All posts by Marilyn Shaw

St. Pete/Gibbs student wins 2015 Great Debate competition

2015 Great Debate finalists
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Iliana Yanes from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus

More than 100 students, faculty, staff and family members attended the 2015 Great Debate, sponsored by the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions. Iliana Yanes from the St. Petersburg/Gibbs Campus was the winner and took home prizes worth $1,000.

Competitors in this final round of the competition were first- and second-place winners of preliminary rounds held at the five participating St. Petersburg College campuses during October. Nine students from those campuses competed in the debate at the Seminole Campus Digitorium on Nov. 18.

Yanes, who said public speaking has been a passion since middle school, plans to major in Environmental Science and Political Science after receiving her AA in May.

She debated on the topic “Should Marijuana Use Be Made Legal for Medical Purposes?” and was assigned the negative position in the debate by random drawing. She skillfully argued against legalization, marshalling scientific studies, crime statistics and data analysis to question the wisdom of decriminalizing marijuana. She based her argument on three points: questionable processes for the verification of a medical need in dispensing the product, unreliable levels of beneficial properties in its chemical make-up and negative societal consequences. Poised and confident, she only briefly referred to note cards.

SPC President Bill Law commended the students for their competitive spirit and noted that the enhanced critical thinking and research skills developed in the competition would prove invaluable to them in job interviews, seeking admission to other colleges or applying for scholarships.

For more information about debate, visit the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.

SPC paralegal student excels in academic, legal worlds

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Awarded the All Florida Academic Award

St. Petersburg College student  Amy Bhatt is excelling beyond measures.

Now a paralegal bachelor’s degree student at SPC, Bhatt has received more than five academic awards in 2015 alone including SPC’s Apollo Award. The award is presented by the St. Petersburg College Alumni Association to the college’s outstanding associate degree graduate with winners chosen for their leadership, scholastic standing, community service, honors and awards.

Bhatt’s dedication to academic excellence has equipped her for success beyond the classroom.

This year, Bhatt became the youngest person ever selected as a judicial intern at Second District Court of Appeals for the Honorable Judge Chris Altenbernd. This position normally is only offered to third-year law students, Bhatt said she was told when she was selected.

Preparation in the classroom and guidance from professors equipped Bhatt for the prestigious internship, she said.  Her responsibilities include preparing legal memorandums and analyzing and conducting legal research in the federal and state court systems.

“Thanks to the guidance and support from my professors, I actively served in leadership roles in clubs and activities,” Bhatt said.

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Research presentation at the Honors College conference

Beyond the classroom, Bhatt is heavily involved in SPC’s campus legal community. She’s the founder of “Legal Eagle,” SPC’s Pre-Law Journal coordinated with the Clearwater Bar Association and the People’s Law School. She also is the president of the Honors College Student Consortium, the Vice President of the Legal Studies Society and a host of other civic organizations.

“These extracurricular activities provide an excellent gateway to build my reputation, help me succeed in college and at work, and expand my network in professional fields.

“SPC has had a huge impact on my personal, academic and professional life,” she said.