Featured post

USF Sarasota-Manatee Launches 40th Anniversary Celebration

40thimageSARASOTA, Fla. (June 26, 2015) – Come help us celebrate!

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is marking 40 years of service to the community, and to acknowledge the occasion we’re inviting alumni, supporters and the Sarasota and Manatee communities to join us in a series of celebratory events throughout the summer and academic year.

“Our campus has had a busy and successful year, so this anniversary offers us an opportunity to celebrate our past while also acknowledging all of our successes still to come,” Dr. Sandra Stone, USFSM regional chancellor, said.

Starting today, as we look back at four decades of quality education and ahead to an even brighter future, we unveil a 40th Anniversary web page, USFSM.edu/40, packed with historical information, including a timeline, historical photos, an events calendar and a comment section for alumni and supporters to post special remembrances, greetings, pictures and anniversary wishes.

As the celebration moves forward, we’ll also recall those who most influenced, and continue to influence, our cherished institution by posting snapshots and biographies of these movers and shakers. Expect to see a mix of alumni, faculty, staff, administrators, community leaders and USF System dignitaries. All told, we plan to honor 40 such prominent people throughout the year.

Later, the university will let its hair down for two special, signature events: our 40th Anniversary Kickoff celebration (Sept. 15) and a 40th Anniversary Gala celebration (March 4).

The Kickoff will be a relaxed, casual affair featuring food, drinks, music and campus tours. The Gala will be upscale and elegant, designed to thank those who have so generously supported us over the years.

“These events will be a great way for USFSM supporters from four decades to get together to celebrate how far the campus has come over the past 40 years,” Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor for university advancement, said.

“The celebration will extend through each of our events throughout the year, but the Kickoff and the Gala will be a spectacular way to showcase all of our achievements and to recognize the people that made them happen,” he said.

In addition to the Kickoff and Gala, regularly scheduled events, such as USFSM’s annual Brunch on the Bay, set for Nov. 1, will feature the 40th Anniversary theme. Expect to see many supporters and others who have influenced USFSM over the years.

USF Sarasota-Manatee urges all alumni, faculty, staff, students and supporters to get involved by sharing your stories at our webpage and joining us in our yearlong celebration.

Featured post

Upcoming Master’s Degree Information Sessions

Information Session

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will hold informational open houses for prospective master’s degree students in January 2014.

Attendees will receive a brief overview of the university, information about specific master’s degree programs, the admissions process, financial aid and other services. There will be complimentary food and beverages in addition to a campus tour. There will also be an opportunity to meet in small groups with the appropriate academic advisors to discuss prerequisites, transcripts and other details pertaining to individual programs of interest, and to meet faculty and graduates.

January 9, 2014                                                         
Master’s in Social Work*                                         
4:00-5:30 p.m.                                                           
Selby Auditorium
RSVP                                                    

January 25, 2014
All Master’s Degrees
9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.
Selby Auditorium
RSVP

Master’s degree programs include:

  • Business Administration
  • Criminal Justice Administration
  • Education (Human Resource Education or Online Teaching and Learning)
  • Educational Leadership
  • English Education
  • Exceptional Student Education
  • Hospitality Management
  • Social Work
  • Teaching

Note: The Master of Social Work degree program has a February 15, 2014 application deadline. It is a cohort, taught as a group over eight consecutive semesters and hosted at USF Sarasota-Manatee. A fall 2014 cohort start date is contingent upon a minimum number of qualified acceptances; without the minimum number, the start date would be delayed to January 2015. Website: www.usfsm.edu.

Four USF Sarasota-Manatee professors awarded tenure

Drs. Tricia Hunsader, Valerie Lipscomb, Nicholas Mastracchio, Jr. and Fawn Ngo.

Drs. Tricia Hunsader, Valerie Lipscomb, Nicholas Mastracchio, Jr. and Fawn Ngo.

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 27, 2015) – Four USF Sarasota-Manatee assistant professors are celebrating milestones in their academic careers: attaining tenure.

Drs. Tricia Hunsader, Valerie Lipscomb, Nicholas Mastracchio, Jr. and Fawn Ngo received word of the prestigious honor last month at USF Board of Trustees meeting.

