Irie Way of the YMCA Achievers Program enjoyed the chemistry experiments at USF Sarasota-Manatee's teaching labs at Mote Marine on Friday.

Bulls Notebook: USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes YMCA Achievers

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: August 04, 2017

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 4, 2017) – Irie Way liked the “sea snakes” and their squishy feel, but the eighth-grader also delighted in making “elephant toothpaste” and “funny putty.”

Meanwhile, in the biology lab, Reggie Perry, a junior at Booker High School, was busy peering through a microscope at zooplankton and phytoplankton, microscopic organisms that thrive across Sarasota Bay.

In what has become an annual event, about two dozen children and teens from the Sarasota YMCA Achiever’s Program visited USF Sarasota-Manatee’s teaching labs at Mote Marine Laboratory on Friday.

Bulls Notebook: USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes YMCA Achievers

Reggie Perry examines types of plankton.

The youngsters conducted rudimentary chemistry experiments using household items and examined tiny creatures using two different microscopes. The three-hour session, the third since the program launched in 2015, was meant to acquaint the youths with science and college laboratory equipment.

“It helps them to start thinking about the possibilities and about what they can do in their careers,” USFSM chemistry instructor Dr. Banner said, adding that it’s never too early to introduce children to science. “The sooner they can see something that interests them, the sooner they can figure out what they want to do in life.”

Dr. Banner and USFSM alum Priscilla Sosa launched the USFSM-YMCA science day. On Friday, USFSM student Victoria Ramirez, who also works at the labs, and a handful of graduate students and other assistants pitched in to help. The youngsters delighted in the experiments, which was followed by lunch and a tour of Mote’s aquarium.

“I like that it tests your knowledge and that you can create experiments with things you can find around the house,” Perry said. “It makes you think about what you might like to do in the future.”

The 16-year-old said he’s still making up his mind about his career, but he knows for sure that he wants to attend college. He said he might study mechanical engineering. Then again, thanks to the program at USFSM, he’s also developing an interest in marine science.

Jone Williams, director of the Achiever’s Program, said she likes that the USFSM-YMCA science day gets the children thinking about science-based careers.

“There are so many different types of careers in science they can choose from,” she said, adding, “This is a good event and it’s hands-on. If it’s hands-on, the children will remember it.”

Popular accounting class returns

Bulls Notebook: USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes YMCA Achievers

Dr. Nicholas Mastracchio

Dr. Nicholas Mastracchio’s popular Business Valuations class is returning for the fall. The hybrid online-live class shows accountants and graduate students the intricacies of valuing a business.

A foremost expert on the subject, Dr. Mastracchio has written extensively about business valuation, testified in court cases and assisted in multi-million dollar mergers. His course looks beyond the balance sheet to delve into methodologies for accurately valuing businesses.

Students are taught to assess risks of a particular business as well as a process called “normalization,” in which they distinguish between accepted business practices and those normally not associated with a business.

Drawing on actual work experiences, Dr. Mastracchio discusses the problems of “cash-only” businesses, how couples divorcing can develop entirely different opinions about a company’s value and how business owners who, for tax purposes, may sometimes comingle personal and business assets. Untangling these connections is all part of accurately valuing a business.

“Boats, cars, artwork, even a jet airplane,” may sometimes be labeled business assets, he said.

“I ran across one business where the guy had all these local subsidiaries and he had a plane listed as an asset,” he said. “The subsidiaries were all only a 100 miles away, so why did he need the plane?”

The course is almost entirely online. The last two classes are live. During these live sessions, the students work in groups to valuate businesses. At the end, they make presentations based on their findings before classmates and outside experts in business valuation. The experts rate the presentations.

Although most students in the class are working toward MBAs, many are accountants interested in their continuing education.

“Everybody participates,” he said. “Another important thing is that the course has been approved by the Florida State Board of Accountancy for graduate students and as a continuing education course for accountants. It counts for 45 credit hours of continuing education.”

Registration for the class is open until Aug. 25. For more details or to register for the program, contact Laura Delagardelle at Lad5@sar.usf.edu.

Summer commencement set for this weekend

USF Sarasota-Manatee is set to graduate more than 100 students at this weekend’s summer commencement in Tampa.

Altogether, more than 2,700 University of South Florida System students will be awarded degrees in two commencement ceremonies Saturday at the USF Sun Dome. The graduating class represents 43 states and more than 83 nations.

Among those graduating this summer is former Student Government President Alex Benishek. Benishek will receive his degree, although he already processed with fellow students during the Spring 2017 commencement at the Bradenton Area Convention Center.

“I wanted to walk with all my friends, the other students I’ve known since I was a freshman,” he said.

Few graduates have left an imprint on USFSM as lasting as Benishek’s. As Student Government president he worked with administrators, faculty, fellow students, including Andrew Becht, and an outside architectural firm to create USFSM’s new Student Commons.

The 6,900-square-foot, state-of-the-art space cost more than $1.6 million. Completed last fall, the project was funded by Capital Improvement Trust Funds and Student Activity and Services Fees collected over several years. Benishek was involved deeply throughout the project.

“I guess if each president has a legacy, that would be mine,” he said, adding that as he leaves USFSM he’ll miss most the camaraderie felt with classmates, faculty and administrators. “There’s something about that campus. It’s the type of people there who make this university a special place.”

Benishek said he’s now working with Americorps in Alamoso, Colo., about 120 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Eventually, he said, he hopes to enter Officer Candidate School for the U.S. Navy and perhaps run for elected office someday.

He said he never intended to enroll at USFSM. He meant to enroll at the USF St. Petersburg campus, but clicked the wrong link during his online application and eventually was accepted by USFSM.

“It was the best mistake I ever made in my life,” he said.

Saturday’s commencement is divided into two ceremonies. Both will be held at the Sun Dome in Tampa. The first starts at 9 a.m. with graduates from USF St. Petersburg and USF Tampa receiving their degrees. That will be followed by a ceremony at 1:30 p.m. with graduates from USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF Tampa receiving degrees.

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