term dream is to open my own “green” bed and breakfast. Although, I do stay open to the likelihood of my plans changing along the way.”

Worrell said SPC’s Hospitality program has shown her that she has both the perseverance and the ability to accomplish her goals.

“As we all can relate, it has been challenging to stay focused and motivated over the last several months, and my professors at SPC have been key in this journey. Not only has SPC provided my education, but it also introduced me to a network of jobs, industry professionals, and friends along the way.”

Certification scholarships offer new possibilities

Business colleagues using computer

The College of Business at St. Petersburg College is pleased to announce that it has been selected to be one of two organizations in the greater Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida area to administer scholarships on behalf of Visa for its Visa Dispute Resolution Certification program. Our region was chosen because of the high concentration of employers who hire entry-level dispute resolution analysts.

The dispute resolution professional role is very important in the payments industry. Dispute resolution professionals manage payment card disputes and generally work for payment processors or financial institutions, such as a bank that issues credit cards.

Visa is launching this new certification to help elevate the role within the industry, provide professional credibility for those who earn the credential and help people expand their career prospects. In conjunction with this new certification, Visa is offering scholarships to candidates who want to gain new skills that can help them find new career opportunities.

Visa selected the greater Tampa-St. Petersburg, Florida, area for its Dispute Resolution Certification classes due to a high consolidation of financial institutions in the community and is partnering with St. Petersburg College to assure a highly personalized experience for students and local control over scholarship awards.

The next scholarship class will take place January 22-29, from 4:30-8 p.m. Eastern. The class is a virtual instructor-led course with Visa dispute resolution training instructors. Additional classes will take place in 2021.

More information:

For additional information on Visa’s program, please go to

Mom and Daughter Race for Prize: Business Degrees

business management

A little healthy competition can be a great motivator, and Juliette and Kristine Medrano say that small doses of trying to outdo each other were one of the things that kept them moving forward to their bachelor’s degrees at St. Petersburg College. The mother/daughter duo graduated together in May, both with bachelor’s degrees in Business Administration with a concentration in Management.

Medrano mom, Kristine, started taking classes at SPC part time in 2014. She was a busy wife and mom of four, working 50 hours a week as a medical assistant at a pediatrician’s office. But she had goals.

“It was rough, working and taking night classes, but I wanted to get more into the administrative side of things, with a long-term goal of working  for the Veteran’s Administration.”

Juliette joined her mom at SPC in 2015 when she entered the Early College program. When Juliette earned her Associate Degree and high school diploma simultaneously in 2017, she found she had won a Johnnie Ruth Clark scholarship, which covers up to 12 credit hours per term for two years, immediately following high school graduation. Both women were majoring in Business Administration, so they decided to team up.

“We coordinated our classes as much as we could,” Juliette said. “And we were able to do our Capstone Project together.”

The two agree that having a live-in classmate helped things move forward smoothly, and sharing books cut costs, as well. The two made note cards, studied together, and proofed each other’s work.

“It was nice having a study buddy in the house and not have to coordinate study dates outside the house,” Kristine said.

Kristine almost quit when she landed her dream job at the VA in Bradenton. With the commute and long, tiring hours, she felt done by the time she got home each night, but Juliette kept her going.

“Juliette was a great motivator,” Kristine said. “When I got home, she would say, ‘I know you’re tired, but here’s some dinner – let’s do this!’”

Juliette said the  was support was reciprocal, with Kristine offering motivation and moral support right back.

“We’re a military family and we moved every three or four years, and my father was deployed a lot,” Juliette said. “So we’ve always been close. No matter how independent you feel, it’s good to have someone helping you along.”

The two aren’t finished, however. Juliette, who is volunteering at the VA and hoping to land a full-time position there, wants to earn her master’s in Business Administration. Kristine is working as an administrative position at the VA and plans to pursue a master’s in marketing.

“It’s never too late to go back to school,” Kristine said. “This degree was a long time coming, and I’m going to take a little bitty break, then head for my master’s.”

But what of the competition? Juliette said that they are both competitive, so they found it very motivating to present a challenge for higher test or assignment grades. In the end, Juliette graduated Summa Cum Laude, while Kristine earned Magna Cum Laude honors, and Juliette earned two points higher than her mom on their Capstone Project.

“But honestly, Mom won most of the time,” Juliette admits. “But I know she loves to see me succeed, and I owe everything to her and how hard she’s worked for our family.”

