Immigration Under Trump Administration

As the American people prepare for the upcoming election, many are excited about playing a part in the democratic process. But for others, like first generation Mexican-American Paloma Narvaez, each day closer to the election is potentially one less she could have with her family and friends.
There has been a lot of discussion on both sides about Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s proposed plan to combat people entering the country illegally. Many people, like Narvaez, who are close with numerous undocumented people in the U.S., fear for the future of the nation if Trump’s plans are put in place.
Narvaez spoke of a friend of hers, an undocumented graduate student at USF conducting research in chemistry.
“She can get deported when she’s doing so much good here,” the junior accounting major said. “How are we going to lose someone so valuable?”
Trump’s plan on his website includes building a massive border wall on the southern border of the United States, extreme vetting for entrance into the country and the ending of sanctuary cities. The majority of Americans who oppose Trump’s proposals believe they are unethical and go against what America stands for. However, Trump’s supporters believe his plan will be a way to crack down on crime and aid in the safety of our nation in the future.
Michael Varicak, a USF alumnus with a degree in business, said he has been a Trump supporter since the day he announced his candidacy. Although he is an independent voter, Varicak said Trump’s “lack of a Washington, D.C. filter” got him listening to what Trump had to say.
Varicak said in a phone interview that he believes the immigration process has to be reformed. He also said he believes that although Trump may not build the massive wall he has been describing, he will definitely strengthen border security as a whole.
“I don’t think it’s unethical to enforce a country’s boarders and security,” the recent USF graduate said. “Especially at a time when you have ISIS and other things going on.”
The most talked about aspect of Trump’s plan is building a border wall, and making Mexico pay for it. David Jacobson, Ph.D., a USF professor and expert on immigration, said he doesn’t foresee the wall happening as Trump has described to his supporters.
Jacobson said although putting up a wall is legal, it would be nearly impossible to get another country to pay for it without using coercive measures. Jacobson pointed out that these tactics would pose issues, especially since the two nations are so close.
Since Jacobson doesn’t see Mexico paying for the wall in any way, he added that if the U.S. were to undertake this task alone, it would be a giant expense.
“It would be an enormous cost,” Jacobson said. “It would involve a massive investment, so it’s not really feasible.”
Originally, another pillar of Trump’s plan was mass deportations of undocumented people in the United States as soon as he went into office. Jacobson said mass deportation would not work on a logistical or legal level.
“That’s not really practical to deport 11 million people,” Jacobson said. “Each individual has a right to due process. It just becomes much more complex to even think about that.”
Although Trump has softened his stance on that in recent months, Narvaez said many in her community and family do not believe his change of heart.
“The way he portrayed himself initially, we already know he has that bias,” Narvaez said. “What has changed from then to now to change his stance?”
Narvaez and her family have a lot riding on this election. The outcome will likely determine whether many of her family members can stay in America, or will be forced back to the small Mexican town of Mazamitla, the name of which she has tattooed across her forearm.
Narvaez said regardless of what Trump says or does going forward, she will never respect him after his comments claiming that Mexican immigrants are bringing drugs and crime to the U.S. at the start of his presidential campaign.
“That’s my family he’s talking about,” Narvaez said. “Those are people I work with and study with.”

Student Loans Make Students Reconsider Major

Surrounded by dozens of students clicking away on their laptops and flipping through textbooks, Emmanuel Vasquez sits at a booth on the second floor of the USF Library and googles high-paying majors.

“At this point, I’m feeling desperate,” Vasquez said. “Anything that pays off the loans.”

Forty-nine percent of college graduates consider themselves either unemployed or earn low salaries and about half report they are not offered learning experiences that can help advance their potential careers. The number of student loan borrowers as of 2015 has amounted to 43 million, according to Student Loan Hero.

“After resubmitting my FAFSA earlier last week, I realized how financially destructive my degree could be for my future,” Vasquez said. “It’s actually been bugging me for months.”

A common struggle students face during their first years at college is deciding which major to pursue. Most are obligated by the age of 17 to choose a career field and pay thousands of dollars to work towards that degree for four years. The STEM majors — a curriculum of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — are what many students are leaning towards pursuing in order to make up for their student debt.

Vasquez is a USF sophomore and humanities major, a subject he has had a passion for since a young age. However, he is considering changing his major to business before the spring semester.

“The issue stems from this idea that students believe they won’t be successful unless they work towards high demanding jobs,” Dr. Sean Lyons, doctor of management, said.

