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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 mark 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.

USF Sarasota-Manatee Guarantees Match for Giving Challenge Gifts

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 31, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee supporters can make the most of their donations during the 2015 Giving Challenge, which kicks off noon Tuesday.

Contributors can see their donations double, even quadruple, during the annual 24-hour giving spree through matching grants from The Patterson Foundation and State of Florida. The Patterson Foundation, which is locally based, has agreed to double any contribution up to $250 that comes from a first-time donor to USFSM.

The state, meanwhile, has committed to doubling any donation at all to USFSM. That means donors can see their $250 donations instantly turned into $1,000 donations by having this dual support.

USF Sarasota-Manatee wants to make the most of this year’s giving challenge – when Sarasota gets to show it’s the most generous community in the nation – by earmarking every dollar contributed to a special scholarship fund that benefits those most in need: first-generation college students. Thanks to this fund, those students aiming to become the first members of their family to earn a college degree will now get a helping hand.

Of course, it all starts with our supporters, without whom this scholarship and other programs and activities would not be possible.

“The Giving Challenge presents an excellent opportunity for the community to learn about the wide variety of different non-profits that are located right in our backyard,” Dennis Stover, regional vice chancellor of University Advancement, said. “The giving partner foundations provide so much support to USF Sarasota-Manatee throughout the year, and the Giving Challenge is an example of how we can all pull together to support one another.

“By supporting USFSM during the Giving Challenge, you are guaranteeing that your gift will be matched at least dollar-for-dollar and could potentially be matched 4-to-1,” Stover said.

To demonstrate just how much our students care and appreciate our donors, starting Tuesday USFSM students will take to social media – Facebook, Instagram and Twitter – for a 24-hour campaign to get out the word to support USF Sarasota-Manatee through the 2015 Giving Challenge.

The students plan to turn the Campus Board Room into their Giving Headquarters. Later, as the Challenge picks up momentum, the students will fan out to local businesses – along with USF mascot Rocky the bull – to implore their financial support.

The 2015 Giving Challenge is completely online-driven and contributing to the campaign is easy: Simply log on to https://givingpartnerchallenge.org/ then type “USF” in the right-hand box. Click “USF-University of South Florida Foundation Inc.” to enter your donation. Thank you for supporting USF Sarasota-Manatee!

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About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)

USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida System, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.

USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes new faculty, makes promotions

_DSC_0649#172ASARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee’s colleges of Arts & Sciences and Business are seeing several new faces this semester thanks partly to higher enrollments and continued strength in technology careers.

Overall, USF Sarasota-Manatee added another 17 faculty members for the fall term – one more than for fall 2014 and three more than fall 2013.

Universities regularly adjust employee levels as academic needs change. While USFSM won’t know its full enrollment picture until Monday, the institution anticipates an influx of full-time student registrations, bolstering the need for instructors.

Dr. Terry Osborn, regional vice chancellor for academic and student affairs, said some of that growth can be attributed to the Board of Governors’ decision in June to remove USFSM’s enrollment cap for underclassmen – freshmen and sophomores.

With the cap removed, more instructors will be required to fill out Arts & Sciences’ general education classes.

“It’s important that we meet the demands of our students and our accreditation,” said Dr. Osborn, adding that in some cases the hiring process for new faculty began almost a year ago as USFSM was under review for removal of the enrollment cap. He said he expects the full impact of the Board of Governors’ decision to be felt in succeeding years.

Of the 17 brought on board this semester, nine went to the College of Arts & Sciences. The College of Business saw six additional hires, largely on continued strength of Information Technology jobs, while the remaining two new faculty were divided between the College of Education and College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership.

Additionally, two instructors were promoted: Dr. Christelle Bouchard, hired last year, was promoted from visiting assistant professor in biology to assistant professor. John Stewart was promoted from visiting instructor in professional & technical communication to instructor. He was hired in 2013.

“I think that we have a really strong and diverse faculty committed to both teaching and research,” Dr. Osborn said. “I truly feel that we continue to build our world-class faculty.”

