WMNF Bridges the Gap

 

The WMNF radio station hosted its third Bridging the Gap series. The series was a fundraiser that included five poets and five rappers from the Tampa Bay area.

Xavier “Cool Kid” Grullon, a 22-year-old slam poet, was excited to perform at the show.

 “I think we’re creative in two different outlets, but I think we should be able to come together and share the same stage,” Grunion said when asked what “bridging the gap” meant to him.

Mike Mass, a rapper in the Tampa Bay hip hop community was also excited about the series.

 “There’s a shared interest between those two crowds and the consumers of those two crowds,” Mass said, 

Bridging the Gap is a semi-annual event designed to raise money for WMNF, a radio station run almost entirely on donations and volunteers. The radio event was aired on Saturday evening, and is available for download on the station’s website.

The event itself was not a competitive one. It was used primarily to bring the audiences of the Saturday night shows together. The ten performers were given roughly ten minutes each, or the equivalent of a set on a local stage. The show aired from 11 P.M. Saturday night to early Sunday morning around 1 A.M..

Florida Focus News Brief Nov. 16, 2016

In this episode: a toddler is hospitalized after being shot, police believe it was accidental; the University of South Florida is warning students to stay alert after a student is robbed on campus; a 15 year-old is arrested in Manatee County for having marijuana stuffed down one sock, and meth stuffed down the other; Pasco County Fire Rescue is supplying and installing smoke detectors for those who need them; pig carcasses block northbound lanes on I-75.

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Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 26, 2016

In this episode: Hillary Clinton held a rally in downtown Tampa on her birthday; Pinellas voting equipment was publicly tested as election day nears; Tampa’s Citizen Review Board took a closer look at police officers’ use of body cameras; a Tarpon Springs woman found a kitten in her fender well.

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O’Shea Brings Poetry to Life at USF

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Daniel O’Shea is fueling the fire for his campus organization, the Poets. Glimpses of a promising future leave many with hope.

Every Thursday night at the University of South Florida’s Tampa campus, Daniel O’Shea performs a new masterpiece. Since arriving on campus, O’Shea has maneuvered his way into being the center of attention.

O’Shea’s unique style has separated him from the competitors into a dimension where only few poets amount.

According to O’Shea, “Poetry is a spoken expression of what you feel in your heart.”

Older poets have trouble reaching the younger generation of poets. However, O’Shea hopes he can be the one to bridge that gap.

“We live in the Google generation, so people don’t have to spend time thinking about things like they did in the past.” O’Shea said. “Therefore, the youth of the era would much rather for poets to simplify their craft and use less symbolism during performance.”

Students know Dan, as he is called by his group, as an easy going individual who can discuss any relevant topic during a performance.

“Dan’s Poetry, you know it is not like anybody else’s poetry I do not think,” Justin Uberg said. “He does not simply write nonsense about his cereal bowls, but sometimes he writes political and things like that. Even when there is a tone of seriousness to it, I like Dan’s poetry because it comes out in a really silly and Dan fashion.”

The Poets hope to venture off campus and into the inner city, where people desperately need words of hope that will change their lives.

Is There a New Way to Test Batteries?

According to a recent Buzzfeed article, there is a new method to test the strength of batteries. By observing the bounce of batteries, you may be able to tell how much life is left in them.

“If you want to test that theory, you need to, you know one try will not do it,” physics professor University of South Florida’s Dr. Sarath Witanachchi said. “You’ve got to try maybe twenty times and see is there a pattern.”

USF engineering student Alex Tremper believes that such an experiment has already taken place and conclusions have already drawn.

“Princeton researchers have demonstrated that this can only tell you whether batteries are fresh, not whether they are charged enough to allow a device to function,” said Tremper.

Knowing whether or not batteries are fresh, can be useful in preparation for storms with potential, to cause power outages, like Hurricane Hermine. Battery-powered appliances can alleviate some of the inconveniences power outages bring.

“We had lots of flashlights, we actually had a battery-powered TV, radios, hand-held video games, things like that,” Tampa Bay Area resident Spencer Adkinson said.

Tremper and Dr. Witanachchi claim that a more reliable way to test a battery is with a voltmeter, which measures the voltage across the terminals of the battery. If the voltage drops below the amount the device requires, then the device will not function.