Dr. Lyons is a professor and researcher at the University of Guelph in Ontario, Canada who studies career development and expectations of young workers.

“We receive more students who have the potential to be great at subjects they excel at, who then feel they should settle for STEM majors, because they are told that those soft majors they love won’t grant them the income they need,” Dr. Lyons said.

63 percent of college graduates were encouraged to pursue a STEM degree in 2015, according to the Accenture Strategy 2015 U.S. College Graduate Employment Study.

Pablo Alava, a social studies teacher at Guinta Middle School in Brandon, said that the problem is created during early education.

“Things like standardized testing and mandatory grade requirements damage the ability for kids to be creative in things that aren’t generic subjects,” Alava said. “You have a kid who isn’t great at math but is a skill-born musician, and then he gets held back a year and is told that he is incompetent.”

Alava, who has been teaching since 2011 and has a master’s degree in education, has almost finished paying off his student debt.

“I graduated with flying colors and I still needed to depend on the money my parents helped me with as well, as connections I thankfully had from people I knew,” Alava said. “That is how you really make it after college. It’s all about the connections.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York states that 62 percent of recent college graduates are working in jobs that require a degree, yet only 27 percent are working in a job that relates to their major.

JoEllen Tharp, a mass communications student adviser for USF, considers the college experience to be a fair game. Most students are required to build connections within their college experiences, as well as complete internships and extracurricular activities.

“You have to maintain that balance of doing what you love, and also being realistic with what your outlook is and what your degree can offer, and make sure that you’re bringing in things to your resume to balance that out,” Tharp said. “Students need to make sure that they are ready to work in multiple fields until they reach the point that their passion and profession can sustain them.”

When it comes to their current jobs, about 53 percent of all employed college graduates in their mid-20s and early 30s say they are “very satisfied” at work, according to a recent study done by the Pew Research Center.

“It’s conflicting, choosing between being happy because I love my job, or being happy because I’m at peace with the money I make,” Vasquez said. “I just want all the money spent and work done to be worth it in the end.”

International Diversity Brings Students Together

The International Students Association at the University of South Florida organized International Night on Nov. 13, which is an event how diversity and union could go hand-and-hand.

Samuel Bai is a USF international, graduate student who was invited to perform at the event to show his passion for music. When he was just a little boy, Bai taught himself how to play the flute like his father.

“In China you have to get immersed into the atmosphere and feel the music,” Bai said.

Music, laughter and applause overpowered everything else during the event. Every group that performed included students from around the world and they incorporated their cultures in their performance.

USF Homecoming King, Kenny Ezevillo, hosted the event and showed great enthusiasm.

“The Diversity here is incredible,” Ezevillo said. You get to meet people from all over the place and everyone is so friendly.”

Most of these students are neither dance nor music majors. They join these groups as an outlet from the stress that comes from studying for tests and assignments. At the same time they are embracing new cultures and traditions.

“I think it’s really important to have these kind of events because it really opens culture to anyone who wants to come,” Kori Conklin, a USF molecular and microbiology student, said. “It’s really nice, because you get to experience something that’s not normal to you and it opens your world view.”

 

 

 

The Environment: Where Some See Progress, Others Are Disillusioned

Laurie Walker bustles about the southwestern corner of the USF campus, where lies a 16-acre space of greenery frequented by human visitors, bees, butterflies and two resident cats.

It was 1969 when the university established its Botanical Gardens, which serves as a breath of fresh air for the community as well as a home and research center for plants and animals.  Walker has been the director of the Botanical Gardens for 15 years.

Despite the soothing quietness of the gardens, worries about environmental degradation and health bubble underneath.  Having to protect plants from damaging weather is always a challenge, suggests Walker.  But newer challenges keep rising to the surface.

On site is an apiary used in the gardens’ yearlong beekeeping course.  The effects on bees were deeply felt this year.

“We were not able to collect honey this year,” said Walker. “There was just not enough honey to take. And we don’t do it for commercial purposes. We just do it as an educational component of the course.  But our honeybees have not been stockpiling honey.”

Step outside of the gardens and back into the day-to-day of Tampa Bay, and you’ll find that concern about the environment comes second.

“Everyone cares about the economy, which I can understand because people are concerned about ‘I need to feed my family, I need to feed myself,’” said Samantha Szatyari, a junior environmental science and policy major.