“Given the high regard I have for my peers and USFSM, being awarded tenure is an honor,” Dr. Hunsader, an assistant professor of education, said.

It means “that colleagues here at USFSM as well as those from other universities who reviewed my work are confident that I will continue to contribute throughout my career to scholarship in my field, to developing our university, and to excellence in teaching,” said Dr. Lipscomb, an assistant professor of English in the College of Arts & Sciences.

In the broadest sense, tenure is a sign of trust and academic achievement. It affords professors academic freedom and a right to due process. Tenured faculty are free to challenge the conventional wisdom of any field, including art, science and politics, without fear of losing their jobs, and colleges cannot fire professors without evidence of incompetency or unprofessional behavior.

“Tenure allows freedom of inquiry, the ability to question the status quo, and that inquiry leads to the advancement of knowledge and cultural understanding,” Dr. Lipscomb said. “It’s the foundation of the higher education system.”

Nationally, no more than a third of college associate professors and professors are tenured. About 30 are tenured at USF Sarasota-Manatee, including the four faculty who will receive tenure officially on Aug. 7 at the start of the academic year. Classes are set to start on Aug. 24.

The four come from varying backgrounds. While Drs. Hunsader and Lipscomb teach education and English, respectively, Dr. Ngo is an assistant professor of criminology and Dr. Mastracchio is an assistant professor of accounting.

“It is now my turn to mentor and support junior faculty so that they too will receive tenure one day,” said Dr. Ngo, who joined USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2008. She said she’s planning a book about evidence-based criminal justice.

Dr. Hunsader, who joined the university in 2006, said: “Although I plan to continue to publish, reaching this landmark in my career affords me the freedom to more fully pursue my interests in administration.”

In addition to attaining tenure, the four faculty received promotions to associate professor starting Aug. 7. Dr. Thomas Becker of the College of Business, who is already tenured, was promoted to full professor starting Aug. 7.

For Dr. Mastracchio, this marks the second time he has received tenure. Joining USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2011, Dr. Mastracchio was awarded tenure in 1995 while at USF Tampa.

Experiencing the honor for a second time, he said he doesn’t expect big changes to his everyday life, though his course load will likely grow.

“There is comfort in knowing that my efforts are acceptable to the university,” he added.

USF Sarasota-Manatee approved for minority teacher scholarships

Thalia Meza

Thalia Meza

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 14, 2015) – College of Education student Thalia Meza and her mother were looking for scholarship opportunities last fall when they found a promising one, the state-funded Minority Teacher Education Scholarship.

Meza, whose father is Mexican, applied and learned she met the requirements for the $4,000 annual remittance except in one key area: Her school, USF Sarasota-Manatee, was not among those approved for scholarships by the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers (FFMT), the fund’s administrator.

It turns out, the university was previously approved for the scholarships through its USF Tampa affiliation, but that changed in 2011 when the school earned separate accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges. As a result, the school needed to apply separately with the Gainesville-based fund to again attain eligibility.

Undaunted, Meza appealed directly to university officials who were eager to help.

Their work paid off. On July 7, USF Sarasota-Manatee was formally welcomed into the FFMT program, joining 36 other colleges and universities statewide – including USF Tampa and USF St. Petersburg.

“When I found out, I thought, ‘Wow, I really made a difference,’” said Meza, 21, who takes most of her education courses at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s North Port instructional site. “All the people at the Florida Fund for Minority Teachers were very helpful, and, of course, at the university.”

FFMT’s board of directors initially signed off on USF Sarasota-Manatee’s acceptance two weeks ago after faculty coordinator Dr. Lora Kosten made a formal presentation to board members that touched on the college’s history and programs, including academic support and internships.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students,” she said. “I think it’s going to build our enrollment and give more opportunities for students of diverse backgrounds.”

Dr. G. Pat Wilson, interim dean at the College of Education, agreed, adding, “Those awarded the scholarships are Florida residents and will teach in Florida public schools, and so this supports our community as well.

“This is good for our students, our campus, our programs and our public schools,” Dr. Wilson said.

Nationally, minority teachers have long been under-represented in school classrooms compared to minority enrollments.

