Distinguished Alumnus/a Award
The Distinguished Alumnus/a Award is the highest honor bestowed upon an alumnus/a of St. Petersburg Catholic, Bishop Barry, Notre Dame Academy, and St. Paul’s high schools. The award is presented annually to a graduate whose life personifies the spirit and values St. Petersburg Catholic seeks to instill in its students. St. Petersburg Catholic High School established the award to honor individuals who demonstrate a commitment to faith, family, tradition, and excellence; who embody ethical leadership and compassionate service; who have demonstrated significant achievements in their chosen professions; and who have made significant contributions to society as volunteers, mentors, or benefactors.
Each year, we announce our Distinguished Alumnus/a at the Senior-Alumni Mass & Breakfast in May. Our Distinguished Alumnus/a is then invited to address the graduating class at our Commencement Ceremony.
2018 Award Recipient
U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Kovachevich
Class of 1954, St. Paul's High School
Judge Kovachevich is a 1954 alumna of St. Paul’s High School, which was established in 1930 by the Franciscan Sisters of Allegany. From St. Paul’s, Bishop Barry High School and Notre Dame Academy merged to become St. Petersburg Catholic High School in 1973. Judge Kovachevich graduated valedictorian from St. Paul’s High School (1954) and St. Petersburg Junior College (1956), then went on to major in finance at the University of Miami (1958), where she graduated magna cum laude with a BBA degree. She received her juris doctor degree from Stetson University College of Law (1961) after finishing second in her class. She was the only female in her graduating law school class.
In 1972, Judge Kovachevich became the first female judge elected to serve as a Circuit Judge for the Sixth Judicial Circuit in and for Pinellas and Pasco Counties, Florida. She served in various judicial divisions over nine years, including a special assignment to the District Court of Appeal. In January 1982, President Ronald Reagan nominated her to an open district court vacancy for the Middle District of Florida. After the Senate confirmed her nomination, she received her judicial commission on March 9, 1982, and was sworn in on March 12, 1982. Judge Kovachevich has served as a U.S. District Judge for over 35 years and is the longest serving district judge still in active service for the Middle District of Florida.
“We are honored to have Judge Kovachevich as our first Distinguished Alumna, as we begin this new tradition at St. Pete Catholic,” Principal Ross Bubolz said. “Judge Kovachevich, in her commitment to faith and passion for service, personifies our alumni community and the virtues we hope to instill in all of our students.”