Lauren Henry, Student

Lauren Henry is a member of the inaugural freshman class at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Henry is a Business major who graduated Summa Cum Laude from Sarasota Christian School with a overall GPA of 4.3. Henry enjoys performing ballet and served as Senior Class President and President of the National Honor Society at Sarasota Christian.


What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I am still exploring all of the options as far as careers go, but I am very interested in entrepreneurial pursuits.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I felt that business is a very versatile major that will equip me for a variety of positions. The skills obtained in a business major are so beneficial in everyday life, especially when it comes to running or working with companies.

What are some of your interests?

I love anything creative including music, art, and dancing. I have been training in classical ballet for 13 years, and I am thrilled to be able to continue that since I am attending USFSM! I have a youth degree from Ringling School of Art and Design, and I love to do all types of arts and crafts. I also enjoy singing, acting, traveling, writing, and cooking. Volunteering at my church, Bayside Community Church, in the Children’s ministry on a weekly basis is another thing that I enjoy doing.

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know about you?

I am a ballet dancer, lover of classical music, and all things creative. Volunteering and helping others is another passion of mine which drove me to complete over 350 hours of community service during high school and win the Anne Frank Humanitarian Award. I really enjoyed being involved in leadership positions in my high school; I was Senior Class President, President of National Honor Society, and  Yearbook Editor.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

Attending USFSM enabled me to get a quality education at a first class institution on a beautiful campus all in my home city. I am able to keep up my extracurricular activities, namely ballet and being involved at my church, and still have a fabulous college experience without having to uproot from my current life situation that I enjoy.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I would absolutely recommend USFSM to others! The campus is gorgeous, everyone that works there is incredibly helpful, friendly, and accommodating, and all of my professors are wonderful! So far my experience at USFSM has been fantastic!

Sarah Smith, Student

Sarah Smith is one of the members of the inaugural freshman class at USF Sarasota-Manatee. Smith is also one of two incoming freshman with a high school GPA of 4.3.



What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

Upon graduation from USF, my dream would be to become a Pharmaceutical Representative.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

Over the past year, I’ve been tossing around what to do with my life. After taking what felt like a hundred different personality quizzes and talking to several people who work in that field, I realized a marketing degree would align me with careers that would meet my criteria for what I desired most in a profession.

What are some of your interests?

My interests include painting, writing, Irish dancing, playing piano, listening to most every genra of music, and soaking up sunshine at the beach. Also, I do enjoy a morning run every now and then.

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know about you?

I don’t usually broadcast this, but most every night I sit on my back porch with some type of refreshing beverage and write.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee because it offered me the opportunity to take classes from a renowned University, but also live at home and not be uprooted from my life to move several hours away for school. It feels like a small, private collage, but provides all the excellent resources of a large university. Also, the faculty and staff always have your best interest at heart and will do whatever they can to see you achieve greatness.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I would most definitely recommend USFSM. It’s 15 minutes from the beach, and even the security guard asks how my day is treating me every time we pass on campus. It’s a really great environment. 

Dr. Lynn McBrien, Faculty

Jody L. McBrien is an Associate Professor in the College of Education at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. She received her doctorate in Educational Studies from Emory University in May, 2005, where she was the 2004 recipient of the university’s Humanitarian Award, given to students who demonstrate exemplary service in social justice. She received the 2011 Faculty Research Award from USF Women in Leadership and Philanthropy for her ongoing work in the formerly war-torn town of Lira in Uganda, Africa.


If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

Take advantage of the small class sizes. They give you the opportunity to really learn from some highly trained experts that fill our colleges. Do not think that just because you are at a small university, the professors are not top researchers and experts, because they are! We have professors from Stanford and Harvard, from top public universities, and from international universities that offer a diversity of knowledge and perspectives. Come with more than a degree and career goal in mind; come to absorb the upper level knowledge and array of subject matter that does not get taught in high school. Fill your mind with new knowledge and concepts you have never thought of before. The undergrad experience is truly one of a lifetime. Live it fully!

How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?

I began at USFSM in 2005, the last year the campus was on the New College campus. The collegiality of the faculty and staff were nurturing and helpful as I learned my way around the full-time world of academia. I also taught in Tampa for the first two years of my career, and I had the best of mentors on that campus and at Sarasota-Manatee. I will admit, I wish I could teach more courses in my area of expertise, Comparative and International Education. However, this university has supported my international research even though we do not offer the discipline of international education at any of the USF system campuses, and this support has allowed me to receive several research awards and a fellowship resulting from that research. This support has certainly made me a better academic on all three levels of this career: teaching, research, and service. And though I do not teach a regular course in comparative education, you can be sure that my research serves my teaching and my students. Most people would never guess that Florida is the top state in the country for resettling refugees and asylum seekers, along with Cuban entrants. That number came to 28,000 in 2012. Even if our students in education never teach outside the state of Florida, in order to support our international population of children, many of whom have special challenges due to past experiences of war or terror, they need to understand perspectives of other cultures, other school systems, and the psychosocial aspects of migration. They must have a healthy debate with themselves and others that breaks past the powerful negative stereotypes about children and families they are hired to teach. My personal research with resettlement, camps, and the post-war experience gives them first-hand examples and perspectives they have not heard previously. Most are not even aware that there are millions of children around the world who would love an opportunity to go to school, but they will never have it. This kind of knowledge is life changing. It alters perspectives and teaches about privilege in a powerful way.

What are some of your goals for the future?

My immediate goal is to finish the Lira book and prepare for the amazing opportunity I have to live and work in New Zealand next year. I hope to complete the year in Australia if I can receive a Fulbright. Then when I return to USFSM, I will begin work on a book about policy and practice in the four English-speaking resettlement countries of the world: the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand, as I will have experience in each.

I would like to have a stronger voice in policy and working towards policy that follows careful research into practices that work and make sense. I hope the work I do in New Zealand will be helpful in that goal. I also want to become more engaged in the workings of USF World, especially in international partnerships and opportunities for our students to gain international experiences while students. This July I am taking an undergraduate student, Ashley Metelus, with me to learn from the schools and the people of Lira. What an exciting opportunity to open the eyes of a highly dedicated and caring student to the rich culture of Uganda! I wish every student could have at least one international opportunity.

What is the best part of USFSM?

I think the strength lies in having the best of two academic worlds. We maintain a nurturing environment with our small classes and opportunities for students to work closely with professors. The non-traditional campus creates classes with 20-70-somethings learning from one another. At the same time, we have opportunities that come from working within a research extensive university system. Tampa resources offer us plentiful, top-notch databases for research, for just one example. I belong to the Genocide Research Group that meets twice each semester in Tampa to remain updated on other work similar to mine that occurs in the USF System. For our students and staff that enjoy sports aspects of university life, it is not too far to travel to support Bulls athletics; and we are building quite a crew team on our own campus. Our new campus is beautiful, and as we build our student body, I am hopeful that student clubs and activities continue to grow and offer our students, staff, and community opportunities to grow their minds and hearts together, from the remarkable Perlman music program in December/January to cutting edge speakers, world class biology housed at Mote, and more.

