Sharon McCaman and USF’s dance film revolution

Sharon McCaman is excited about this year’s Dance Shorts Student Film Festival. She knows that this year will be different, but she can’t quite put her finger on how. Perhaps more people will submit their original dance films. Perhaps the gala, where patrons view the work of the finalists, will be grander.

Perhaps it will be different this year because it is her final year running the show.

“It’s almost a little unnerving, for a couple of reasons – one, to know that I have to relinquish the outcome on a level,” said McCaman. “I have to walk away and say ‘Bye, see you later’. But in another way, to know that in ten years if this is still happening, I started that! It’s weird.”

McCaman started dancing when she was just 4 years old. She danced at her performing arts middle school, her performing arts high school, University of the Arts in Philadelphia, and a small dance company in Lakeland. She even danced in Las Vegas. But then, for five years, McCaman wouldn’t practice her craft at all.

During her hiatus from dance, her life moved in a different direction. She worked as a promotions assistant at an alternative rock radio station, moving up the ranks through various marketing and sales positions.

“So much of my job required me to be innovative and forward thinking,” said McCaman. “Although it was challenging, it afforded me the opportunity to be imaginative and artistic. That’s how I always knew I would go back to dancing, that need to create is inherent in me.”

When her reunion with dancing finally came, something amazing was born – Dance. Film. Revolution.

It was in Professor Andee Scott’s choreography class that McCaman discovered a genre of dance known as dance for film. Inspired by the way technology and dance came together to create this subset of dance, she came up with the idea to host a festival, where students at universities across the country could submit short dance films. Dance. Film. Revolution is a student organization created for that very purpose, producing the Dance Shorts Student Film Festival.

“We were at the library working on a big dance history paper, we kept switching gears between the paper and the festival, and by early morning, we realized we still hadn’t done this paper,” said Jacqueline Dugal, former treasurer for Dance. Film. Revolution. “That was the moment when we both realized it was going to be a really big feat to get this done, not just a side project. That night, Sharon dropped history.”

In 2013, the first year of the festival, there were 29 submissions from universities all over the country, with 16 states represented at the festival. Creating and overseeing a festival of that size was a lot of work, but McCaman’s spirit never wavered.

“She’d been coming to me with grand ideas from the beginning,” said dance professor Andee Scott. “She’d always been thinking about ways to present the work of students in the community. She knows how to dream big, and that’s good.”

With a whole team behind her, McCaman anticipates that this year’s festival will be bigger and better than the last. She hopes than in subsequent years the festival will continue to grow and reach more artists looking for an audience.

“We all want to feel valued and we all want to feel like what we do means something on some level,” said McCaman. “We want to know that we’ve been the best human beings we can be, that we’ve done the most we can do.”

The Dance Shorts Student Film Festival is currently accepting submissions for this year’s festival, and interested parties can learn more at the official website.

Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF

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Ayla Horan is a Spanish major at USF and a Lambda Theta Alpha member.

 

Students slouch around the Marshall Student Center in sweatpants and squeaky, soaked sneakers,  umbrellas dripping at their sides. Everyone seems to be falling asleep to the dull patter of rain falling against the building’s roof and windows, until one female’s laughter breaks through the dreary ambiance.

Ayla Horan hugs and greets several acquaintances on her way inside the student center. She flashes a huge smile, pushing her long brown hair to one side as she adjusts a bulging burgundy Greek emblazoned tote bag.

Leaving her friends, she answers several new text messages on her phone. Horan’s online presence only underlines her outgoing and social personality. Online there are photos of herself with sorority sisters and friends abound—one can’t help but notice her many involvements and accomplishments at USF. Horan seems to do, and have it all.

However, a second look shows her to be much more than just a polished social butterfly of a sorority girl.

“I grew up always being told, ‘You’re going to be just like your parents. You’re going to amount to nothing,’” Horan said.

She grew up outside of Atlantic City, New Jersey, in a house broken by crime and drugs. Horan’s mother did drugs up until she was born; her father, an alcoholic, drug addict and robber, was in and out of jail. Continue reading “Ayla Horan: Lambda Theta Alpha’s Helping Hand at USF”

Phi Sigma Pi president works to improve education after graduation

Cristina VasquezThis Thanksgiving, Cristina Vasquez, president of USF’s Phi Sigma Pi, is thankful for school.