Among the new faces at Arts & Sciences, Dr. Carlos Santamaria said he was drawn to USFSM by its small class sizes – 13-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio, on average – and budding biology program.

“When I interviewed I was very impressed by the student-faculty interactions, the level of student participation in lectures and the dedication to teaching science as it is carried out,” Dr. Santamaria said. “That, combined with the promise of joining a new biology program young and nimble enough to adapt with the times, convinced me to come to USFSM.”

Dr. Santamaria will lecture at a teaching lab at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota but conduct research at one of the new modular biological laboratories at the campus’ north end.

Also a newcomer, Dr. Phillip Wagner, director of Core Curriculum and an Arts & Sciences communications instructor, echoed Dr. Santamaria, saying he liked USFSM’s size – roughly 2,000 students – but also its connection to the larger USF System.

“I love USFSM specifically because it’s small enough for faculty to all know each other and for faculty to really have the opportunity to know their students,” Dr. Wagner said.

Not all of the recently added faculty are new to the USF System. Heather Duncan, an instructor and coordinator of clinical education at the College of Education, worked for nine years as an adjunct instructor for USF. Additionally, before coming to USFSM, she was a district resource officer for Pinellas County Schools, helping children with autism.

“I was intrigued and excited about the focus of arts-integration within the College of Education and look forward to infusing this approach within my internship seminar courses,” the St. Petersburg native said.

Serdar Ongan, a visiting professor of hospitality management, previously worked in Istanbul. Regarding USFSM, he said: “I loved the campus and the faculty.”

And Mubarak Banisakher, a visiting professor of Information Technology, said he felt comfortable at the campus almost from the outset. He started Aug. 7.

“Our campus is a great campus,” he said. “It has leadership that is willing to take on remarkable initiatives to bring this campus to the next level of excellence.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee student wins award at JPMorgan Chase offices

Marina Rambo Photo by Krista Schrock

Marina Rambo                                                                                                                               Photo by Krista Schrock

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 28, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee I.T. student Marina Rambo has come a long way from her days as a pastry chef.

The senior was forced to change careers after a car accident left her unable to stand for long periods. She hit on a career in Information Technology because it challenged her intellect while offering an outlet for her creative side.

“It’s kind of like baking,” said Rambo, who has long since healed from the crash. “Baking combines chemistry and art and in I.T. you can have the computer-science side and the more artistic creative side, graphic design.”

Rambo, 34, seems to have hit on a winning formula. This past summer, she excelled over 37 other interns to claim the top intern award – “Most Outstanding Technology Summer Analyst” – at JPMorgan Chase & Co.’s Tampa offices.

“We are very proud of Marina and her success at JPMorgan Chase,” Interim Dean at the College of Business, Dr. James Curran, said. “She is a talented and dedicated student. We are also proud of our IT program and faculty for preparing Marina and her fellow students for this type of success.”

When the award was announced in late July in front of her peers and other technology workers, Rambo wasn’t sure what to think.

“I was totally surprised,” she said. “It took me a minute to process it. I remember walking up there with a big grin on my face.”

Landing the highly sought-after, highly paid 10-week internship was an accomplishment in itself. She applied with dozens of other applicants last fall under JPMC’s “Winning Women” undergraduate program, advertised through USF’s Career Services’ office in Tampa.

Sailing through the first round of interviews, she was flown with other candidates to Wilmington, Del., for an all-day question-and-answer session. “This is one of the top internships in the country,” Rambo said.

A few weeks later in December, as she walked along St. Armand’s Circle, she got a call from a JPMC representative who extended her an offer as a software developer in one of two JPMorgan Chase technology centers in Tampa.

“She told me my hourly rate and it was more than I have ever been paid. I had to contain my excitement,” she said.

The job also proved more interesting than expected. While prohibited from disclosing too much, she said it involved user-interface design for mobile applications. Rambo said she immediately felt in her element, drawing on the technical and artistic sides of her skillset to figure out ways to make technology more user-friendly.

