Student Spotlights

Learn about a few of the students in the College of Science & Mathematics and why they chose USFSM as their school of choice.

Amanda Burns, ’16

After starting USFSM’s psychology program, Amanda said she quickly found the tools to succeed: small class sizes, an emphasis on writing and one-on-one attention from knowledgeable professors. In particular, Dr. Anthony Coy provided the necessary guidance during his study on relationships to help Amanda flourish as a research assistant.

“I needed faculty that would provide the support necessary for me to reach my goals and I knew I would receive that at USFSM,” she said. Later, Amanda enjoyed support from Career Services, where advisors helped her find a job as a psychometrician at a child psychology office. Not one to sit still for long, though, Burns says she’s poised to pursue graduate studies in the near future.


Brad Boserup, '16

Brad Boserup, ’16

Staying close to family was important to Brad Boserup when weighing his educational options, but something else made all the difference for the Sarasota native: USF Sarasota-Manatee’s low student-to-faculty ratio (13:1), which enabled him to bond with classmates and professors. Aiming to become a physician, he volunteered as an organic chemistry teaching aide and honed his electron microscopy skills as a research assistant.

As president of USFSM’s Pre-Health Professions Club, Brad anticipates helping new members navigate the medical school application process. He said he owes his success to USFSM professors and the ability to combine his education with experiential learning. “I feel confident that my degree in biology has prepared me well for the challenges that lie ahead.”


Dina Thelusma, ’19

Dina Thelusma always loved her biology classes, but it was a guest speaker at Palmetto High School that set her on a path toward becoming an ophthalmologist. After high school, she wanted a solid, science-based undergraduate education, but she didn’t want to travel far from home where she enjoyed lifelong friendships and strong family ties. Visiting USFSM’s campus, she said she felt an instant “connection” and after two semesters is now certain she made the right choice.

“I like the professors and the classroom sizes and that you can form relationships more easily here.” That closeness has helped the biology major thrive in her studies. She also benefits from the opportunity of working with renowned scientists at Mote Marine Laboratory where USFSM operates two teaching labs. Thelusma says she enjoys the advantage of working with the researchers: “It definitely helps in terms of learning to run experiments. It’s great to have that knowledge and experience in your background,” she says.


Jaime Hernandez Carranza, '17Jaime Hernandez Carranza, ’17  

Jaime’s life is a world away from his boyhood days playing soccer and hiking the hills around his hometown of Cuajilote, a village of about 200 in southwestern Mexico. The fourth-year biology student has dreamed of becoming a physician since coming to the U.S. as a 12 year old with his family. Initially, he chose USFSM for convenience and cost, but now he says he can’t imagine pursuing an undergraduate education anywhere else.

“Here, you’re able to talk to your professors whenever you want to. They’re very accommodating and there’s more personal attention,” he said. “I don’t see that happening at other colleges with much larger classrooms.” President of the Biology Club and a Student Ambassador, Carranza said he hopes to inspire his younger sisters as they pursue their college dreams. “You can’t give up. You have to keep going and you have to have a plan. I’ve always had [medical school] in my mind. This is my plan.”


Nicole BrostekNicole Brostek

By working in a hospital laboratory after earning her biology degree, Nicole learned a lot about clinical pathology and diseases, but she felt she was missing the “human aspect” of medicine. When she met a speech and language pathologist, she discovered how fascinating and rewarding the career could be, impacting patients’ recovery and quality of life.

Soon she discovered USFSM’s Communication Sciences & Disorders program. This program allowed her to maintain a laboratory job while attending classes online at night and during weekends. She’s currently applying to graduate school and is ecstatic about the new direction her educational career is taking her.


