The Office of Veteran Success Lends a Helping Hand

The University of South Florida was just named the best 4-year college in the nation for veterans.

USF’s Office of Veteran Success serves over 1500 student vets. Some of the programs that they offer are vet-to-vet tutoring, mentoring, success classes, VA work-studies and community networking events. The purpose of each program is to provide veterans with the necessary skills to succeed.

The office also works with USF staff members to help veterans transition back into school. Staff members can attend the “Got Your Six” workshop, which teaches them how to become better resources for student veterans.

Daniel McNeill is the office manager for the Office of Veterans Success. He says that the program is an overview of common stereotypes, strengths, weaknesses and ways to help veterans adapt back into academia.

“We created this presentation to educate USF faculty and staff to allow our veterans to transition more easily,” said McNeill.

McNeill also said that one thing he hopes that staff members take away from “Got Your Six” is that the transition phase isn’t something to take lightly. Student veterans are making drastic life changes, and they need support from faculty during this time.

Dr. Laura Anderson, a chemistry professor at USF, attended “Got Your Six” because she wanted to learn different ways to help student veterans in her classes.

Student veteran, Victor Perez, served in the Navy and is transitioning back into school. He says that the office has really helped him get back into the school mindset.

“The office of Veteran Success has taught me about all of the benefits that I could be eligible for… especially vet-to-vet tutoring [and] mentoring,” said Perez.

Empowering Freshmen Academic Success, Beyond

(Photo by Daniel Fisher)
(Photo by Daniel Fisher)

Enrolling at USF for the first time after moving away from New England was a culture shock for freshmen Brianna Bizier.

After attending the Week of Welcome event “Welcoming to a Rewarding Year, Welcome to a Rewarding Career,” the education major said she is happy to find comfort on campus.

“My first impression coming here was that it was big and almost daunting because I came from a small high school in New England,” Bizier said. “By applying for the Provost’s Scholarship Program, I am confident that it will open opportunities to pursue my future career as an English teacher.”

After meeting the staff and faculty from the College of Education at the TECO Hall, Bizier said USF is well prepared in offering their services to help students succeed in college.

“As I got to know the school more, I learned that the staff and faculty are very welcoming and helpful,” Bizier said. “When life gets tough, students have to ask for help because you cannot do everything in life alone.”

Even other freshmen at the event were seeing USF in a positive light.

“Networking with people is important in earning a college education because it influences how you would achieve your goals in life,” said Jonathan DuQuaine, a major in mathematics.

With a love for math and a passion to teach, DuQuaine aspires to be a high school math teacher.

“I had a few teachers in the past that really love math, which inspired me to be more fluent with all levels of math like calculus and algebra,” DuQuaine said.

DuQuaine is confident that his new techniques and way of presenting his knowledge would be beneficial.

“When I teach, I want to be able to instruct what I know to students and feel good about passing new knowledge to them,” DuQuaine said.

With the College of Education inviting freshmen to the WOW event on Aug. 25, the assistant director of Student Academic Services Lindsey Williams said the new school year is looking bright.

“So far, we have about 92 first-year students who entered in the summer and fall semester, and are pursuing a degree in the College of Education,” Williams said.  “We want to show that USF has a lot of opportunities for students to succeed in college, and after they graduate.”

USF Students Welcome New Living Community

Every university has those infamous dorms – built decades ago – that the university is still leasing out to students each year. USF’s version of these dorms are in the Andros community, and after 50 years, Andros is finally being remodeled.

Some of the big changes include new and improved dorms, retail stores and even an on-campus Publix grocery store. Carolina Zapatas, a current resident, welcomes the changes.

“Knocking all this down is better for the new students because it will bring new opportunities and nicer living areas,” said Zapatas.

Not only will the dorms be nicer but they will also house 1000 more students. Creating bigger dorms is an attempt by USF to get more students to live on campus, and to get away from the university’s “commuter school” reputation.

Adding retail stores and an on-campus grocery store are incentives for students to live on campus because everything they need will be walking distance.