SPC Business Student Gives Back to the Community

Hayley Millsaps

Hayley Millsaps started doing community service when she was very young. Her K-8 school offered many community service opportunities, as did the organizations she joined in high school. So she was happy to find even more opportunity to give back to the community when she came to SPC to work on a bachelor’s degree in Business after high school.

Community of Care logo

Millsaps said SPC’s Golden Key Honor Society gave her many chances to help the community, in ways she didn’t even know were possible. As she moved into the role of president of the organization, she found herself not only doing service herself but also organizing service projects for student groups. The one closest to her heart is the Adopt-A-School initiative, where Honor Society members fill student backpacks with supplies to give to students at an elementary school in an economically depressed area.

“I’ve always known that I am incredibly fortunate,” Millsaps said. “There is something to be gained from the experience of going out into the community and helping fill a need, and not only does SPC do that, but there are also resources on campus for students, which is truly incredible.”

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition Winners Declared

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch

Eve Barrett, a student in St. Petersburg College’s Public Policy and Administration program, pitched the winning plan for the grand prize at SPC’s College of Business‘s Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition on Thursday, April 19 at the Seminole Campus Digitorium. The annual event features entrepreneurship students who vie to become competition winners for cash prizes donated by local businesses and college partners.

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition winnersBarrett, a court reporter for 20 years and a reporting firm owner for 12, took home the grand prize of $5000, donated by Great Bay Distributors. Her pitch explained her mobile application platform, Expedite, which connects attorneys and paralegals with litigation support services like court reporters, videographers, interpreters, video conferencing techs, notaries public and couriers.

“Attorneys and paralegals have very busy calendars,” Barrett said. “Scheduling support services for trials, hearings and depositions often falls through the cracks. I knew there had to be a more efficient method of securing providers. Thus, Expedite was conceived.”

The contestants are provided mentors, who listen and guide them through the process of developing a plan for their businesses. Barrett said the value of the competition has proven priceless for her.

“My mentor, Professor Panuthos, is attentive and truly makes you feel like your product is the next million-dollar idea,” she said. “Her constant guidance and encouragement bolsters self-confidence, and her sage advice about our next product, ExpeditePro, allowed us to pivot at the eleventh hour and ultimately saved us from releasing a deficient product.”

Feedback from the judges may sting at times, but Barrett said it was also very helpful.
“The judges’ objective feedback offers contestants the opportunity to learn tips and tricks from the best in the business,” Barrett said. “They may be tough with their comments and questions, but it pushes you to step outside the box and realize that comfort is the enemy of progress.”

Mentor, Professor and Event Organizer Nicolle Panuthos believes that the experiential learning, mentoring and networking students gain by participating surpasses traditional classroom experiences.

“When students compete in our Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition, they receive feedback and gain insights from an entire team of business professionals and faculty,” Panuthos said. “Their network is expanded and so are their horizons, as they awaken to greater possibilities not only for their business concepts, but also for their own potential.”

Competition winners

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition winnersThe winner of the Elevator Pitch Competition also took home the People’s Choice award: Clifford Hobbs’ animated presentation of his business, Grubs on Dubs, explained a plan that features fresh, locally grown greens, meal plans and a healthy beverage truck. Runner up for the Elevator Pitch was Alex Matos, who is seeking a bachelor’s degree in Management and Organizational Leadership. Matos took home $500 donated by Superior Uniform Group, for his presentation on his business, Paseo Consulting, which offers website optimization. Business Plan runner up Ashley Brown started her business, Collision Creations, when she was 17 years old. Brown uses scrap metal from her father’s body shop to create art, which she hopes to produce on a large scale, as well as on demand.

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition winners

Business Plan and Elevator Pitch Competition winners

Panuthos said the quality of work she saw from all of the contestants was impressive.
“The presentations were exceptional, and the students dedicated a tremendous amount of time and effort in preparing,” Panuthos said. “They demonstrated a great deal of creativity and professionalism on stage.”

Since winning the competition, Barrett already sees many opportunities opening up in the days ahead.

“A veteran-based entrepreneurship program has reached out to me,” she said. “And I will also be attending an open casting call for Shark Tank this week in Atlanta. We are also launching Scoof, a sidekick to Expedite, on May 3. The Business Plan & Elevator Pitch Competition is opening minds and doors, but most importantly, is making dreams come true. I am forever grateful.”

See more photos from the event and of the competition winners on the college’s Facebook page.

