Public Policy grad Mecca Bellmore Serfustini wrapped up the first year of SPC’s partnership with the City of Seminole by scoring her dream job.
When Seminole City Manager Frank Edmunds was getting ready to retire last year, Public Policy and Administration’s Professor in Charge Jeff Kronschnabl wanted to know how St. Petersburg College could honor him for his many years of service and dedication to the college. Edmunds said he would love to set up a one-year, full-time position with benefits for a graduate or recent graduate of the Public Policy program. So for 10 years, the recipient of the Frank Edmunds Public Service Associate in Training program will rotate through four departments in the City of Seminole: administration, public safety, community development and public works.
“This is not an internship – it’s a real job,” Kronschnabl said. “The students are put through the entire application process with the city, with no recommendations from our department.”
A Strong Candidate
Mecca Bellmore Serfustini was one of nine Public Policy graduates to interview for the position in July 2015, and she was thrilled to be selected.
After growing up in St. Pete Beach, Serfustini waitressed full time until she decided it was time to get back in school. “My parents had always encouraged education, but I was having fun and making good money, so I never considered it until I had my daughter,” she said.
Serfustini checked out the programs at St. Petersburg College and enrolled in the Honors Program. After earning her Associate in Arts degree with honors, she was accepted to Florida State University, where she planned to pursue a degree in Political Science. But her plans completely changed while on a trip to Tallahassee to tour the state’s capital building with a group from SPC.
“I’d never heard of the Public Policy degree,” she said, “but one of the staff members on the trip with us told me about it. I looked into it and changed my plans to move to Tallahassee and enrolled in SPC’s program.” Serfustini enrolled full time – including summers – and though it was never easy being a parent and a full-time student, she said she had a lot of support from her professors. “All of my professors were very nurturing and patient, not only in Public Policy, but in the general education classes, too. I could call them for help any time, night or day.”
Once in the Public Policy and Administration program, Bellmore was taken under the wing of Jeff Kronschnabl, affectionately known at SPC as “Professor K.” “He was the best mentor,” she said. “He was always there for me, and he was like a proud parent at graduation.” Kronschnabl said city officials told him they hoped the next student would be as good as Serfustini. “She was an overachiever. She is one of those people who gets the job done,” he said.
While in her position with the city, Serfustini completed several projects, including a big initiative for Seminole Fire Rescue, where she organized all of the documents needed to complete their evaluation from the Insurance Services Office. Her work improved the city’s score to one of the best in the nation. “I organized all the information in a binder based on my experience at SPC, where my Capstone project was to create a binder based on a public policy,” she said. Fire Chief Heather Burford said she greatly appreciated the impact Serfustini made on her department during her time with the City of Seminole. “She is a self-starter who requires very little supervision or guidance and her ability to follow through is commendable,” Burford said.
“I organized all the information in a binder based on my experience at SPC, where my Capstone project was to create a binder based on a public policy,” she said. Fire Chief Heather Burford said she greatly appreciated the impact Serfustini made on her department during her time with the City of Seminole. “She is a self-starter who requires very little supervision or guidance and her ability to follow through is commendable,” Burford said.
Serfustini also earned her first Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) certificate at SPC, and went on to earn several more. She put that knowledge to use writing FEMA plans for the city’s Recreation Division and the library. “I was completely prepared by SPC to do this job. I rarely had to ask questions because we had studied city government so thoroughly. This program was so well rounded that I could choose from any department I wanted to work in,” she said.
“I was completely prepared by SPC to do this job. I rarely had to ask questions because we had studied city government so thoroughly. This program was so well rounded that I could choose from any department I wanted to work in,” she said.
Serfustini did so well at the City of Seminole that she landed a dream job with her hometown, the City of St. Pete Beach. She started April 1 as their new Administrative Assistant for Public Services, which includes the oversight of beach maintenance, streets and beautification.
“There’s a lot of redevelopment in St. Pete Beach right now,” she said. “It’s a great time to start and be at the front end of those projects.”
Though this opportunity is a good one, Serfustini sees it as a continuation of her education because she is on what she calls her “30-year plan.”
“I’d like to be a City Manager, then a County Administrator, then Governor and Congressperson,” she said. “I want to gain as much experience as I can on the way so I can be knowledgeable about all aspects of government.” Serfustini attributes her success to her experiences at St. Petersburg College and what she learned while working at the City of Seminole.
“This is such a great program,” she said. “I’m still amazed myself that everything came together like it did.”