“I think it’s a great idea that they are building a Publix on campus so all the students living on campus who don’t have cars, can just walk there and won’t have to worry or take a bus,” said former Andros resident Isabella Wilson.

There has been no official confirmation of which retail stores will be available on campus, but the Publix will be built by the end of 2017.

 

 

Gumbo Boogie Band Brings Swamp Sound to Town

The Gumbo Boogie Band has been bringing the sound of the swamp to audiences nationwide since 1995, and this Sunday they bring their instruments to Ace’s Lounge in Bradenton.

Their sound is reflective of the band’s name, combining zydeco influences with modern rock to create melodies that pay homage to both the past and the present. Most importantly, they maintain a catalog of original work and covers that are sure to satisfy audiences who prefer these two genres.

It is not often that Bradenton plays host to musical acts with national renown. The Gumbo Boogie Band has performed with established acts such as Buckwheat Zydeco, one of the foremost musicians within the zydeco genre.

The quartet is headed by Ryan Langley, who handles vocals while also playing the piano and accordion. The other three members are drummer Chaz Trippy, saxophonist Ken Smith, and bassist/vocalist Steve Wigginton.

Despite performing together for over 20 years, the band remains in touch with its roots, as they have not reached a level of stardom that precludes them from the less glorious aspects of life as a musical act. This includes hauling their own equipment from gig to gig.

“We all bring our own equipment to each gig, and the degree of help provided varies from venue to venue,” said Ryan Langley. “In the case of Ace’s, owner Renee is who we contacted to sort out the details of when to arrive and what to expect.”

When it comes to performing at Ace’s, the band plans to arrive roughly an hour before their 5 p.m. performance time for a number of reasons.

“Typically we go through our set, testing our gear and going through a brief warm-up to make sure our sound is where we want it to be,” said bassist Steve Wigginton.

However, music is not the only thing that is typically discussed as the band passes the time leading up to a performance. They simply spend too much time together for the minutiae of life not to come up.

“Most of the time we find ourselves talking about what is going on in our lives, family and all of that,” said Smith. “Other times we discuss possible venues that we could play in the future.”

The pre-performance set up and discussions are all part of the group’s shared musical passion. Their existence as a band allows them to collectively follow their individual ambitions as musicians.

The Gumbo Boogie Band’s next stop: Ace’s Lounge located at 4343 Palma Sola Blvd. in Bradenton.

Admission is free and music begins at 5 p.m. Sunday.

Author James Morrow gives lecture at USF

On Monday, March 21, 2016 renowned science fiction author, James Morrow, will be visiting USF to discuss his new novel, “Galapagos Regained”.

Morrow will be giving a lecture on the fourth floor of USF’s library at 6:00 p.m. where he will discuss issues of science, religion, and pop culture. Joining Morrow will be fellow science fiction author and USF professor, Rick Wilbur.

“I’ve been in the science fiction community for a long time,” said Wilbur. “Getting Morrow to do this lecture was as easy as some scheduling and making phone calls to a comrade.”

After a small amount of aligning schedules between Wilbur, the university, and Morrow, the author is set to discuss his latest novel as a part of USF’s humanities institute’s lecture series.

“I urge all students who can make it to attend Morrow’s lecture,” said Wilbur. “He’s an incredible author and this is a great opportunity to discuss contemporary issues with a knowledgeable professional.”

Morrow, a self-proclaimed scientific humanist, is an author famous for his unconventional historical novels, which often examine the intertwining concepts of religion and science. His latest novel, “Galapagos Regained” plot centers on a Victorian adventurer who decides to repeat the voyages of Charles Darwin.

Anyone, whether a student, faculty or community member, will be able to attend both Morrow’s lecture and the event’s reception and book signing free of cost.

USF alumni eats like a caveman

 A young entrepreneur has taken her passion for eating healthy and combined it with her passion for cookies to create her own company Base Culture. This company is not like any other sweets retailer that sales brownies and banana bread; all of the products are paleo friendly, meaning they follow the popular Paleo Diet.