An April 2012 Florida Department of Education study found that while minorities represent more than 57 percent of Florida students, only 29 percent of Florida teachers fall within minority categories – African-American, Hispanic, Asian or Native American/Pacific Islander.

For the past three decades, that disparity has stemmed largely from a surge in minority enrollments. From 1981 to 2011, minority student enrollment in Florida schools grew 219 percent to 1,536,112, according to the study. That compares to an 80-percent rise in overall enrollment and a 13-percent increase in white student enrollment to 1,131,718.

“Definitely when we started looking into the program we saw there was a real need for more minority teachers in the classroom,” FFMT Executive Secretary Daniel Rogers said.

Created by state statute in 1996 to bring more parity to classrooms, the fund has since awarded more than 4,000 minority teaching scholarships.

Of those that went on to earn teaching certificates, 73 percent are still teaching while another 8 percent have transitioned to school administrative roles, FFMT Program Director Cheryl Williams said.

“That’s pretty remarkable in terms of retention in the field,” she said.

The scholarship, available only to juniors in approved education programs, provides up to $2,000 per semester.

The application period for fall scholarships has closed, but the FFMT might make exceptions for USFSM teaching students who apply immediately, Rogers said. He said he expects a handful of applications for the upcoming semester.

Meza said she’s looking to apply again, although by now she might have too many credits to qualify as a junior, possibly knocking her out of contention. Meza also volunteers as a youth-soccer coach in Venice, where she lives, and said she’s always wanted to be a teacher.

Even if she misses out on the scholarship, she said she’s happy to help others.

“It’s only for juniors and even if I’m not eligible, this will help other students so I would be just as happy knowing they wouldn’t have to go through what I’ve gone through,” she said.

USF Sarasota-Manatee professor travels to Africa to advise businesses

Dr. Jean Kabongo

Dr. Jean Kabongo

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 8, 2015) – Dr. Jean Kabongo’s recent return to Brazzaville in the Republic of Congo was more than a homecoming.

The associate professor at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Business grew up just across the river in Kinshasa. So while he made a point of visiting his parents, who still live in Kinshasa, the main goal of his two-week stay was to advise business owners and startups.

After helping companies in Brazzaville, he did likewise in neighboring Cameroon.

When not teaching business management, leadership, international management, entrepreneurship and MBA courses, Dr. Kabongo serves as USF Sarasota-Manatee’s representative on a consortium of eight U.S. and Canadian universities under the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP).

Comprised of 70 members, including governments and conservation groups, the partnership was formed in 2002 to promote sustainable management of the natural resources of the Congo Basin in western equatorial Africa.

Dr. Kabongo, 52, is playing his part by holding workshops about business and management practices and meeting with business owners. He conducted several such sessions in Brazzaville at the invitation of the chamber of commerce.

“The most common questions I got were how to get funding and where to go or who to see, a bank or international organization that promotes entrepreneurship in Africa,” he said.

After a week in Brazzaville, he traveled 500 miles northwest to Yaoundé, Cameroon, for a three-day conference of the CBFP. More workshops and one-on-one sessions followed, but unlike Brazzaville, the conference’s first day in Yaoundé proved especially tricky.

“We had no power,” he said. “It was held inside a big facility in a government building in the capital.”

Light through windows illuminated the space for the 40 attendees, but because the power was out – a problem fixed the next day – he couldn’t rely on visual aids. He had hoped to plug in a projector.

“I had my notes on my cell phone,” he said. “Fortunately it was charged.”

The lectures, meanwhile, proved lively and “very interactive” with attendees posing questions and talking about their companies, then approaching Dr. Kabongo afterward for advice about their business plans. This went on for hours.

“I would look at their drafts and right away give them feedback,” he said. “We set up a table and they would come and see me and ask questions. I would give them suggestions. It was really like a clinic.”

No stranger to travel – he speaks six languages – this was Dr. Kabongo’s second trip with the CBFP after visiting Africa last year. The journeys have come after more than two decades abroad.

In 1990, he left Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo, for Haiti to work for Missionhurst Missionaries, a Catholic organization that builds schools and promotes education and health care training.

