USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus

In the wake of recent incidents on campus, USF committees are getting active in educating students on the dangers of sexual harassment.

According to the USF Police Department, two women were met by a stranger late at night on Nov. 4. They were approached on separate occasions within less than 30 minutes of each other. The situations escalated to inappropriate personal contact before the male suspect fled the scene.

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Phi Sigma Pi president works to improve education after graduation

Cristina VasquezThis Thanksgiving, Cristina Vasquez, president of USF’s Phi Sigma Pi, is thankful for school.

“There are times when I realize how lucky I am to go to college,” said Vasquez, reminiscing about her worry over attending a university. “I don’t want other students to have to miss out on an education because something is holding them back.”

Growing up in a military home, Vasquez was constantly moving between foreign bases like Italy, Japan and Germany, filled with interesting cities and people. Her diverse insight has provided her with a worldly perspective on life and the importance of education.

“There are different education systems around the world, but most are more accessible than schools in the [United] States,” said Vasquez. She has seen firsthand the issues that plague students in the Tampa Bay community who cannot afford to get an education because of socioeconomic problems.

Vasquez believes that part of the reason why students drop out of high school or do not continue on to college, is because they don’t receive proper counseling and instruction on how to apply to school and receive funding. She also believes that some of them do not realize the importance of school, early on.

“My mother worked a full-time job, raised three kids and sacrificed her free time to go to college. Without her, I never would have realized the importance of education. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.” Vasquez said.

Annie Hudgins, Vasquez’s mother, agrees that she was always trying to instill the importance of education into her children.

“I always told my children, I can’t leave you much but the one thing I want for you all is to get an education, because once you have that many doors that will open up for you. You [will] start to understand the world and others better,” she said.

Currently, Vasquez is a senior psychology student at USF. She hopes to become a high school counselor in the future, so that she may aid students into choosing to pursue higher education, despite the obstacles they may face. In the meantime, she uses her fraternity influence to run school supply and book drives for local elementary and middle schools.

“We have a philanthropic goal to overcome in the fraternity, and mine is education inequality. Every child deserves a good education,” said Vasquez. While the fraternity also participates in other charitable goals, like cleaning up the USF campus, Vasquez enjoys being able to pursue her passions with her fraternity.

Kiana Coffey, Vasquez’s best friend and roommate is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi and supports Vasquez’s passions in the fraternity.

“I think this is a really important goal. More accessible education would offer students facing adversity more opportunities for success,” Coffey said. She also believes that Vasquez’s loving nature and strong leadership skills would make her successful in pursuing this passion.

Vasquez may be an education advocate in the Tampa community, but at USF she makes strides elsewhere. Vazquez runs the first all gender-inclusive, honor fraternity at USF. Phi Sigma Pi consists of 40 to 60 people each semester, all of which have at least a 3.2 GPA and three or more semesters left at the university. According to Vasquez, Phi Sigma Pi has a hand in everything including scholarship, social and charity events.

Despite having the final say in fraternity decisions, Vasquez always takes into consideration the opinions of all her fraternity members.

“As a leader, it’s important to take the backseat and do what’s best for the group,” said Vasquez.

Patrick Bagge, a Phi Sigma Pi initiary advisor believes that Vasquez is a great mentor.

“[She] always puts the needs of others before her own,” Bagge said. “and always does her utmost to fulfill her goals.”

Cellular and Molecular Biology student, Kaylie Male, also agrees that Vasquez is an influential leader.

“I don’t think that [Vasquez] realizes how much positivity she radiates. I feel that her future will greet her with many more opportunities than she may even think possible. Her positivity and determination will be at the root of her success,” said Male, who has been a member of Phi Sigma Pi for two years.

Vasquez will be graduating USF in the spring of 2015. She hopes to inspire others to pursue higher schooling and become leaders within their community.

“Cristina will do a lot of good in the world, in small ways and big ways. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on,” Coffey said.


Heroes’ Haven Comics celebrates Halloween ComicFest

Halloween ComicFest is celebrated the Saturday before Halloween in designated comic shops around the world. Since 2012, Halloween Comicfest allows comic book fans to get involved in new comics by handing out free specialty Halloween comics ranging from Batman to Archie to My Little Pony. Most comic stores simply hand out free comics, but Heroes’ Haven Comics puts on an exhibition inviting families and fans. Heroes’ Haven Comics, a “Best of the Bay” winner, brings local and big name artists to the event for signings and commission work. They even hold a costume contest.

School Mom Trying to Save the World

Amid adversity, a suburban mom-turned-environmentalist in Tampa is following her dream at the age of 45.

Sarah Rogers had been out of school for 25 years–until now. After raising two sons and five stepsons with her husband, Rogers added saving the earth to her list of things to do, despite the challenge of going back to school.

“The first time I dropped my son off to his university, I felt so excited for his future,” Rogers said. “But then I realized I wanted to feel that way about mine.”

Rogers is an environmental science and policy student at the University of South Florida. She represents the non-traditional student demographic that is nationally increasing, as college education becomes a more prominent job requirement. According to the Center for Postsecondary and Economic Success, more than 30 percent of all undergraduate students in the United States were over the age of 25 in 2008.

A typical day in the life of Rogers is incredibly busy. During the day, she spends her time at work or at her internship with Pinellas County Environmental Services. Then she heads to class, and arrives home late after picking up her step-granddaughter from daycare. The day is almost over by the time she begins her homework. However, it is a life that Rogers wanted to pursue.

“A perfect storm of things influenced me,” Rogers said. “I wanted to show how important school was to my kids even 25 years later. But most of all, I wanted a meaningful job, something that mattered.”

Rogers is pursuing a degree in the environmental sciences because she believed it was the best way to help the earth. As an avid environmentalist, she believes that taking better care of the planet now will result in a better world and healthier living for both her kids and future generations. She is confident she has a better chance of making a positive impact by being involved with the ecosystem. In turn, she hopes that experience will provide her with fulfillment—something that is clearly lacking from her day job at an insurance company.

“Making a difference in the way we treat the environment means it’ll be there longer,” Rogers said. “That starts with caring.”

Rogers hopes to work with environmental agencies that measure the impact of modern society on nature and educate individuals on decreasing their carbon footprints.

Although Rogers is able to work, take care of her family and earn excellent grades, her journey is not without challenges. The biggest obstacles she faces include scheduling and commuting. Her packed schedule takes careful planning and commitment. As a commuting student, she also feels like she misses many opportunities with school clubs and events.

“You can’t be afraid; you have to go for it. Whether you’re 18 or 40, believing in yourself is the key.”

Her husband, Roger Rogers, says he is both proud and envious of his wife’s accomplishments. As someone who tried to go back to school but experienced a difficult time doing so, he understands just how much determination his wife has. Her son, Pascal Marriott shares similar beliefs.

“It’s an amazing feat of discipline and dedication to her family and her future,” said Marriott Rogers, the youngest son who is enrolled at a state college. “She inspires us.”

Rogers will be graduating with her undergraduate degree in May of 2015 and is planning to pursue a career with the Environmental Protection Agency.