SPC PITCH program graduates on the COVID front lines in Pinellas County

Bill Baptiste, and SPC 2018 PITCH Clinical Medical Assistant student, is working on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19.

PINELLAS COUNTY — The Baptiste brothers knew a cubicle job wasn’t for them. They had ambitions to work in a job where they could serve their community while gaining exposure to the medical field. Through the Providing Instruction for Tomorrow’s Collegians and Hires (PITCH) program, a partnership between St. Petersburg College and the City of St. Petersburg’s Cohort of Champions program, Bill and Timothy Baptiste earned their Certified Medical Assistant (CMA) Certificates from SPC in 2018 and immediately gained full-time employment at a local community health center in south St. Pete.

Having served over 129 youth since 2017, PITCH continues to give back to the Pinellas County community, one graduate at a time. For students like Bill and Timothy Baptiste who want to lend and develop their skills in the medical field, more opportunities in CMA training are coming.

SPC recently received a $199,739 Florida Pathways to Career Opportunities Grant to establish a Clinical Medical Assistant (CMA) Pre-apprenticeship Program that will support the growing workforce need for medical assistants. The program will also be a gateway for those interested in further pursuing a career in the medical field, such as in nursing or radiology.

The Baptistes are now fulfilling their ambitions, as they work on the front lines of a no-cost COVID-19 testing site in Pinellas County. The brothers can be seen supporting data entry, administrative needs, and pre-screening those walking into the community center. Bill, 22, credits the PITCH program with preparing him to handle everyday matters in the real world by teaching him to stay calm.

“I think this is especially applicable to now, working at a COVID-19 testing site,” Bill said.

Timothy, 24, agreed.

“We (staff) are just as stressed out as those coming to be tested,” Timothy said. “All of the processes we have to go through to get people tested efficiently, accurately and quickly require a lot of man power in the tents.”

The brothers are currently enrolled at SPC in the Health Sciences associate degree program and plan to apply for the Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree program. They also are interested in exploring other opportunities, such as FAMU, Florida’s public Historically Black College/University.

The City of St. Petersburg’s Cohort of Champions funds entrepreneurial and educational training opportunities for African American male youth at SPC. The program also provides participants with opportunities for skill building, leadership-focused workshops and events, mentoring, tutoring, academic advising, and wraparound services. Participants must be male, 18-24 years old, African American and City of St. Petersburg residents.

For more information on eligibility and enrollment, email Ernest Gant, Acting Pitch Coordinator, at gant.ernest@spcollege.edu.

For more information on the city initiative can be found at www.stpete.org/MBSK, and details about PITCH are available on the college’s website at spcollege.edu/pitch.

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