University of South Florida Student Pushes to End Human Trafficking

This problem may seem too close to home, but there are thousands of victims of human trafficking here in the state of Florida. It’s a University of South Florida student’s mission to end it.

With the help of the International Justice Mission, Katie French hopes to make an impact in her community.

“I really love International Justice Mission,” Katie said. “And one of the things I love about them is the way they view human trafficking as a solvable problem.”

Katie has been involved with IJM at USF, a student organization chapter of a larger international nonprofit organization that fights human trafficking world wide, for about three years now. At a Christmas concert event recently, Katie and other members of IJM were selling bracelets for Threads of Hope, a nonprofit that works in the Philippines with impoverish families.

“They try to create self sustaining income so people don’t resort to being trafficked or trafficking their children, which happens in the Philippines,” Katie said.

This is just one of the many nonprofit organizations that the IJM at USF supports. They also focus on raising awareness for the issues of human trafficking, raising funds for IJMs work abroad, advocating campaigns with petitioning legislation pushes and hosting prayer events because of their Christian affiliation.

While Katie is not involved in leadership this semester, she continues to provide a helping hand to other members of IJM. Cindy Navarette, friend and advertiser for the club, tells of how she can always depend on Katie.

“Even though she’s not a part of leadership anymore, she’s still right there with us helping us out as much as she can,” Cindy said.

Katie has high hopes for the future where she will one day open up her own church or ministry to help Samaria refugees in Atlanta, Georgia by using her public health degree as a way to build relationships and help the poor and oppressed.

“We really have such an obligation to help the poor,” Katie said. “And you know as a Christian that been a really big driving force for me. My faith has really kept me passionate about this cause.”

The healing power of yoga

The co-founder of a new facility is taking a unique approach in helping veterans in the Tampa Bay area cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Janel Norton has served our country as a combat photojournalist for the U.S. Air Force, now she serves in her community by helping other veterans.

“I experienced what I now know was post-traumatic stress when I returned home” Said Janel.

After being stationed in both Liberia and Bosnia, she decided to come back to the United States, but the transition wasn’t easy.

“I got really angry when I came back,” Norton said. “People don’t even know what’s going on over there. I felt very disconnected with everybody and nobody understood anything I had been living through for the last couple of years”

She then discovered the healing power of yoga and had the idea of opening an establishment where local veterans could meet and experience this healing together. After meeting with a prior green beret, they started the Veterans Alternative.

Member and Afghanistan war veteran David Jones is only one of the many veterans that has benefited from this class.

“She’s done wonders as far as you know helping me sleep with this iRest,” Jones said.

iRest is a form of yoga made accessible to everyone. This stress reducing class helps veterans tap into their inner resource.

“We have a small population that we’re serving, but there’s many more,” Norton said.

USF implements reading days to help relieve stress of finals 

 

TAMPA, Fla.- The University of South Florida’s academic calendar has some changes that will help students during the most stressful time of the year, finals week.

When USF students were asked if they knew what reading days are, most were unaware of the calendar change.

“I do not know what reading days are,” said Erica Exalien.

“Kind of, I’ve heard about it but I’m not totally sure,” said Cole Nixon.

The spring 2016 semester will accommodate for two reading days on Thursday, April 28 and Friday, April 29. There will be no assignments due, tests given or even class on these days.

“Reading days are a period between the semester and the beginning of finals… so traditionally it’s used for students to prepare for finals,” said Student Body President Andy Rodriguez. “The amount of time varies depending on the school so some schools do one day, some schools do two days, some schools do three days, and there’s also schools that do an entire week off from school to prepare for finals.”

Other Florida universities have also implemented these reading days for spring 2016. This includes the University of Central Florida with one day, the University of Florida with two and the University of North Florida with three. Positive feedback is being heard around the state.

“It will give students an opportunity to be a little less stressed out when trying to prepare for one of the most stressful times of the year,” Rodriguez said. “Finals is when you will see students not eating, not sleeping or their hygiene is lacking because they need to get ready for what a bulk of their grade is going to be.”

USF mascot a product of student petitioning

TAMPA, Fl.– Rocky D. Bull is an icon most known for his appearances at USF sporting events. The USF mascot’s history goes back some 50 years and is an essential piece of USF’s heritage, student life and athletic competitions.

“Higher-ups in the administration of USF wanted to have a mascot designated, so they left it up to the students,” USF Associate Librarian Andrew Huse said.

Students came forward with different suggestions including the Buccaneer, the Desert Rats and the Golden Brahman.

“A lot of people don’t know that Florida has a cattle history going back many centuries… and I think it was clear early on that the administration liked this one,” Huse said.

Conflict arose when the Buccaneer was the declared winner of the first student vote by a margin of three votes. Upon the naming committee’s discovery of a junior college in Pensacola already using the pirate as a mascot, a student petitioned for a referendum where the Golden Brahman Bull won.

When it comes to modern day Rocky, he is no longer a Brahman Bull. As just USF’s bull, he is now a nationally recognized mascot.

“Back in 2013 when Rocky won the Capital One Mascot challenge… It was a long season and every week we’d have to keep on voting and I remember by the end for our school to win, it was a big deal,” said USF cheerleader Heath Rinkus. “We were all really excited in the spirit department.”