Dr. Susan MacManus, a distinguished professor of political science at USF, confirmed this sentiment.  MacManus notes that just because jobs and economy are at the top of the list does not mean Floridians don’t see its importance.  Many move to Florida because of its environment, so its health is already near the forefront of their minds.

MacManus directs the USF-Nielsen Sunshine State Survey, which concluded last month that the environment was the second most pressing issue for Floridians.

“The environment will absolutely intensify as an issue because of its high priority for younger people,” said MacManus.

Walker holds on to this as hope.

“Easier said than done, but I think young people now, college students, get this, and with social networks, that information can get out to others,” said Walker.

But some college students are not so sure. At the very least, they don’t think their peers care enough.

“Back home, one of the major problems that we have is people throwing garbage,” said Awa Ndiaye, a sophomore engineering student. “You walk down the streets and you see a bunch of plastic bags or you see a bunch of trash that shouldn’t be there and it’s something that directly impacts your life.”

Home for Ndiaye is Senegal, where she says the difference in approach to the environment is an awareness issue—lack of knowledge generates inaction.  But in the U.S., she says, it’s apathy.

“Here, a lot of the people I’ve been around—they’re kind of conscious of climate change and environmental issues, but they don’t care because at the end of the day it doesn’t affect them,” said Ndiaye. “If they waste water or if they’re wasting food, it doesn’t matter to them because at the end of the day, they still get food.”

Inaction is also exacerbated by the feeling that it’s too big of a problem for a single person to tackle, both Ndiaye and Szatyari say.

But it’s also a matter of wanting instant gratification.

“To take care of the environment is to make an investment in the future,” said Szatyari.  “A lot of people don’t want to make that investment.  People want to see results now.”

Szatyari, who is also the director of networking for the Student Environmental Association at USF, felt her view was fairly pessimistic, but nonetheless true.  Still, she continues to be active.

“There’s that disillusionment, but then there’s that ‘well what if I can be that voice of change?’” said Szatyari.

To Walker, young people can be that voice.

“Few people understand that one person can make a difference,” said Walker. “We have to be vocal, we have to get the word out. We have to educate people.”

Sexual Assault Silence

The University of South Florida launched the annual “It’s On Us” campaign this month, which calls for students to stand up against sexual violence on college campuses through events like taking a pledge and the “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes.”

The campaign comes hard on the heels of a recent sexual assault that occurred on USF’s campus. The university received national attention when a member of the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity was accused of sexually assaulting a young woman at a party.

Although one of the tools of the national “It’s On Us” campaign is to talk to your friends honestly and openly about sexual assault, many students at the university were unwilling to speak about sexual assaults on college campuses.

“It happened within Greek, yet it also could happen anywhere, for any other person who is not involved in an organization. But I think they should be talking about it,” said USF and Greek alumna Savannah Skuthan. “If it’s ‘on you,’ why aren’t you doing anything about it?”

According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network, approximately 23.1 percent of females and 5.4 percent of males will be the victim of sexual assault during their undergraduate career.

“I think people get worried about whether [reporting sexual assault] is going to be anonymous, whether they feel like they’re betraying someone,” said USF student Liz Stafford.

Conversations around sexual assault share this sentiment, as shown by a RAINN study in which 10 percent of college-aged females and 14 percent of college-aged males did not want to report a sexual assault fearing the alleged perpetrator would get in trouble.

 

 

 

The Office of Veteran Success Lends a Helping Hand

The University of South Florida was just named the best 4-year college in the nation for veterans.

USF’s Office of Veteran Success serves over 1500 student vets. Some of the programs that they offer are vet-to-vet tutoring, mentoring, success classes, VA work-studies and community networking events. The purpose of each program is to provide veterans with the necessary skills to succeed.

The office also works with USF staff members to help veterans transition back into school. Staff members can attend the “Got Your Six” workshop, which teaches them how to become better resources for student veterans.

Daniel McNeill is the office manager for the Office of Veterans Success. He says that the program is an overview of common stereotypes, strengths, weaknesses and ways to help veterans adapt back into academia.

“We created this presentation to educate USF faculty and staff to allow our veterans to transition more easily,” said McNeill.

McNeill also said that one thing he hopes that staff members take away from “Got Your Six” is that the transition phase isn’t something to take lightly. Student veterans are making drastic life changes, and they need support from faculty during this time.

Dr. Laura Anderson, a chemistry professor at USF, attended “Got Your Six” because she wanted to learn different ways to help student veterans in her classes.

