Empowering Freshmen Academic Success, Beyond

(Photo by Daniel Fisher)
(Photo by Daniel Fisher)

Enrolling at USF for the first time after moving away from New England was a culture shock for freshmen Brianna Bizier.

After attending the Week of Welcome event “Welcoming to a Rewarding Year, Welcome to a Rewarding Career,” the education major said she is happy to find comfort on campus.

“My first impression coming here was that it was big and almost daunting because I came from a small high school in New England,” Bizier said. “By applying for the Provost’s Scholarship Program, I am confident that it will open opportunities to pursue my future career as an English teacher.”

After meeting the staff and faculty from the College of Education at the TECO Hall, Bizier said USF is well prepared in offering their services to help students succeed in college.

“As I got to know the school more, I learned that the staff and faculty are very welcoming and helpful,” Bizier said. “When life gets tough, students have to ask for help because you cannot do everything in life alone.”

Even other freshmen at the event were seeing USF in a positive light.

“Networking with people is important in earning a college education because it influences how you would achieve your goals in life,” said Jonathan DuQuaine, a major in mathematics.

With a love for math and a passion to teach, DuQuaine aspires to be a high school math teacher.

“I had a few teachers in the past that really love math, which inspired me to be more fluent with all levels of math like calculus and algebra,” DuQuaine said.

DuQuaine is confident that his new techniques and way of presenting his knowledge would be beneficial.

“When I teach, I want to be able to instruct what I know to students and feel good about passing new knowledge to them,” DuQuaine said.

With the College of Education inviting freshmen to the WOW event on Aug. 25, the assistant director of Student Academic Services Lindsey Williams said the new school year is looking bright.

“So far, we have about 92 first-year students who entered in the summer and fall semester, and are pursuing a degree in the College of Education,” Williams said.  “We want to show that USF has a lot of opportunities for students to succeed in college, and after they graduate.”

Corolla Turned “Truckolla”

There are many reasons people in the United States love trucks.  They are great for driving off-road, hauling trailers and managing fuel economy.  Trucks are the kind of vehicle that can turn boys into men in a heartbeat.  However, can a car be like a truck or at least look like one?

“Turning cars into trucks can happen,” said Nikola Vlacic, a graduate from the University of South Florida.

On Feb. 26, with the help of his friends, he proved this to be true.  The car that Vlacic chose to get the job done was his beloved 2001 Toyota Corolla.  As a result, the car went from Corolla to “Truckolla” in a 12-hour conversion.  Sit back, relax and see the all new 2016 Toyota “Truckolla” come to life.

America’s Greatest Drag Racer 84-Years Strong

 

 

Ocala – An 84-year-old drag racing legend from Florida, has all the time in the world these days to tell his fans the story of his successful racing career and antique car museum.

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Don “Big Daddy” Garlits smiles with delight on a bright and sunny Friday afternoon, as he poses next to his 2011 Dodge Challenger Pro-Stock dragster.
  (Photo by Daniel S. Fisher)

 

Don “Big Daddy” Garlits is a retired American drag racing driver, and an automotive engineer for American drag racing.  Garlits is the all-time winning drag-racer with 144 national event victories, and a record 17 world drag racing championships, according to his online biography on garlits.com.  During a private tour at the Don Garlits Museum of Drag Racing, Garlits said he first earned the nickname “Big Daddy” from race announcer Bernie Partridge, after a dominant win at the 1962 U.S. Indianapolis Nationals in his famous Swamp Rat IV dragster.

“Back then, I was more of a top fuel driver because I like to build my cars light and fast,” Garlits said.  “When we first ran Swamp Rat IV at Indianapolis, the car kept breaking axles to a point where all the young drag racers started making fun of me.  Eventually, we got it fixed, and I set a new world record of 180.36 mph, and the announcer Bernie Partridge says, ‘Well, we’re gonna have to call him Big Daddy from now on, for he set a new world record folks.’ ”

Garlits eventually went on to break more quarter-mile speed records in his Swamp Rat dragsters, most notably for reaching a personal career best of 323.04 mph at the 2003 Gator-nationals in Gainesville, Florida with Swamp Rat 34.  In a 1985 Motorsport documentary by Steve Evans, Garlits said the Swamp Rat I was his favorite dragster.  In 1958, Garlits traveled to the Bakersfield quarter-mile in California with Swamp Rat I and became the first person to top 180 mph.

 

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To the right is Don Garlits’ Swamp Rat I, resting peacefully on a Friday afternoon in Swamp Rat Alley.  It was the first car back in 1958 to reach 180 mph on the quarter-mile.  (Photo by Daniel S. Fisher)

 

“Swamp Rat I is my favorite car in the whole world,” Garlits told Evans.  “It was the first car that I ran both nitro-methane gas, and the Chrysler Hemi engine.”

Even in retirement, Garlits still feels the need for speed, like a 5-year-old Ricky Bobby driving mama’s station wagon.  Garlits designed the world’s first and fastest all electric dragster in May 2014.  Garlits, who named the car Swamp Rat 37, set a 185.60 mph speed record at Bradenton Motorsports Park’s quarter-mile track.  Despite Garlits’ SR-37 being short from the 200 mph mark, he said he believes that the race is still on.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  “Swamp Rat 37 is an all-electric dragster that I am experimenting with now,” Garlits said.  “Two years ago, I set a world record of 185.60 mph on batteries, and I am trying to make it go 200 mph.”

In 1984, during Garlits’ storybook career in drag racing, he and his wife, Pat, started preparing grounds for his famous antique car and drag racing museum.  Thirty-three years later, the Don Garlits Drag Racing Museum is still in business off of Interstate-75 in Ocala.

“In the opening year, we sold 27,000 tickets,” Garlits said.  “Since then, we have been averaging about 45,000 people a year, and have expanded the museum to about 65,000 feet of show area.  As you can tell, we are full up, so we’re going to need more space.”

Garlits was born in Tampa in 1932, and has remained a resident of the Sunshine State.  Today, he lives with his family in Ocala, on the same 16 acres of land near his museum.

Garlits has won the National Hot Rod Association U.S. Nationals eight times, and was the first to top 170, 180, 200, 240, 250, 260, and 270 mph, according to his online biography. For having such an illustrious career, it is no wonder that his name is synonymous in the Motorsports world.

Among the nine people who attended a private tour recently was Jim Morningstar from Dayton, Ohio.  Morningstar enjoyed his first time at the museum, which he said was part of his five-day Florida vacation.

“Recently, I have spent two days out of my five-day Florida vacation coming here,” Morningstar said.  “And I have enjoyed every minute of my time with Mr. Big Daddy.”