“I’m always interested in the human aspect of technology, why something is designed the way it is,” she said. “Why does it work this way? Is it supposed to work this way? What can we do to make it better? It was nice to do something I’m passionate about.”

The process was largely collaborative and she grew close to her coworkers, including her supervisor. By the end of the 10-week internship, both were sorry to see her go.

“It was hard leaving. I really enjoyed my time there. My manager, all my coworkers, everybody was super supportive,” she said. “I’ve spoken with my manager three times since I left. But I really, really want to finish my degree.”

As she returns to school this semester, Rambo will have more than studies to look forward to. She’s signed up to serve as a student Ambassador and said she’s working to establish a student chapter of the American Association of University Women before she graduates.

Rambo’s sendoff from JPMC wasn’t without a keepsake or two. In addition to receiving the top intern award, she was offered a job upon graduation next spring.

“It’s nice to know I have this waiting for me,” she said.

USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes students with mixer; more events set

Students and faculty enjoyed a Week of Welcome mixer on Monday. Photo by Krista Schrock.

Students and faculty enjoy a Week of Welcome mixer on Monday.                                          Photo by Krista Schrock

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 25, 2015) – An Information Technology student from Lincoln, Neb., Stephen Bui came to USF Sarasota-Manatee because of its small class sizes and proximity to family in Manatee County.

“There wasn’t another place I wanted to go to that was this close to home,” said Bui, who spent part of his childhood in Bradenton before moving to Nebraska for high school. He now lives in Parrish.

The incoming freshman was among hundreds of students, staff and faculty who crowded the Information Commons area on Monday for a two-hour faculty-student mixer to kick off the 2015 fall semester.

Students and faculty enjoyed chicken sandwiches and mingled outside the refurbished study area on the rotunda’s second floor where over the summer crews dismantled a wall separating the area from the rest of Information Commons.

Replacing the wall with a glass partition opened the area to more light and created an inviting space. Other changes included adding an S-shaped couch, multiple tables and chairs and private-study carrels equipped with flat-screen computer monitors and keyboards.

Bui, who was just getting to know the campus, said he liked the relaxed setting and flexible registration process that allowed him to take a mix of online and in-person classes. Registration will continue throughout the week. Enrollment numbers will be finalized by the end of the week, although early indications point to higher enrollment of full-time students this academic year. Last fall saw 1,917 full-time students at USFSM, a 1.6-percent increase from 2013.

“It’s like a breath of fresh air compared to high school,” Bui said. “In a way, I’m glad to be back in school. The campus is small but I really like it here. Everybody is friendly.”

Psychology student Hannah Veitkus, 20, of Venice said she’s happy to be returning as well, although she admitted to having mixed feelings on coming back.

A member of USFSM’s first freshman class three years ago, Veitkus is entering her senior year. She said she’s looking forward to graduation but will miss USFSM. She said she plans to take a year off after graduation then return to school to pursue a master’s degree in psychology.

“I feel kind of sentimental,” she said. “It’s hard not to love this place. It will be hard to leave.”

A student Ambassador, Veitkus spent four hours Monday – the fall semester’s first full day – fielding questions and guiding freshmen and other newcomers around campus.

This past summer, Veitkus worked as a lifeguard and youth counselor for seven weeks at Camp Kingston, about a half-hour south of Boston. “I really love working with kids,” she said.

Another returning student Taylor Greenan said she spent the summer interning for Sarasota County. Specifically, she worked with code officers to enforce beach-lighting rules. Residences and businesses near the beach are required to follow outdoor lighting regulations after 4 p.m. for sea turtles’ protection.

“I loved it,” Greenan, a biology student, said. “It was important because turtles, nesting turtles and adults, are drawn to white light. They think it’s the moon and they will go toward the light thinking they’re going back to the water.”

Greenan said she’s eager to return to her studies, though.

Several other “Week of Welcome” events are planned throughout the week.

Among them, the Student Lounge will hold “Taco Tuesday” from noon to 2 p.m. and on Wednesday the Student Engagement Office will hold an Open House from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. at its offices at room A110.

