Biology student Priscilla Sosa thanks donors for their generosity.

Bulls Notebook: USFSM scholarship recipients thank donors at yearly mixer

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: February 12, 2016

SARASOTA, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2016) For some of the 30 students gathered in the rotunda at USF Sarasota-Manatee, receiving a scholarship meant an opportunity to travel overseas. For others, the gifts translated into a helping hand to help pay for tuition, books and other expenses related to college.

“It makes you feel so uplifted,” senior Priscilla Sosa, a biology student from Sarasota, said of receiving the gifts.

This academic year, Sosa received five scholarships to help with tuition, including a $1,000 “Women in Leadership and Philanthropy” scholarship. “That one was the most special because it’s geared toward women,” she said. “It’s about women helping women. I want to be able to do that same thing someday.”

About 60 donors and students gathered Thursday night for the annual mixer, which allows donors to meet some of the students who’ve benefitted from their generosity, while also allowing those same students to express their gratitude. Sosa was one of three students, including Michelle Teeter and Lauren Henry, singled out to address the group at a microphone stand. Each told how the scholarships changed their lives.

Regional Vice Chancellor Dennis Stover told the crowd that because of generous donor support, USFSM was able to award $353,000 in private foundation scholarships last year. Of that, $172,000 went to “First Generation Students” under a state program that provides dollar-for-dollar matching grants.

“Donors helped more than 300 students advance their academic careers by giving to USF Sarasota-Manatee scholarship funds,” he said. “Some of the giving created special scholarships in the USF Sarasota-Manatee Scholarship Endowment with a current value of more than $4.5 million in endowed scholarship funds.”

Dr. Anila Jain, one of the more than two dozen donors in attendance, said she has contributed to scholarship funds for years and currently supports five endowments at USF Sarasota-Manatee and USF Tampa.

“I feel it’s very important to give back and it’s important to support my hometown,” Dr. Jain, a Manatee resident, said. “When I was in college I was fortunate that I didn’t need a scholarship, but a lot of students these days don’t have the kind of support that I had and they need our help.”

Donor John Horne, president and owner of the Anna Maria Oyster Bar restaurants, said he never had children and felt that providing scholarships was one way to support local youth.

“I just think it’s something important to do that can have a lasting impact,” he said. “I especially like to give to students who need a little push, a little extra help to finish their college education, the gap students.”

Horne and his wife, Amanda, also support scholarships for Manatee Technical College and State College of Florida.

Student research showcase set for next week 

The annual student research symposium is back, only now it’s more inclusive and goes by a new name: “The Student Showcase for Projects, Research and Innovation.”

The updated title is reflective of several changes that organizers hope will make for a more inclusive and rigorous academic competition. Usually held in the fall, the showcase was scheduled this spring to provide students and their academic advisers more time to develop their projects.

Additionally, students will submit work under six broad categories instead of two to allow for more entries, and the judging panel will be drawn from faculty representing the campus’ four colleges instead of a mix of students and faculty from the College of Arts & Sciences.

Organizers say the changes will help draw competitors from across USFSM’s four colleges.

The competition is scheduled for Friday, Feb. 19, at the Selby Auditorium. The all-day event begins at 8 a.m. with check-in. Poster presentations will run from 8:45 to 10 a.m. Oral presentations (Group 1) are scheduled 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. and oral presentations (Group 2) are set to run from 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.

Dr. Tom Becker of the College of Business will provide the keynote address with the award ceremony to be held immediately after.

Also new this year, the projects will be shown to the general public. The exhibits will remain at Selby for USFSM’s 40th Anniversary All-Alumni Festival scheduled Saturday, Feb. 20, from noon to 4 p.m.

USFSM looks at its 40-year history 

USF Sarasota-Manatee is celebrating 40 years of serving the community and to mark the occasion the campus is rolling out a series of 40 stories.

The series looks at our history with articles about alumni, deans, donors, faculty and others who’ve made a lasting impression as USFSM moved from a two-year institution at New College of Florida to a four-year institution with its own separate campus.

We also look at the evolution of USFSM’s four colleges – College of Business, College of Education, College of Arts & Sciences and College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership – as well as some of the key partnerships, players and programs, such as Brunch on the Bay. Lastly, we recall the efforts of alumni and others to helped raise capital to build USFSM’s new campus building.

These stories, to be rolled out over the next several weeks, are appearing here: Click the “Reflections” tab.

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