Student veteran, Victor Perez, served in the Navy and is transitioning back into school. He says that the office has really helped him get back into the school mindset.

“The office of Veteran Success has taught me about all of the benefits that I could be eligible for… especially vet-to-vet tutoring [and] mentoring,” said Perez.

Bulls for Kids Pumpkin Day Benefiting John Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital

 

The University of South Florida organization Bulls For Kids has begun their fundraising efforts in order to benefit John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital by hosting seasonal events on campus.

Appropriately named after the 1966 Charlie Brown televised special, The Great Pumpkin Day invited students to purchase a pumpkin, promising that one hundred percent of all the proceeds will go directly to the hospital.

“John Hopkin’s All Children’s Hospital is local, and it feels good knowing that you are helping out an organization that is really close by.” said USF student Jayla Pugh.

Bulls for Kids is part of USF’s Dance Marathon, a movement  of student-run philanthropies benefiting Children’s Miracle Network hospitals around the country. Bulls for Kids is the largest student run philanthropy on campus.

The Bulls for Kids Promotions Director, Clarisse Fres, provided activities that students could participate in with their pumpkin.

“You can decorate them with paint and these other art supplies. Or you can take it home and do whatever you want to do with the pumpkin,” Fres said.

With waivers signed and safety goggles worn, students were also given the option to smash their pumpkins by raising it above their heads, and launching it towards the ground. Pumpkin smashing was offered as a way for students to relieve stress.

All these smaller events are leading to the main Bulls for Kids event in the spring: the 12-hour Dance Marathon, which is where most of the donations come in.

According to leadandserve.usf.edu, Bulls for Kids broke its long-standing record at USF last year by raising $130,011.29 more than any other year before and an 82% increase from the 2015 marathon.

“It’s a year-long process,” Fres said. “Now that this year is around, we’re going to try and raise $200,000.”

Bulls For Kids has no doubt that they will reach this goal, especially with registration for the Dance Marathon already accepting teams and donations.

The Dance Marathon officially begins on Feb. 25, 2017. Registration ends Dec. 11, and donations are being accepted until 9 p.m. at the event.

Manatee Viewing Center Expects Bigger Crowds In 30th Year

 

Tampa Electric Manatee Viewing Center employee’s Jamie Woodlee and Bob Rast both share a common passion for the protection of Florida manatees.

Woodlee has worked for TECO’s Manatee Viewing Center for more than 30 years and has seen the facility grow into what it is today.

“I’ve actually been with Tampa Electric for 30 years, and started right away in their environmental department,” Woodlee said. “It’s just been an amazing experience being able to see how far we’ve come since I first started here.”

Located off of Dickman Road in Apollo Beach Florida, the TECO Manatee Viewing Center offers guests an up close and personal view of manatees in their natural habitat. According to tampaelectric.com, Big Bend Power Station in Apollo Beach delivered reliable electricity to the community for 16 years before the commercial operation of Big Bend Unit 4 in 1986. It was that year where people first took notice of manatees arriving in large numbers in the power station’s discharge canal.

“We get visitors from all over the world,” Woodlee said. “We get anywhere from 150,000 to over 300,000 visitors in over five-in-a half months.”

The Manatee Viewing Center’s mission is to educate the public about the Florida manatee and its habitat. The center is a state and federally designated manatee sanctuary, which has interactive exhibits and staff members educating visitors of all ages about the life cycle of the manatee and the challenges it faces.

Rast said when the waters of Tampa Bay reaches 68 degrees or colder, the manatees would seek refuge in the Apollo Beach area.

“They are a unique creature,” Rast said. “When the weather gets chilly and the manatees get cold stressed, they come here to get warm and recharge their batteries so to speak.”

Rast has worked for the TECO Manatee Viewing Center for over 16 years and has extensive expertise on manatees in the area.

With tourists and locals flocking in from November 1 until April 15, the Manatee Viewing Center is ready for another year of big crowds.

“We are this quiet little gem of a place that is really starting to get out there,” Woodlee said.

OneBlood seeks donations after Hurricane Matthew

Blood donation centers on Florida’s East Coast resumed operations after the threat of Hurricane Matthew forced them to close their doors and halt donations.

As residents in the region prepared for the impact of the storm, hospitals and blood banks also prepared by ensuring that blood provisions were available.

“On a daily basis, blood is used in so many different ways to save lives,” said Dan Ebert, donor and community director at OneBlood.

