SARASOTA, Fla. (Dec. 8, 2016) Dr. Paul Kirchman, dean of USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Science & Mathematics, met with students at Riverview High School in Sarasota on Wednesday to talk about the college’s academic programs and career-centric approach.
“The fact that undergraduates do research here is something that is not easy to come by at big universities,” he told the group at the school’s Career Center. “I went to Emory for my Ph.D. and when I worked in the lab the only work undergraduates did was wash dishes for minimum wage.”
The dean addressed two different groups of 30 students as part of an outreach effort organized by USFSM Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Andrew Telatovich and Bill Mariotti, a USFSM alumnus and 1978 Riverview High graduate.
While Telatovich gave an overview of USFSM’s four colleges – Business, Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, Hospitality & Tourism Leadership and Science & Mathematics – Dr. Kirchman focused on the College of Science & Mathematics, its degree programs and its connection to USF’s College of Engineering in Tampa.
Under a program unveiled in September, the Bridge to Engineering, students can study for two years at USFSM and finish their engineering degrees at the Tampa campus, Dr. Kirchman said. The program guarantees admission to the College of Engineering while saving students money.
About a third of the group raised their hands when asked how many were interested in engineering careers. A slightly smaller number said they were interested in pre-med and asked about the campus’ biology program.
Students are able to conduct research with biology professors and scientists at the Mote Marine Laboratory where USFSM maintains teaching labs, Dr. Kirchman said. He also talked about internships at Mote, including a lab internship program that awards students $5,000 to conduct research in labs alongside Mote scientists.
Not every student majoring in biology will pursue medical school. Some will seek degrees in “allied health” that support the health care industry, including such careers as a physician’s assistant, optometrist, speech pathologist or audiologist, Dr. Kirchman told the students.
Many of those fields, which happen to be among the fastest growing in the United States, are rooted in academic programs offered at USFSM, including biology and the communication sciences & disorders program, he said.
The USFSM advantage
In a broader talk about the campus itself, Dr. Kirchman noted that USFSM’s small size (about 2,070 students) poses advantages over bigger universities where students can sit in lecture halls with hundreds of others.
USFSM’s low student-to-faculty ratio (13:1) can “help you to know your professor and know your classmates,” he told them. Also, having close ties to their professors can help students when it comes to requesting letters of recommendation for jobs or graduate school.
Kristen Oriente, an 18-year-old senior at Riverview, said she planned to attend USFSM in the fall to study business. “I didn’t know about the 13 to 1 ratio,” she said.” That’s good because a smaller classroom size is important to me.”
Dr. Kirchman’s visit to Riverview was his first to a local high school after joining USFSM this summer. Telatovich said he might invite more deans to speak with high school students. Admissions counselors visit high schools two or three times per semester.
“I think it went well,” Telatovich said. “The students were really engaged when he talked about the programs here.”