A few years after that, he moved to Mexico City to attend Universidad Iberoamericana, a Jesuit college. He earned a master’s degree, got married and in 2001 immigrated to Canada to work and pursue a doctoral degree in business management at Université Laval in Quebec City.

Awarded a doctorate in 2006, he taught for a few years at Virginia State University and then at Millersville University in Pennsylvania. He landed at USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2010.

Dr. Kabongo welcomed the voyage back to his homeland of western Africa, a place of contrasts: abundant in beauty, culture and resources but struggling economically. The people he encountered, including many young entrepreneurs, nonetheless were thirsty for knowledge.

“To see how people are in need and how they want to learn and improve what they are doing, to me it is rewarding that I can be of help,” he said. “I see it as a service to the community, helping people grow and succeed in their entrepreneurial efforts, which can help overall to improve the economic and human development of the region.”

He said he hopes to return next year: “We’ll have to wait and see.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee student, alum contribute to rescue

USFSM student Bryce Makowski (left) and Sarasota Police Sgt. Richie Schwieterman.

USFSM student Bryce Makowski (left) and Sarasota Police Sgt. Richie Schwieterman.

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 6, 2015) – The rescue almost didn’t happen, but thankfully a USF Sarasota-Manatee lifeguard and two Sarasota police officers were patrolling nearby moments after a canoe overturned, sending a young man and woman into the choppy Gulf of Mexico.

The couple, in their 20s, were among the throngs gathered Saturday off Lido Key for the annual powerboat races.

“It was the right place at the right time,” Officer Michael Skinner, USF Sarasota-Manatee Spring Class of 2014, said of the rescue, which unfolded in seconds.

Skinner said he and Sgt. Richie Schwieterman were on a boat patrolling the shoreline when they noticed the couple’s canoe about 50 yards off-shore “slowly turn over” in the surf, sending the two overboard.

The officers rushed to help, thinking they might assist in righting the boat, but noticed the man’s right hand caught underneath. Despite this, the couple seemed fine, hardly worried, even handing over their cell phones and other items for safe-keeping.

“He made a statement, ‘During a time like this, the worst thing I can do is panic,’” Skinner said.

But moments later, the boat shifted, pulling the man under. Schwieterman jumped in to help.

Lifeguard Bryce Makowski, 19, a USF Sarasota-Manatee senior in the College of Business, arrived on a personal watercraft just as the man sank.

He was down only seconds, but apparently that was long enough to inhale a mouthful of water.

“His eyes got big and he immediately went unconscious,” Skinner said.

Schwieterman grabbed him to keep him from sinking further when the man’s hand came free. With Makowski’s help, he maneuvered him onto a sled attached to the back of Makowski’s Sea-Doo. Schwieterman climbed on board to keep the man from falling back into the water.

A minute later they were onshore where emergency personnel were waiting. The man woke up, coughing up sea water. A crowd of several hundred watched and applauded when it became apparent he was safe, Makowski said.

“It’s a good feeling to go home and know you made a difference,” said Makowski, serving his second summer season as a lifeguard.

Skinner, a criminology major and 10-year police veteran, said he was struck by the “randomness” of the events: how he and Schwieterman happened to be nearby when the canoe capsized, how the man’s hand suddenly became untangled and how Schwieterman and Makowski were able to quickly get him ashore on the Sea-Doo.

“Time slows down when things like that happen,” he said. “We thought we were going to help turn over a canoe … then seconds later it’s life or death. It was just random that we happened to be there.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee Army veteran reflects on July 4th meaning

Todd Hughes

Todd Hughes

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 2, 2015) – The Fourth of July means fireworks, barbecuing and family get-togethers to most and then there’s Todd Hughes, veterans services administrator at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Student Services office.

The 32-year-old Army veteran fought in Iraq. His wife, Jessica, is an Army vet. He spends his days counseling student veterans, helping them enroll and access their benefits for tuition. To Hughes, The Fourth should be commemorated virtually year-round.

“I love celebrating the independence of our great nation,” he says.

Recently, Hughes was in Chicago for a three-day cycling trip for wounded veterans – part escape, part therapy. He has even lobbied Senators and members of Congress for changes at Veterans Administration hospitals.