Beth Lukens, Alumna

Beth Lukens is a graduate of USF Sarasota-Manatee from the College of Hospitality and Technology Leadership. Lukens currently works for Marriott International in Tampa.

Why is USFSM important to you personally?

It gave me a great educational foundation to build a career on.  I loved the small classes.  Having grown up in Sarasota, it was interesting to be able to experience the business side of tourism and what makes the destination so successful.

What parts of the university are you involved in/hope to get involved in?

I go to football games and coached at the USF main campus for a year.  I would love to have the opportunity to be more involved (speaking with students, attending events, etc).

How important was your education in preparing you for your business success?

I never thought I would be the person who followed a career path so closely aligned with my education, yet here I am.  Having the book based knowledge of hospitality has definitely given me a leg up in the business world.  I have a strong foundation in all areas of the industry, which has often come in handy in both business situations an simply for personal enrichment.  Whereas this industry used to have a lot of people with no degree at all, now more and more people are getting hospitality specific degrees so it pays to have the degree.

What made you choose USFSM for your college education? 

I was an Art Major at Florida State and came home on Spring Break knowing I needed a change.  Coincidentally USF was just launching its first ever hospitality class that summer.  I had always loved the restaurant business so I made the switch.  I never even considered another school.

If you had to sell someone on USFSM, what would be the one sentence you would say?

USFSM provides students the opportunity to learn in a small, engaging environment while being engulfed in a community that offers endless resources for success in a career in tourism.

Dr. Kimberly A. Badanich, Faculty

Dr. Kimberly Badanich is a Visiting Instructor of Psychology at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.  Her research expertise is in the field of Cognitive Neuroscience.  Dr. Badanich received her B.S. in Psychology from the College of Charleston in Charleston, S.C. and her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience from The University of South Florida in Tampa, FL.



What made you come to USFSM?   

The USFSM Faculty.  I felt right at home!

What special projects/research are you involved in?

My current research investigates the long-term effects of alcohol abuse on cognitive abilities. The aim of this project is to assess the impact of alcohol dependency in mice on performance of tasks requiring behavioral flexibility (attention set-shifting and reversal learning).  Furthermore, I’m characterizing how the brain is impacted in alcohol dependent mice by characterizing the sensitivity of glutamatergic and GABAergic synaptic transmission in neurons from the orbitofrontal cortex.

What other jobs have you held before this one and what were your roles? 

Graduate Student Instructor, Research Assistant, Adjunct Professor

If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

Students are not just a number here.  USFSM Professors and Instructors really care about their students. They care if their students pass.  You do not get that at a big University setting.

What are some of your goals for the future?

Grants! Grants! Grants!  Oh and of course publish my data in those prestigious journals with one word titles  (Science, Nature, Neuron).

Ashley Metelus, Student

Ashley Metelus is a junior Interdisciplinary Social Sciences major who will be studying in Uganda this summer with Dr. Jody McBrien. Metelus will learn first-hand about the effects of Joseph Kony’s LRA war and efforts to rebuild. She will intern at either Rachele School, a former rehabilitation center for abducted children; or at St. Katherine’s School for Girls, a site that educates many girls who were either kidnapped or retreated to internally displaced people’s (IDP) camps.


What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

After from graduating from USF, I would like to attend Kean University and obtain a joint degree: MA in Holocaust and Genocide Studies and LLM in Human Rights. I do not currently know what exact career I would like but I do know I want to be able to do research with people and areas affected by genocide and work with human rights abuses.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I chose the major of Interdisciplinary Social Science because I wanted a degree that would integrate two disciplines of my interest.

What are some of your interests?

My interests are history and psychology. For history, I am interested in studying, reading, and researching about the Holocaust and other genocide. For the psychology interest, I am interested in the psychological effects that people face after trauma.

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know about you?

One thing that most people do not know about it is that I am obsessed with all things German. I am learning German, interested in their culture, and want to spend some time over in Germany. I am very interested in learning more about Nazi Germany and researching Adolf Hitler.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee because I wanted a campus where it was small and intimate; I did not want to be just a student ID number. At this campus, I am not treated that way, everyone is friendly and are helpful when it comes to career options. I could not ask for a better campus to be involved in. This will only be my second semester here and I have friendships and relationships with students, faculty, and staff.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I always recommend USFSM to other students, especially the ones who are not interested in larger campuses and want to feel known and appreciated within their campus. 

Lora Kosten, Faculty

Dr. Lora Kosten is Faculty Coordinator for USF Sarasota-Manatee at North Port and also teaches courses in elementary education methods and foundations of education. She is retired from the Central Falls, Rhode Island School District where she worked as both a teacher and a principal.


What made you come to USFSM?

For the opportunity to live in Venice and work in higher education.

What special projects/research are you involved in?

Currently I am on a Planning Committee for Leadership North Port.  Leadership North Port is an initiative involving selected participants who are connected to the community in some way.  The mission is:  To create a place where leadership skills and community resources can be applied to inspire individuals to become a leader in the North Port.

Leadership NP will meet each month February through November for a full day of presentations and tours by local government and business leaders.  I am working to help plan and facilitate four half-day trainings on leadership skills.

What other jobs have you held before this one and what were your roles?

Central Falls Rhode Island school District: General Science and Biology Teacher grades 7-12/Grade 4 teacher/Elementary School Principal

Adjunct Instructor for Leadership Studies at Rhode Island College

If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

USFSM is a small personalized community with huge credentials.

How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?

USFSM is a respectful environment that embraces the community.  While my students and the classes I teach are my main priority; I have been inspired to get involved in the community.  I recognize the importance of service and feel I have developed a lifelong commitment to it.

What are some of your goals for the future?

To publish a journal article about the importance of the integration of arts and education.

What is the best part of USFSM?

The students!  We have both traditional and non-traditional students, all who are dedicated and hard-working.  Helping them fulfill their dreams of a college degree is most rewarding. 

Todd Hughes, Student

Todd Hughes is the newly elected President of the USF Sarasota-Manatee Student Government. Prior to being elected President, Hughes served as co-President of the Student Veteran Society as well as the Veteran’s Administration student work study at USFSM. Hughes served his country in Iraq as a member of the United States Army.


What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I would like to get involved in politics on some level to fight for Veterans’ rights. As a full time career, I would like to be a museum curator.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I love history and want to be able to pass my passion on to others and maybe spark a love of history in others that feel history is boring by showing them the fun in history.

What are some of your interests?

I love to tour historical sites with my family as well as competing with my friends in shooting. But over all I prefer to spend as much of my free time as I can with my kids doing whatever they want.

What is something about you that people would not normally know about you?

There is nothing I can think of that anyone that knows me would not know about me. I am very open and transparent with no secrets in my life.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

At first I choose USF Sarasota-Manatee because of convenience. I live five minutes away from the school and wanted to go to a known school so it was an obvious choice. After my first couple of weeks I realized I was at the right school because it was so much better, in every way, than where I came from.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I definitely would recommend this University to everyone as long as their major is available here.

