ABC Actions News featured St. Petersburg College English Professor Ian Wilson in a story regarding the success of Project PILOT in the 90s, which offered academic support and encouraged young Black men to enter the teaching field.
Participants in the program received a scholarship to major in special education at the University of South Florida in Tampa. That program changed his life, Wilson said.
Wilson formed a brotherhood and bond with other participants that still exists today, he said.
The program’s founder, Dr. Brenda L. Walker at USF, said she started Project PILOT because she recognized the shortage of Black male teachers in classrooms. Because of the initiative, 31 African American male graduates went on to teach children with special needs.
Wilson now teaches creative writing and English composition at SPC. He graduated with an Associate in Arts degree from what was then St. Petersburg Junior College, later earning his bachelor’s degree in Special Education, a Master of Education in Educational Leadership and Supervision, and a Master of Arts in English Education.
“One of my professional interests is to encourage students to develop teacher-student partnerships in classroom,” Wilson said in his SPC faculty biography.
Wilson also took part in Leadership SPC 2019 at the college. The professional development program includes presentations from senior SPC leadership and relationship building with colleagues throughout the college.
“Fred has more than 300 volunteer hours with St. Petersburg College! This includes staff writing and social media management for the Sandbox Newspaper and market management, media management and copywriting for the Student Support Center, among other activities,” the FCSAA posted on Facebook.
One day I thought to myself… wow, we live in an interconnected world, and that my friend was when my life changed.
I joined the military young. The name of the game was submarines, and the role I played was electronics technician in the navigation field. Basically, I fixed electrical navigation equipment and navigated. Medically discharged after two years, I returned with this idea of the world where information was a stone’s throw away, one that had a whole realm of possibilities tied to a bundle of cable. I remember finding comfort in that.
I realized something then – I wanted to understand the world. The hard part? How to do it. I tried following my younger self, the math wiz who finished Calculus 3 in his second semester of college, and I fell short. I had lost the magic math touch and grew a sense for the spoken language. Words are as much art as any after all.
Venturing into the world of Mass Media Communications influenced me to join the realm of media. Any type of media began to fascinate me. Looking at what can be created using the cables that often sit at your feet astounded me. The modern media of today can truly be seen as art, and I felt that I could use my analytical brain to create something truly amazing. And so, media brought me to Web Design.
Along the way, one thing kept me going strong. It was St. Petersburg College and their faculty and staff. Remember, I came back wanting to be involved with the information flow of the world. I wanted to be interconnected. This drive pushed me to start volunteering where I would meet people and experience the world through the stories of others. It is really enjoyable to spin a story for someone and to see their reaction: smiles, frowns, laughs, snores. There’s a thrill to knowing your work can deeply impact others. And so … I worked hard.
I volunteered for the Student Support Center writing newsletters, and I progressed to be their marketing manager where I helped promote them in various ways. I wrote for the Sandbox News and reported on everything I could. Soon, I was the Social Media Manager for all of their media needs. I was collaborating with provosts and faculty for the best stories! I was learning technologies at a ridiculous rate: Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Movie Maker and Dreamweaver. I found that I could create art in the form of online websites from scratch. And it became very clear to me: I will work hard to be the best multimedia manager that I can be!
Graduates from St. Petersburg College’s Sign Language Interpretation program recently traveled to Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C., the first college established for the Deaf in the United States.
Graduates learned about the history of the university, now celebrating its 150th anniversary.