Radio show helps fight hunger

99.5 WQYK partnered up with Feeding Tampa Bay for the fourth year in a row to collect food for those in need in Zephyrhills on Friday.

The country music station is in the middle of their event known as Food Fund November. Every Friday of the month, the morning show broadcasts live from a city in the Tampa Bay area. Their tent is set up right next to Feeding Tampa Bay’s tent, where you can drop off food for donation.

“We started Food Fund Friday’s as a way to both help families and to get out to the community to say thanks for everything that you do,” Veronica Alfaro, co-host of the morning show said.

Roughly 100 people showed up to donate food. Among those was state Rep. Danny Burgess, who donated food and participated in the radio show.

“The community always turns out for these type of events,” Burgess said. “We’re always looking for ways to help our neighbors and to help others.”

Unfortunately, those in need are suffering throughout the year, not just during the fall. For this reason, Feeding Tampa Bay wants people to know that their services are available year-round.

“Fall is when people tend to focus on people being hungry,” Maxine Rice, a Feeding Tampa Bay employee said. “But really we need to make sure people are aware throughout the year.”

Feeding Tampa Bay is part of the national Feeding America network. Over the last three years, the nonprofit organization has nearly doubled the amount of food that is provided to the public. They went from 20 million meals to 37 million meals a year.

If you want to reach out and help your community, you can go online to Feeding Tampa Bay’s website at feedingtampabay.org to learn more.

Author of “The Selfie Vote” Speaks Out About 2016 Presidential Election

Author and Republican pollster Kristen Soltis Anderson stopped by to talk about polling, millennials, and what could seemingly be labeled the most interesting election yet. Here is her seven second take:

* Click *

Second 1: Anderson is a millennial herself, though she is hesitant to admit it. She carefully placed space between her age and ours while she spoke. Anderson never anticipated falling into her current line of work. A graduate thesis and a passion for Washington D.C. put her on the path of polling, political contributing, and a book deal among other endeavors. A strong voice for the millennial generation.

Second 2: As for her take on young voters, they care more than you think. Anderson recalled comments made that millennials are unreachable when it comes to politics. For Anderson these comments do not ring true. Instead she sees 80 million millennials, one force that can reshape an election.

Second 3: So how does one reach these lucrative voters? Anderson does not think that the Democratic party has hit the nail on the head just yet, frustrated with the Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton campaign. Anderson referenced her frustration in the article Stop trying to make Chillary Happen. She recalled Clinton’s requests for young voters to “Pokémon Go to the polls” and explain how their student debt made them feel in three emojis or less. Anderson’s advice to Clinton:

“Quit trying so hard,” Anderson said. “Just be yourself.”

Second 4: As for the Republican nominee Donald Trump’s efforts, Anderson considered them to be either non-existent or counterproductive. Though, she did give a nod to Trump for being the more technologically savvy out of the two.

“The medium does not trump the message,” Anderson said. “No pun intended.”

Second 5: So how do the candidates tip the scale and reign in the millennial vote this year? Speak to young voters at the level they are currently at. According to Anderson, this includes understanding their moral lens, distrust of big institutions, adversity to labels and pragmatism.

Second 6: The real question is what does this election come down to? For Anderson, it is numbers and certain states. Trump needs 269 electoral votes to push the decision to the House of Representatives. This is easier said than done according to Anderson’s analysis.

“Trump needs everything to go right in that one narrow path to win,” Anderson said.

Second 7: In the end, Anderson is optimistic that Trump will not win this election cycle.

“Democrats fall in love,” Anderson said. “Republicans fall in line.”

Clinton does not have an easy fight either in Anderson’s eyes.

“Young women are not giving bonus points based on someone’s gender,” Anderson said.

This year’s election is up in the air, causing Anderson’s closing statement to never ring more true:

“Your vote matters.”

Local Organization Inspires Young Girls

The Centre for Girls is a youth organization aimed at girls from ages 5 to 14. It is led by Sartura Shuman-Smith, the center’s program director. The center is also organized by program manager, Walter Jennings.