Local businesses that support USF Sarasota-Manatee are scheduled to stop by the rotunda on Thursday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to meet with students.

Later Thursday, a giant inflatable water slide will be set up in the Courtyard as chefs fire up the barbecue grill. Sand volleyball matches will be held as well.

Check www.usfsm.edu/events/ for more Week of Welcome events.

USF Sarasota-Manatee welcomes students, touts improvements

Among other projects this past summer, workers revamped Information Commons and built a basketball court.

Among other projects this past summer, workers revamped Information Commons and built a basketball court.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 24, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee has been busy the past few months and the hundreds of students returning to class this week should notice big differences. They run from one end of the campus to the other – literally.

Consider some of the changes:

  • The newly revamped Information Commons area on the second floor of the rotunda that combines a student lounge with collaborative-study areas and private-study carrels.
  • The new basketball court at the campus’ north end, steps from Jonathan’s Café. This, after a sand volleyball court was completed late last spring at the campus’ west end.
  • The new modular biological laboratory installed just last week. The lab, next to another biological lab at the campus’ north end, could become operational by late-October.

Partly the result of efforts to make the campus more student-centric, these and other changes are tied to commitments made last year by USFSM administration, faculty, staff and, in some cases, students.

Diane Fulkerson, faculty coordinator for Library Services/Information Commons, said she worked with Rick Lyttle, director of Facilities Planning and Management, to create the concept behind the revamped Information Commons area.

Before the work, which started in June and finished last week, a wall separated the area from the rest of Information Commons. Many students passed by without knowing the study area existed.

Replacing the wall with a glass partition opened the area to the rest of Information Commons, allowed for light to steam in and created an inviting space. Other changes include adding a long S-shaped couch, multiple tables and chairs and private-study carrels equipped with flat-screen computer monitors and keyboards.

Additionally, two collaborative study areas were set aside where students can hook up their laptops to share a large flat-screen monitor.

At the campus’ north end, just outside Jonathan’s, crews focused on an entirely different project. As work was getting under way at Information Commons, workers put the finishing touches to a new basketball court that originated from an agreement last year between student government and campus administration.

Funded by $260,000 in Capital Improvement Trust Fund monies – fees paid by students to support non-academic programs – the two-part project for volleyball and basketball courts came at the urging of student representatives who met with campus officials last summer. Administrators, supported by facilities and planning personnel, readily agreed to back the work.

The volleyball court, situated next to the outdoor barbecue lounge at the campus’ west end, was completed last April without a hitch. However, crews working on the basketball court were delayed until water pipes could be relocated. The project resumed in May and wrapped up in late June.

In addition to the new court, workers installed fencing, lighting, benches and a water fountain. The finishing touch – a “U”-shaped Bulls horns logo – was painted at center court.

Student Government President Alex Benishek said he hopes students play pickup games and feel free to challenge staff and faculty. The court’s lights, on a timer, are set to turn off at 10 p.m. Public access is not permitted due to insurance and other issues.

Not to be outdone, the College of Arts & Sciences was busy this past summer as well. In addition to installing a modular biological laboratory last spring at the campus’ far north end, crews last week lowered a second modular lab into place atop concrete blocks.

Dr. Christelle Bouchard, an assistant professor of biology, said workers must still hook up water and electricity, plus install cabinets, tables and other equipment. She said she hopes to gain access to the completed facility this semester. Dr. Bouchard studies jellyfish, with a particular focus on the regulation of stinging cells discharge.

“We hope by the end of October we can start conducting experiments,” she said.

USF Sarasota-Manatee instructor helps win NEH grant to set up institute

Dr. Eric Hodges.

Dr. Eric Hodges.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2015) – Doctors and therapists have written volumes about post-traumatic stress disorder, and countless TV commercials implore viewers daily to support veterans’ causes, but USF Sarasota-Manatee Instructor Dr. Eric Hodges says society and soldiers coming home can benefit from a healthy dose of the humanities as well.

