Future of Tampa Bay’s estuaries will be decided in the USF area

Just a few miles from the USF campus, a careful balancing act between the upper and lower portions of the dam in the Hillsborough Reservoir could decide the future of Tampa Bay’s ecosystem.

Nearly 80 percent of Hillsborough county water bodies are polluted beyond a threshold of acceptable contamination and have been classified as “impaired,” meaning local agencies have a legal obligation to keep an eye on pollution and the environment pursuant to the standards in the Clean Water Act.

But with water management agencies stretched thin, crucial reports on projects, like the efficacy of a hotly debated minimum flow requirement for the lower Hillsborough River, are behind schedule trying to keep up with enforcement and also reporting on urbanity’s impacts on the ecosystem.

Continue reading “Future of Tampa Bay’s estuaries will be decided in the USF area”

Photo gallery: USF student government hosts Pastries with the President

On March 12, USF Student Government Association held “Pastries with the President,” where students  not only enjoyed baked desserts but got to meet with  USF President Judy Genshaft and talk with future and current SGA leaders.

 

 

USF dance major pushes past back injury, other obstacles

At 3 years old, Tatiana Quintero couldn’t resist the temptation to move to the beat. According to her mother, Janet Cano, her little girl would wiggle and dance to music anywhere she went. Cano enrolled her in a traditional Colombian dance class where Quintero would begin the study of her life’s calling: dance.

At the University of South Florida, 21-year-old Quintero is pursuing her dream of being a dancer. As an adult, she is learning how difficult it can be to reach her full potential.

Dance is not about just dancing anymore. Every movement is perfectly orchestrated. The world of dancing is all about technicality, an obstacle that Quintero feels holds her back. She didn’t start to learn technical dancing until she was 12 or 13.

“Even that was only hip-hop, not ballet,” Quintero said. “Being here, I see everyone with their legs high and stuff; obviously it takes time to get there.”

Since high school, her biggest dream has been to go out to California and join the Diavolo dance company. She says that at Diavolo they move with big props and aren’t afraid to push the limit. The company is about risk-taking, which is what attracted her to it. Only the most technical dancers belong to Diavolo, and Quintero still has a lot of work to accomplish.

At the university, she puts in an average of six to eight hours of rehearsal a day. It can be a strain on her body, but it is more important to Quintero to be prepared for anything.

In August 2011, Quintero was involved in a car accident in Miami-Dade County that hurt her back. The injury still prevents her from dancing to her full ability. Quintero refuses to let this injury hold her back, though some days the pain often keeps her from even reaching her toes.

“It’s still hard, because I come back to dance and you know you can’t do stuff,” she said. “So, you have to hold yourself back, but I didn’t care. I just danced.”

There are times when Quintero feels like giving up. The pressures of time management and dealing with her injuries sometimes make her doubt whether she can continue a career in dance. She worries whether this career will give her the ability to provide for herself and possibly a family in the future. It is important to Quintero to have a backup plan.

She is pursuing a minor in nutrition as part of her plan to open and own a dance studio. By day, she wants to teach the technical art of dance. By night, she hopes to teach her students about the importance of what you eat, and also teach aerobic dance classes like Zumba.

Her inspirations come from feeling she has God by her side and from the support of her parents. Quintero’s father has kept her grounded, and her mother has always pushed her to keep doing what she loves.

“I know that she is accomplishing everything she set her mind to,” Cano said. “She knows that she can do anything.”

USF senior with passion for China wins Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship

Hiram Rios is a senior at the University of South Florida majoring in economics and international studies with a minor in Chinese. In his time at USF, Rios has received some of the most prestigious national scholarships, including his most recent, the Thomas R. Pickering Foreign Affairs Fellowship.

Rios was the first finalist for this scholarship in USF history, and he will begin the fellowship this summer.

“I’ll start work in the China office at the State Department this summer,” Rios said. “I’ll be working to coordinate a strategic and economic dialogue between China and the U.S.”

