Postcard Inn offers character and food to St. Pete

Across the Gandy Bridge from the hustle and bustle of Tampa lies the more sedate Saint Petersburg. Drive past Deadman Key to the white, sandy stretch of St. Pete Beach and you can find the unique Postcard Inn on the Beach. St. Pete natives and hotel visitors simply call it the PCI.

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The relaxed atmosphere immediately welcomes visitors to their home away from home. Inside the lobby, rope intricately tied in sailor’s knots hang from the ceiling alongside bare light bulbs. Painted skateboards and surfboards are nailed to the walls in colorful and eye-catching displays for the hotel’s guests to enjoy. A quote painted boldly over the lobby entryway reads: “Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.” The PCI is so much more than a beachside boutique hotel. Continue reading

Bearss Groves Farmers Market Grows Over Time

Tampa Bay is home to many farmers markets, but Bearss Groves located on Lake Magdalene Boulevard in North Tampa has been around since 1894. The market sells a variety of foods including fruits, vegetables and homemade food.

Prior to becoming a farmers market, Bearss Groves was home to a giant orange grove that was eventually removed due to citrus greening and the Tristeza virus.

Marty and Louise Bearss, a Tampa foundation family, were the original owners of the market until 2006, when long time friends Barry and Courtney Lawrence took over.

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Spanish restaurant in Tampa still dances with tradition

 Ybor City’s Spanish and Cuban restaurant, the Columbia, was founded by Casimiro Hernandez Sr. in 1905. The Spanish traditions of the restaurant have been carried through family generations for over 100 years.

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“I enjoy the food here,” said Columbia customer Mark Anthony Puglio. “The food here is excellent. It always has been, since I was young.”

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Tampa Bay Brewing Company Expands

Tampa Bay Brewing Company is expanding their business with a new restaurant and brewery in Westchase. Construction is underway on site and the expected date of completion is spring of 2015.

The brewery will be 13,000 square feet and the indoor and outdoor restaurant will be a combined 7,000 square feet. It is nearly 16 times bigger than the brewery they are in now. The new brewery will feature six fermenters, two bright tanks, a water treatment facility and a complete packaging line.

“When we started designing this project the goal was to take what we have in Ybor, with a great restaurant and great food, and replicate it over here in the Westchase location,” said Mike Doble, owner of Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

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The Tampa Bay Brewing Company offers up to 12 beers on tap at any one time. The most popular beer on tap is old elephant foot IPA which ranks in at 7 percent alcohol and has a very hoppy taste. Following closely behind is reef donkey which ranks in at 5.5 percent alcohol and has citrus notes.

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It wouldn’t be a brewpub without food. Tampa Bay Brewing Company serves a lot of traditional pub dishes. Head Chef John Boyle is infusing several entrees such as their signature meatloaf and shepherd’s pie with the beer they brew. Each week they have a special menu for Friday and Saturday nights. Boyle prepares all the meat himself by trimming each piece. This week it was lamb.

“All of the food here is good,” Boyle said. “I mean it really is. Whatever palate is yours, I mean I don’t think anyone would come in this restaurant and it would be a hard decision for them of what they would want to eat,” said Boyle.

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Customers can sign up for the mug club membership. Pay your annual dues and you will receive your own t-shirt and mug as well as discounts on the beer.

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The Doble family started the brewpub back in 1995. Tampa Bay Brewing Company is the oldest brewpub in the state of Florida and it lies in Centro Ybor on 8th street. It features an indoor and outdoor seating area and you can check out the people making the beer because the brewery is located inside the restaurant. Once you open the two double doors, your nose is greeted with the great smell of beer.

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Big John’s Barbeque Cooks Up Ribs That Keep You Coming Back

 

Tampa, Florida – The secret to keeping customers coming back for more than 42 years is simple to the Stephen’s family, “consistency.”

The family-owned business located on the corner of North 40th Street is known around the city for having a family-like atmosphere and most importantly, good barbeque ribs.

“Nobody cook ribs like Big John’s Alabama,” said customer Steve Patterson, “I’ve been coming here since 1975 and I’ve eat ribs all over the country, including Alabama and nobody’s ribs taste as good as Big John’s.”

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Debating the Career Pathway: Experience vs. Education

As a rush of people flood out of the Westfield Citrus Park mall, a lone figure lags behind. Sticking out from the crowd, the man walks casually with a bright smile on his face . He exudes a level of happiness that contrasts those around him that angrily dash to their cars.

This smile belongs to Jacob Davis, a sophomore studying business at Hillsborough Community College, who is happily finishing up another day of work.

