Dr. Johnnie Ruth ClarkeThis scholarship honors the legacy of Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke, an educator and humanitarian who spent her life improving the lives of others. Born in St. Petersburg in 1919, she credits her parents who worked as head bellman and head housekeeper at the Soreno Hotel in downtown St. Petersburg, and her teachers for encouraging her to succeed academically.

Clarke, who earned her bachelor's degree in social science from Florida A&M University and a master's degree from Fisk University, played an important role in the local academic, cultural and medical communities as well as our state history. In 1966, she became the first African-American to receive a doctorate from the University of Florida's College of Education, and the first African-American woman to earn a doctorate at any Florida public university. She taught in Pinellas County public schools, Bethune-Cookman College and Florida A&M University. She served as Dean of Gibbs Junior College serving African-American students in the 1950s. When Gibbs became part of St. Petersburg Junior College in the '60s, she became Assistant Dean of Academic Affairs. She died in 1978 at age 58.


The opportunity to apply for Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Scholarships is offered to disadvantaged and other underrepresented Pinellas County school students who meet all of the following:

  • Graduate from a Pinellas County high school with a standard high school diploma
  • Are U.S. citizens or permanent resident aliens
  • Have a weighted cumulative grade point average of at least 3.00 at the end of the seventh semester of high school

High school students who meet these qualifications will be notified in writing in the spring term of their senior year.

Covered expenses

The Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Scholarship covers tuition credit hours for up to 12 credit hours per term at St. Petersburg College for two consecutive years (fall and spring terms only) immediately following high school graduation. It does not cover access fees, lab fees, books, supplies, courses taken during the summer, or Corporate Training classes. Any remaining credit balances will be refunded to the student's SPC OneCard at the end of the fourth week of your classes.

The scholarship is not transferable to other colleges or universities. It will not prevent a student from receiving Bright Futures or other types of scholarships. Recipients of SPC Presidential Scholarships are not eligible to receive a Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke scholarship.

Next Steps

High school students who meet these qualifications will be notified in writing in the spring term of their senior year. You will need to:

  • Follow the Getting started at SPC steps to apply for admission
  • Provide proof of Florida residency 
  • Provide proof of U.S. citizenship or permanent resident alien status in person at any of our campus locations 
  • Begin classes at SPC no later than the fall term immediately following high school graduation
  • Enroll in a minimum of six credit hours per term as a degree-seeking student 
Renewal requirements

Renewal will be determined at the end of each term.

  1. Be continuously enrolled in at least six credit hours per term, excluding summer term
  2. Maintain a Program GPA of 3.0 (this includes all dual-enrolled classes taken during high school). Use this GPA calculator.
  3. Successfully complete a minimum of 67 percent of all college-level credit hours attempted. Use this Completion Ratio calculator (scroll to the bottom).
  4. Attend a mandatory fall term orientation meeting for scholars and parents
  5. Attend meetings for scholars hosted by the Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Chapter NCBAA/AACC
  6. Meet with an assigned Academic Advisor before enrolling in classes
  7. Participate in at least one community service project 
67 percent completion ratio
Hours attempted: 6 12 15 30 45 60 75 90 150 175
Hours you must complete: 5 9 11 21 31 41 51 61 101 118
Appeal process

If you think you have experienced extenuating circumstances that prevented you from satisfying the requirements, you may appeal the decision based on:

  • Documented medical condition or serious illness
  • Documented learning disability
  • Death of an immediate family member
  • Involuntary call to active military duty
  • Documented change in condition of employment
  • Other extraordinary/emergency circumstances, such as natural disasters

If you raise your cumulative GPA and/or your Completion Ratio to meet the minimum requirements and are still within the time frame to use the scholarship, you must contact the Scholarship Coordinator to reinstate the scholarship. Enrollment in a minimum of six credits per term is required and enrollment must continue to be consecutive.


The Dr. Johnnie Ruth Clarke Chapter of the NCBAA works to implement the mission and goals of the National Council on Black American Affairs, and to help St. Petersburg College achieve its goals, especially those related to student retention and success. 


Messages regarding the scholarship are sent to your SPC student email. Make sure to check this address often or have it forwarded to a personal email. For more information, contact Lee Ann Wolfenden.