His interest in the Chinese culture began in 2008 when he traveled to the Beijing Olympics to play violin in an orchestra.

“As a 14-year-old at the time who had never left the country, to try and process all of this, it was a lot, and what it turned into was this obsession,” Rios said.

Rios has been able to merge his love of the Chinese culture with all of his scholarships. These scholarships gave him the opportunity to study abroad in China, fluently learn Mandarin, and teach English to Chinese students.

His passion and great work ethic are also seen while working in the Office of National Scholarships as a student assistant and peer leader.

“He takes initiative; he’s extremely hard working,” said Lauren Chambers, Interim Director of the office.

With the Pickering Fellowship, Rios will receive $80,000 to study international affairs in a graduate degree program of his choice. He will also receive one domestic internship and one internship abroad before starting his five-year post as a diplomat in the Chinese Embassy.

“It’s been an amazing feat for me,” Rios said. “I’m just so proud to be able to have this space to represent Puerto Rico, the Hispanic population, the Latino-American population in the State Department.”

 

President of USF’s Society of Automotive Engineers relishes showing what a girl can do

Amid the sawdust and graphite pieces, USF’s Society of Automotive Engineers is building an engineering masterpiece with an unsuspecting success leading the pack.

Jackie LeBrun is a 22-year-old Canadian native, a USF senior and an engineering major. LeBrun is the current president of the society and has been a member for four years. She was the first female to join USF Racing.

“She was definitely the most qualified for the position. She has all the passion to do the job,” says Christopher Smith, former president of SAE.

LeBrun will be graduating this May with an engineering degree in record time. To accomplish this feat, she aimed for 15 credits per semester, and some semesters she even took 19 credits with the help of waivers.

Smith was worried about how the current members would receive the freshman. Her membership was kept secret until the second half of the semester in which LeBrun was gradually introduced into the program. Other females have since joined SAE and currently, one of the lead engineers is a student named Nicole Santana.

The guys in the shop, however, have grown accustomed to the president’s presence and reminders to keep the shop in order. LeBrun has a meticulous touch with bookkeeping and organizing as well.

“I’m trying to leave a very detailed paper trail so that next year and years in the future, they can run it on their own,” LeBrun said.

LeBrun works at a bike shop and finds that customers are taken aback when she can do repairs on the spot in a few minutes.

“’Oh, you can do that?’ I hear that a lot. I love the challenge when people underestimate me,” LeBrun said.

 

Florida mulls new texting and driving legislation

Staying connected is always crucial on campus, but it comes at a cost. A texting and driving law exists in Florida, but the House and Senate are trying to make that law easier to enforce.

Chris Daniel, assistant chief  of the USF Police Department, has experienced the difficulty of enforcing the law.

“I’ve pulled up to students at red lights and have had roll-down window conversations because I saw them texting and driving,” Daniel said. “Although I can see they were blatantly texting, I can’t stop them because they aren’t doing anything else for me to stop them.”

Daniel is talking about the current Florida statute that allows texting drivers to receive a ticket only as a secondary offense, not a primary offense. This means drivers can be ticketed for texting and driving only if they are stopped for another offense and the officer then sees they were using the phone.

USF has over 40,000 students generating both foot traffic and car traffic on campus. Texting and driving here is a bad combination.

“We have a small community with a lot of people in it. A pedestrian can walk out in front of you, a bicyclist can ride out in front of you in seconds,” Daniel said.

The law may need to be updated to include other social media platforms. People are now using applications like SnapChat while they drive.

“I definitely see a lot of SnapChatting while driving on campus,” said Carlos Garcia, a USF senior. “I think texting and driving becoming a primary stop would be ideal. It’s about safety.”

States like Delaware and New York have made it illegal to use a phone while driving. Florida may be next.

Local business owner brings Nepal to Bull Market

Bull Market takes place every Wednesday on the campus of USF from October through May during the fall and spring semesters.  Student organizations, USF departments and even local business owners can have a booth outside the Marshall Student Center.