Writers have captured the complex relationships and moral dilemmas aroused by war since Homer’s “Iliad,” and Dr. Hodges, a political science teacher, says it’s time to tap into that wealth of literature, art and philosophy over the centuries to broaden our understanding of soldiers’ experiences.

Apparently, the National Endowment for the Humanities thinks Dr. Hodges and two former colleagues from Virginia Tech University – Dr. Jim Dubinsky and Bruce Pencek – are onto something. The NEH recently awarded Virginia Tech professors Dubinsky and Pencek a $150,000 grant to develop a summer teaching institute around veterans’ issues. Dr. Hodges helped write the grant application and will serve as a master teacher for the institute.

The three-week institute, aimed at college and university professors who teach the humanities and liberal arts, will tackle veterans’ issues as seen by writers, artists, historians and philosophers throughout the ages, seeking to explore how literary and other works have informed, and in some cases misinformed, our understanding of veterans’ experiences.

Set for next July, the institute comes amid rapid growth in the number of Gulf War-era veterans. By 2030, half of all vets will be from the Gulf War-era, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.

Dr. Hodges, a Marine veteran, said the institute could be seen as contributing to the broader discussion about veterans’ issues, particularly following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

He said he wants teachers who take the course to come away with a better understanding of “the disconnect” between civilian and military life. For example, he said, there is a moral code in soldiers rarely observed in civilians and that soldiers can suffer “moral injuries” based on that code. Generations or art, literature and philosophy have sought to convey such themes.

Author Jonathan Shay, who uses classical works to counsel veterans, noted several examples of moral injury in his book “Achilles in Vietnam,” which compares soldiers of the “Iliad” with Vietnam vets suffering PTSD.

“The act of engaging in war itself can morally injure someone,” said Dr. Hodges, echoing one of Shay’s ideas.

The institute will include two weeks at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg, Va., and a week in Washington, D.C., at the Library of Congress, among other places. Drs. Dubinsky and Pencek were Dr. Hodges’ dissertation advisors. The three started developing the idea for the institute a couple of years ago.

“We looked around and saw plenty of books about PTSD but not much with the humanities,” Dr. Hodges said.

In the long run, he said, he would like to see a field of study devoted to veterans’ issues, much the same way universities include African-American studies and women’s studies.

Todd Hughes, USFSM’s veterans’ services administrator, said that a course blending humanities and veterans’ issues could help those re-entering civilian life.

“A direct study like this is an amazing opportunity,” said Hughes, an Army veteran who fought in Iraq. “We are a separate community in a way, with a set of commonalities that unites us in a way only a fellow veteran can understand. If this was implemented, maybe it could help others understand us and help combat veterans transition home in a way never seen before.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee makes investment in I.T. program

Dr. Sunita Lodwig

Dr. Sunita Lodwig

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 19, 2015) – USF Sarasota-Manatee is making a significant investment to bolster its Information Technology program.

The university has spent $80,000 this past summer on new servers, drivers and software to enhance instruction in I.T.-related courses, including applications and web development, information security, systems administration and Big Data technologies.

About 175 students are enrolled in the College of Business’ Information Technology program with a track toward either a BSIT baccalaureate degree or a BSAS degree (I.T. concentration).

“The most important thing about this investment is that our students will be able to train on the state-of-the-art equipment,” College of Business Interim Dean Dr. Jim Curran said. “Computer equipment can get outdated very quickly, but this allows our students to train on the best that there is.”

Essentially, the new equipment will boost the memory and processing power of the system in place now, allowing for more functionality and experimentation. The equipment is being installed in a classroom at the main campus at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and should be up and running by the spring semester.

The task is complicated by the relocation of equipment now installed off-campus near the bookstore. I.T. instructor Dr. Sunita Lodwig and I.T. lab coordinator Lewis Litchfield said that before any equipment can be moved to the classroom, more power and air conditioning must be installed to cool the servers and drivers.

Once that work is finished and the equipment is installed, I.T. students should notice an immediate improvement. The technology will allow for new and challenging teaching assignments.