R.G. “Kelly” Caldwell, Donor

R.G. “Kelly” Caldwell is CEO and President of Caldwell Trust Company and its parent, Trust Companies of America, Inc. The Caldwell Trust Company Business Scholarship is an award given annually to students attending the College of Business at University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee.

9757_KCaldwellWhy is USFSM important to you personally? 

Caldwell Trust Company has first-hand experience in the value of USFSM, not only to our community but also to our own business. Back in 2003 we hired Sonya Kristie (now Sonya Dlug), as an intern when she was a junior-year student at USFSM. Sonya proved so capable and talented that upon her graduation in 2005, we promoted her to fulltime trust assistant. She rose quickly within our company, becoming a trust associate in 2007 and assistant trust officer in 2009. By 2010—just five years out of USFSM–she was a full trust officer, serving her own clients with our complete confidence. It’s gratifying for Caldwell to know that USFSM helps to educate our young people right here in Sarasota. We don’t have to look outside our area to find capable employees who already know and love our community.

What do you think the role of USFSM is in the community?

Absent institutions like USFSM, many of our local youth would be attending colleges in other communities or states. USFSM provides the same resources, presenting a clear path for our kids to stay and work within our community. By serving our young people so well and keeping them in town, USFSM brings a vibrancy to our community.

How important was your education in preparing you for your business success?

Very important. I was trained as an engineer, a profession that taught me to approach problems with critical thinking in a linear fashion. In our fast-moving, ever-changing world, it is vitally important to bring that keen, cold-eyed look, to cut through the superficial noise and get to the heart of a situation.

What drives you in giving back to the community?  

This is my home. My family’s roots herego back to the 70s. This community has given so much to me and has meant so much to our family for generations, and I believe strongly in giving back.This is where I grew up as a child, where I wish to raise my three children. I want them to live in a strong community, a prosperous one. The best way to ensure that future for my boys—and for others here—is to contribute my time, talent and whatever other resources I can provide so that I can help to build on the outstanding resources we all enjoy. 

Dr. Richard Reich, Faculty

Outstanding Professor Award

Honorees for the Outstanding Professor Award at USF Sarasota-Manatee share a sincere involvement with their students, passion for the university and its mission, and a commitment to excellence through education. Presented by the Student Government Association on behalf of the graduating seniors, the award is the highest campus level honor for USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty members. It recognizes exceptional accomplishments, leadership, and service to the campus and community.


Dr. Reich has been at USF Sarasota-Manatee since 2005 after spending several years working at the USF Tampa campus. Reich earned his B.S in Psychology from the College of Charleston in 1994 and his M.A. and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from USF. He has been published in over 10 different journals and publications and has overseen directed studies for undergraduate psychology majors at USFSM since 2006.

Dr. Reich is known as an expert for cognitive factors affecting substance use and abuse as well as statistical applications to psychological research. For all this and more, the USFSM students have recognized Dr. Reich as this semester’s Most Outstanding Professor.

What special projects/research are you involved in? 

I am involved in several projects studying the cognitive factors influencing the decision to drink alcohol.  Some of these projects are collaborations with current and former USFSM students.  I also am a research/statistical consultant on multiple projects at Moffitt Cancer Center.

What courses do you teach?

Most recently, I have taught Research Methods, Pro Seminar, Drugs and Behavior, Cognitive Psychology, Learning, and Physiological Psychology.

Why did you get into teaching? 

To some degree, vanity.  I hoped to captivate the attention of students the way I was captivated by great teachers I had.

Why did you come to USFSM? 

I came to USFSM because I needed a job.  I have stayed at USFSM for three reasons: 1) The value the administration puts on teaching and research. 2) The students, who are conscientious and rich in life experience; and 3) The enormous potential of the university. 

What does it mean to you to be named outstanding professor?  

I hope it means the students have learned something in my classes. 

Michaela Cerce, Student

King O’Neal Scholar Award

The USF Alumni Association awards the King O’Neal Scholars award every semester to those students completing their USF coursework with a 4.0 GPA. The award was created in honor of charter USF graduates Lucas King and Evelyn O’Neal.

KingONeal_MichaelaCerceMichaela is a Hospitality Management major who will graduate with a 4.0 GPA. Following graduation, Michaela hopes to continue her education by attending culinary school to obtain a degree in baking and pastry arts. She also helps to manage a family business in the restaurant industry in her spare time.

Michaela aspires to own her own business after finishing her education.

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

Upon graduation, I plan on attending culinary school to obtain a degree in baking and pastry arts. I currently manage a family business in the restaurant industry, and I would ultimately like to have my own business after completing my education.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I chose Hospitality Management due to the fact that it encompasses many aspects of the industry that I am interested in. In the future, I aspire to have an event planning/catering business.

What are some of your interests?

Some of my interests include traveling, baking, reading, scrap booking, and playing the piano.

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know about you?

Something that most people would not normally know about me is that I like to go target shooting, and I can hit a bulls eye from 100 yards away with an AR 15 rifle.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee for the smaller campus, relative location to my home, and for the degree that I was pursuing.

Why were you a good candidate for this award?

I believe that I was a good candidate for this award because I work extremely hard at trying to succeed in my education, and I have put a lot of time and effort into earning a 4.0 GPA. 

Andrew Sink, Student


Andrew Sink is an incoming junior who will begin taking classes in Summer 2013. Andrew is a transfer student from State College of Florida and will be majoring in English with a concentration in Business and Technical Writing.

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I enjoy working in Research and Development; working on new ideas and projects is something I have a great time doing.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I chose Business and Technical Writing because I wanted to stay involved in the technology industry. 

What are some of your interests?

I recently purchased a 3D printer, and I’ve been spending a lot of time making things with it.

What is something about you that people wouldn’t normally know about you?

I recently competed in a weightlifting meet in Tampa.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

After visiting the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus and meeting some of the faculty and staff, I knew that this was a great college. Everybody was very happy and helpful, and seemed genuinely excited to meet new students. 

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?


Dr. Marie Byrd-Blake, Faculty

Marie Byrd-Blake is an assistant professor in the Department of Childhood Education and Literacy Studies at the University of South Florida, Sarasota-Manatee. A native Floridian, she received her BS and MS in Elementary Education from Florida State University and Florida International University, respectively and her EdD in Educational Administration and Supervision with a minor in Curriculum and Instruction from Florida International University. Marie has a strong background in urban school education with 15 years of service in the Miami Dade County Public Schools, Miami, Florida as a teacher, Title One Curriculum Specialist, and Assistant Principal. Prior to arriving at USF Sarasota Manatee in fall 2007, Marie held the title of assistant professor in Educational Administration at the University of Memphis and at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

What made you come to USFSM? 

I sought a University in my home state as well as a position that allowed me to focus on teacher education.

What special projects/research are you involved in?