Like many other local business owners, Alex Gopali of Gopali Himalayan Imports tries as much as he can to come to Bull Market and sell his products to the USF community.

“I came to USF in early 2014 — it’s been little over a year now — and I come here every Wednesday as long as Bull Market is here,” Gopali said.

However, what separates Gopali from his competition is that he sells unique products — 95 percent of which are directly from Nepal, Gopali said.

“I have direct connection with the people who make these handmade, hand-crafted products: jewelry to singing bowls, to any kind of meditation, to rituals, to traditional cultural products,” he said.

Gopali doesn’t sell his products just to the USF community, but also goes to other markets around Tampa Bay, such as Dunedin, Shops at Wiregrass, Carrollwood, Hyde Park, Ybor City and St. Petersburg.

But the reason he said he comes to Bull Market is the younger generation.

“They’re always looking for some different ways to do meditation, how to find peace in their lives, which is going to help them to focus on their studies,” Gopali said. “The more we are peaceful, the more we can accomplish.”

If you want to bring your business to USF’s Bull Market like Gopali did, visit the Marshall Student Center website.

USF celebration kicks off Black Heritage Month

 

With Black Heritage Month underway at the University of South Florida, the Department of Multicultural Affairs kicked off the month of celebration in style. They threw a ceremony that featured music, speeches, dancing and food.

To many, February is just another month. But for others, it has great importance in their lives.

“Black history month means a lot to me, especially this event,” said Dr. Tomar Ghansah, an assistant professor in USF’s Department of Molecular Medicine. She voiced her enthusiasm for what the Department of Multicultural Affairs is doing. “It gives me the opportunity to congregate with other diverse minorities.”

The keynote speaker for the evening was Delatorro McNeal. He is a Tampa area resident who attended Florida State University. His goal was to inspire the attendees of the event, and many said he did just that.

“I believe there is a few principles that we can learn from our foremothers and forefathers that, if we reach back and get them things and apply them to our lives, we can have a powerful today and an explosive tomorrow,” McNeal said.

The speaker’s enthusiasm spurred the audience to interact with him. He even gave out books and DVDs at the end of his presentation.

Many say the most important thing to remember about Black Heritage Month is honoring all of the prominent figures that made an impact in people’s lives. Sujit Chemburkar is the director of the Marshall Student Center at USF and spoke about the figure he looks up to the most.

“Arthur Ashe has always been a figure, for me, that has been motivational and inspirational — the barriers that he broke down and the way he did it with class,” Chemburkar said. “He demonstrated a lot of athletic prowess, but more than that, he was just a person of good moral character.”

USF presidential candidates share campaign platforms at debate

Recently announced University of South Florida presidential candidates took to the stage the evening of Feb. 4 to share their campaign platforms at the Student Body Presidential Debate.

Candidates Sammy Hamed, former Student Government chief justice, and Andy Rodriguez, current Senate president, answered a range of questions submitted by students.

“For me, the most important job of student government is shaping students for their future,” said Hamed. “ Students are here so they can get jobs after college.”

A Tampa native, Hamed is focusing his campaign mainly on outreach for students in the community after graduation and students’ professional growth during their time at USF.

Opposing candidate Rodriguez highlighted campus and student safety in his campaign, focusing on Safe Team and his plans to revamp the program.

“We have a few ideas to completely redo Safe Team, because Safe Team needs some work,” said Rodriquez. “People are waiting 30 to 45 minutes to get picked up, which is ridiculous.”

Other items that appeared on both candidates’ agendas included cultivating school spirit, including homecoming; and making Student Government more accessible to students.

“I don’t want students to be afraid to come up to the fourth floor,” Hamed said.

Voting will begin Feb. 16. Students are able to cast their vote online at sg.usf.edu/vote or on campus at designated poll tents.

Rising gas prices spell trouble for USF commuters

Every day in Tampa Bay, most students take various roads to come to campus. For two USF students, their commutes are quite different.

Fine arts student Dillon O’ Donnell drives from the city to USF, while graduate student Edgar Prieto drives onto campus from Ruskin.