“For example, students working on serious systems emergencies will be able to troubleshoot and tackle problems through remote connectivity,” Dr. Lodwig said. “Such exercises simulate real-world emergencies faced by systems and security administrators. They require fast and efficient problem isolation and resolution to maintain critical systems 24-7.

“This will allow our students to get invaluable hands-on experience in confronting and solving challenging problems,” she said.

The department’s aim is to have the final pieces of equipment installed over the Christmas break in order to have the new technology in place for the spring. “We will do what we need to do to get the job done in timely manner,” Dr. Lodwig said.

USF Sarasota-Manatee hosts Taiwanese students at reception

Pei-Hsuan “Gary” Wang and Swat Xiang, both of the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism in Taiwan.

Pei-Hsuan “Gary” Wang and Swat Xiang, both of the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism in Taiwan.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 17, 2015) – Nineteen Taiwanese students who arrived last month to attend USF Sarasota-Manatee were officially welcomed by faculty and staff during a reception Thursday.

The students, who come from Shih Chien University and the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, both in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, are pursuing certificates in international hospitality management.

In addition to their classes at USFSM’s College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, the students will participate in five-month internships this spring for hands-on experience in the hospitality industry. After receiving their certificates, they will return to their home institutions to finish their senior year and graduate.

“This certificate program is a great opportunity for students from very different places to learn about life in another part of the world,” said Dr. James Curran, interim dean of the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership. “The students from Taiwan will take the same classes as our students and the dynamic in those class meetings is enhanced by having different perspectives.”

USFSM Regional Chancellor Sandra Stone agreed, saying, “It is important that we expand the horizons of our university and its individual programs so that we can prepare our students to compete in the global marketplace. It’s also good for our students to interact with people of different cultures.”

The International Certificate Program began in 2013 as a way to broaden the university’s ties internationally. Since then, 21 Taiwanese students have participated in the program.

In collaboration with the College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership, the Global Engagement Office coordinates the certificate program and works closely with all university partners to ensure a positive experience for the students.

“The International Certificate Program offers Taiwanese students a truly unique experience in the United States,” said Amela Malkic, director of Global Engagement at USFSM. “Not only do students learn in the classroom, they also have an opportunity to learn outside the classroom and gain valuable work experience. Students participate in a month-long cultural immersion, which gives them a chance to learn about U.S. culture, our university, student life and resources and explore the area. This extended immersion also prepares the students for the academic experience during the fall semester and internship placements during the spring semester.”

For most of the students, this is their first time in United States. In addition to studying hospitality and tourism, the students will have an opportunity delve into U.S. customs and culture.

“It’s a really great experience to study abroad in the United States,” Swat Xiang, of the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism, said. “I can’t wait to explore the new environment and culture and make new friends in this amazing land. I believe this will be a fantastic journey for my future career in hospitality. USF Sarasota-Manatee provides us many resources in the hospitality field, and this program will help me prepare for a global career. I believe I can learn more than what I expected, and am very excited to be part of this certificate program.”

Another student said that in addition to learning more about hospitality, he hopes the experience helps to sharpen his language skills. 

“So far, my experience at USF Sarasota-Manatee has been perfect,” said Pei-Hsuan “Gary” Wang, also a student at the National Kaohsiung University of Hospitality and Tourism. “I’m learning a lot and making new friends every day. Everyone at the university has been very welcoming and friendly to us. I am very excited to be here and know that this experience will help me develop new professional skills, improve my English and be successful in my future career and life.”

USF Sarasota-Manatee holds science workshop for teens

Dr. Edie Banner

Dr. Edie Banner

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 13, 2015) – About two dozen teens and adolescents from the Sarasota YMCA Achievers’ program stopped by the USF Sarasota-Manatee Teaching Labs at Mote Marine Thursday morning where they made “elephant toothpaste” and peered through microscopes at marine life.

The three-hour workshop had the group divided between two laboratories where in one they examined sea life – from microscopic worms to jellyfish – and in the other they conducted fun chemistry experiments.