Fellow veterans marvel at Hughes’ dedication to veterans’ causes. His weekends are frequently booked with bowling matches and fishing and hunting trips for wounded vets.

Hughes can’t explain why he’s so involved: “I guess that’s my lot in life, what I’m supposed to do,” he says.

But he can tell you when it all started. February 2005. He was 21, at the head of a convoy driving through Iraq. Members of Hughes’ squad spotted something suspicious on the road. The vehicle stopped and everyone climbed out. Seconds later, an improvised explosive device went off 50 feet away, sending Hughes reeling backward.

Everything was a blur after that. Hughes’ friends told him a firefight followed the explosion. He couldn’t remember the trip back to base. Outwardly he looked the same. No bleeding or broken bones, which explains why he shrugged off medical treatment. That, plus an unwritten rule that said you fight if you can walk.

But as weeks and months rolled by Hughes learned otherwise. The aches, pains and nightmares he suffered, even after his discharge, traced to traumatic brain injury, soft tissue damage on one side and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Having answers helped, but the problems persisted. It took vets from the Wounded Warrior Project to get him off the couch.

Grateful, Hughes now volunteers with the group, along with other organizations such as the Sarasota County Veterans’ Commission and Manatee County Veterans’ Council.

He regularly joins his fellow vets on trips, even serving as a peer mentor to some. A father of two, Hughes also enrolled at USF Sarasota-Manatee, serving a term as Student Government president, earning a history degree and eventually landing a job here.

Working with veterans outside USFSM – he has since attended hundreds of veterans-related events – gives him a sense of purpose, a bigger cause to fight for, Hughes said.

“It’s put me in touch with other guys who had similar stuff going on, even worse stuff,” he said. “It’s like there’s an instant bond between us.”

As for the Fourth itself, Hughes said he plans to keep it low-key: time off with his wife and two children. They might watch fireworks, but haven’t decided. Being patriotic isn’t about barbecues and fireworks, he said.

“We should be patriotic on a daily basis, not just on a few holidays,” Hughes said. “Regardless of what is going on in the government and all the differences we see in the news today, we still need to hold together as one nation and support our servicemen and women who are fighting to keep terrorism as far away from home as possible. And we need to hold onto the freedoms our forefathers gave us.”

To learn more about the Student Services office at USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit usfsm.edu/student-services.

USF Sarasota-Manatee receives Enterprise donation

Andrew Gorman, an area manager at Enterprise Holdings, presents a check to Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone. Also pictured is Career Services Coordinator Toni Ripo.

Andrew Gorman, an area manager at Enterprise Holdings, presents a check to Regional Chancellor Dr. Sandra Stone. Also pictured is Career Services Coordinator Toni Ripo.

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 1, 2015) – The Enterprise Holdings Foundation continues to support USF Sarasota-Manatee students, donating $5,000 toward professional development programs at the university’s Career Services office.

Andrew Gorman, area rental manager at Enterprise Holdings, made the contribution on Tuesday. The gift boosts the foundation’s giving total to $20,000 since 2007 when it announced support for the programs to sharpen students’ communication and presentation skills.

“These programs help our students understand business etiquette, which helps them be better prepared for employment,” Career Services Coordinator Toni Ripo said. “We strongly appreciate the support of the Enterprise Holdings Foundation.”

Additionally, many USF Sarasota-Manatee students intern at Enterprise. Some go on to find employment in the company’s management-trainee program.

USF Sarasota-Manatee students launch drive to help local homeless

Dewaine Edwards and Geborah Joseph-Smith.

Dewaine Edwards and Geborah Joseph-Smith.

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 1, 2015) – Dewaine Edwards never meant to launch a collection drive for Resurrection House Inc., yet the USF Sarasota-Manatee senior quickly seized on the idea.

Now Edwards, who has been busy prodding fellow students, church members and USFSM officials to publicize the event, finds he’s at the center of the three-month effort that launches today in the campus’ rotunda.

Edwards is aiming to collect clothing, toiletries, glasses, non-perishable food, feminine products, sunscreen, sneakers and even bicycles for the Sarasota nonprofit that helps the homeless. He recently set up a collection box outside Student Services.