“My commute is about 45 minutes,” Prieto said.

Unfortunately, the good times for O’ Donnell and Prieto may not be for long, at least for right now, AAA Spokesman Mark Jenkins said.

“We will see an increase of 30 to 50 cents, which is common and no need to panic,” Jenkins said. “After Spring Break, we will see gas prices (fall) as the demand for gasoline goes down.”

With this recent stumble in high prices, the real question is not about the future, but about how much people are actually saving on their fuel costs.

“So the average household will save anywhere between $550 and $750 on fuel expenses, and that’s more money in people’s pockets that they can spend on travel, shopping, and dining out,” Jenkins said.

And that is just what O’Donnell and Prieto plan on doing.

“I plan on going camping or canoeing, but it takes money to fill up the tank,” O’Donnell said. “I’m going to Washington, D.C., with my family -wife and kids,” Prieto said.

As February began, gas prices were below $2 a gallon in the Tampa Bay area and remain steady. The lowest price for regular unleaded fuel was at Thornton’s at the intersection of Hillsborough and Armenia avenues for $1.72 a gallon, while the highest price for regular unleaded in the Tampa area was $1.99 at a Chevron in Town n’ Country. At the start of February, the average in Tampa was $1.94 a gallon, and the national average was $2.05 – 11 cents higher than Tampa.

 

USF students volunteer in community for MLK Jr. Day

More than 2,000 students at the University of South Florida woke up Saturday morning to give back to the Tampa Bay community during Martin Luther King Jr. weekend.

Since 2006, the Center for Leadership & Civic Engagement has hosted the school-wide annual service program “Stampede of Service” for Martin Luther King Jr. weekend. Stampede of Service, USF’s largest service program, allows students to serve the community through their personal interests and abilities, in return for lifelong memories and connections.

“Our goal is to help educate and empower each student to be a catalyst for change,” said Mallory Trochesset, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement.

At 8 a.m. on Jan. 17, student participants met at the USF Corbett Soccer Stadium and were grouped by their interests toward specific social issues, which included community issues, disabilities, education and literacy, health care, homelessness, senior citizen care, hunger, youth, and environmental.

“Especially with the new structure this year, it provides students with the opportunity to do service that they really want to do and to connect with community departments that they have never known about,” said Francis Gelormini, Days of Service coordinator on the Civic Engagement Board.

Maxon Victor, a USF student and founder of SOS, was one of the guest speakers who opened the event. Victor founded SOS for students to celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day with their fellow peers and community partners by making a positive impact in the community.

“It was cool to have the guy who started it there to kind of talk to us and help us begin our day,” said Kristi Martinez, USF environmental biology major.

Each volunteer group was then sent to work with local companies and organizations at different locations around the Tampa Bay area. The service tasks ranged anywhere from picking up trash around USF to restocking shelves at the Community Food Pantry.

“This year we had 168 different organizations that have registered,” Trochesset said.

One environmental group volunteered for the City of Temple Terrace by planting trees in the newly built residential community. The City of Temple Terrace collects and plants new trees for these new communities, parks and other various sites each week and is always eager to have an extra set of helping hands whenever possible.

“Today we planted bald cypress trees as a part of the ‘rebuilding community’ efforts, because when they have to do construction sometimes they take down a lot of trees,” Martinez said. “So we are replanting them.”

By digging, replanting and watering the trees for these new homes, students realized their actions were significant for not only the community, but the world as well.

“If you don’t have enough trees, there will be a lack of oxygen and the whole ecosystem will be out of balance,” said Abigail Nicholas, USF computer engineering major. “It [SOS] helped me be more aware of everything, like how trees don’t just pop out of nowhere and people actually work on it.”

After completing their service activities, students met up at USF’s Greek Village at about 12:30 p.m. to enjoy free food and entertainment as a thank-you for their time and efforts bettering the Tampa Bay community. Students left the event not only with a free T-shirt and volunteer experience, but with new connections in the community and new found knowledge about the environment in which they live.

