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Community Voices: Making change with the ISPS

Matthew Lee



Photo: Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (Facebook).

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When people ask me “What is it that you do for a living?,” I have pride in my answer when I tell them that I work as a graphic designer for the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions (ISPS) at St. Petersburg College. For those that don’t know, The Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions is a self-support organization for St. Petersburg College that was created by the late Congressman C.W. Bill Young, to educate and engage with students and community members on non-partisan, public policy topics and find solutions through meaningful conversations.

I vividly remember when I took my first steps on the St. Petersburg College Gibbs Campus admissions center, to devise a learning plan and to register for my classes, when I graduated high school back in 2015. I never imagined that I would secure my first full-time job working for St. Petersburg College doing something that I’m genuinely passionate about. Now that I’m fully graduated from college, I have clarity on my future goals and reflection on my journey so far. The most important lesson I learned from my tenure with being with SPC and ISPS is to always take opportunities to strengthen your personal and professional development.

My business relationship started with SPC by taking temporary, part-time work opportunities. These jobs presented no guarantee of future full-time employment, but my main objective was to build experience and professional portfolio pieces. As I found myself working different digital media jobs across SPC, I eventually settled into working with ISPS after referrals from my professional network within the college.

From my experience, everything has a funny way of working itself out. Put in hard work and dedication towards a goal, and you will eventually be recognized, and more opportunities will become available to you. The responsibilities expected of me are not only graphic design, but also overseeing our social media and website, as well as capturing and editing photo and video-based content for ISPS.

I found through building my professional experience that employers truly do value individuals that can bring more to the table with a diverse skill set. From my experience of taking courses at both SPC and USF, I was able to retain and absorb the information I was learning in my Digital Media classes at a hastened pace, since I could apply what I learned in my courses immediately to my work responsibilities.

In my short time of being with the Institute, I have been able to learn more about relevant issues and topics that are affecting Florida from a statewide perspective, understanding the inner workings of how a non-profit organization functions, and adapting to new, exciting challenges that tests my abilities as a creative as well as my newfound writing and journalism skills that I received from my undergraduate education from the University of South Florida.

The topics I’ve been exposed to involving community involvement, economic vitality and non-partisan political subjects have truly been eye-opening coming from someone who desired to seek more knowledge on current events. The fact that I can involve my family, close friends, and colleagues on the Institute’s free, year-round informative programs makes all the work I do worth it. I truly feel that the Institute is serving its mission to enhance, educate, and engage with citizens of Florida and beyond. It’s a pleasure to work for St. Petersburg College and the Institute for Strategic Policy Solutions.

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1 Comment

1 Comment

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    Dennis Lee

    January 25, 2023at9:34 am

    An awesome article. You have a wonderful grasp of articulating your job description & the dynamic purpose of the Institute.

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