“This decrease typically happens slowly throughout the life of the battery with a dramatic decrease towards the end of the battery’s life,” Tremper stated.

 

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.

USF Riverfront Park Offers Relaxing Escape For Students

Bonnie Buchanan, a student employee at USF Riverfront Park, and Olivia Parrillo, a Riverfront Park visitor and fellow USF student, both love the outdoors.

The students frequently visit Riverfront Park either to work, relax or enjoy the outdoors when they have time off school.

“It’s good for people to come out here and get in touch with nature and not be staring at their phones the whole time,” Buchanan said. “It’s just a really good way for students to enjoy what Florida’s wildlife has to offer.”

Riverfront Park is located in Tampa, close to a mile from USF’s Tampa campus. The park offers canoeing and kayaking rentals, as well as many other outdoor activities.

“I definitely would recommend it, it’s worth every penny, especially when you are on a college budget,” Parrillo said. “It’s worth the $10 for either two people or three people in a canoe or kayak.”

Riverfront Park is also home to a vast array of Florida wildlife.

“A big variety of wildlife, we definitely see a lot of alligators in the river and on the bank,” Buchanan said. “Definitely a lot of bird watching, different kinds of egrets.”

Buchanan has been a Riverfront Park employee for six months and graduates in the spring of 2017.

“My favorite thing about working at Riverfront Park is teaching the ropes course and seeing people face their fear of heights,” Buchanan said. “It sure beats sitting behind a desk all day.”

Riverfront Park is open Monday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

A cappella group increases presence at USF

A new performance organization has made a name for itself at the University of South Florida. The women’s a cappella group, officially called Rocky’s Angels, formed because of three USF students, but has grown to have 16 members.

All the Angels have a passion for singing, but most have never participated in a student-run collegiate organization before. Rocky’s Angels has provided them with a space to share their love with each other.

“I’m looking just to be in a place where everyone likes to sing, and I like to sing,” said new member, Daniris Ocasio. “I’m just looking for a friendship, community kind of thing.”

Even though Rocky’s Angels has only been around since the fall of 2015, students around campus are already familiar with their performances. In the spring of 2016, the Angels decided to participate in an annual philanthropy event hosted by Theta Chi fraternity, “Singing for Shriners.”

“We helped them close the show and performed two of our songs from last year’s repertoire,” said executive director and founder, Justine Cardenas. “It was a lot of fun, and I think we’re going to do it again this year.”

All of this hard work is just practice for the Angels, who hope to attend the 14th annual SoJam A Cappella Festival in Atlanta, Georgia in November. While spending the weekend at the festival, Rocky’s Angels will be primarily viewing performances and studying how the other organizations plan and execute their sets.

With the women’s dedication and desire to leave a legacy at USF, there is no doubt that Rocky’s Angels will soon be performing competitively, thus gathering more support and providing more students with the opportunity to share their love for singing for years to come.

USF Library Serves as Study Sanctuary

The library at the University of South Florida is one of the coolest places on campus. It wouldn’t be a library if there weren’t books available for students to check out; however, some students don’t know that the library has so much more to offer.

“This is certainly not your grandmother’s library,” USF librarian Susan Ariew said in reference to the fact that the library has evolved a great deal with respect to keeping up with technology.

The library has many free resources available to help students be successful in their classes.

“We have laptops that you can check out at the library and we have iPads that you can check out,” said USF librarian Maryellen Allen. “We have the Digital Media Commons that have multimedia equipment and resources.”

In order to encourage students to use the library for any type of assignment- whether it’s a research paper or multimedia project- the library has something for everyone. One of the prominent features that students find convenient is the library schedule.

The building is normally open 24 hours Sunday through Thursday. It closes at 6 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, making it accessible for students regardless of their schedule outside of the classroom.

With hundreds of computers and several floors of study space, the library is the main attraction on campus. Considering that final exams are next week, the 24-hour schedule will be extended to Friday and Saturday, giving even more students a place to focus and properly prepare for their big tests.

You can find out what’s new at the USF library by visiting http://www.lib.usf.edu/ .