“They can establish relationships for the future that have great opportunities for anything,” Gelormini said.

Abortion controversy takes the stage at USF

An onstage speech against abortion brought controversy to a live music event at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s on USF’s campus Tuesday night.

Toward the end of the night, a friend of one of the members of the headlining band took over the stage and rapped about a few topics. The friend asked the audience what the No. 1 killer of African-Americans was, and he received no response. He said the answer was abortion, and then promoted his anti-abortion message with a rap. According to Taylor Mihocik, 19, the people coordinating the show didn’t look too happy.

“It was too controversial for an open mic night,” she said.

It was the only controversy of an otherwise successful night. Mihocik liked how anyone could get up and perform and thought it was an excellent place to showcase talent. While some students felt uncomfortable, others thought the concept of an open form should be encouraged to showcase the diverse culture at University of South Florida.

“This should happen more often, for sure,” said biochemistry and biotechnology major Dimitrios Antoniadis, 22.

A USF graduate student studying child behavioral health and the local band House of Woodbury proposed the event to Beef ‘O’ Brady’s in December. Desiree Jones, 24, coordinated with Beef ‘O’ Brady’s management, the food and dining hall, and lighting and sound people to get the restaurant prepared for the event.

“I’m not a band manager or anything so it was a new experience for me,” she said. “It was a little challenge for myself, but it was fun.”

Originally, the event was being held at the bookstore’s Starbucks on Wednesday nights, but was moved because of the early closing time. Now it’s at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s on Tuesday nights from 8-9:30 p.m. Rather than have a set house band, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s gives other artists opportunities by featuring a different band every month along with other student acts.

One of the other acts plans to perform as much as they can at Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, because of the great atmosphere and challenge it created.

“It’s about time there’s some live music,” said environmental biology major and guitarist Chris Atteridge, 22.

Antoniadis and Atteridge both thought the best part of performing was the crowd’s response. Their goal as a band is to play at more shows and more diverse venues.

 

Pedestrian, motor vehicle accidents pose safety risks to USF students

 

The most dangerous part of attending college is the journey to campus. Students who walk, bike or board to class face a higher risk for injury or death.

“It’s a combination of things,”said Chris Daniel, assistant police chief at the University of South Florida. “Part of the problem is, people come here and look at the university as a protected environment, not just in personal safety but safety with valuables and everything else.

“We are part of the bigger community around us. We have vehicles that travel through here that have no affiliation with USF whatsoever, but it’s an easy way to get from Fletcher to Fowler, so people just cut through.”

In 2011, there were 38 pedestrian and bicycle related crashes within a 1.5-mile radius around and including USF’s campus.

There are five apartment complexes, two campus entrances and several bus stops on 50th street, a high-traffic area for students.

Earlier this school year, 19-year-old Elizabeth Courtney was crossing 50th Street on her way to class when she was struck and critically injured by a Nissan Altima. The driver, Earnest Washington, was cited for failure to yield to a pedestrian within a marked crosswalk.

In 2012, 4,743 people were killed in pedestrian/motor vehicle related accidents, which equates to more than 12 deaths per day. According to National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 66% of pedestrian deaths were at non-intersections.

At the beginning of each semester, USF hosts Bulls Walk/Bike Week to encourage healthier living, reduction of greenhouse gasses and safer transportation for students to and from campus. But according to some students, not enough is being done.

“It might take these people who are affected, like me, to complain about it, because it’s just too dangerous,” said Tanisha Roberts, an ON50 resident.

Flu season keeps blood donors home, increases demand for supply

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zy_5TrzOIWg&feature=youtu.be

Blood drive donations are low due to the hurting blood supply in the Tampa area. Having the flu is bringing our blood collection services down with it.

“If you currently have the flu, you can’t donate,” OneBlood nurse Alesia Williams said. “If you have the flu vaccine and don’t have the flu you can … but normally we have a shortage of a lot of the negatives. The negatives are normally in shortage because it’s the universal donor, and anyone can take that.”