8th Annual Business Plan & Elevator Pitch

Posted by St. Petersburg College on Friday, April 20, 2018


St. Pete Business Owner, SPC Grad Nathan Stonecipher Shares His Success Tips

Nathan Stonecipher talks with SPC Downtown students at Harvest Holiday Luncheon

No matter where you are working, do a good job, and make connections.

Those tips helped Nathan Stonecipher, current Chairman of the St. Petersburg College Board of Trustees and an SPC graduate, land his first job after college, he told students.

SPC’s Downtown Campus hosted a Holiday Harvest luncheon on Nov. 16 featuring Stonecipher as the guest speaker.

As students filled the room, they also filled their plates with traditional Thanksgiving fare and enjoyed the free lunch while Stonecipher, comfortably dressed in jeans and loafers, spoke of his career ascension. He said that, as a St. Petersburg native and child of an SPJC graduate, SPC was a great choice for him.

“Going to SPC allowed me to learn, grow up a bit and sock some money away before I went off to the University of Florida to finish my degree,” he said.

Stonecipher, who is now co-owner of Green Bench Brewery in St. Petersburg, earned an associate degree in Business Administration at SPC before going on to finish a degree in finance at UF. Stonecipher gave an inspirational talk based on his own experiences. He recalled how he worked two jobs while in school at SPC, one of them being at a local gym, where he made smoothies and wiped down gym equipment between users. He emphasized the importance of doing a good job, no matter where you’re working, and also of making connections.

“When I graduated from UF, I had a hard time finding a job,” he said. “I had two business cards I’d collected from people who came to the gym where I’d worked when I was at SPC. I sent them both a letter and a resume, and the next day one of them called me. He got me an interview with Raymond James, and that was my first job.”

SPC graduate Nathan Stonecipher talks with SPC Downtown studentsThe engaged audience had many questions, on topics including brewing, hops, shipping, licensing, stock and employee management. Phillip Pena, an SPC student and Student Government senator, said he thought the lunches, which are coordinated by Student Life and Leadership Coordinator Frank Jurkovic, are a good chance for students to see into their own futures.

“It’s important for student to see SPC alums who’ve gone on to be successful,” Pena said. “The response during the Q&A shows how interested they are, too.”

Associate Provost Tashika Griffith agreed.

“We try to get speakers who went to SPC,” she said. “It’s good for students to be able to see themselves in the future.”

Stonecipher expressed satisfaction in not only the education he received at SPC, but also the lasting relationships he built here.

“The education I got at SPC was critical to everything I’ve accomplished,” he said. “The family I created here gave me the ability to be able to give back to the college. And it’s an exciting time to be here now, with our new President and all the transitions the college is making. I’m proud to be a part of the process.”

Free Cleawater Jazz Holiday Tickets for SPC Students

clearwater jazz graphic logo

The Clearwater Jazz Holiday and St. Petersburg College have a history of partnership, and this year, it just got even better! SPC and The Clearwater Jazz Holiday Education Foundation have partnered to give SPC students a limited number of free general admission tickets to this fabulous event. That’s right – SPC STUDENTS GET A FREE TICKET to the inaugural SPC day at the Clearwater Jazz Holiday on Sunday, Oct. 22 at Coachman Park in Clearwater.

The gates open at 1:30 p.m., and the lineup includes Anderson East and headliners the Avett Brothers. Bring your lawn chairs and/or blankets to get comfortable, and also bring sunscreen and a hat because it’s Florida! You’ll have to leave food and drink at home, but there will be many food and drink vendors on hand at the event.

clearwater jazz

You can also present your valid student ID at the merchandise booth to claim your high-quality Jazz Holiday poster! But remember, both the number of tickets and posters available are limited.

To get your tickets, first go to the Clearwater Jazz Holiday website to see the line-up, then take the survey here.

Once you’ve completed the survey, allow 24 hours for processing, then contact either Dwayne-ron Sharpe for Clearwater ticket pickup information at 727-791-2625, or Jocelyn Blevins in the MIRA program office on the St. Petersburg Gibbs Campus at 727-341-4360 to confirm your ticket.

Confirmed tickets must be picked up by Friday, Oct. 20, 2017 at noon. Tickets not picked up are forfeited.

  • Ticket numbers are limited – act today. When they’re gone…they’re gone.
  • Posters are first come/first served.
  • Tickets must be claimed by noon on Friday, Oct. 20.
  • A valid SPC ID is needed for picking up your ticket at the college and a poster at the event.

Bring some friends for a great time. Additional tickets can be purchased on line at

Thanks for your interest and I hope you enjoy this event!