    • February 22, 2013
    • Emma E. Booker 5th Grade Students will present their artwork that is currently being displayed in the College of Education Hallway. The event will highlight the “What I Can be With a College Degree” theme as it promotes higher education among students from diverse backgrounds. The Educators’ Alliance Student organization here on campus is has worked hard to sponsor this event.
  • I am president-elect of SRATE (Southern Region Association of Teacher Educators) and of FATE (Florida Association of Teacher Educators). SRATE will hold the 60th Annual Conference October 10-12, 2013 here at USF Sarasota Manatee. The theme of the conference is Teacher Effectiveness: Brilliance in the Making. As president-elect of SRATE, I am planning the conference. It will involve teacher educators from the following southern states:
  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kentucky
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Missouri
  • North Carolina
  • South Carolina
  • Tennessee
  • Texas
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia
  • Maryland
  • On February 2nd, FATE will hold is winter meeting here on campus. At that time, FATE state representatives from Florida will participate in planning for the upcoming SRATE Conference.

What other positions have you held before this one and what were your roles?

  • Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, Edwardsville, Illinois                                              

Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Leadership, School of Education

  • The University of Memphis, Memphis, Tennessee                                                                               

Assistant Professor, Department of Leadership, College of Education

  • Miami-Dade County Public Schools, Miami, Florida                                                       

Assistant Principal, Reading Curriculum Specialist, Public School Teacher

If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

USFSM personalizes the higher education experience.

How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?

It has allowed me to grow professionally through service, scholarship and teaching.

What are some of your goals for the future?

My goals are to continue to bridge theory and practice in teacher education as well as further establishing myself nationally in my field.

What is the best part of USFSM?

The supportive climate of the campus is the best part of USFSM.


Dr. Wilma Davidson, Instructor

WilmaWebDr. Wilma Davidson, Instructor of Business and Technical Writing

What made you come to USFSM?

We moved to Florida and I wanted to contribute in my area of expertise in academic as well as corporate classrooms, where I have been working across the globe for several decades.

What special projects/research are you involved in?

Tod Roberts and I have built the Professional and Technical Writing Program here at USFSM over the past few years—and in 2012 successfully presented a proposal to Tampa to make our concentration in Professional and Technical Writing a separate B.A. degree program (B.A. in Professional and Technical Communication).  It will begin in Fall 2014.

What other jobs have you held before this one and what were your roles?

I am still the president of Davidson & Associates Communications Consultants, Inc., a corporation devoted to helping executives and professionals manage their writing and speaking challenges in the workplace.

If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

Come here!  You will find professors who care, classes that are small, and an opportunity to get a quality education in a place where you can be counted.

How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?

It has allowed me the opportunity to blend my work in corporate classrooms with my work in academic classrooms.  Each informs my teaching and research.

What are some of your goals for the future?

To continue to help students succeed: to help them feel good about themselves and to give them the tools they need to write and speak professionally in the workplace.  To help them stand above the crowd. (I plan to contribute to write and publish as well.)

Regina Oykherman, Student


Regina Oykherman, President of Bulls on Parade

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

My ideal career after graduation would be working as an investigator for the Medical Examiner’s office in Sarasota County.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

The Criminal Justice Field is fascinating to me, not only do you get the ability to learn why criminals may commit crimes and what their motives are, but you are also able to learn how to better help the community and society as a whole stay better protected, and how to help those individuals that may have turned to crime at one point in their life and how there are various programs that may help them get ‘back on their feet.’

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee not only because it is close to home, but also because USF is a great school to attend. USF Sarasota-Manatee not only has a beautiful campus, but also allows you to have small class sizes giving you the ability to work closely with your professors. What I say to any student interested in attending USFSM is that this campus is a ‘public school with a private school atmosphere’ and that all the instructors are not only teaching in the classroom, but are also working in the field, bringing valuable knowledge and experience into the classroom.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

Yes, I have already recruited my brother to attend USFSM. 

How has USFSM prepared you for your career goals?

USFSM has not only prepared me through the classroom, but has also allowed me to get involved and hold leadership positions within the campus so I can grow as an individual. The knowledge I have gathered from my studies, and the experiences I have had through my involvement on campus will allow me to better understand, work and problem solve in the field.

What was your favorite class at USFSM and why?

Alternatives to Incarceration – This would have had to be my favorite class because it not only helped me understand why persons commit crimes, but also informed me of various ways to better discipline individuals through means other than incarceration/jail etc. I also enjoyed this class because not only did I learn about these types of alternatives in the classroom, but I was also given the opportunity to visit the Sarasota County Jail and do a walk-through with the rest of my class. This experience not only allowed me to see what goes on in the inside of a jail, but also allowed me to learn about various programs and activities that individuals housed there can partake in while serving their time. This class was not only informative but also eye opening, letting me know that in order to reduce re-incarceration rates, there is a major need for alternatives to incarceration and transition programs that allow persons to ‘smoothly’ or ‘more easily’ transition back into society.

What is the best part of USFSM?

There is no single good thing about USFSM. USFSM as a whole is a great campus and great school. With extremely knowledgeable professors, small class sizes and great opportunities that USFSM provides to get involved on and off campus, USFSM is indeed the whole package! 

Maria Angelina Vazquez, Student

WebPicWhat would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I would like to work as a Foreign Service Officer for an American Embassy abroad.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I chose Criminology because it was a wide enough field that would later allow me to pursue a career in Law Enforcement, Government, or even take the LSAT and apply for law school. It is a good starting point into other fields.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee because it was close to home and my job.  The class sizes were small and all the staff and faculty from professors to maintenance staff were personable and very professional. I desperately wanted the “college experience” that I missed out on the first time around and was able to have it through my involvement in the Rowing Club, Ambassadors and Student Government. We had the opportunity to go to football games in Tampa, participate in the Fall Ambassador Retreat with the Tampa campus, as well as compete in different events through rowing. I liked the small size of the classrooms and knowing that I was a person and not a number. My professors took interest in me and did everything possible to help me succeed.  

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

I would highly recommend USFSM to everyone ranging from a high school graduate who is attending college for the first time, to a young adult as myself who has to work a full time job but still wants to feel part of a big university and have the “college experience”, to a parent who perhaps has always wanted to return to school but had to raise a family. USFSM can meet the needs of very different individuals in our community.

How has USFSM prepared you for your career goals?

USFSM has provided me with all the tools I need to succeed independently and they continue to help me as I transition from my undergrad to graduate studies. The career center was extremely helpful in preparing my resume as well as always sending information about possible employment opportunities not only in our community but abroad as well.

What was your favorite class at USFSM and why?

I would say it is very difficult to pick my favorite class because I truly enjoyed all my classes even the ones that I hated at the time I learned and took something valuable with me that I can apply to real life experience.

What is the best part of USFSM?

It is really hard to narrow down to just one thing but for me the best part of USFSM is the benefits of a small school with small professor to student ratio while still having the big University feel to it. I think it was the best of both worlds. 

Kathy Black, Faculty

What made you come to USFSM?

I am a gerontologist and came to Sarasota because of the aging population- and to escape New York’s cold weather!

What special projects/research are you involved in?

Aging in place, aging in community, advance care planning throughout the end of life, end of life care, geriatric mental health, inter-generational programming and health care professional communication.

What other jobs have you held before this one and what were your roles?