“The Paleo Diet is nicknamed the caveman diet for a reason” says Base Culture founder Jordann Windschauer, “If you were to follow the Paleo Diet, you eat meat, vegetables, seeds, nuts, and fruit.” Windschauer praises the diet and even goes on to say that she felt “more alive than ever and had more energy than she had had in years.”

While the Paleo Diet did have its ups it also had its downs. Windschauer enjoyed the new found energy boost, but she also missed all the sweets she used to eat.

“You know it got really hard not being able to just grab banana bread on the way to work in the morning. I looked for products that could satisfy my sweet tooth but would also satisfy paleo requirements but there were none” said Windschauer. It was that same day she took matters into her own hand and stated creating “sweets” that were made solely from seeds, nuts, and fruits.

She then took her paleo friendly sweets she baked to her local gym to share with her friends and they became an instant hit. People soon began offering compensation for her products, and overnight the company Base Culture was created.

Many customers have claimed to not even taste the difference between paleo friendly brownies and regular brownies. “I just tasted it and it’s actually really good and it’s awesome that it’s really healthy” said satisfied customer Lexi Ashby.

The idea of paleo friendly products has taken the market by force. Since the company’s beginning in 2013, Base Culture products are now available in over 50 stores nationwide and will soon be available in Walmart.

 

 

 

 

Getting social with the USF brand

Social media has never been more prevalent in college and professional sports than it is today. At the University of South Florida, Mike Farrell is the man behind the computer screen.

“A lot of it is one, developing a voice for our social channels and then two creating content that’s going to engage our fanbase,” Farrell said.

As the Director of Digital Content, Farrell is in charge of churning out vines, tweets, pictures and more across all of USF Athletics’ social media platforms every day.

“One of the things we want to do and want to push is to create stuff that is engaging, stuff that people want to consume, share, retweet and help spread the brand,” Farrell said.

One of the most important days for any athletic department each year is National Signing Day. Student athletes from all over the country officially sign with the school of their choosing. The content created by Farrell and his team made waves on a national level, including an appearance on Yahoo! Sports Dr. Saturday blog.

“This year in particular we had a couple national organizations, blogs, write about some of the things that we did,” Farrell said. “It was a lot of hard work, a lot of people put in a lot, a lot of hours for what’s really just a glorified morning. But I do think that it pays dividends in the end.”

The work Farrell puts in on a daily basis is critical to the growing online presence that is USF Athletics.

“For a large subset of our fans, if you don’t have that presence, you’re irrelevant,” Senior Associate Director of Athletics Andrew Goodrich said.

Even though Farrell is fully focused on the day-to-day task of enhancing USF Athletics’ presence online, he doesn’t lose sight of the big picture.

“When one person leaves, somebody else can come in and there’s no drop,” Farrell said. “That’s the USF brand. That’s the USF Athletics brand. That’s the USF football brand. There’s no change. That needs to be a constant.”

 

 

 

Ban On Tobacco Smoke Now Includes Entire Campus

After six years of USF’s first tobacco ban, the university decided to spread the policy throughout the entire campus.

USF officials say the policy was made to incentivize people to stop smoking, not to punish them.

“USF Health had previously gone tobacco and smoke free in 2009 and the St. Pete and Sarasota Manatee campuses are also tobacco smoke free,” said USF Assistant Director of Communications Aaron Nichols.

“So, Tampa is the last campus in the system to make this change.”

In 2011 USF President Judy Genshaft created the Tobacco Use Task Force, which consisted in a group of students and employees helping promote the transition of smoke free campus.

“That’s what led to the change of 2012 to restrictive smoking to certain areas. At the time, they didn’t think that the campus community was ready to go totally smoke and tobacco free,” said Nichols.

“And, that’s given us a really good transition period to lead up to this. At the time, I think, there was a lot shock at the policy and now it’s been well received.”

USF students have expressed mixed feelings about this new policy that starts next year which eliminates all 24 designated smoking areas.

“I think it benefits the environment and it also bothers some people because of the smell,” said USF student Nick Ramos. “I know whenever I walk by, I just like to keep my distance because the smell bothers me.”

USF student Ibrahim Aldairem says although the policy will be active next semester, many students have mentioned that they will continue smoking.