“This place is so therapeutic and so healing for me,” Shuman-Smith said. “It is just so important for me to know I have a purpose.”

When asked about the focus of the Centre for Girls, Shuman-Smith said, “We’re not creating girls or enhancing girls, we are creating women and developing women.” She talked about the accounting classes, dance instruction, as well as a Lego program for the young women ages five to nine.

Walter Jennings, the program manager, is in charge of after-school help, as well as developing a curriculum for all of the girls attending.

“Our heart’s passion and desire is for young people to come up with good, constructive ways to deal with some of the issues and challenges that they have,” Jennings said. He talked about how his girls attended the center and how much he feels he owes the organization.

The Centre for Girls is located on 105 W. Sligh Avenue and serves an enrichment program for girls ages 5 to 14. The program is not free, although the website offers program assistance. There are currently 46 girls attending the center.

Clinton celebrates 69th birthday at rally in Tampa

Hillary Clinton spent her 69th birthday on the campaign trail in Florida, attending rallies in both Lake Worth and Tampa. Early voting began on Monday in the state, causing both major party nominees to return to encourage supporters to show up to the polls.

The rally included guest appearances from Mayor Bob Buckhorn, Congresswoman Kathy Castor and Academy Award nominee Angela Bassett. All speakers emphasized the necessity of early voting and the weight the swing state holds in the general election.

Supporters let out a cheer as Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak at her rally at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa on Wednesday. By Breanne Williams
Supporters let out a cheer as Hillary Clinton took the stage to speak at her rally at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in Tampa on Wednesday. By Breanne Williams
Congresswoman Kathy Castor spoke prior to Clinton taking the stage encouraging attendees to vote early at one of the many polling locations in the area, which she reminded voters are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Nov. 5. “Everyday is Election Day here in Hillsborough County.” By Breanne Williams
Congresswoman Kathy Castor spoke prior to Clinton taking the stage encouraging attendees to vote early at one of the many polling locations in the area, which she reminded voters are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. until Nov. 5. “Everyday is Election Day here in Hillsborough County,” Castor said. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service agents lined the Tampa Museum of Art and other surrounding buildings in preparation for Clinton’s arrival at the rally. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service agents lined the Tampa Museum of Art and other surrounding buildings in preparation for Clinton’s arrival at the rally. By Breanne Williams
“We’ve actually learned in this campaign that Donald Trump is the poster boy for everything wrong with our economy,” said Clinton. She then detailed her plans to boost the nation’s and Tampa’s economy, including promising to give the high-speed rail rejected by Rick Scott in 2011 another look. By Breanne Williams
“We’ve actually learned in this campaign that Donald Trump is the poster boy for everything wrong with our economy,” Clinton said. She then detailed her plans to boost the nation’s and Tampa’s economy, including promising to give the high-speed rail rejected by Rick Scott in 2011 another look. By Breanne Williams
Many supporters brought signs and flowers for Clinton as the rally was held on her 69th birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday to the nominee both before the rally began and after its conclusion when she shook hands with many in attendance. By Breanne Williams
Many supporters brought signs and flowers for Clinton as the rally was held on her 69th birthday. The crowd sang happy birthday to the nominee both before the rally began and after its conclusion when she shook hands with many in attendance. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service lined the barricades separating the public from Clinton, where thousands attended to celebrate the nominee’s 69th birthday and hear her plans for boosting the economy, making college affordable and continuing the fight for women’s rights. By Breanne Williams
Secret Service lined the barricades separating the public from Clinton, where thousands attended to celebrate the nominee’s 69th birthday and hear her plans for boosting the economy, making college affordable and continuing the fight for women’s rights. By Breanne Williams
Sarah Gaines, an organizer often found on the USF campus, signed up volunteers both prior and following the rally. Both the organizers and Castor encouraged attendees to remain active in the last stretch of the election by knocking on doors and making calls for the Clinton campaign. By Breanne Williams
Sarah Gaines, an organizer often found on the USF campus, signed up volunteers both prior and following the rally. Both the organizers and Castor encouraged attendees to remain active in the last stretch of the election by knocking on doors and making calls for the Clinton campaign. By Breanne Williams
Protesters who were both pro-Trump and third party camped outside the entrance. Thomas Ciotola, a Gary Johnson supporter, protested the Tampa rallies this week for both major party candidates. “I don’t think there’s anyway to choose between the two," Ciotola said. “That’s like asking, ‘Who’s better? Hitler or Stalin?’” By Breanne Williams
Protesters who were both pro-Trump and third party camped outside the entrance. Thomas Ciotola, a Gary Johnson supporter, protested the Tampa rallies this week for both major party candidates. “I don’t think there’s anyway to choose between the two,” Ciotola said. “That’s like asking, ‘Who’s better? Hitler or Stalin?’” By Breanne Williams

Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market’s Unique Vendors Attracts Throngs Of Curious Crowds Weekly

On Tuesdays, vendors line the sidewalks of Gulfport’s historic Waterfront district. The Gulfport Tuesday Fresh Market attracts more than 1,000 people from October through to April.

In 2006, the market got its start in a small courtyard with only three vendors. Today, the market hosts up to 80 vendors on any given Tuesday during the season and contributes to community projects by providing grants with the money generated.

Susan Blankenship, market operations manager, appreciates the community element of the weekly event as well as the opportunity for visitors to find out about the Gulfport community.

“It gets people who live close to come down and walk around,” Blankenship said. “They get to know each other and socialize, and (it) gives new people an opportunity to find out about our great community.”

In an effort to maintain variety, prospective vendors are decided upon by a committee that reviews application submissions.

Variety is something that does not come short at Jerky Man Dan’s, where jerky, ranging from kangaroo, ostrich, duck, elk, alligator and more, can be found.

After being idle for one year, Jerky Man Dan’s is now up and running but with a new purpose and owner, Ted.

After the death of his brother, 58-year-old Ted decided to continue his brother’s entrepreneurial pursuit with the aim of aiding his mother while she struggles with her diminishing mental health.  

Since coming to the market each Tuesday, Ted has seen a light in his mother. Coming to the market is something that his mother, Marie, enjoys doing.

“I’m blessed enough to be able to spend some time with my mother before she passes away, to get her out of the house and let her enjoy life,” he said.

Shop local this holiday season

Harvest season is right around the corner and the MiraBay Market encourages the community to shop local this Thanksgiving. Vendors and small businesses around the area are encouraged to set up their tents and showcase their products for local shoppers.

“I’m kind of new, I moved here in the summer so seeing a lot of these local vendors kind of helps me get to know them a little better and see what’s actually out in my community,” Suzie Moore said, a local shopper.

Small businesses got a chance to showcase their products. Big Crush Slush Company was amongst these, offering premium frozen slush beverages. Owner Tim Sanders encourages local markets and businesses because it brings attention to the community.

“Right now in this time in age we need to help the small business owners,” Tim Sanders said, “This helps drive that attention into the small business owners as well as the local communities.”

The MiraBay Market features all types of food items, including produce, sweets, and specialty drinks. The market also features other items like clothing, jewelry and accessories.

It was an event fit for all age groups, with one of the youngest vendors being Zoraya Gonzales.

“I just started working with my titi,” said Zoraya Gonzales.

The MiraBay Market takes place outside of the MiraBay Club in Apollo Beach on the third Sunday of every month. The next one is Dec.18th.

 

Hospital Holds Annual Veterans Day Parade

James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital honored veterans Nov. 11 in their ninth annual Veterans Day Parade. More than 1800 participants and 300 volunteers were in attendance for the momentous occasion.

Bruce Waters, U.S. Air Force veteran, learned many life lessons during his service and credits the military for helping him become the man he is today.