While blood banks on the East Coast were closed, residents of the West Coast of Florida were encouraged to go out and donate in order to boost the blood supply. However, that would not be enough.

For the four days that donation centers were closed, thousands of possible blood donations from the East Coast were lost. Additionally, not enough people in the unaffected areas stepped up to give.

After the storm passed, the supply of blood, plasma, and platelets was critically low. Organizations like OneBlood have again asked people to go out and donate.

Frequent donors like Angeline Diamond understand the importance of donating blood.

“I’ve had plenty of family that been in car accidents and need blood. So I donate whenever I can just to help the community,” says Diamond.

For others, donating is a matter of their own health.

“When you donate you receive a wellness checkup,” explains Ebert.

The free wellness checkup includes a blood pressure test and cholesterol screening, which are valuable in accessing a donor’s health.

OneBlood and the Red Cross will be conducting blood drives all week long in order to replenish the blood supply.

For more information regarding donations, visit OneBlood online.

Local Shoe Drive Helps Refugees in Need

National Welcoming Week is an event that encourages members of the community to promote unity by celebrating contributions from immigrants and refugees from all over the world with dance and performances. The University of South Florida hosted the event this year.

This year’s theme was centered on shoes for refugees with the theme being, “Small shoes, Big Journey.” Rachel Ackey, a 10-year-old volunteer, came up with the idea of a shoe drive to donate shoes to refugee children.

“I wanted to do something for them ’cause they have to run away from their homes ’cause of a war,” said Ackey.  “They probably just have the pair of shoes on their feet. So I wanna give them different shoes so they could feel welcomed and they could have new shoes for the school year.”

Volunteers hope to relay the message of unity to encourage the community to be welcoming to those transitioning from places where war, persecution or natural disasters are abundant.

In an effort to celebrate refugees and their backgrounds, event organizers hosted a fashion show where refugees got to participate in showcasing garments from around the world.

Over 100 pairs of shoes for kids were collected during the Week of Welcome, thanks to contributions and efforts from the community.

Campus safety event with USFPD encourages awareness

The University of South Florida hosted a brand new event, National Campus Safety Day, on Sept. 28 that highlighted campus safety awareness.

Multiple organizations such as the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Department and the Hillsborough County Fire Rescue came out. The idea of the event was to demonstrate awareness to the citizens of Hillsborough County.

“What we hope is that the police alone, the fire alone, the first responders can’t be always everywhere they need to be all the time,” said USF Police Chief, Chris Daniel. “By educating our community, that makes everybody part of the solution.”

The event lasted from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and was full of students looking to participate. Demonstrations such as CPR with just your hands and how a police K-9 takes someone down were just a few on scene.

“This way there’s an incentive to listen to the information and to meet different people that you ordinarily would not meet,” Daniel said.

For more information regarding campus safety, visit USF’s annual security report and safety guide.

Paralympic Sports Program Motivates Locals

 

Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay is a program of Hillsborough County Parks and Recreation with the mission to promote health, independence and personal growth through sports for people with physical disabilities.

Andy Chasnoff started the program 15 years ago and he, with the help of this staff, focused his time helping people reach their maximum potential in sports.

“We focus on their ability and not their disability,” Chasnoff said.

Logan Krepop, 14, is a student at Manatee School of the Arts and has been a member of Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay for the past two years.

“It’s a great experience with kids with my disability to throw the discus and do a bunch of sports with the kids that are like  them,” Krepop said. “It’s really nice.

Travis Leigh, 33, has cerebral palsy, but feels like everyone else. He is grateful the paralympic events in the area, because they were not around when he was young.

Members of the Paralympic Sport Tampa Bay are competing in local and national competitions. Over 300 athletes participate in at least one PSTB program or event each year.

“Well first I’m going to try and go to the Adaptive Sports National Championship and then once I get older, going to train up for the Paralympics,”said Krepop.

Girls on the Run Empowering, Educating Life Skills

In its criss-cross through the nation, the Flavor Run 5K has left its mark through Girls on the Run in Tampa Bay.

Founded on a drive to create an affordable, fun and family-friendly event, The Flavor Run has transformed into a means of supporting local charities and businesses across the country.

“We have about 1,800 participants, and I’d say there are approximately 30 percent of first time runners,” said John McMahan, the event director and founder of the Flavor Run. “We focus on family, quality, and we also focus on partnering with local charities.”