“It’s really amazing,” said Davis. “If you told me I would be doing all this a few years ago I would’ve never believed it.”

Davis does have one issue though. For the second time, he’s had to take a semester off from school.

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Buddy Brew roasts coffee uniquely to create art and culture

 

Established in 2010, Buddy Brew Coffee seeks to provide Tampa and its visitors with an unparalleled coffee experience. As a single origin roaster entirely in-house roasting, Buddy Brew features the highest quality beans, rather than blending different types of coffee.

“We only buy the highest quality coffee beans, and they come from all over the world. We just got some in today that came from Colombia,” says Roast Master Phil Holstein. “We’ll play with those until we figure out the best temperature to roast them at and how long, and then we go from there.”

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“Roasting in-house is something that most coffee shops don’t do anymore, but it allows us to listen to the customer and really pay attention to what they like and don’t like,” says Buddy Brew Coffee Owner Dave Ward. “We are also able to sample different coffees from around the world and really manipulate them to find which profiles work best for us.”

Buddy Brew is locally recognized for its talented baristas and unique decor. Each barista goes through specific training so they can make every cup of coffee a work of art. Even the coffee accessories are pieces of art.

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Dave Ward and his wife, Susan Ward, are both the founders and owners of Buddy Brew Coffee. Coffee has played a significant role in their relationship since it began, and they turned their love of coffee into a hobby.

 

“Buddy Brew Coffee was really born out of me and my wife’s passion for coffee,” says Ward. “As a matter of fact, the first thing I ever even bought her was a coffee maker. How romantic is that, right?”

Dave and Susan began roasting coffee beans at home and were shocked to find how much of a difference the freshness made on the taste of the coffee. They began sharing their coffee with family and friends, and soon the word spread and the demand for Buddy Brew Coffee required a full-time employee.

“Susan and I both quit our jobs and began to do this full-time. Four months later, we hired an intern, and he became our first employee and he’s our store manager today. His name is Josh Bonanno, and he’s a great guy. Today we have 40 employees, and that number keeps growing,” says Ward.

“I love working here because the customers are so nice and give so much positive feedback. It’s a great environment to be in, and you really get to build relationships with the people that come in here,” says Barista Gabrielle Hekhuis.

Buddy Brew recently added beer and wine to their menu, and extended their hours of operation. Buddy Brew has also added a “brew truck” that travels to local events and private parties. For more information, visit buddybrew.com.

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Survive and Thrive

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Chris Roederer, Senior Vice President of Human Resources for Tampa General Hospital

Chris Roederer grew up in Fern Creek, Ky., just outside of Louisville. He comes from a family of seven, including four siblings, his parents and himself. All his family is from the Fern Creek area. He graduated Fern Creek High School, and then attended Western Kentucky University. He graduated there with a bachelor’s in public relations and an emphasis on broadcast with a minor in communications. His wanted to be a broadcaster, so he studied journalism and broadcasting and worked at several radio stations while in college. In addition to his intellectual education, he was also working as a housekeeper by the age of 14 at his mother’s nursing home, where he was in charge of doing floors. He then worked as an orderly there and later at a hospital while attending college.

After graduating college, Roederer tried finding a job in public relations or broadcasting. This was in 1979, when unemployment rates were very high. To make ends meet, he worked with his father at the home store, American Standard, which was hard work. His job was to make sinks, which required the use of an 1800-degree furnace, working all night from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 in the morning. Not only that, but he also continued to work at his mother’s nursing home as an orderly. After a while, however, he decided that he did not want that to be his job for the rest of his life, so he returned to graduate school in 1980 to study organizational communications with an emphasis on human resources.

Roederer went back to Western Kentucky. After studying for one year, he was only four classes short of his degree, but he already had four job offers from several companies, including Vesta Laboratories, Xerox, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Humana. In 1981, and Chris decided he wanted to go into healthcare, so he took the position with Humana, which was a training program to become a human resources administrator. His first job was in Orlando, which was intended to be a one-year training program. After six months, Humana offered him the position of director of human resources at 22 years old. Roederer was offered his first head of human resources (HR) job at a small hospital in Morristown, Tenn., which was his second hospital with Humana. The third hospital he worked at was in St. Petersburg, Fla., only ten months later. After three years, he transferred to a hospital in Louisville, where he worked part time as the director of HR and as an employee relations specialist for the corporate office.

The following year, Humana transferred him to a women’s hospital in Tampa, Fla.. Humana wanted him to look into the employee relations situation and union activity there. After straightening that situation out, Roederer spent three years there as a director, but soon he would have a career decision to make. St. Joseph’s Hospital was planning to buy Tampa Women’s Hospital, so he had to choose to either be unemployed or become the head of human resources at Sunrise Hospital in Las Vegas, which was much larger hospital and the largest for-profit hospital in the country at that time. He worked there for three years until Humana asked him to go to Michael Reese Hospital in Chicago, but he did not go there because of the cold weather.