“There are times when I realize how lucky I am to go to college,” said Vasquez, reminiscing about her worry over attending a university. “I don’t want other students to have to miss out on an education because something is holding them back.”

Growing up in a military home, Vasquez was constantly moving between foreign bases like Italy, Japan and Germany, filled with interesting cities and people. Her diverse insight has provided her with a worldly perspective on life and the importance of education.

“There are different education systems around the world, but most are more accessible than schools in the [United] States,” said Vasquez. She has seen firsthand the issues that plague students in the Tampa Bay community who cannot afford to get an education because of socioeconomic problems.

Vasquez believes that part of the reason why students drop out of high school or do not continue on to college, is because they don’t receive proper counseling and instruction on how to apply to school and receive funding. She also believes that some of them do not realize the importance of school, early on.

“My mother worked a full-time job, raised three kids and sacrificed her free time to go to college. Without her, I never would have realized the importance of education. I wouldn’t have had the opportunities I have now.” Vasquez said.

Annie Hudgins, Vasquez’s mother, agrees that she was always trying to instill the importance of education into her children.

“I always told my children, I can’t leave you much but the one thing I want for you all is to get an education, because once you have that many doors that will open up for you. You [will] start to understand the world and others better,” she said.

Currently, Vasquez is a senior psychology student at USF. She hopes to become a high school counselor in the future, so that she may aid students into choosing to pursue higher education, despite the obstacles they may face. In the meantime, she uses her fraternity influence to run school supply and book drives for local elementary and middle schools.

“We have a philanthropic goal to overcome in the fraternity, and mine is education inequality. Every child deserves a good education,” said Vasquez. While the fraternity also participates in other charitable goals, like cleaning up the USF campus, Vasquez enjoys being able to pursue her passions with her fraternity.

Kiana Coffey, Vasquez’s best friend and roommate is also a member of Phi Sigma Pi and supports Vasquez’s passions in the fraternity.

“I think this is a really important goal. More accessible education would offer students facing adversity more opportunities for success,” Coffey said. She also believes that Vasquez’s loving nature and strong leadership skills would make her successful in pursuing this passion.

Vasquez may be an education advocate in the Tampa community, but at USF she makes strides elsewhere. Vazquez runs the first all gender-inclusive, honor fraternity at USF. Phi Sigma Pi consists of 40 to 60 people each semester, all of which have at least a 3.2 GPA and three or more semesters left at the university. According to Vasquez, Phi Sigma Pi has a hand in everything including scholarship, social and charity events.

Despite having the final say in fraternity decisions, Vasquez always takes into consideration the opinions of all her fraternity members.

“As a leader, it’s important to take the backseat and do what’s best for the group,” said Vasquez.

Patrick Bagge, a Phi Sigma Pi initiary advisor believes that Vasquez is a great mentor.

“[She] always puts the needs of others before her own,” Bagge said. “and always does her utmost to fulfill her goals.”

Cellular and Molecular Biology student, Kaylie Male, also agrees that Vasquez is an influential leader.

“I don’t think that [Vasquez] realizes how much positivity she radiates. I feel that her future will greet her with many more opportunities than she may even think possible. Her positivity and determination will be at the root of her success,” said Male, who has been a member of Phi Sigma Pi for two years.

Vasquez will be graduating USF in the spring of 2015. She hopes to inspire others to pursue higher schooling and become leaders within their community.

“Cristina will do a lot of good in the world, in small ways and big ways. She is definitely someone to keep an eye on,” Coffey said.

 

Former football captain blitzes into USF campus life, leads by example

For most students, college is about the impact it has on them. But for one junior at the University of South Florida, it’s the other way around.

Victor Cimino is a member of the USF Student Senate, newly elected president of the Alpha Sigma Phi fraternity and a programming director at the Center for Student Involvement. He uses all three platforms to help others and impact their lives.

With so many leadership roles on campus, Cimino likes to think of them as additional classes. He knows just how important it is to keep up with all of his positions, so he frequently check his emails but understands when its time to take a break and focus on homework. A typical day for him begins at 8 a.m. and he doesn’t get back to his apartment until 11 p.m.

Some of Cimino’s duties include: planning and managing the events for Homecoming Week and USF Week, leading his fraternity and making positive changes to their organization, and also fulfilling the expectations of the students who elected him to senate.