 

 

USF Football Plays Annual Spring Scrimmage

USF Football held its annual spring game on Saturday, playing in front of more than 4,000 fans at Corbett Stadium. It’s the third-straight year the team have hosted the game on campus after previously holding it at Raymond James Stadium.

The players were split into two teams; the green team and the white team. Starting quarterback Quinton Flowers headed the white team. The green team featured Marlon Mack and Rodney Adams, among the notables. Asiantii Woulard, a transfer from UCLA, started at quarterback for the green team.

The white team had an early first quarter lead, with the surprising help of fourth string running back, Trevon Sands. Sands, a freshman from Miami, scored the first touchdown of the game from inside the 5-yard line. Sands could challenge for a starting spot in an already loaded backfield consisting of Mack, Darius Tice, and D’Ernest Johnson. Head coach Willie Taggart says he’s happy with the depth of talent in the running back position.

“You just let them go,” Taggart said. “Make sure Marlon Mack gets his carries and let the rest of them do what they’re going to do.”

The game was also the first chance for Bulls fans to watch Marquez Valdes-Scantling in action. The transfer from NC State got a reaction from the crowd when he made a leaping catch over a defender in the third quarter.

“We’ve been building chemistry in practice,” Valdez-Scantling said. “I’m excited to play in front of these fans, I feel real good about what we have going on.”

The white team won the game 32-19. USF Football now enter the summer months, preparing for their season opener against Towson University on September 3.

Rays Seek Attendance Boost with Student Rush deal

The Tampa Bay Rays are hoping to give their college-aged fans more bang for their buck.

For the first time, the Rays are offering Student Rush tickets to fans 18 or older with a high school or college ID.  Students can get lower level seats every Friday night for just $15.

Rays vice president of communications Rick Vaughn said the team is targeting a different type of fan each day.

“On Monday, we hand out free tickets for military veterans on Military Monday,” Vaughn said. “For all Tuesday home games, kids 14 and under can get in for $2, and Wednesday we sell two dollar hot dogs. For Thursday, all seniors 60 years of age or older will receive a discounted ticket, and of course Friday is Student Rush.”

Vaughn said the Rays are in the upper third of major league baseball television ratings.

As for actual game attendance? Not so much. In 2015, Tampa Bay ranked last in the league, averaging just over 15,000 fans per game in a stadium that can fit up to 42,000.

Though the Rays are uncertain of how many students will attend the Friday games, they expect to average 2,000 to 3,000 students each week. Vaughn said if fans make the trip and show support of the deal, they will see there is more to do than just watch the game.

“We have the Ted Williams Baseball Museum,” Vaughn said. “It’s free with the purchase of a game ticket. We also have the ray tank in centerfield where we are supported by the Florida Aquarium.”

As for the students? They said the discount is something that should not be overlooked.

“For a student, this is a good opportunity to get out and do things around the Tampa Bay area without having to break your wallet,” said Aaron, a student from the University of Tampa.

Vaughn and the Rays hope promotions like Student Rush will help provide a much-needed boost in attendance.

For Bay area college students, this is one deal that is sure to be a home run.

“It’s great,” said Spencer, a student from the University of South Florida. “Since I work and I’m saving money, $15 for a Rays game is my kind of deal.”

 

People of all ages get active at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park

Zumba classes are fun, active and free to everyone who stops by “Zumba in the Park” at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. Meagan Simmons has been leading the class every Tuesday night for two years and enjoys seeing old and new faces.

“The great thing about Zumba is that you’re not here for your neighbor, you’re not here for me, you’re here for yourself,” Simmons said.

The class starts promptly as 6:00 p.m. and is a full hour of exercise in a family-friendly environment.

Laurence Alo is a regular at the Zumba class. He’s been coming ever since the downtown YMCA started offering the class in 2014.

“Zumba is best when we have weather like we do today,” Alo said.

The class’s popularity has grown immensely. The number of dancers has increased from 20 people in the first year to an average of 50 to 60 people now. Men and women of all ages are seen in the crowd.

“It is a great way to meet different kinds of people,” Alo said.

“Zumba in the Park” is held every Tuesday at Curtis Hixon Park from 6:00-7:00 p.m.

