Clearwater native Alistair Glover wasn't quite sure what he wanted to do with his life when he graduated from high school in 2006. He decided to move to Tampa to experience life on his own in a larger city. Three years and a few jobs later, he began to recognize that his co-workers with college degrees were advancing in the workplace much quicker than others.
That recognition caused Glover to move back home and apply to St. Petersburg College
-- what he calls one of the best decisions he ever made.
Reflecting on what attracted him to SPC, Glover, now 24, remembers an interview with a counselor in the Honors College
. Glover asked how he could get more involved and was given several business cards for students and others at the college. Wasting no time, he met with each of them that very same day to garner advice on what he could do to become more successful.
He listened carefully, enrolled in school, and today he serves as president of the Student Government Association at the Clearwater campus
and as state secretary for The Florida College System Student Government Association
. The state role brought him to Tallahassee, where he learned about public service and has been able to advocate for students before Florida lawmakers.
"The experience really changed my mind,'' says Glover. ''It made me realize I can effect change in a meaningful way.''
The Student Government Association recently received a percentage of student activities fees for the first time in Florida's history. Under Glover's leadership, the group developed a process that is designed to make students think critically about how to spend the money, justifying which activities would be funded and why. This essentially put the power in the students' hands, while at the same time making them accountable for their decisions.
"It wasn't an easy process,'' recalls Glover. All in all, it took three months to develop, and it's still being tweaked. But, it was well worth the experience. "I learned an enormous amount about college policy I never would have known before.''
The experience also helped him to be chosen as Florida's 2012 Coca-Cola New Century Scholar
through Phi Theta Kappa Honors Society. Two nominees are selected each year by the president or provost of each community college in Florida, and then judged by a panel. The winner is selected based on how the applicant is using the knowledge he or she is gaining in school to benefit the community and college around them. The honor comes with a $2,000 scholarship and one page spread in USA Today.
When asked what advice he would give to others who are considering going back to school, Glover offers: "Don’t think about it, just do it.''
When he first started taking classes, he says he wasn't sure if he could handle the rigor. But once he immersed himself in the program, he was able to work over 30 hours per week while completing over 20 credits per semester. "People can surprise themselves if they truly put their best forward,'' he says.
Glover credits his grandmother for paying half of his first semester's tuition to get him started. He also received sponsorships through the Honors College and worked part-time jobs at Florida Career College and St. Petersburg College to pay for the rest.
Glover will graduate SPC this month (May) with an A.A. degree and plans to transfer to a four-year university to major in chemistry or economics, with a minor in public policy. He is considering a career in medicine and has applied for a summer internship at the University of Miami's medical school. He is also interested in pursuing a career in public policy.
Megan Hendricks is a Florida native and longtime Tampa Bay resident who loves the culture and diversity of the region. In her free time she enjoys local restaurants, thrift store shopping and spending time with her family. She earned her masters of business administration from USF Tampa. Comments? Contact 83 Degrees.