USF officials say the new policy will not be enforced by the campus police. They are hoping for peer enforcement.

 

Poetry fights against black on black crime

 

Andrea Little and Hector Angus are not your typical college students. They are owners of a grocery store, 1 Apple Grocery.

The University of South Florida students put their money together to help a low-income neighborhood thrive in this “food desert.”

Phil Scott has been president of Black on Black Rhyme Tampa for the last three years.  The poetry troop is the longest running in the Tampa area.

The troop assembles every third Friday of every month at Joffrey’s Coffee House. Their aim is to help the people in the poorer side of the community be able to express themselves in a healthy way.

When asked, “is it worth it,” Phil Scott answers, “Undoubtedly. From the neighborhood that I come from, it’s vital to our survival as a community, in order to have these outlets for us”.

Located at the corner of 8th and 15th street in downtown Ybor, Joffrey’s Coffee House hosts the Black on Black Rhyme shows every third Friday of each month.

Phil Scott is FAMU graduate, obtaining a Bachelor’s Degree in Science and Music. He is currently the band director at Van Buren Middle School.

He says, “I didn’t choose Black on Black, Black on Black really chose me.  It was kinda like they just welcomed me with open arms”.

Black on Black Rhyme Tampa show times are available on the Tampa Bay Poetry page on Facebook. Be sure to check out there show this Saturday evening at 8:30 p.m.

Students Escape Stress at USF Botanical Gardens

Located just steps from some of the most popular spots on the University of South Florida campus lies a hidden gem, the USF Botanical Gardens.

From whimsical plant displays and breathtaking views of the water to educational facilities, the gardens have been offering a wide variety of services to USF students for over three decades.

The gardens were established in 1969 and were used primarily as a research and education facility. Throughout the 1970’s the biology department was the only educational group to conduct research within the gardens.

It wasn’t until the mid-1980’s that the area was expanded, incorporating the palm garden, wetland forest and many of the other displays seen today. During this expansion period university staff aimed to create an area that all students could use. Garden Director Laurie Walker says that today almost every college utilizes the space.

“We have classes from the college of fine arts, arts and sciences and engineering,” Walker said.

However, as the gates opened to the public in the 1990’s the gardens shifted to incorporate aspects of relaxation and recreation.

“We also have picnic tables, benches, beautiful places to sit and relax and study or have lunch drawing in the public for a unique look at Florida’s natural beauty,” Walker said.

University of South Florida sophomore Mack Galdames says it is the perfect place for him to take a break from the stress of school work.

“I usually come out here by the lake and sometimes just stare or I’ll read a book or play guitar,” Galdames said. “It’s just a wonderful peaceful place. It’s isolated and it’s not isolated, it’s got a balance to it.”

Ms. USF, Phyllis P. Marshall

Tampa, Fla. – Phyllis P. Marshall is the backbone of the University of South Florida. She was there from the very beginning in 1960.

Marshall lived in the first student union called the University Center. She was essentially the first resident assistant on campus. The girls’ dorms were on the fourth floor of the building.

President John Allen wanted the focus of the school to be on academics and merits, not any social aspects.

“He and the other deans and the other students did not want beauty contests, popularity contests  and they didn’t want Greek organizations either,” Andrew Huse, associate librarian at USF said.

Huse said Marshall was an advocate for students. “If she didn’t go to the event, they might not have been able to have the event.”

Marshall is known as “Ms. USF” for her involvement with students. Among many ideas, she helped advocate for students to bank at the credit union. In her mind, it was not fair for students that did not have transportation.

“I think she was an advocate for integrating students with the university.” Huse said.

The University Center was later named the Marshall Student Center in 1994 to coincide with Marshall’s retirement.

MOSI plans new exhibit

 

 

The Tampa Museum of Science and Industry is working on adding a new major exhibit that is scheduled to be up and running sometime this year.

“We’re not quite ready to reveal any secrets just yet,” said Megan Haskins, a member of MOSI Marketing and Communications, “but let’s just say we have some very exciting things coming, hopefully as early as the fall, so stand by.”

