Local college student pursues her dreams during times of great uncertainty

SPC alumna Brittaney Hall encourages college students to face their fears and not give up on their academic goals.

ST. PETERSBURG — At the beginning of the year, St. Petersburg College student Brittaney Hall felt excited as she looked forward to wrapping up her last semester and becoming the first in her family to graduate with a college degree.

Then, the COVID-19 pandemic struck. With stay-at-home orders in effect, SPC pivoted to an almost fully virtual format, taking more than 1,800 face-to-face classes online. And Hall, 22, was faced with an online-only class schedule she worried she couldn’t successfully complete.

“I had to pull myself out of bed and find the strength to finish,” Hall said.

But with the encouragement of her professors and by following the example of her hard-working peers, Hall said she persevered.

“I’m a planner,” Hall said. “When my plans are disrupted, it takes me a minute to shift. But the (professors) were optimistic and helped us all through the ever-changing process. They were even cognizant of our mental health.”

It turned out, despite her fears about being an online student, the experience helped bring out the best in her, Hall said.

“Learning online taught me self-discipline,” as well as how to think outside the box, Hall said. “It forced me to be creative in my mind and to bring it out.”

Top provider of online education

SPC’s online programs offer students a high-quality education, combined with the flexibility and convenience many need to juggle college, work and family.

A pioneer in the realm of online education, SPC is recognized nationally and in Florida as a top-ranked provider of digital learning. The college offers more than 50 programs that can be completed fully online.

To help students like Hall who unexpectedly found themselves in online classes this spring, SPC also has piloted a new type of online learning format — LIVE Online. Unlike self-paced online courses, LIVE Online uses video conferencing for a virtual classroom experience.

Students interact with faculty and peers and can access class resources in real time, just as if they were in a face-to-face course. SPC now has hundreds of LIVE Online classes available during the college’s six upcoming fall sessions.

Kelli Stickrath, who teaches biology and environmental science at SPC, said she knows some students are nervous about being able to understand the material and keep up with the pace of online classes. With LIVE Online, they get a true classroom experience.

“I meet with my students twice a week,” she said. “We go over assignments for the week and for upcoming weeks. We might play a review game. When you take a LIVE Online course, the instructor is right there.”

Never give up

Despite her initial worries, Hall reached her goal this spring, earning her Associate in Arts degree.

Now ready to start at University of South Florida St. Petersburg this fall, she hopes her story encourages current students and those considering college to accept challenges, embrace change and push beyond their limitations.

“Get rid of the thought that you can’t do it,” she said, and welcome the encouragement and support of others. “At SPC, every person I’ve met was always helpful and wanted to see me succeed.”

SPC’s fall term and first eight-week session starts on Aug. 17. Current and future students can register for a variety of schedules, including shorter six, eight, or 10-week sessions. To learn more about SPC LIVE Online, visit now.spc.edu/fallatspc.

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