OneBlood donation service desperately needs healthy donors, particularly those with the universal type, O negative.

“A lot of times it’s the O negatives, A negatives, B negatives — those are a lot in shortage because we use those a lot,” Williams said.

Too many people are home sick with the flu, causing blood donations to decrease.

“Actually, there is a huge flu outbreak right now, but I’m here and I’m healthy, so I’ll keep going with it,” said University of South Florida student Lauren Greene.

Healthy people 16 or older who weigh at least 110 pounds are the ideal donors.

USF’s Tampa campus has two OneBlood vehicles, at the Sun Dome and the Marshall Student Center.

“It’s really convenient to have these buses here,” Greene said. ”I live on campus, so it’s really easy to get here. I don’t have to travel, and you shouldn’t be driving cars after anyway, just in case something goes wrong. So having them here makes it really easy to get here.”

Donors receive a mini check-up. Schedule an appointment at oneblood.org or call 1-888-936-6283.

USF students robbed at gun point

It was Saturday at the University of South Florida and students were enjoying the break from the hectic week of classes and homework. Marc Miller was spending his day with friends at the USF football game.

“It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had going to a football game,” Miller said.

Later that day Miller, a Premedical science student, went to visit a friend who lived in the apartment complex along 42nd Street across from the USF campus. It was a little after 2 a.m. when Miller and two of his friends left the apartment to head back to the USF’s dormitories.

“My friends and I were walking down the street,” Miller said. “When a car parked off to the side, two men jumped out and just ran at us with guns yelling to us to get on the ground.”

As the two assailants approached Miller and his friends, Miller started shouting for help, but his shouts for help were silenced by one of the attackers.

“One of them started to strangle me around my neck,” Miller said.

What happened to Miller and his friends is not a rare occurrence in Tampa. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual crime report, in 2013 there were 582 robberies that involved the use of a firearm.

But reading about the crime statistics does not compare with actually becoming a statistic.

While Miller was being strangled his attacker noticed a gold chain and ripped it off his neck. His attacker then put the gun to his head and ordered him to empty out his pockets.

“He then ripped off the belt I was wearing and demanded my wallet,” Miller said. “When I stood up to take the wallet out of my back pocket, that’s when he struck me with the butt-end of the gun on my chest.”

While Miller and his two friends were being attacked, cars were driving by. The drivers ignorant to what was happening. One driver did notice and stopped.

“One car finally slowed down and honked, realizing what was going on,” Miller said.

That saved Miller and his friends, making the assailants run back to their vehicle and speed away.

Since the attack, Miller is constantly looking over his shoulders and being aware of his surroundings.

“I really don’t want to even go out anywhere,” Miller said. “All of my senses are heightened, so that’s how I act around campus now.”

Miller’s plans are to finish out the semester and then go back home to Massachusetts.

“I just want to go home and transfer back to a school, close to home, where I know I’ll be safe,” Miller said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bosnian war survivor repays parent’s sacrifice

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Mia Topic seems like an average sorority sister. She loves her Alpha Delta Pi sisters, being social and making people smile.

Her ambitious attitude was molded by the struggles her family faced. Topic and her parents immigrated to the United States to escape the Bosnian Civil War.

Topic was born in 1993, just as the conflict in Bosnia intensified. She and her mother were forced to flee to Croatia without her father in the midst of war, because men in Bosnia were viewed as larger threat and had trouble leaving the country.

Topic and her mother took refuge in distant friends home in Croatia. Months passed, and they had no contact with her father. Her mother feared the worst.

Continue reading “Bosnian war survivor repays parent’s sacrifice”

USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus

In the wake of recent incidents on campus, USF committees are getting active in educating students on the dangers of sexual harassment.

According to the USF Police Department, two women were met by a stranger late at night on Nov. 4. They were approached on separate occasions within less than 30 minutes of each other. The situations escalated to inappropriate personal contact before the male suspect fled the scene.

Continue reading “USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus”

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.”