MOSI used to have a history of hosting traveling exhibits, such as a Titanic exhibit or Bodies, but in recent years the museum staff has decided to halt those and instead create their own new exhibits.

“We’ve decided to take an internal look at our core experience,” said Tanya Vomaka, Vice President of Guest Experience and Marketing. “We’ve been working very hard on updating our current visitor experience.”

While the museum staff has been very quiet about their new exhibit, they have said it has something to do with “looking to the future.”

The last major new addition to the museum was the inclusion of a 3-D printer exhibit, where visitors can watch the printer in action and see some of its creations.

The entertainment and education the museum provides makes it popular with families, getting roughly 500,000 to 800,000 guests per year, despite the big theme parks nearby.

MOSI admission is only a little over $20, and as a non-profit organization, ticket prices help to fund summer camp programs, MOSI’s own education classes and various scholarships.

Share-A-Bull shares their success

With more than 320 buildings on campus, covering about 1700 acres, the University of South Florida is what some might call a huge campus.

Students have the task of trekking across campus to get to their classes on time. Some choose to drive, some choose to walk and some choose a slightly more interesting option.

The Campus Recreation Center rang in the new school year by introducing Share-A-Bull bikes, a program which they define as an “enjoyable, safe and emissions-free way to travel while increasing physical activity”.

Morgan Francis, the Assistant Director of Outdoor Recreation, is pleased with the program’s participants.

“We average 25 rides per bike. There are 16 other programs like this; same company, same manufacturer, and they average five rides per bike. So we’re doing five times more than any other program in the world”.

The numbers are keeping Francis happy, but there are a few things he hopes students stop doing with these bikes.

“It’s free and so students treat it like they do anything else that’s free. We actually have video of people riding them downstairs, so we’ve had to take some of them off service and do some repairs”.

Even with a few students mistreating the bikes, the program has been a great addition to the campus.

The best part is not that it’s free to students, but that it’s easy.  All you have to do is download the app and register. Then, you can find a bike, punch in your code and you’re free to roam.

To learn more, visit: https://usf.socialbicycles.com

To download the app, search: Social Bicycles

 

University of South Florida Student Recitals

The University of South Florida’s School of Music currently features its own junior and senior students during recital season.

Recitals are a part of both junior and senior music majors’ curriculum.

Junior and music education major Kelsey Donahoo had her clarinet recital March 31.

“I was just so excited to show everyone all these technical abilities that I’m able to do,” Donahoo said. “Once I took that final bow I was thinking ‘Wow, that’s another big step towards graduation. It’s almost here.’ ”

Students are responsible for not only picking and practicing their musical selections, but reserving the room and getting the word out too.

They create the flyers that are posted throughout the School of Music as well as the programs that are handed out to people as they walk into the Lewis and Enid Barness Recital Hall.

“I think it’s a great bonding thing for everybody,” said physics major and vocalist Regina Battista. “I think it’s such a great opportunity for everybody to learn and for everybody to learn about each other as well.”

Recitals take plenty of preparation with music students practicing many months prior to when recital season starts. They also have weekly lessons with their assigned music professor to practice their pieces.

“In college you’re mostly in your ensembles and then I’m focusing on teaching,” said Donahoo. “So to be able to build up my clarinet professional skills up to this level to be able to perform my own solo performance was an amazing experience.”

Recital season will continue until the end of the month.

Convenience store binds community

The building is small, the parking lot only dimly lit and no neon sign indicating whether it is open or closed. But Bull Market has become a fixture in this area, a rare common experience for all college students and the families who live along 42nd Street.

It’s a stop-and-go place and there is a constant stream of people walking in, grabbing what they need and walking out. There are regular customers and transient types coming in as a last resort, as well as people using the parking lot as a meet-up spot for carpools or cab rides. And while there isn’t much tying these people together aside from the street they live on, Bull Market gives the neighborhood on 42nd Street a shared space where they can finally feel like neighbors.

Inside there are only five aisles, but it has almost every amenity needed: snack foods, cleaning supplies, toiletries and limited grocery items. Nazia Hirani is a sophomore, a USF transfer student from Georgia, and she likes how close the store is.

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