Retired astronaut Nicole Stott gives powerful SPC Day address


Nicole Stott standing at a podium giving the keynote address for SPC Day 2023

SPC alumna, engineer and retired astronaut Nicole Stott gave the keynote address at the second annual SPC Day celebration, commemorated on the Clearwater Campus. Stott spoke to a packed auditorium of student, faculty, staff and alumni and recounted how her time at St. Petersburg Junior College truly launched a remarkable career.

“SPC started me on a lifetime of exploration – and I’ve been able to explore our planetary home from the most remarkable of places as a space shuttle astronaut,” she said. “One of the lessons I learned from my time in SPC is that problem-solving requires both technical knowledge and creativity. At NASA, we knew that creativity was the key to finding solutions.”

Stott’s comments came during the Sept. 12 event recognizing the 96th anniversary of St. Petersburg College. The program also featured a performance by local saxophonist Harold Simmons, a welcome address from the Clearwater Campus Provost Tashika Griffith, and remarks from Foundation Executive Director Jesse Turtle and SPC President Dr. Tonjua Williams. Clearwater Mayor Brian J. Aungst, Sr. was on hand to deliver a proclamation declaring Sept. 12, 2023, SPC Day in the city of Clearwater.

Stott had a strong message for the students in attendance.

“For the all the complexities involved in space exploration, once we get there, we see some very simple truths. First, we are all people of earth, with just one planet to share. Second, there is but a thin, blue blanket of atmosphere protecting us and all we hold dear.”

Stott said she is grateful for the faculty and staff who work each day to make student dreams a reality and declared that she too is committed to the cause of lifting students out of poverty. She looks back fondly on her days as a student, and understands now, some 40 years later, how profoundly impactful her time was at SPC.

“SPC is where I discovered I belong. My time here led to a life of purpose and meaning.”