Girls on the Run is a personal enrichment program for young girls that help to teach young girls life skills through a physical activity-based curriculum.  The program was established in 1996 in Charlotte, North Carolina, and has since grown to over 200 councils in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

Laura Moore serves as the director of Girls on the Run Greater Tampa Bay.  She said for the volunteers and runners of the 5K that designates Girls on the Run as their group during registration, a donation will be made to the program.

“For every volunteer that we bring, they can raise money for charity,” Moore said. “And for every runner that is in our team, they can donate a certain amount. There was about $2,000 that was donated last year, and all of those funds goes directly to our scholarship program, so that every young girl can be part of Girls on the Run.”

Over the course of a few years, the Flavor Run has become a vital piece in allowing Girls on the Run the opportunity to offer scholarships to members.

“We were a small part three years ago and then last year we were the exclusive charity partner, and we’re back again as the exclusive charity partner.  Moore said.  “We love the Flavor Run.”

The goal for Girls on the Run is to empower young girls in developing a strong sense of character, and feel confident in who they are and make connections with their peers.

McMahan said what motivates him in his role at the Flavor Run is being involved in a family-friendly atmosphere.

“It has to be the people that I surround myself with,” McMahan said. “The organizations that we work with, Laura, including Girls on the Run in Tampa Bay, it has been unbelievable.”

Tampa Pride Rises Strong Again

Live entertainment, influential guest speakers, and the waving of rainbow flags dominated the streets of Ybor City during the second annual Tampa Gay Pride parade and festival.

With the legalization of same-sex marriage passed in all 50 states since June of 2015, supporters and newcomers in the LGBT community are thrilled with the return of Tampa Pride, and vow for continued efforts to end discrimination in Florida.

“I think it’s a big influential part of the LGBT community,” said Achilles, an LGBT supporter. “You know it’s phenomenal. So, why not share it with the world?”

The event not only attracted new festivalgoers, vendors were also drawn in by the large crowd.

“It’s my first time, and I’m kind of loving it,” said Kara Wroblewski, owner of Happy Place Tie Dye.

While her company earns a profit from hand dyeing plain white t-shirts into any color the customer wants, Wroblewski said she also favors meeting new people at the festival.

“The people are sweet, I love it,” Wroblewski said. “Any time you can get a group of like-minded people together, it’s the way to go.”

The Pride celebration not only aims to usher in newcomers and supporters, forming a family with the LGBT community is another goal.

“They may have not have had the best past, they may have been thrown out or kicked out or lived on the street,” said Lindsey, a festivalgoer. “So they find a place to fit in, and be a part of a family because they want to be loved.”

 

Baseball league creates lasting friendships for special needs children

Baseball can be more than just a sport. America’s pastime has this unique ability to bring people from all different walks of life together. This is especially true for Buddy Baseball commissioner Russ Oberbroeckling.

“My sister has a league in Illinois,” Oberbroeckling said. “ Once I saw how well that league was going up there I figured we should have this here in Tampa. We started in the fall of 2009 and we have two seasons a year, we’re just finishing up our fourteenth season.”

Based in Temple Terrace, Buddy Baseball is a non-competitive league for boys and girls with special needs. The players are each paired with a buddy that they will spend the entirety of the season with.

“For typical kids, they don’t have a lot of chances to interact with kids with special needs,” Oberbroeckling said. “But now they do. They want to volunteer their time and get to know these kids. Not only that, but when they see them out in the general public, they are a little more receptive to them.”

Thanks to Buddy Baseball, players like Zach Mueller have been given the opportunity to break down social barriers.

“I like to play baseball with my focus kids,” Mueller said.

Mueller has been involved with Buddy Baseball for its entire existence. His mother, Kim, has seen the effect the league has had on her son and his teammates.

“Once the buddies come out here, I think they see that life isn’t always about being able to run the bases like an average kid can,” she said. “I’m hoping that if at least just one buddy of the hundreds that have come through in the last 14 seasons, take away from it that life isn’t always so simple.”

This league isn’t about the results. Simply put, it’s about the memories and the experiences that will last forever.

“No matter what, win or lose,  we are baseball winners,” Mueller said.

USF’s Solar Energy Fair

On Saturday Mar. 26, the Solar Energy Society at USF held their annual Solar Energy Fair. It is an event created to help teach the Tampa community about the latest innovations and technologies offered around the city. At this year’s event, there were Question and Answer panels with University professors and specialists; however, the true heart of the event lies with the students who make it all possible.