While looking for other opportunities, Roederer received a phone call from a recruiter who asked him to look at a hospital in California. He took the position of vice president of Human Resources at the Eisenhower Memorial Hospital, The Betty Ford Center, the Sinatra Children’s Center and the Annenberg Center. He was the vice president for four years there.

After that assignment, he took a position doing executive compensation work for nonprofit health systems and working with boards. This would allow him time to spend with his daughter, who was growing up in Kentucky. He only had this position for a year and a half, due in part to the travel requirements. His job involved constant traveling, with over 500 flights in a year and a half and almost six days a week in transit. His area was supposed to be the southeastern United States, but he ended up travelling to places such as Oregon, San Francisco, Texas, Los Angeles, New Jersey and North Carolina.

In 1996, one of Roederer’s clients in Tampa’s Moffitt Cancer Center offered him the position of their first vice president of HR, where he stayed four years. He then received two job offers, one in Miami and the other at the City of Hope Clinical Cancer General in Duarte, Calif.. He was happy with his position at Moffitt but he was intrigued to work at one of the finest cancer centers in the world, so he took the position. He started out as senior vice president of HR. After over six years, his job evolved to include more responsibilities. He became chief corporate services officer, and his duties included HR, six unions, environmental services, dietary services, information technology, facilities, construction, safety, security, grounds, volunteer services and education. This covered nearly all of the support services, except finances, for the 102-building campus.

He wanted to return to Tampa when he noticed his parents were aging, so he asked around at the HR department at Tampa General Hospital (TGH) about opportunities. He already knew Ron Hytoff, the former chief executive officer of TGH, so he accepted the position of senior vice president of HR at TGH. Since then, he has stayed there for the past seven years.

In addition to his professional life, his personal life has been good, as well. He is married to Anita, a homemaker, with two sons, a daughter and their dog named Lily. He is active is his local church and because he wants to give back to the community, he is on the boards of several different organizations, including the Boy’s And Girl’s Club of Tampa, the AfterOurs Urgent Care Centers and is on the selection committee of the Outback Bowl. He is also active in fundraising for several organizations, including TGH.

One of his passions, which he works into his fundraising efforts, is his large collection of rare bourbon. He has a collection of over 120 bottles of the rarest bourbon around. He hosts bourbon tastings at his home, called Taste of Kentucky, and people from all over the world come to marvel at his collection.

Chris Roederer has a busy life and career but he loves reaching out to people. His motto is “survive and thrive.” He has made the Tampa Bay area his home for years now and he loves the area and all it has to offer. He even likes the area enough to want to end his career there.

Man finds comfort in exploration of gender identity

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He usually shaves his eyebrows and facial hair, uses a credit card to better blend in the makeup and powder blush that highlight his cheekbones.

While he puts his flashy eye makeup on he pauses, squints and purses his red lips. He likes to try different poses, like popping out his hip or flirtatiously putting his fingertips on his rosy cheek.

The process is therapeutic to him. He likes to take his time and closely observe himself. With a makeup brush, he traces the lines of his skinny face, his prominent nose and his pouty lips.

When he is done, Brandon Shuford has transformed himself into India Mirage, his sparkling drag queen persona.

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USF students robbed at gun point

It was Saturday at the University of South Florida and students were enjoying the break from the hectic week of classes and homework. Marc Miller was spending his day with friends at the USF football game.

“It was pretty much the best experience I’ve had going to a football game,” Miller said.

Later that day Miller, a Premedical science student, went to visit a friend who lived in the apartment complex along 42nd Street across from the USF campus. It was a little after 2 a.m. when Miller and two of his friends left the apartment to head back to the USF’s dormitories.

“My friends and I were walking down the street,” Miller said. “When a car parked off to the side, two men jumped out and just ran at us with guns yelling to us to get on the ground.”

As the two assailants approached Miller and his friends, Miller started shouting for help, but his shouts for help were silenced by one of the attackers.

“One of them started to strangle me around my neck,” Miller said.

What happened to Miller and his friends is not a rare occurrence in Tampa. According to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement’s annual crime report, in 2013 there were 582 robberies that involved the use of a firearm.

But reading about the crime statistics does not compare with actually becoming a statistic.

While Miller was being strangled his attacker noticed a gold chain and ripped it off his neck. His attacker then put the gun to his head and ordered him to empty out his pockets.

