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Staff Spotlight: Star Aparicio Schmidt


Hillsborough Community College has five primary campus locations located throughout Tampa Bay, including three satellite locations. Nestled deep in south Tampa is the HCC Education Center at MacDill Air Force Base, which serves to meet the needs of active-duty military and veterans. 


MacDill Air Force Base has exclusive partnerships with the following three colleges: Hillsborough Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Saint Leo University. 


The HCC Education Center at MacDill has two on-Base administration staff, not including faculty, Star Aparicio Schmidt and David S. Johnson. 


Star serves the students at MacDill as the off-campus credit manager. Her responsibility in the role, simply put, is to keep the program at MacDill running. “I do everything from hiring faculty and scheduling courses to even stepping into an advising role if I need to.” 


At the age of 15, Star started taking classes at HCC as a dual-enrolled student and during her senior year of high school was accepted into the early admission program. In December 1976, she graduated from HCC and enrolled at the University of South Florida the next month. She thanks her father, Manuel Aparicio, a school principal and adjunct professor at HCC, for encouraging her to reap the benefits of a dual enrollment program so early on.


While currently enrolled at USF and with one college degree under her belt, Star officially graduated from high school in June 1977. She explained that back then, dual enrollment was so unheard of that she was actually interviewed by the Tampa Tribune and HCC’s then newspaper, “The Kaleidoscope.” 


After graduating from USF, she started a career as a kindergarten teacher for a number of years. 


Flashforward to 2009 and she accepted a position as an academic advisor on the Dale Mabry Campus. After years in that role, she began working at MacDill as an academic advisor before moving into her current role. 


Despite having a longstanding relationship working with HCC student veterans and active-duty military personnel, Star never served in the Armed Forces herself. 


“When the students ask about my relationship to the military, they’re surprised to hear me say I’m just a mom and a former elementary school teacher. I credit those roles to the way I carry myself and the care I put into seeing our students succeed. So far, our way of doing things has worked very well. Our students know we have their back and aren't just going to throw them a piece of paper. We are very hands-on and know the students, whether military or not, simply require patience and an explanation of the college process step by step.” 


Students enrolled at MacDill through HCC can choose to take in-person or online classes on a flexible schedule.


Course registration for in-person, on-Base classes is only open to those students who hold an active Department of Defense (DOD) identification card (i.e., active duty, reserve component, retiree and their authorized dependents plus DOD civilian employees) and other federal employees with federal identification cards and law enforcement personnel with appropriate IDs. 


Veterans looking to enroll at the HCC Education Center at MacDill can use their Veteran Health Card for Base access. Medal of Honor recipients and veterans with any service-connected disability ratings are eligible for DOD credentials under DOD policy and can take their ID to the Welcome Center for Base access.


MacDill Base restrictions do not apply to online classes, which are open to all HCC enrolled students, regardless of campus.


Other services offered at the HCC Education Center at MacDill include advising, counseling by appointment and registration support. Student veterans and active-duty students also receive military education benefits such as tuition assistance. 


“HCC is the best starting point at MacDill,” Star explained. “We are the public and more affordable choice. Even though military students receive tuition assistance and financial aid, it is limited, and the money will go much farther at HCC than at the private school options.” 


“I have dual enrollment students, wives and husbands of active-duty personnel, veterans and people of all ages enrolled with us. Our classes are taught by faculty from all five HCC campuses and it’s encouraging to have professors that are willing to work with students and help them move past their challenges. If our students are giving 100%, then we all need to be giving 100% back too.” 


For Star, the success of HCC’s presence on Base at MacDill is due in part from the never-ending support from Plant City Campus President, Dr. Clay, the Dean of Academic Affairs, Dr. Borrell, as well as the entire Plant City Campus staff and faculty.


“Even though we are technically ‘off site,’ we are still part of the Plant City Campus family,” she says. “Dean Borrell and Dr. Clay have always shown us their support. Anytime I receive a phone call from either of them, they never fail to ask, ‘What can we do to continue to help you out.’” 


“On Base it’s just David and me, so that’s who the students see the most from HCC. We go above and beyond for our students, help from start to finish and never give up on them. We don't turn anybody away, and we help every single person who reaches out to us--military, veteran or otherwise.” 


For more information about the HCC Education Center at MacDill Air Force Base, please email


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