“I never did anything like this before, so I’m learning myself,” the 33-year-old leadership practicum student said.

Like other prospective leaders, Edwards is counting on those around him. Student Government Chief of Staff Geborah Joseph-Smith has been especially helpful. The founder of Bulls Who Believe, Joseph-Smith organized a collection drive last year for the Salvation Army.

Now she and other Student Government members are helping Edwards by urging fellow students to join in the collection. Items will be stored at the Student Government offices or student lounge until transportation to Resurrection House in downtown Sarasota can be arranged, she said. Likely, items will be delivered weekly.

Though a considerable effort, Edwards’ drive was almost an afterthought. He had arranged an internship a month ago at Resurrection House through USF Sarasota-Manatee Career Services  Coordinator Toni Ripo.

On hearing Edwards was purchasing and donating items to the day shelter on his own, Ripo suggested he hold a collection drive in the rotunda.

“I was just picking up glasses, readers, and little things I would see at the Dollar Store,” Edwards said.

Ripo then got in touch with Student Government President Alex Benishek, who assigned the task to Joseph-Smith based on her work with the Salvation Army. She said she was happy to pitch in.

Now Joseph-Smith and other Student Government members are working with Kimberly Mones, director of Student Engagement, to secure space for the clothing, sneakers, toiletries and other items. In addition, the students are using social media and OrgSync, an online resource for student organizations, to publicize the drive to family and friends.

“I’ll also be sending out texts to Bulls Who Believe (members) to get them involved,” Joseph-Smith said.

The collection was initially penciled in to run until July 17, but Joseph-Smith said campus officials gave permission to extend the drive through the fall semester.

Edwards, who spends about 10 hours a week helping at the shelter, checking in the visitors, retrieving mail and answering questions, said he was surprised to hear their stories, how they ended up homeless and how they survive on so little.

“Bicycles are really important to them, and good sneakers,” he said. “They like running shoes.”

About 200 homeless come to the shelter daily for showers, clothing, laundry, counseling and non-perishable food, volunteer manager Becky Taylor said. The idea is to help them become self-sufficient. If they land a job, they’re given bicycles to help get to work. The program was started in 1989.

Most interns come from sociology or psychology programs, she said. Edwards was unique in that he originated from the leadership program offered through the College of Arts & Sciences.

“Having the students do the drive is great,” she added. “We usually get a good response when the students are involved.”

Referring to Edwards, she said, “Dewaine is a great student. He’s eager to learn and he cares deeply. And he’s patient. You need someone like that here.”

To learn more about USF Sarasota-Manatee’s College of Arts & Sciences, visit USFSM Arts & Sciences.

USFSM, UnidosNow to hold workshop for college-bound students

UnidosNow at USFSM

Students of the UnidosNow “Future Leaders Academy” learn the ins-and-outs of the college application process through hand-on training at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 29, 2015) – Catalina Kaiyoorawongs wants Hispanic high school students to make education the top priority of their young lives.

“I want them to dream big,” said Kaiyoorawongs, associate executive director at UnidosNow, a nonprofit that acts as a link between the Hispanic community in Sarasota and Manatee counties and the resources that serve the community. “I want them to think about attending the top schools in the country, if that is right for them.”

To help make that a reality, UnidosNow is holding a summer workshop next week at USF Sarasota-Manatee to prepare Hispanic students for college, get parents used the idea of having a child away and to help teens and their parents make the right educational choices.

Hispanic students often face barriers to secondary education. Economic factors sometimes play a role. Some students struggle with low self-esteem and mistakenly view college as unattainable. Others are hampered by transportation. Rather than participate in extra-curricular activities after school to strengthen their college applications, they’re forced to return home, in some cases to look after younger siblings, Kaiyoorawongs said.

Still others face cultural barriers where it’s more important to find a job close to home than go away to college to pursue a career.

Kaiyoorawongs said UnidosNow is trying to fight those notions. “We want to help parents understand what their children need to do to be successful, to teach them that academic excellence must be a part of their family culture, and to get the kids to dream big,” she said.