“Of all the things that can happen to you in the service, it makes a man out of you or a lady out of you, if you are a woman,” Waters said. “It teaches you responsibility.”

Retired veteran Connie White served in the Air Force for 20 years. She is now a member of the Military Women Across the Nation who walked the parade.

“I took that oath to protect my country, to guide my country in all enemies, foreign and domestic and that oath never ends,” White said. “It is always there.”

Rhonda Crawford grew up in a military family and says although it can be a challenging career, she encourages young women to join the service.

“Go for it—I enjoyed my experience so much,” Crawford said. “It makes you grow as a person that you would not believe possible; the people that you meet and the place you go, they last a lifetime.”

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.”

Clearwater Beach presents annual Chalk Art Festival

The fifth annual Clearwater Beach Chalk Art Festival welcomed local and regional artists to display their talents on the Clearwater Beach sidewalk.

“There are so many amazing artists here,” said artist Julie Greene.

For the festival, Greene drew a chalk version of Omar Rayyan’s “The Favorite” catching the attention of people passing by.

“I love the face on the little girl,” visitor Gust Ristas said about Greene’s drawing.

Greene wasn’t always a chalk artist. She’d been experiencing what she described as an artist’s block until she discovered her chalk art talent.

“I was sitting outside one day and my kids were riding their bikes and scooters and the bucket of sidewalk chalk was sitting next to me and I just started doing these great big quotes,” said Greene about how she got started.

Greene claimed that chalk art helped her get through artist block and even get back into other forms of artwork.

“I felt like the creative juices started flowing again,” Greene said.

The creative juices were flowing for visitors at the festival as well. Singer-songwriter Danny Mcelroy put his talent on display by singing a portion of a song he wrote.

“My dream is to be a musician, you know, and like tour, you know, and make money off of being a performer and musician,” Mcelroy said.

 

 

 

Tampa Bay’s Best: The Florida Aquarium

Florida Aquarium employee Eric Hovland and guest Angela Moody share a passion for marine life and the environment in which they live.

Hovland has seen The Florida Aquarium blossom into the popular Tampa attraction that it is today.

“I’ve worked here at The Florida Aquarium for going on 22 years in May and I’ve loved every minute of it,” Hovland said. “Seeing the facility grow over the years and being able to work with all of the diverse species of marine life on a daily basis has been a dream come true for me.”

Located in downtown Tampa, right next to Port Tampa Bay, The Florida Aquarium offers its patrons a unique experience that is unlike any other aquarium in the United States.

“I had no idea until I got here that you could dive with sharks at this aquarium,” Moody said. “I’ve never heard of anything like that at any other aquarium I’ve ever been to.”

The Florida Aquarium was the first aquarium in the nation to offer an uncaged dive with sharks experience.

“We have the sand tiger sharks and all of our diverse fish that you can get to know,” Hovland said. “Learning about sharks can really accelerate when you can see sharks being sharks.”

People from all over the world travel to Tampa, which in turn brings many diverse people and cultures to The Florida Aquarium.

“Whether they’re getting off a cruise ship and stopping in for a visit, we really do get a diversity of the world’s culture,” Hovland said. “It’s nice to see our impact reaches much further than just the Tampa Bay area.”

For more information, please visit flaquarium.org

No Oven, No Problem

 

Roland Strobel is the co-creator of The Cider Press Cafe located in St.Petersburg. They create tasty dishes from natural ingredients without using an oven, stove or microwave.

“It is a vegan restaurant but we are mainly a raw and gluten free restaurant. We don’t cook a lot of our dishes but we prepare them in ways and process them without cooking them,” Strobel said.

Kitchen manager Christina Barbara has been working at the cafe since it opened August of last year. She has maintained a smooth operating kitchen by making sure the preparation is done correctly.

“The prep work is the main art of the food here basically. That is the most important, the most crucial thing cause if you don’t have that recipe down right then it doesn’t even taste right,” Barbara said.