I have been teaching college since 1987- 1-4 courses per semester with exception of a few summers and two semesters I gave birth.

I was a geriatric nurse in acute and long term care, medical social worker- mostly cardiac and ICU but all areas , geriatric case manager, gerontological consultant, associate director of  a gerontology center and a personal caregiver.(Her grandmother lived with me for a decade)

If you were selling USFSM to an incoming student what would you say?

“USFSM is a small school, so you won’t get lost as a number.  There is great, high-quality teaching and Sarasota is a great place to live all year round!”

How has USFSM made you a better professional/person?

To me, an extension of my role in the aging network of providers in this city.  I have a new found respect for the synergy of an engaged aging citizenry- my last publication.

What are some of your goals for the future?

To continue to serve the university and community by transforming the experience of aging.

What is the best part of USFSM?

It is small scale, so you can interact easily. 

Pamela Harper, Alumna


How did it prepare you for the work you do now?

I have a BS for Hospitality management and now I am part owner and COO  in a company called NetWeave Social Networking.  I feel that what I learned at USFSM helped me in with learning the business aspect of a company.  I already had a hospitality background and learning the ins and outs of running a business was so beneficial.  I am able to keep hospitality alive and well for my bed and breakfast and restaurant clients.  Since I have that background I am better suited to do their social media.

What was the best thing you got out of your USFSM experience?

The best thing I got out of my USFSM experience would be everyone associated with the campus from faculty to custodians.  I felt as if everyone there was helping achieve my goals.  It truly is a community.

Do you have one anecdote or story to tell that sticks out in your memory?

I loved presenting reports and making them not just reports in front of a class, I made each report an experience.  On several occasions you could see me walking down the halls dressed in my costume for my Baroque class as Artemisia Gentileschi or cooking shrimp for Dr. Walker for a party presentation. 

What would surprise people the most to know about USFSM that you want to share?

The one thing that would surprise people about the USFSM campus is the small classes and everyone’s willingness to help if you are having difficulties whether they be academic, financial, or personal.  The guidance department is always friendly.  The student government is there at every turn with events and fun give-a-ways.  I will always be grateful to all the faculty who helped and supported me during tough times.

What made you choose USFSM?

I grew up in Tampa and because of my family situation I never thought I would have the opportunity to attend USF.  I watched the campus grow and I attended some of the summer class programs for children. Life happened and I was unable to further my education.  One day I was given the opportunity to go to university.  I heard that the USFSM campus had just finished completion and would start in 2006 was perfect timing and I knew I found my academic home.

Who you recommend USFSM to others? If so, why?

I would happily recommend USFSM to anyone.  I have two high school seniors right now and we are all excited to see that next Fall will be the first time there have been freshmen classes.  We’ve taken the campus tour with my adopted son and he loves the small class size and the campus itself.  He sees himself studying outside by the fountain between classes.


I already have one son attending USF and I have hired USF students.  I am proud to say that I attended the University of South Florida.  I am proud to say, “Go Bulls!”

Jessica Souders, Student

SoudersThe USF Alumni Association awards the King O’Neal Scholars award every semester to those students completing their USF coursework with a 4.0 GPA. The award was created in honor of charter USF graduates Lucas King and Evelyn O’Neal.

Jessica will be graduating with a 4.0 GPA and a degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Management. Jessica excelled in her time at USFSM with an eye on her future. She chose the Business Administration degree with a concentration in Accounting, because it provided her with the widest range of opportunities.

Jessica is planning on attending law school to achieve her lifelong dream of becoming an attorney.

What special accomplishments did you have that allowed you to win this award?

I had a 4.0 GPA throughout my Bachelor’s Degree Program.

What are some of your qualities that made you a good match for this award?

I am hard-working, determined and willing to make the sacrifices necessary to succeed.

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

My plan is to attend Stetson University College of Law to become an attorney. Practicing law as an attorney has been a longtime dream of mine.

Why did you choose the major that you chose?

I chose Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting and Management because I believe it is a versatile degree and offers the widest range of opportunities and different applications in the business world.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

I chose USFSM because of the convenient location, the affordability and the amenities of a bigger university with a more hometown feel.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

Yes, I especially like the family movies shown in Selby Auditorium.

How has USFSM prepared you for your career goals?

The challenges that I have faced and overcome while pursuing my degree at USFSM has taught me the value in and necessity of being a self-advocate and an active participant in my education rather than merely a bystander. If you believe in it, then fight for it, because neither college nor life is designated to give you anything.

What was your favorite class at USFSM and why?

My favorite class was Cost Accounting with Professor Liz Carlson. She makes a difficult subject fun and I formed some lasting friendships in that class.

Stephany and Mark Richmond, Alumni

Stephany and Mark Richmond served as the volunteer chairs of Brunch 2012. The savvy owners of The Furniture Warehouse, a chain of stores in Sarasota, Manatee and Charlotte counties that began in 1988, are both USF alumni and met during college. Stephany studied accounting and Mark, marketing. Son Morgan is also a business grad from USFSM.  

Mark says he always knew he’d go into the furniture business after graduation, having started in the industry when he was just a teen. In 2010, the Florida Home Furnishings Representatives Association named Mark its Distinguished Retailer of the Year, an award only bestowed 10 times since 1981.

The Richmonds’ first exposure to Brunch came when they were guests of Bob Turner, publisher of the Bradenton Herald. Their youngest son, Morgan, 27, is a USF graduate. Landon, 28, is an an artist living in Boston.

What has USFSM meant to your family? 

Stephany and I met on the Tampa campus of USF in 1976. We were both business majors with Stephany graduating with an accounting degree and I graduated with a marketing degree. At graduation we became engaged and upon graduating we were married and moved to Sarasota. Our youngest son Morgan also graduated USF Sarasota campus with an accounting degree and join our family business The Furniture Warehouse. USF gave our family the educational foundation to build our family business and we are honored to be involved in helping USF today.

What do you think our role is in the community?

USF has a unique opportunity in our Sarasota – Manatee community to provide a four year college opportunity to our community. This will bring young people to our area for a college education and will allow us to retain college graduates to our area to support our community and businesses. 

How did your USF educations prepare you for your business success?

USF provide the core foundation for our business career with the prefect combination of Stephany’s accounting skill and the marketing knowledge that was provided to me. With our accounting and marketing knowledge we have been able to build a successful business in Sarasota market. Our son also receiving an accounting degree and joining our business is just the icing to the cake and will allow our business to be passed to the next generation.

Are you involved in other nonprofits/charities? If so, which ones and why?

We believe that giving back to our community is an important part of our community involvement. We support Habitat for Humanity, The All Faith Food Bank, Breast Cancer research, The Boys and Girls Clubs and many local kids’ sporting activities.

Jeff Maultsby, Alumnus


What was the best thing you got out of your USFSM experience?

The entire experience was outstanding. When my classmates and I started the program, we and didn’t even know each other. Now, in addition to getting a great education, we’ve become lifelong friends.

Do you have one anecdote or story to tell that sticks out in your memory?