The workshop is entitled the Future Leaders Academy (FLA). It’s set to run July 6 to Aug. 14, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Students will learn about academic and career goal-setting, college selection and interviewing techniques, as well as financial aid programs, resume writing and preparing for the SAT and ACT college entrance exams.

USF Sarasota-Manatee, a UnidosNow partner, is hosting the event for the third consecutive year. Last year’s academy drew 45 students, plus numerous parents and siblings for the family engagement sessions.

Kaiyoorawongs said she wants high schoolers to think about college early by focusing on grades and extra-curricular activities and to consider applying to the nation’s top universities. Most who attend the academy will be sophomores and juniors.

“We prefer to get them as rising juniors rather than rising seniors,” she said. “That way we can have an impact on their chances of getting into college because you have to start applying to colleges earlier, and especially with test prep you have focus on starting early.”

Additionally, students at the workshop will learn about post-college life through sessions such as “resume writing,” “dressing for success” and “job shadowing,” in which students visit local professionals to talk about their careers.

This year’s job-shadowing participants are the Ritz-Carlton, manufacturer Sun Hydraulics, SRQ Media and Kerkering, Barberio & Co., the Sarasota-based accounting firm.

Also helping is Dr. Aparna Telang, a biology professor in the College of Arts & Sciences, who will lead a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) segment focused on science-based careers. Students will visit the Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota during the four-day workshop to conduct experiments. Lessons will involve biology, chemistry and mathematical analysis.

“What I want them to think about when considering a science field is, what are some of the skills they will need in order to explore that option?” Dr. Telang said.

Not everything at FLA will be student-focused. Kaiyoorawongs said parents can get involved too, and some sessions are geared toward parents in particular. One tackles parents’ fears and anxieties of having a child go away to college.

“We have parents from previous years and they will talk about what it was like and what they went through,” Kaiyoorawongs said. “There’s a little of everything here, and the parents work right alongside the students.”

To learn more about UnidosNow and its programs, visit UnidosNow.org.

For more about educational opportunities at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, visit USFSM.edu.

USF Sarasota-Manatee basketball court is ready for play

Workers finished USFSM's basketball court Thursday afternoon.

Workers finished USFSM’s basketball court Thursday afternoon.

SARASOTA, Fla. (June 26, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee students and faculty now have another recreational venue after completion this week of the basketball court at the campus’ north end.

Workers from contractor TCM of Florida this week applied the final two coats of green paint, white striping and the gold Bulls logo at center court. Work was wrapped up by late Thursday.

“I think it’s a big change for the university,” Student Government President Alex Benishek said Friday. “I’m very excited by this.”

Benishek said he envisions pickup games between classes, as well as clubs being formed for students and faculty: “Maybe they (faculty and students) could clash every once in a while.”

The total project involved two parts – the basketball court and a beach volleyball court at the campus’ west end that opened in April.

The basketball court, which was more complex, including fencing, lights, benches and water fountains, was delayed two months to allow workers to relocate a water line for the campus’ fire-suppression system. Crews were forced to wait a few more weeks for the court’s asphalt surface to cure before applying the final coatings, striping and “U”-shaped bull horns logo this week.

Funded by $260,000 in Capital Improvement Trust Fund monies – fees paid by students to support non-academic programs – the project came at the urging of student representatives who met with campus officials last summer. Administrators agreed to back the project.

“I still have to do a final inspection, but so far it looks good,” Kevin Taterus, associate director of facilities planning and management, said Friday.

Still unknown is how the court will be managed. Benishek said he favors an open system to give students easy access to the court. He opposes a signup sheet and says students should play on a first-come, first-served basis to allow for pickup games. Basketballs could be stored in a bin and the court locked nightly at 10 p.m. when the university closes.

“Hopefully, security will put a lock on the gate and make it part of their rounds when the university shuts down,” he said.

Taterus said no decision has been made about the lock. The court’s lights shut off automatically at 10 p.m., so there’s no incentive to lock and unlock the court each morning and night. He said he’s leaning toward keeping the court unlocked, “unless something happens and we need to lock it up at night.”

However, the ball storage bin could be equipped with a lock, he said. That would require students to be responsible for the key and keeping the bin filled. Public access to the court is not permitted due to insurance and other issues.