Despite his heavy involvement on campus, and the impact he has on student life at USF, Cimino doesn’t let it get to his head—especially since he wasn’t one to be interested in leadership positions prior to college.

Continue reading “Former football captain blitzes into USF campus life, leads by example”

Skip the all-nighter, get some sleep

Roshni Patel and Keylon Moraldo are two complete strangers with one thing in common: Neither of them gets enough sleep.

Patel, a sophomore biomedical sciences major, is at the library almost every night during the school week. A typical day on campus for her begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 1 a.m., when she finally returns to her off-campus apartment.

“I probably get four to five hours of sleep on a normal night,” Patel said. “Some nights I get even less, and I feel really sleepy. Then I’m just dragging myself through the day, trying to figure out the next time I can hit my bed.”

Moraldo, a sophomore chemical engineering major, cites his heavy workload and roommate issues for his lack of sleep. He says that getting the ideal seven to eight hours of rest is impossible because he has so much to do and needs to get good grades.

“I don’t have a bedtime. I just basically nap for an hour or so— seriously, it’s what I do!” he said. “I know it’s not good, and I’m trying to readjust it in time for exams, so I can be well-rested for them.”

Patel and Moraldo are just two of the many college students nationwide who are sleep-deprived. Nearly 60 percent of college students claimed to feel “tired, dragged out, or sleepy” on multiple days during a normal week, according to a 2010 study of over 95,000 students by the American College Health Association. Brown University also reported that only 11 percent of college students get good sleep.

“Unfortunately, students don’t realize how much sleep deprivation affects their performance,” said Rachael Novick, a certified health education specialist at the USF Wellness Education center. “Health-wise, sleep can affect everything.”

Novick said that lack of sleep can cause students to feel more stressed leading to weight gain, a weakened immune system and problems learning and remembering material for class.

Dr. Robert Geck, the associate program director and a faculty physician at the USF Sleep Center, agreed.

“Inadequate sleep makes it difficult to consolidate your memories and to form new ones,” he said. “As a student, pulling an all-nighter actually impairs your memory more than getting a good night’s rest.”

Geck also pointed out that students run the risk of injuring themselves and others when they don’t get enough sleep. At a commuter school like USF, sleep-deprivation can cause grogginess and judgment problems in students driving to and from campus, resulting in car accidents.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there.

The amount of stress on a student’s body due to sleep deprivation could also have some serious consequences.

“Increased stress can lead to an increased disposition towards diabetes, heart disease and stroke farther down the road for students,” Geck said.

However, the good news is that it’s never too late for students to try and fix their sleeping habits.

“A lot of students don’t know what it feels like to be well-rested and productive because they never have been,” said Novick.

The Wellness Education center seeks to inform students on the importance of getting more sleep through data collection and programs on campus involving topics such as proper napping. Novick explained that naps shouldn’t make up for students’ lack of nighttime sleep, and they should only last 20 to 30 minutes. That amount of time allows students’ bodies to reach a restorative level of sleep, allowing them to wake up feeling energized.

“Sleep packs” are also available for free from the Wellness Education center. They include earplugs, an eye mask and “sleepy time” tea to help a student relax and get a good night’s rest.

Students may also be surprised that some of their daily habits can affect the quality of their sleep at night.

Geck recommended avoiding caffeinated drinks after 12 p.m. Beverages like coffee and soda only help to alleviate tired feelings for a short time, and can make it difficult to fall asleep at night. He explained that electronics, such as cell phones, tablets and TVs, should be turned off and kept away from the bed. The noises and light produced by these devices can disturb a student’s sleep throughout the night.

But the biggest change is probably the easiest to think of: setting a sleep schedule.

“Ideally, the key would be to keep a strict sleep regimen. Try to keep the same bedtime and wakeup time, if you can, regardless of the day of the week,” said Geck.

Like any problem, the first step to solving it is admitting you have one, and Patel and Moraldo aren’t in denial.

“I think if I didn’t feel like I have to do every single thing, I’d have more time to sleep,” said Moraldo. “I’m definitely going to spend a lot of time sleeping over winter break, and hopefully come back to school on a better schedule.”

Patel sees a few all-nighters in her future, and knows exactly how they will impact the average amount of sleep she gets.

“Oh, it’ll decrease, for sure,” she said. “I wish I got more sleep than I do.”