One day, my classmates and I had to present to some visitors. Shortly after introducing the presentation I began to cough uncontrollably, embarrassing myself and distracting from the presentation. Our professor, Dr. Delaney Kirk, very discreetly handed me a cough drop which quickly squelched my cough. Her actions confirmed what I had heard about USFSM’s faculty and staff; they would do anything to help us succeed. Albeit a small act, it set the tone for me to get the help I needed when I needed it regardless the situation. All of my professors, and the administration, went out of their ways to avail themselves and help.

How did it prepare you for the work you do now?

The education I’ve gained has given me the ability to look at issues from an entirely different perspective. I am able to see things from the perspective of the decision maker sitting across from me and am able to anticipate his or her needs.

What would surprise people the most to know about USFSM that you want to share?

I think it would be the high regard in which the program is held in this community. Whenever a colleague or co-worker was made aware that I was pursuing my MBA at USFSM, the reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Before I started the program, I honestly had no idea how proud Sarasota is of USF.

Cathleen Cornish, Student

What would you like to do for a career upon graduation?

I’ve done the first career and have a lot of pride with that.  My career goals now are to complete the process of opening a small non-profit spiritual center working in the greater North Port, Port Charlotte, Englewood, and Venice areas to facilitate Spiritual Retreats for life enrichment.  We are currently in our fourth year with our signature series-Woman to Woman-and hope to expand the day-long retreats into weekend-long events.  With my education at USFSM, I can introduce new workshops to the Center focusing on educational subjects such as Sleep Deprivation, Motivation, and Happiness (using some of my psychology tools), as well as various Religious practices (introduced through my religious studies.)

In the Fall of 2013, I will be enrolling in the Funeral Services curriculum at St. Pete College to obtain the license as a Funeral Director.   This may sound like a strange pursuit; but my religious studies education at USF sparked a new desire in me which was to honor life!    All life; even those whose stories do not get told until their final arrangements.  I want to be a part of those stories and counsel the families through this very difficult time in their lives.

Why did you choose the major that you choose?

Originally I wanted to pursue Licensed Mental Health Counselor and to ordain in a non-denominational ministry.  Hence, the ISS program was a perfect fit for me and I could tailor my education to be specifically for these areas.

During my educational path, I knew my heart was not really into the LMHC area, but counseling others, especially religiously and spiritually definitely was.  Then, after the Death and Dying class (at Eckerd) and Life After Death (USF online), I knew the better direction for me was Funeral Director.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

Honestly, USF has been able to keep tuition costs down and that was a big factor for me as I paid for my education completely out-of-pocket!  No student loans for me!  But even more than that, I was able to direct my education to the fields that specifically interested me through the Interdisciplinary program.  USF offered, through a blend of in-class and on-line courses that allowed me to select very specific fields of study.  That was very important to me.

Would you recommend USFSM to someone else?

 Oh – YES – Absolutely!

It is a university large enough to offer career specific AND interest-driven courses; yet small enough that course instruction is personal and student oriented.  The faculty and staff truly care about student achievement!  Plus, USFSM is diverse; so I was confident I could receive an unbiased, yet comprehensive education-especially in the religious studies field.

How has USFSM prepared you for your career goals?

Not only did I appreciate my education in the psychology cognate; but I was also able to use it right away!  I enjoyed the Sleep and Dreams class so much; I put together a few notes and submitted them to Ilana Marks for her “What Matters” radio show airing on Friday mornings on WENG.  She invited me on and I aired a program with her on the topic of Sleep Deprivation in March 2012 (  This will definitely be a workshop I will facilitate in the future.

My experience at USFSM has provided me with a much clearer direction on the paths I want to move forward on such as facilitating workshops, leading prayer and meditation circles, and eventually providing funerary services.

What was your favorite class at USFSM and why?

It is hard to pick . . . but I would say for a web class it was definitely Life After Death (REL 3191) with Don Saunders.  This class was fascinating to me and it was the deciding factor on the pursuit of funeral director.  My favorite in-class would have to be Women in Lit (LIT3383) with Dr. Florence Hesler.  I took this class to meet my women’s studies requirement, but it was one of the most challenging and enlightening courses I had.  Dr. Hesler has a talent for breaking down stories and underlining the images they create.  She helped me so much in truly appreciating the art of story telling.

What is the best part of USFSM?

Outside of their career-specific curriculum  I would say the best part of USFSM is the excellent faculty and staff – from the support of the advisers to the professors, the student government senators and their excellent involvement with student activities, and the assistance that is available for every need.  The writing center, the libraries, the service personnel, and even Ms. Barbara Thomas at the lobby information desk – were all excellent people to work with and so supportive   I am very grateful that at USFSM you are NOT a student number; you are a person and the university knows that.  This is what helped me to succeed and not get lost in a system of numbers and statistics.  Thanks USFSM! 

Amanda Evora, Olympic Figure Skater and Alumna

What was the best thing you got out of USFSM experience?

The best thing I got out of my experience was the opportunity to take evening classes at the USFSM so that I could continue my full-time training as a Team USA athlete (figure skater) as well as continue my part-time jobs during the day.  During these evening classes, I was able to meet and network with other hard-working and motivated students striving to better their education. 

Do you have one anecdote or story that stills in your memory?

When I made it to the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, it gave me plenty of opportunities.  I learned that I would always be a role model to the community due to my humble successes.  I was very honored when USFSM with the U.S. Department of Labor Women’s Bureau invited to tell my story with other prestigious and successful women in the area. This event inspired me to continue giving back to the community as a motivational speaker as I have done a handful of events since then.   

Here’s a link to the event USFSM had hosted last year :

How did it prepare you for the work you do now?

I chose to attend college and get a degree as a back-up plan to my figure skating career.  About a year ago, I was recommended for an office job in downtown Sarasota.  The company offered me the job understanding I would be achieving a degree in Business Administration – Management and Marketing.  With my recent summer graduation from  USFSM, I now work for Specialty Products Holding Corp. as the Office Administrator. 

What would surprise people the most to know about USFSM that you want to share?

I am very excited about the recent formation of the USFSM Rowing Club that was announced a little more than a year ago.  By the sounds of it, there’s a lot of interest in rowing in our area, and I wish to see the growth of this Olympic sport in our university!

Dan Hoffe, Alumni

Dan works in Wealth Management for BB&T Bank

What would you say to someone who is considering an MBA?

Having an MBA really sets you apart from the crowd. It is kind of the new standard for what you have to have in business.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee and why would you recommend it to others?

If you want to get a job in the area you want your degree from USF. The alumni in the area are great about hiring USFSM grads.

What is one of the major incentives you would highlight about the MBA program here?

You really bond with the other students, in the MBA program you build camaraderie because you work in teams and you make a lot of friends and connections for the future.

Nicole Mancini, Alumni

Nicole is the Guest Services Manager at Longboat Key Club

What do you look for when hiring someone?

In hiring people for positions we have, I look at their education. If they have their degree and education in that field then I know they have a passion for it.

What do you see as one of the biggest benefits of the Master’s in Hospitality program at USFSM?