“He then ripped off the belt I was wearing and demanded my wallet,” Miller said. “When I stood up to take the wallet out of my back pocket, that’s when he struck me with the butt-end of the gun on my chest.”

While Miller and his two friends were being attacked, cars were driving by. The drivers ignorant to what was happening. One driver did notice and stopped.

“One car finally slowed down and honked, realizing what was going on,” Miller said.

That saved Miller and his friends, making the assailants run back to their vehicle and speed away.

Since the attack, Miller is constantly looking over his shoulders and being aware of his surroundings.

“I really don’t want to even go out anywhere,” Miller said. “All of my senses are heightened, so that’s how I act around campus now.”

Miller’s plans are to finish out the semester and then go back home to Massachusetts.

“I just want to go home and transfer back to a school, close to home, where I know I’ll be safe,” Miller said.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Tampa cigar factory repurposes property, emerges as community cornerstone

A historic three-story brick building has become a hot spot for artists in Tampa.

Santaella Studio for the ArtsBuilt in 1904 by wealthy cigar maker Antonio Santaella, the building was the home of the Santaella Cigar Factory.

The Santaella Cigar Factory was not only known for being one of the largest and most Babe Ruth at Santaella Cigar Factoryefficiently equipped factories in the city, but also for being Babe Ruth’s favorite place to stock up on cigars.

 

After being vacant for four years, Gray Ellis never thought he’d come to be the owner of such a factory.

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Taco Bus conquers Tampa with its popular Mexican food truck

 

Taco Bus provides Tampa with a unique and authentic dining experience while bringing a little bit of Mexico to the area.

It all started with a single bus 20 years ago. Today, Taco Bus restaurants still offer the same food the owner from Mexico served when he first opened his small business.

“He basically changed the name, added a food truck to it, and now, we’re at five locations,” said Aaron Lucas, the general manager of Taco Bus in Tampa and St. Petersburg.

The modern food truck trend began in 2008 in California. Since then, it has made its way eastward. Taco Bus was one of the first original food trucks in St. Petersburg. Lucas even thinks it might now be the most famous food truck in Florida.

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Datz some good food in Tampa

 

Land O’ Lakes resident Matt Casey travels to South Tampa at least once a month in order to eat at Datz, the local restaurant, bar, and market place.D1

“We just like that feel of being a neighborhood hangout, part market, part restaurant” said Roger Perry, Datz D5co-owner

Datz began serving customers in 2009 and creates dishes such as sandwiches with their home made chips, fried chicken, shrimp and grits and their famous meat loaf which is featured on the Travel Channel.

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“I like the quality of the food and the portion sizes, they’re pretty big” said customer Matt Casey. “Their sandwiches are the best. It’s just good food”

“We call it upscale comfort food” said Perry. “We’re famous for our meatloaf where we take mac and cheese bits and stuff it inside a meatloaf.”

TP_304663_DEAN_DATZ_1Datz has dine-in seating, including tables that can accommodate families of 10 and a back room for private parties. In addition, Datz has two bars which serve beer, wine, and spirits.

“We specialize in beer and bourbon” said bartender Patrick Devries. “We have 30 something different craft beers on tap at all times.”D4

Datz offers many spirits and seasonal drinks that General Manager and Bar Programmer Morgan Zuch creates. In addition to the actual bar, Datz has a large collection of beer tap handles that are on display in the lower bar.

Perry and his wife, other co-owner Suzanne Perry, said the name was created all around the letter ‘z’.

“I always liked the letter ‘z’” said Roger Perry. “The business I retired from was called Petzazz, a popular deli in Columbus is Zingerman’s. So I knew I wanted to start with the ‘z’”.

In 2014, Datz expanded and took over the building next doorD7 where they opened their sister store and bakery, ‘Dough’. Both establishments are open seven days a week and can be found on MacDill Avenue in South Tampa.

KES The Band brings Caribbean flair to USF

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Kees Dieffenthaller and DJ Robbie perform at the Caribbean Culture Exchange’s general body meeting. (Photo by Jasmin Lankford)

The energy in the room was electrifying. Toes were tapping and hands were clapping to the rhythm of Caribbean drums, guitars and a single soulful voice. Instantly, a woman felt as if she was standing on a beach in Trinidad, surrounded by clear water. Instead, she was inside the Marshall Student Center at the University of South Florida.

The music of KES The Band transported its listeners to the island it originated from, combining calypso music with R&B and reggae to create soca. USF’s Caribbean Cultural Exchange hosted this temporary island escape. The student organization treated its members on Oct. 15 to a meet and greet with KES.