Barbara has expanded her knowledge of cooking and combining of flavors from working at the cafe.

“Working here will definitely give you a different aspect of life. How to make your vegetables a new way of combining them into everyday eating and healthy living,” Barbara said.

The Cider Press Cafe incorporates paintings from local artists in the community to feature in the restaurant. The cafe also features an event night the first Wednesday of every month where guests can drink wine and beer and paint pictures.

Election Day Voters

 

With only hours before the end of election season, voters are showing up to the polls to show support for their candidate. The Florida vote is one of the most important ones for both candidates.

“The ideology behind having the right to vote; I think it’s a privilege to be able to exercise that right,” Avery Thompson said.

With 29 electoral votes, Florida is a necessity for both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. However, neither of them had an easy run. Both campaigns were plagued with scandals. In fact, Trump announced his candidacy with a sound bite that haunted him on his run to the White House.

The most shocking political revelations came from the democratic side. Hillary Clinton spent most of her candidacy under FBI investigation. Aside from this, her campaign chairman John Podesta’s emails were exposed in 35 separated batches released by WikiLeaks.

Though Clinton fought to steer the attention away from her scandals, voters like Donna Kuntz remember.

“I’m sick and tired of the corruption in Washington,” said Kuntz, “No government and no one person should be above the law.”

For others it’s more about the candidate’s record, like Thompson.

“I just think [Clinton] is a more respectful, qualified candidate,” Thompson said.

Regardless of who is pronounced as the winner, it is important to remember that it’s up to us, as citizens, to work together to make this nation great. It’s not in the hands of Washington politicians to bring us together. We must, as a community, continue to move forward for the next four years.

 

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.”

 

 

 

Organic Farm Supported by Community

Sweetwater Organic Community Farm is a local farm funded by the community to bring fresh organic produce to the city. They are located at 6942 West Comanche Ave., in the heart of Tampa.

Sweetwater Organic Community Farm started a CSA to raise money for the farm so that they can grow fresh vegetables for families that are interested in eating healthy.

“CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture. That frankly means that the community is supporting this farm to grow food for them,” Travis Hansen said.

Hansen has been the farm manager now for two seasons and wants to continue his work at Sweetwater Organic Community Farm. He is very passionate about what he does.

“If you’re not present with love then you’re not going to fully connect with these plants. You’re not going to fully connect with your food that you are bringing to your table,” Hansen said.

That is what Sweetwater Organic Community Farm is all about. They want to educate the community to live a better life style by eating healthy food.

“We are really reaching out to the food desert community that we have around us. So in a 1.5-mile radius it’s considered a food desert, where people do not have access to clean healthy organic food. So we offer a much healthier alternative with organic produce,” Christine Wallace said.

Sunday local vendors set-up booths at the farm to sell their products and farm grown vegetables. Sweetwater Organic Community Farm also offers farm tours every third Sunday of the month as well as educational workshops for adults and children. You can check out their upcoming events on their website at http://sweetwater-organic.org

NFL, MLS Brass Participate in Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series

The University of South Florida’s Sun Dome recently hosted two influential people in the sports world. Tod Leiweke, Chief Operating Officer for the National Football League and Don Garber, the Commissioner of Major League Soccer. The USF Sport & Entertainment Lecture Series is aimed at students studying in USF’S Sport & Entertainment Management program.

Students find it important to have renowned names visiting the university. This is especially true for those in the Sport & Entertainment program.

“First of all, having such important folks that have so much influence in the sports business like Tod Leiweke and Don Garber brings a lot of great attention and educational opportunity to folks in the Tampa area,” said student Payton Phillips. “Our students, our faculty and our athletic staff [benefit] as well, so it’s able to bring industries’ minds and is good to learn from so that we can perform better and learn more.”

The lecture series is a way to show the growing Sport & Entertainment Management program which the university now offers.