In the hospitality field, our professors understand our crazy schedules and are very understanding and work with us.

Jennifer Schaeffer, Alumni

Jennifer is the Manatee County Probation Services Manager

What advice would you give to someone considering getting a Master’s Degree?

As a manager, even at the entry level, it is much more difficult in the job market now and people with their Master’s Degree set themselves apart. I’m getting my master’s degree to further my career. I’m investing in my future and know that it will help me get further in my career.

What do you enjoy most about taking classes?

Getting your Master’s Degree opens your mind, keeps you thinking and provides new opportunities. I really enjoy being on campus and taking classes.  I enjoy that my classes aren’t all online or all in class and it has a nice mix of the two so you get to know other students and it is great for networking.

Why would you recommend USF Sarasota-Manatee to a prospective student?

In this area, people understand the prestige of USF. I don’t know that the online classes that others have are of the same quality and I obviously look for USF graduates when I’m hiring.

Joshua Bennett, Alumni

Josh is the Principal at Bashaw Elementary School

Why did you choose to attend USF Sarasota-Manatee for your Master’s Degree?

I chose USF Sarasota-Manatee because the program wasn’t on-line. The University did a great job of laying out the program. It was set up ideally for what I was looking for. Not only did I get an outstanding education, but those who were in my class are now assistant principals and principals in the area and we have kept in touch so we know each other.

As a principal, why would you hire a fellow USFSM alum?

In our profession, where they went to college is very important and what they have their degree in is important. By attending USFSM, I know how rigorous the program is and the quality of the internships so it helps give justification for why I hire someone from USF Sarasota-Manatee.

How did your time at USFSM impact your career?

The program (education) had a foundation of critical thinking and in my current job those skills are needed a lot and I can draw upon that. It is this University that helped me get to where I am today.  The colleagues I call on now are those I went to school with at USF Sarasota-Manatee because I trust in them and have spent a lot of time with them.

Laura Warner, Current Student

You’re from California originally, why the move to Florida? 

I moved here with my fiancé to get out of California, for some new scenery.  I’m a Southern California girl and Florida seemed like a good trade off.  We wanted a new start somewhere, his family is here as well, and for him to finish school.

Why did you choose USF Sarasota-Manatee?

After hearing from friends about how much they enjoyed USFSM, I decided to enroll so I could finish the degree that I started in California.  I liked that it was close to home, and the classes worked well around my work schedule.

You’re very involved on campus – why did you choose to get involved with Crew/Ambassadors?

I joined Crew because I never played competitive sports in high school.  I thought this would be a fun chance to get in shape, meet new people, and get some of that “college experience” by being part of a sports team/club.  From there, I met the Crew advisor, and he told me about Ambassadors, which he also advises. I liked that I would be able to be more involved at the school, and be able to represent USFSM at special events.  Joining these two clubs have turned out to be the best decision that I’ve made!  I have made lots of new friends, met many interesting people, and have been able to participate in a lot of great activities with the University!

What is the biggest benefit of your campus involvement?

Like I said earlier, meeting new people has been the biggest part of being involved on campus.  USFSM is a small campus, and many of us have jobs and other things going on, but by involving myself in these clubs, I have been able to meet a lot more students and faculty than I would have just by attending class.  Club involvement also gives you more of that college feel, something that I thought I might not get by attending a small campus.  

What are your 3 favorite things about USFSM?

One of my favorite things about USFSM is the size of the campus.  It’s small and personal, and because of that I feel like I’m able to get more out of my education.  I love the staff and faculty and their dedication to the students.  They are always so available and willing to help us out.  Finally, another favorite thing about USF Sarasota-Manatee is that they (the staff and faculty) really do try to make this campus a fun place to be.  We might be a small University, but they work really hard to put on events and activities that get you involved.  It’s nice for those that feel that they might miss out on the big campus feel by going to USFSM.  I’ve been completely happy since I have been here and I don’t feel like I have missed out on anything!     

Nolan Wright, Current Student

You were born and raised in Bradenton – did you always want to stay local for school or did you look at other options for college?  What made you decide to come to USFSM?

After meeting an advisor, I knew USF Sarasota-Manatee was the next step after receiving my A.A.  Small class sizes, excellent facilities and a pride in Manatee and Sarasota counties are the greatest factors that ultimately led to my decision.

Once you came to campus you got involved with the Student Ambassadors – why?

Once on campus I decided to become an Ambassador because I realized the opportunity to enhance my resume, meet a lot of really great people, and serve the community through events including Triumph over Tragedy (a 9-11 remembrance event), Commencement, Bulls in Biz and Brunch on the Bay.  I would recommend Ambassadors to anyone interested in being active in the community and establishing strong relationships that will provide a firm foundation for his or her future.

What have you found to be the benefits of being involved in student organizations like the Ambassadors group?

Shortly after becoming an Ambassador, the advisor for our group received an email from U.S. Congressman Vern Buchanan’s field rep in Bradenton.  I happened to be in his office at the time and immediately updated my resume and applied for the internship.  The opportunity has been an amazing experience and has been a direct and positive influence on my education as a History major and Political Science minor.

What has your experience been like in the classroom?

My overall classroom experience has been great!  The small class sizes coupled with excellent professors who really care about each individual student makes learning more enjoyable and creates and environment in which every student has a voice and can easily interact with fellow classmates as well as the instructors.

If someone came up to you and asked why they should come to USF Sarasota-Manatee, what would you say?

Why not USF-SM?  Excellent facilities including a student lounge, fitness room and spectacular courtyard really make it feel like you’re in college;  Outstanding professors and advisors who really care about each student and are always willing to meet with you before and after office hours;  a great career resource center that is dedicated to helping graduates as well as current students secure jobs and internships; and a great location on the border of Manatee and Sarasota counties that makes it easily accessible to commuters from all parts of the two counties.

What is your impression of Student Life on campus?

Student life on campus is wonderful!  Between the Main Rotunda, the Information Commons and the Student Lounge, there is always something going on and great ways for students to get involved.  Also the Courtyard and Café provide great atmospheres for students to meet and socialize or study.  Besides Ambassadors, there are many other great clubs and the recent addition of the Rowing Team, the first athletic team at USF-SM, increases the options for all students to engage in the total college experience! 

Jason Krywko (Alum)

Jason KrywkoJason Krywko was 27 and in a marketing class at USF Sarasota-Manatee in 2006 when he developed the business plan for Sleek Audio, a company in Palmetto that develops and manufactures the world’s first acoustically tunable earphones.  With sales figures projected to reach eight figures in 2011, a contract with major hip-hop artist 50-Cent just announced and sponsorship of the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans this season, Sleek Audio has taken off.