Priscilla Sosa, '16Priscilla Sosa, ’16

Priscilla traces her interest in science to an internship program at Riverview High School that had her working at two dental offices in Sarasota. After graduation, she enrolled at a community college, then registered at USFSM, where an undergraduate biology program was debuting in Fall 2014. Sosa quickly distinguished herself. She founded the campus’ Biology Club as a junior and by her senior year had been tapped to serve as a Student Ambassador, representing USFSM at functions on and off campus.

Sosa credits her success to the availability of her professors to answer questions and offer valuable guidance: “You can connect with your professors and relate to them one-on-one.” After earning a bachelor’s degree in biology in Spring 2016, Sosa was accepted into dental school at the prestigious Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM) School of Dental Medicine (D.M.D). “I’m very excited,” she said. “The first two weeks I couldn’t believe I was really here. It’s very exciting.”


Stephanie Grobleski, '17Stephanie Grobleski, ’17

Returning to college after stints as a TV producer and bookkeeper kept Stephanie focused on her goal to help veterans suffering psychologically from effects of war. “These are people who’ve given everything to their country, and as a society we really need to do more to help them,” says the fourth-year psychology student, adding she knows a thing or two about trauma.

In 2008, while traveling southbound on Interstate 75, her SUV was run off the road and rolled several times, ejecting her from the driver’s seat. She underwent extensive rehabilitative therapy to return to an active lifestyle. “I can’t say I’ve been in combat, but I can say that I understand the physical and mental processes of what trauma does to the mind,” Grobleski says. She says she’s thankful to her professors who’ve helped not just with classwork but with career advice. “They’ve been very supportive and they’re always approachable,” says Grobleski, adding she’s now considering graduate school, possibly at USFSM.


Summer Young, '16Summer Young, ’16  

Summer had already began work in the dental profession, but always yearned to take the next step: to become a dentist, which meant returning to school. “I always liked learning and growing and I liked the customer interaction,” she said. “As a dentist you’re always continuing your education, and I like that.” After community college, she enrolled in USFSM’s biology program. She quickly realized, “I could not have made a better choice. From the moment I toured the campus to my graduation, everyone I came in contact with was helpful and interested in me personally,” she said. “I wasn’t just a number.”

One occasion in particular left a lasting impression: one morning while preparing for the dental school entrance exam, organic chemistry instructor Dr. Edie Banner noticed her and offered to lend a hand. “She wasn’t even my instructor at the time, but she took the time to help,” Summer said. Dr. Banner’s assistance proved invaluable. The Class of 2016 graduate excelled on her exam and is now enrolled at the University of Florida’s College of Dentistry. “My time at USFSM was immensely rewarding on many levels. It enabled me to be a competitive candidate in professional graduate programs.”


Teddy Mullet, ’20

Teddy’s fascination for gadgets and technology over the years has had him creating lasers and building a motorized bicycle. “I’ve always been curious about how things work and making things,” says the 2016 valedictorian at Sarasota Christian School. So when a guidance counselor told him about USFSM’s Bridge to Engineering program, his mind was made up.

Mullet registered and was immediately accepted into the program that partners with USF’s prestigious College of Engineering in Tampa. Under the program, he’ll study for two years at USFSM then transfer to Tampa to complete his studies. “I’m close with my family and friends and just wasn’t ready to jump ship and move somewhere,” says the Sarasota resident, who will save on commuting costs and time by taking classes close to home. “USFSM was my first choice.”


Victoria Shea, '16Victoria Shea, ’16

After graduating high school, Victoria decided to study biology at a large Florida university. While she enjoyed the experience, she found it challenging to build relationships with professors in lecture halls filled with hundreds of students. In 2014, she transferred to USF Sarasota-Manatee. The biology program was still new and not yet accepting students so she majored in psychology, which she says “turned out to be one of the best decisions I could have ever made.”

The small classroom sizes allowed for more interaction with professors and led to collaboration with students in a casual setting. Being able to converse with professors and students helped her to build upon the course material. She also gained valuable experience as a research assistant for two semesters, which introduced her to the career field that she now plans to pursue: legal psychology.