“I have to say blessings to my management,” said Kees Dieffenthaller, the lead singer of KES. “They listen to what I want to do, and I really want to meet young people, vibe and just talk.”

Dieffenthaller visited the CCE’s general body meeting to answer questions from USF students and to sing several songs.

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Bosnian war survivor repays parent’s sacrifice

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Mia Topic seems like an average sorority sister. She loves her Alpha Delta Pi sisters, being social and making people smile.

Her ambitious attitude was molded by the struggles her family faced. Topic and her parents immigrated to the United States to escape the Bosnian Civil War.

Topic was born in 1993, just as the conflict in Bosnia intensified. She and her mother were forced to flee to Croatia without her father in the midst of war, because men in Bosnia were viewed as larger threat and had trouble leaving the country.

Topic and her mother took refuge in distant friends home in Croatia. Months passed, and they had no contact with her father. Her mother feared the worst.

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USF student’s leadership role shows no limits

 

Photo Credit: Bull for Kids/ Dance Marathon http://leadandserve.usf.edu/dancemarathon/index.php/contact-us/

Phoebe Joseph, a senior political science major with a minor in economics, works as the Assistant Director of Communications at the USF Tampa Campus. As part of the Executive Branch of Student Government, Joseph is a paid part-time employee in addition to being a full-time student. She hopes to use her experience in governmental work to help others.

“Politics to me is doing things for the people,” Joseph said.

She went on to explain that the program allows students to be a part of Student Government without the pressure of committing to the leadership alone. Other students volunteer at events, which alleviates some of the pressure of organizing an event by themselves.

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Cafe Literato brings European atmosphere near Purdue University

Café Literato transports the essence of European coffeehouses to the local area.

Open for more than a year, the small family owned cafe is located conveniently between Purdue University and the business district of West Lafayette. From the creators of local restaurants such as Cristos and Red Seven Bar and Grill.  The cafe was created exclusively with locals in mind.

Owner John Cristos and his family came up with the brick oven pizzeria and cafe concept.

“The name actually comes derives from the Italian word ‘literati’, which means somebody who pursues scholarly pursuits,”Cristos said. “We thought that was a nice tie-in with the university and that’s where Café Literato came from.”

The restaurant provides customers with access to a coffee bar and a full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu. Many people come to the restaurant to study or to just get a light meal. Patrons can order menu specialties including the BBQ Pork and Corn Pizza as well as the chocolate and spice chai lattes.

While many individuals enjoy the creative menu items, others are drawn to the new age decor and architecture. Customer Nathan Lord says the restaurant’s atmosphere is what brought him in.

“I kind of like how the different sections, you can actually get a little bit of privacy while still having an open atmosphere,” Lord said.  “I like the decor. I’m a fan of wood paneling and stuff, so I really like the decor and tables. It’s just friendly and inviting.”

Chef Felisha Clifton thinks it’s the adaptive nature of the restaurant that sets it apart.

“People can come and relax and study or they can meet friends for lunch,” Clifton said. “We are one of the only few places in town that has a brick oven, as well as a full coffee bar. So it’s nice to be able to come in and you have your full access to the coffee bar and also a full lunch menu.”

For more information on Café Literato, including the menu choices, visit literatocafe.com.

USF community retaliates against sexual misconduct on campus

In the wake of recent incidents on campus, USF committees are getting active in educating students on the dangers of sexual harassment.

According to the USF Police Department, two women were met by a stranger late at night on Nov. 4. They were approached on separate occasions within less than 30 minutes of each other. The situations escalated to inappropriate personal contact before the male suspect fled the scene.

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Gaspar’s Renovates It’s Tampa Legacy

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It is 1:30 in the morning. Jimmy Ciaccio gets out of his bed and heads to Gaspar’s Bar and Grill — his bar, which belonged to his father before him — to begin his fourth renovation.

“I’ve put my blood, sweat and tears into this place,” said Ciaccio, owner of Gaspar’s Bar and Grill.

Ciaccio could have contracted out the project or delegated it to his employees, but he showed up and worked himself.  From laying down the hardwood floors to hanging doors, Ciaccio built his bar from the ground up.

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The face of USF’s Gamma Phi Beta seasons with busy life as re-elected president

USF’s Panhellenic Community congratulates President Ashley Gabriel as she enters her second term. (Photograph retrieved from Panhellenic Sorority Life Facebook Page.)

Thirty emails answered, two homework assignments completed and one chapter read from her textbook “Operations Management.” While many of her peers at USF are still in bed or fighting to stay awake in their 9 a.m. labs, Ashley Gabriel has already crossed off a few items on her to-do list. Continue reading