Pre-med student regrets spending Gasparilla’s day in class

Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley
Ashtyn Leep was not pleased to spend her Gasparilla Saturday in class. Photo: McKenna Kelley

After taking a quiz on the basics of experimental design, USF sophomore Ashtyn Leep watched the teaching assistant explain the different parts of the microscopes they would be using for their biology lab late Saturday afternoon.

Leep was in her second class of the day, having spent the earlier part of the afternoon in a physics lab. While taking classes over the weekend would be less than preferable in any given week, Leep was particularly frustrated on this Saturday.

While she pulled on her white lab coat in the Interdisciplinary Sciences building, her friends were enjoying the general mayhem of the Gasparilla Pirate Fest on Bayshore Boulevard.

“I hosted a pre-gaming party for my friends, and I didn’t go to Gasparilla,” said Leep. “I’m so mad, I almost cried.”

Her plans to attend the parade were complicated last week when a classmate pointed out that event overlapped with her 2 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. labs. She remained hopeful that she might make it for a brief time, so she did not cancel the party. It became clear to Leep Saturday morning that it would be impossible to make the trip from the university area to South Tampa and be back in time for her classes.

“I got Taco Bell to make myself feel better,” said Leep.

Leep said friends from as far away as Boca Raton began their day imbibing at her house. Some even borrowed her clothes for the parade. She sat on the sideline, preparing to learn about the parts of a microscope instead of the art of bead catching.

“My friend’s dad is a doctor, so I was tempted to have him write me a doctor’s note,” she said. “But I didn’t.”

Freshman Shawna Miller said she has gone to Gasparilla with a big group of friends and family every year until this one – she was also stuck in the lab. Like Leep, she had to live vicariously through pictures and videos her friends posted on social media.

“All of my friends are on Snapchat,” said Miller. “They’ve got their beads on, and I’m in a biology lab.”

Leep still had a bit of fun ahead of her. Her friends planned to return to her house after the parade to continue celebrating Gasparilla – and they owed her some of their treasure.

“They got me beads,” Leep said. “Hopefully. I’ll be mad if they didn’t.”