One child’s eyes widened during an exercise in which a concoction of dish soap, hydrogen peroxide, yeast and red food coloring produced a fascinating – and startling – reaction.

After combining the ingredients, a stream of pink foam suddenly emerged like toothpaste, or “elephant toothpaste,” from a plastic bottle, surprising the 11-year-old Rolando and his sister, Kassandra, 13, who quickly stepped back from the table.

The soapy mixture turned out to be harmless, though, and youngsters soon were running their fingers through the foam. In other experiments, the children made “sea snakes,” essentially long jelly-like strands, and “funny putty” from Elmer’s glue, Borax, water and food coloring.

Organic chemistry instructor Dr. Edie Banner, who helped organize the three-hour, age-appropriate workshop, said the chemistry class was intended to get the children thinking about science and “understand the importance of education.”

“We want them to try new things, where they are touching and doing new things, including experiments and field work,” Dr. Banner said.

Earlier, Rolando and Kassandra, along with the other students, scooped up samples of water and sand from Sarasota Bay as well as from a saltwater pond on City Island where Mote is located. They labeled the samples and took them to the lab where, peering through microscopes, they looked for signs of life: tiny marine organisms such as worms, larvae and plankton, among others.

“Look closely, you can see things moving around,” Dr. Carlos Santamaria, another faculty member, told the group, who also got a close-up peek at two jellyfish, a sea urchin and a thumb-sized, pink sponge – all collected from the shoreline of City Island.

“I find it exciting that these students can learn so much just from looking around. They don’t realize there is so much life around them, even in their own backyards,” said Dr. Christelle Bouchard, who also helped with the event. “Just a few miles away, in the bay, there is another universe to explore.”

The workshop was organized by a half-dozen faculty, staff and students from the USFSM Biology and Chemistry Clubs.

USF Sarasota-Manatee senior Priscilla Sosa, 22, who works with the YMCA, came to Dr. Banner a few weeks ago to suggest the workshop. Dr. Banner seized on the idea and quickly got to work recruiting faculty, staff and students and developing a menu of experiments.

Jaheim, 13, said he most enjoyed collecting the marine samples. Using a plastic cup attached to a long, plastic pole, he dislodged a small sponge from a piling just under the surface of the bay. Later, he examined the anatomy of the multicellular organism.

Considering a career in mechanical engineering prior to the morning session, Jaheim said afterward that he was now leaning toward a biology-related career.

“I might have to think about changing my major,” he said.

USF Sarasota-Manatee to hold ACT prep classes for high school students

Andrew Telatovich, director of admissions at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Andrew Telatovich, director of admissions at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

SARASOTA, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2015) – Help is coming for high school juniors and seniors looking for a boost on the ACT college entrance exam.

USF Sarasota-Manatee will hold ACT preparatory classes this fall at the main campus, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota, and at the North Port Instructional Site, 5920 Pan American Blvd.

The first round of classes, set for Aug. 27-29 from 5 to 8 p.m., will be held at the main campus. Register for the course at: College Test Prep August 2015 Session.

“The course can make a difference on test day as students learn strategies for tackling different types of questions, and through repetition and experience they can improve their level of performance,” Director of Admissions and Financial Aid Andy Telatovich said.

Taught by retired teacher Jo-Ann Hillman of JMH Education Services, the classes offer content and exam-taking strategies not typically found in books and online.

College prep classes, a rarity 20 years ago, are fast becoming common as high schoolers look for extra help getting into the college of their choice.

In addition to this month’s ACT prep classes, another round of classes are set for Oct. 3, 10 and 17 at the North Port Instructional Site. All classes run from 9 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Register at: College Test Prep October 2015 Session.

To round out the year, a final session of prep classes is scheduled Dec. 3-5 at the main campus in Sarasota. The Dec. 3 and Dec. 4 classes are set to run from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m. while the Dec. 5 class will be held from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Register at: College Test Prep December 2015 Session.

The cost of the course is $55, plus the cost of the book, “ACT for Dummies,” which sells for $20 to $30 online or in book stores. Please bring a copy of the book to class. Class size is limited to 25.