Starting out selling hearing aids for his father after high school, Jason quickly learned the industry was lucrative and thriving in Florida and he could do very well for himself and his family if he just stuck with it.  Jason, deciding that he wanted a degree, did a lot of research and thoughtful planning and selected the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee to pursue a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Fast forward to Jason’s Basic Marketing class in 2006.  His assignment was to write a marketing plan and he mentioned to his professor, Dr. Noel, that he’d like to write it surrounding a product his dad had developed – in-ear earphones, acoustically tunable, fashioned after hearing aids.  “It took awhile for Jason to get interested in the class,” said Dr. Noel, Instructor of Marketing in the College of Business at USF Sarasota-Manatee.  “When he mentioned the earphones, he seemed excited, so I said, ‘Let me go visit and see the product.’  When I got there, they let me listen to an iPod using their earphones and then another well-known, high end earphone and I told them, ‘You’re onto something here.  You need to take this to the next level.”  From there, Dr. Noel said “Jason grabbed the reins and ran.  His excitement and interest in the class increased and he involved the other students by asking for their opinions about branding and design.”

The business plan Jason developed in class, with assistance from Dr. Noel, secured a large Small Business Administration (SBA) Loan and from there, Sleek Audio was born.

But his connection to USFSM didn’t end there.  In early 2009, Jason received an email from fellow USF Sarasota-Manatee alum, Chelsea Duchene.  “I remembered her from my marketing class because she always blew the curve!” he said.  Chelsea had seen a feature story  on Jason and his success and asked if he was hiring.  “We had to bring her on board,” Jason stated.  “I remembered her from class, how smart she was… and it was nice knowing that she got the same quality education I did.  It was a no brainer to ask her to join the team.”

Today, Chelsea is their Organization and Promotions Coordinator.  “It was great to get in at the ground level and grow with it,” said Chelsea.  “As we grow, we’re going to need interns.  We’re looking for interns from USF Sarasota-Manatee in particular.”

Chelsea was instrumental in connecting the company with a fellow bull and current student at USF Sarasota-Manatee, Amanda Evora.  Amanda was one of the USA’s pairs skaters at this year’s winter Olympics.  Sleek Audio donated earphones to both Amanda and her partner Mark in support of their participation in the winter games.

The USFSM connections don’t stop there.  Early in the business process, Jason was contacted by another USF alum, Lukas Gilkey, the founder of  Lukas asked Jason if he could take a shot at promoting the earphones online.  In the first day of promotion, Sleek Audio got over 18,000 web hits and their servers almost shut down.  It’s been rapid growth ever since.  So rapid, in fact, that they will be looking to expand their staff by 15-20 employees in 2011, adding to the 16 currently working at the Palmetto location.

“One thing we are so proud of is that we’re bringing the manufacturing from China back to Manatee County,” Jason commented.  “We’ve had a lot of problems with production there and it’s much easier to oversee when it’s right here in town.  That move is underway and should be fully integrated in the near future.”

Less time traveling to China leaves more time to travel to see potential customers, fitting individuals and teams for custom earphones.  “So far, over 500 professional athletes wear our earphones,” Jason said.  “We’re the official audio sponsor of the Tampa Bay Rays and guys like Derek Jeter and Cliff Lee have really great custom designs.”  Curtis Jackson III, better known as 50-Cent in the hip-hop and R&B world, has also joined forces with Sleek Audio, announcing the launch of ‘Sleek by 50 Cent,’ carbon fiber headphones at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in early January.  “Things are going very well for us right now, despite the economy,” Jason remarked.

When Jason is asked about his success, he never forgets where it started.  “For me, the biggest thing was learning how to manage and organize myself and learning how to run a business,” he said.  “To have the opportunity to write a marketing plan that turned into a business plan and then get a large loan… and then go back and talk to my professors, receive more guidance… how many people can say that?  The small class size and continued connections make a big difference.  I was encouraged and received a lot of help when I was at USF Sarasota-Manatee.  I’m really grateful for that.”

Forrest Field (Alum)

Forrest FieldPreparing for graduation in May 2011, Forrest Field, a senior at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee working toward a degree in the College of Business isn’t taking it easy during his final year of undergraduate coursework.  “I enjoy community service,” he said.  “I’ve been given a great opportunity and I want to give back.”

As Vice President of Scholarship for Phi Theta Kappa, Forrest has developed leadership skills and participated in community service projects like roadside cleanups and reading to kids at the Tallevast Community Center.  Alongside his two Brunch on the Bay scholarships, Forrest was also the recipient of several other scholarships, including a scholarship from the Kiwanis Club of Longboat Key, a Phi Theta Kappa scholarship and also a Bridge to my Future scholarship.   “It’s a continuous circle,” Forrest said.  “I am able to attend college and earn a Bachelor’s degree because I am the recipient of scholarships.  The least I can do is give back to the community who is supporting me and making it possible for me to have a quality education.”

When asked why he chose to earn a degree through USF Sarasota-Manatee, Forrest was quick to answer.  “I was homeschooled and always wanted to go to USF,” he said.  “After some research, I realized I wanted a smaller campus and to stay a little closer to home.  I really like the small university atmosphere and it’s a real benefit that my professors know my name and what my interests are.  You don’t find that everywhere.”  And after commencement?  “I want to work in Sarasota for a little while, hopefully at a career in finance or insurance, then I’ll come back to USF Sarasota-Manatee for my MBA when I have some experience.”

Dr. Guilford

Welcome to the USF Sarasota-Manatee, your hometown campus with global impact. We are dedicated to providing a quality education from outstanding faculty and a committed student services staff. Our campus provides the junior and senior years for some 15 Bachelors degrees as well as 6 Masters degrees, 6 certificates and 1 hosted program. We invite you to consider USF Sarasota-Manatee to fulfill your educational goals.

This is an exciting chapter in our campus history as we start new traditions at the campus. New Fall 2009 students join the inaugural class that will make the new campus a true university home. The 100,000-square-foot state-of-the-art academic facility has 26 classrooms, the Selby Auditorium, seminar and video-conferencing rooms, computer labs, student gathering places, faculty and staff offices, a fitness center, a technology and learning center, and facilities for the School of Hotel and Restaurant Management. We believe the campus setting with preserve areas, a pond and walking paths, the plazas and courtyard, and access to the Sarasota bay front will enhance your experience at USF.

We celebrate the new campus but we also are grateful that the legislature permanently funded our USF South program at SCF Venice. Several years ago, it was clear that the fast growing South Sarasota area would greatly benefit from our B.A. degree programs. We invite you to consider this location for your convenience.

We know that the community is depending upon USF Sarasota-Manatee to prepare high demand professionals including the teachers, accountants, nurses, community and business leaders. We are consistently supporting programs that align with community needs and help keep up with the latest technology developments. Our graduates stay here, work here and enhance our quality of life.

USF Sarasota-Manatee is a great place to come whether you are pursuing a higher degree or making a career change. You will get a higher degree of satisfaction in a convenient small-campus atmosphere while earning degrees from a top-tier research university. We take pride in our more than 15,000 alumni living and working in the region as civic and business leaders. Our community business partners help us connect their workforce needs with our campus programs and provide valuable internships that often lead to job opportunities upon graduation.

Please explore our Web site and find ways USF Sarasota-Manatee can help you prosper professionally and personally. Yes, we ARE a university town, and USF Sarasota-Manatee is YOUR hometown campus.

Arthur M. Guilford, Ph.D.
Regional Chancellor