Florida Focus News Brief Oct. 4, 2016

In this episode: Hurricane Mathew causes the White House to cancel a Florida visit; The University of South Florida fraternity is under temporary suspension; A mobile home park in Lakeland is being sued for racial discrimination; Hillsborough County Police are looking for two burglary suspects; Florida has the nation’s largest increase in household spending.

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Florida Focus Health Brief Sep. 30, 2016

In this episode: Florida earned an “F” in medical transparency, making it difficult for patients to compare prices and services among heath care providers; University of South Florida Professor Juan Sanchez-Ramos is using a nasal spray to treat Huntington’s Disease; the demand for home caregivers is increasing in Florida as the baby boomer population continues to age; Florida schools would need to triple the number of registered nurses to meet the recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics; hospitals in the Bay Area are now available for virtual care through websites and mobile apps.

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USF study works to prevent firefighter injuries

The University of South Florida is showing progress in a firefighter based exercise study they funded this May. The study spans four departments, including St. Pete, Temple Terrace, Tampa and Hillsborough County.

This study utilizes five exercises to strengthen firefighter’s lower backs and core in hopes of reducing the risk of injury.

Firefighters carry approximately 75 pounds in gear alone, though this number can rise to over 100 pounds when additional gear is needed for a call. This weight in addition to the need to respond quickly puts firefighters at a higher risk for back injuries and chronic back pain.

St. Petersburg Division Chief of Safety and Training, Joseph Bruni has seen his fair share of these injuries throughout his work in the department.

“We have about 50 to 55 injuries a year in a department of this size of 350 personnel,” Bruni said, “and the leading injuries that we see are back and knee injuries”

Bruni who completes the exercises himself speaks highly of the study and what it has accomplished for him.

“It’s helped a great deal as far as my back feels and at the age that I’m at now and the years that I have on the job,” Bruni said. “The exercises that I’ve been doing here in the study has helped substantially.”

While the potential for the final Fall 2017 results are too soon to tell Principal Investigator, John Mayer can attest that what they have accomplished so far is working.

“Anecdotally we have some evidence to support that the exercises are indeed helping the firefighters with their job and to prevent back injuries,” Mayer said.

The next installment of this study can be seen later in this year as the research team pushes towards the potential for national implementation.

USF Soccer: Bulls Battle Tigers

The USF Men’s Soccer team faces their toughest challenge of the year on Tuesday against last year’s College Cup runners-up, Clemson.

USF (4-3-2) started the season slowly after a string of injuries and other issues forced key players to miss time. For many teams, this wouldn’t be much of an issue, but Coach George Kiefer loaded the schedule with big names like Maryland and Virginia Tech early in the season.

However, a long stand at home gave USF time to get sorted out and start a winning streak. The Bulls won three games straight at home before defeating UCF on the road Saturday.

“It’s a great boost for us,” said senior Nazeem Bartman. “As you know we started off the season a little bit slow, but we’ve won the last four games now, it’s a great confidence boost for myself and the rest of the team too.”

Players wouldn’t emphasize the game too much, but Coach Kiefer had a bit more to say about the visiting Clemson Tigers.

“I’d hate to emphasize one game more than the next, but I would take my hat off to Mike Noonan,” Kiefer said. “He used to be a Brown [University] so he’s used to teams not wanting to travel to him. So the fact he’s at Clemson, willing to come back to us, I give him a lot of credit for that. We’re very excited to have him here.”

The Bulls and the Tigers kick off at 7 p.m. at Corbett Soccer Stadium on Tuesday.

Florida Focus Education Brief Sep. 23, 2016

In this episode: Hillsborough County Deputies designed a campaign to educate drivers about bus safety; a study says that the learning gap between higher and lower income students is closing; the University of South Florida ranks 9th nationwide for universities granted patents; the Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) now has more autism-accessible experiences.

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Affordability of education abroad

 

Once the haze of being accepted into the USF in Florence summer abroad program wore off, reality kicked in and showed up asking for payments.

Louise Cardenas, 19, didn’t expect to be in such a financial bind. Finances had never been an issue since she had been receiving aid since her first semester at USF. With no coverage being offered for her trip over the summer months, Cardenas was at a crossroads.