This year, two USF graduates presented their research to the public in order to share their new ideas. “I have always been a solar enthusiast,” said Arun Kumar. “I hope that these technologies and my research can be used in Third World countries to help other people.”

New breakthroughs are also coming from female students, such as Francesca Moloney who said: “From an early age I knew I wanted to focus my career on something in the environment.”

Both of these students hope to take their research and implement them at the university and across the Tampa Bay area. If their research and innovations succeed, they hope to apply them around the world. They aspire to build awareness in the community about the research being conducted, so that people can make wiser choices in their everyday lives.

African Infused With Caribbean Dance Shakes Up Wesley Chapel

The founder and CEO of Tampa Bay AfroFit, is aiming to spread the influence of African culture into the Tampa Bay community by infusing it with dance and cardio.

Natacha Zamor was raised by Haitian parents in Montreal.

Zamor grew up learning Haitian folk dances with her grandmother.

“When we would dance, we would sweat, we really did sweat and I remember always thinking this is such a great workout,” Zamor said.

Before starting Afrofit in 2015, Zamor—who was been a registered nurse— saw the need for an exercise program like this in the community. She noticed many programs, such as Zumba, and thought that there  was something missing for the people of African decent.

“It’s not just exercise, we dance, we laugh, and also she (Zamor) educates people,” Roberte Francios, an AfroFit participant, said.

Since starting AfroFit, Zamor has made it her mission to educate those around her about what they are really doing during their time with her.

“Our mission, our culture, doesn’t just rest on that, it rests on the younger generations, older generations, re-appropriating what has been lost,” Zamor said. Afrofit is located in Wesley Chapel Florida.

To learn more about AfroFit group classes, events and workshops please visit their website Tampabayafrofit.com or email them at Tampabayafrofit@gmail.com.

 

My Daughter’s Keeper Of Tampa Bay

Donna Welch has made it her mission to educate young girls about their worth and their choices.

“We have learned that girls can have so many challenges in their life,” Welch said. “So having a program where they can come—it’s a platform open to the young ladies to discuss all the issues that relate to them…we cover it all.”

Welch established My Daughter’s Keeper of Tampa Bay, Inc. (MDK) in 2007. The St. Petersburg mentoring program aims to encourage and empower young women ages 10 to 18. The girls meet weekly to discuss anything from school to relationships to aspirations. The program also organizes workshops for the girls on etiquette, personal development, and any other needs the girls may have.

“I think that a lot of what is being talked about now is self-esteem issues and being confident in who you are and in your own skin,” mentor NaKeena Cromartie said.

There are currently 25 to 30 girls enrolled in the program. When Welch is not working with them, she is touring the Bay area, giving speeches and offering her services. Welch has an open door policy and loves when previous mentees like Cromartie come back to help out with the program.

“That’s the rewarding part,” Welch said, “to be able to see the young ladies that go off to school, or you know the military or whatever they choose to do in life, but they don’t forget the program that helped them get there.”

“I’ve known Ms. Donna for a very long time,” Cromartie said. “And she’s not only been and instructor from the MDK perspective…but also like a godmother to me.”

Welch hopes to continue to influence young girls by expanding her program to Tampa.

Energy fund looks to use oil waste as fuel

In 2011, the University of South Florida Tampa campus launched the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF) in order to help make the campus more energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

In its few years at USF, the SGEF has already set up various projects throughout the university such as electric vehicle stations and a campus bike-share project. This year, SGEF plans on creating a bio-diesel fuel in order to replace fossil fuel as an energy source for vehicles on campus.

“It would be used for the Bull Runner buses that travel around the campus,” SGEF Chair, Harold Bower, said. “The goal of the bio-diesel project is to take waste oil from cooking function on campus and process it so it can be burned in the bull runner vehicles as fuel.”

The SGEF plans for the bio-diesel to be made from oil waste collected from campus eating facilities in order to be reused.

“The bio-diesel project I think, in my opinion, one of the best projects you can think of, because we are really being able to mitigate the carbon footprint that we create as a school,” SGEF Inspector, John Pilz, said. “We are able to utilize wastes that would just be going to the trash can.”

The bio-diesel project was awarded $100,000 in funding and is currently in the final stages of its research before implementing the new fuel. If the research shows great results, then students and faculty can expect to be riding bio-diesel buses as early as next fall.

 

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.