“I came here for the basic fact that I wanted to be a Sport Management major, but USF didn’t have that major when I first started,” said Brittany Barber. “I just decided to come to see how I would like it if I wanted to go into it for Grad School because, you know, Grad School is a whole other monster than undergrad. So I just wanted to figure out whether this is something I want to pursue.”

The event took place at USF’s Sun Dome and was presented by Florida Fox Sports and the Tampa Bay Lightning.  The lecture series has taken place annually, with this year being the fourth installment.

Thousands Gathered for Straz Live! in the Park

The annual Straz Live! in the Park was held this past Sunday at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park.

It was a picturesque scene, as thousands gathered to listen to opera and Broadway pieces, selected from the upcoming season at the Straz Center. Children played in the park while parents and other patrons of musical theater enjoyed a warm afternoon of music.

The show opened with an opera program and transitioned to Broadway after a brief intermission. Pieces from Charles Gounod’s Romeo and Juliet, La Cenerentola, Giacomo Puccini’s Tosca were performed during the opera section, while selections from Wicked, Cabaret and Motown: The Musical highlighted the Broadway section.

“We’re here to show you that opera is not scary, it’s a lot of fun,” said the Managing Director of the Opera Tampa, Robin Stamper. “We give you every reason to come to the opera when you come to the Straz Live.”

University of South Florida student Ryan Haft had to agree. He missed the opera section, but commented, “I wasn’t planning on going and seeing anything, but after hearing the girl from Wicked, I might want to go see that.”

It might be too late to see this year’s Straz Live! in the Park but mark your calendars now for the first Sunday, next November. It’s not an event you want to miss.

USF student conquers fears with help of YouTube

A former dream pushed to the side because of fear has now taken form for USF student Jade Lopez. Her channel “Mrs. You’re Welcome” is a reminder for her that she is done letting fear run her life and is prepared to share her story and her talents with those on the other side of the screen.

“I’m so done with fear telling me that I can’t do it or people are going to laugh at you or it’s not going to be good enough, no one’s even going to  watch it,” Lopez said. “I’m just like how ‘bout you shut-up and I’ll prove you wrong.”

Tucked away in the USF library Lopez finds herself fiddling with equipment and editing software while she works between their green room and the Digital Media Commons learning as she goes.

“I don’t know what I’m doing, I literally said that in the first video,” Lopez said. “If the video is crooked I don’t know what I’m doing.”

Though this does not stop her from pursuing her goal, it rather encourages her to make this channel the one that stays. To make this channel the one that is true to her personality and her style. To make this channel the one that inspire others. Stating that she wants her viewers to:

“Realize that they are enough.”

Which is something her friend Briana Brown already finds she is accomplishing.

“She has a bright future with this channel,” Brown said. “She is kind of filling that void in the YouTube community where there needs to be a positive energy or a refreshing light.”

Only time will show what impact Lopez’s channel will leave, but for now her possibilities are seemingly endless.

If you want to see more from Jade find her here at: Mrs. You’re Welcome

Tampa Bay Lightning Host Hockey Fights Cancer Game

The Tampa Bay Lightning and members of the Tampa Bay community came together Nov. 3 to join the fight against cancer at the Lightning’s Hockey Fights Cancer game.

“It’s really important that we lead by example and we inspire others and in the fight against cancer I think we all know someone fighting that fight,” said Lightning Foundation Executive Director Elizabeth Frazier.

Players rallied together; wearing purple jerseys with purple taped hockey sticks to show their support for the cause.

“It means so much to see the entire community give it their all to support people like myself,” said Kerry Roopchand, Moffitt Cancer Center patient.

The event will benefit research efforts at Moffitt, the Lightning’s charitable partner, to help find a cure for cancer. Moffitt team members were taken back by the support.

“It’s so amazing to see such a turnout from our community to help with the prevention and cure of cancer,” said Dr. Damon Reed, Moffitt sarcoma department medical director.

To learn more about the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer initiative, visit https://www.nhl.com/community/hockey-fights-cancer.

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.