“I don’t think that abroad programs are affordable for the average student  trying to minimize unnecessary spending,” Cardenas said. “The only way to realistically study abroad is by paying out of pocket because you can’t count on scholarships or financial aid.”

The USF Education Abroad office has well-established programs in over 25 countries giving students a variety of choices, but many shy away from the thought of even applying because studying abroad is associated with being unaffordable.

Students are encouraged to seize the opportunity to take anywhere from a semester to a year abroad. While the motivation for studying abroad for each student is different, the most common reason is for the experience and introduction of a new culture.

Students already hold the financial responsibilities of paying up to $6,410 for tuition alone not including housing, books or miscellaneous expenses. Any additional financial expenses could be difficult to fund.

Each program cost varies on the location and the amount of time spent on the program. Most semester programs are estimated on the higher end of about $5,000 for tuition and housing. When adding on airfare, passport fees, books and travel money, the price dramatically increases. Students must consider whether the experience is worth the stress it could bring financially.

Jim Pulos, the associate director of Education Abroad, has encountered many students who believe that abroad programs are cost prohibitive.

“It’s a common misconception,” said Pulos. “We have designed our programs to be within the range of  most students’ finances.”

In some cases the costs of a program can result in being around the same price or cheaper than a normal semester. Pulos recommended that all students seek financial assistance.

The office holds regular funding sessions inviting presenters from other on-campus scholarship offices. Students are also eligible for grants, loans and scholarships open exclusively to students studying internationally. In the past, as much as $34,550 have been given away in scholarships.

Programs like USF in Florence are prime examples of the scholarship exclusivity offered. The Florence School of Record scholarship is a $1,000 award available to 35 of the programs committed students.

USF abroad offices are dedicated to making the programs affordable, but each student’s eligibility varies. Many students don’t qualify for grants or miss scholarships due to limited awards. One students experience could be entirely out of pocket while another may never know the stress of the financial side of spectrum.

Irene John, 20, was one of the fortunate students who had her expenses covered by the George W. Jenkins Scholarship. John traveled to Costa Rica last spring and has made plans to apply for another program.

“If I didn’t have my scholarship, I would still choose to study abroad,” John said. “The money is nothing in comparison to the experience you get to have.”

The response from students who have participated in abroad programs is conclusive in the money being worth the experience.

Cardenas happens to be one of the 35 students in her program who have received the scholarship award. Although it doesn’t calm her worries about the financial expenses she’s still dealing with, she is at ease knowing that the abroad offices do indeed offer assistance as advertised.

“Money plays a huge part, but it isn’t everything,” Cardenas said . “I would encourage everyone to apply regardless of their funds because like they say this is once in a lifetime.”

Local Dads, USF Student Team Up to Save Lives

Two Tampa dads are hoping to prevent hot car deaths with the help of their new invention. It’s called Sense-a-Life and it’s a wireless and Bluetooth powered system made up of sensors, pressure meters, and a cellphone app.

Fadi Shamma, a pharmacist, and Jim Friedman, an engineer, teamed up to end tragic stories of children being left in vehicles.

“It brings such agony of a child being hurt no matter who it is,” Shamma said. “And so I’m like, ‘Jim, you’re an excellent engineer. You’re great at what you do. You know, here’s a problem, let’s come up with a solution.’”

When the driver door opens and a child is in the car seat, a voice alert comes on to remind the parent to take the child out. Then, an alert is sent straight to his cellphone. If the child is still not removed, an alert is sent to a second parent or guardian. The app will also notify police, if needed.

The app was created by USF student Masud Hossain, who is the co-founder and CFO of Sense-a-Life.

“It’s very easy and simple to use and I think it’s a simple solution to a common problem”, Hossain said.

According kidsandcars.org, 38 children die each year from being left in a hot vehicle.

“We’re selling a simple reminder,” Shamma said. “And if our simple reminder system, you know, will help a parent double check or think twice and it saves one life a year, we’re happy.”

Friedman, Hossain, and Shamma’s collective goal is to make this device affordable so that every car seat has a Sense-a-Life installed. Their product will be on the market later this year. For more information and to support their Kickstarter campaign, visit www.sensealife.com.

 

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.