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Jessica Edmondson

Jessica Edmondson has written 6 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Riding the Bull Runner

After lunch time for some of the USF Bulls means riding one of the six Bull Runner bus routes available for students, faculty and staff. According to frequent bus rider Isaac Taylor, Bus C (seen above) is the busiest bus. “I take the C bus Monday through Friday,” Taylor said. “It’s definitely the busiest because I always have to stand when I get on, unlike the other buses where I can always get a seat.”

This year, the USF Parking and Transportation Services has added a new bus route called route F. This bus route accommodates students who live off campus along North 50th street with a free ride in between classes.

Along with a new bus route, USF has also recently implemented a tracking device for all buses called “BullTracker” that enables students, faculty, and staff to view a live bus map and estimated arrival times in order to provide convenience for all riders. The BullTracker is available online or as a mobile application.

Humanities Department cultures students and reaps the results

The number of degrees awarded for the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department at USF Tampa is up by seven from the 2009-2010 school year.

In the 2010-2011 school year, according to USF’s Infocenter and Infomart, the trend is up from last year’s 24 humanities degrees awarded to this year’s total of 31 degrees. In the 2009-2010 academic year, 19 bachelor’s degrees and five master’s degrees were awarded from the Humanities Department, and in the 2010-2011 academic year, 23 bachelor’s degree and eight master’s degrees were presented according to the Infocenter.

Aristoula Mandelos, the undergraduate director and instructor at the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies at USF Tampa, said that the humanities degree appeals to students.

“Contemporary issues attract students entering college,” Mandelos said, the Department of Humanities and Cultural Studies undergraduate director and instructor. “And our students will understand the theories and drive of media and modern technology with our department’s tightened curriculum.”

Granting an additional seven degrees is a big deal for a small department. Humanities’ 31 degrees given in the 2010-11 school year pale in comparison with the biggest of USF’s colleges and departments—such as the Department of Psychology within the College of Arts and Sciences that awarded a total of 638 degrees—but remains larger than other areas of study like the 19-degree-conferring Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Daniel Belgrad, chairman of the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department and associate professor, reflected on the social obstacles of obtaining a degree in humanities that he linked with why the department isn’t as big as others.

“I was asked 20 years ago, ‘what are you going to do with that [major]?’” said Belgrad. “But people don’t understand that the humanities teaches you how to live and not how to make a living.”

Belgrad also said the department is not a technical school that teaches students a trade to get a job, but instead prides itself on creating well-rounded students that can adapt to contemporary change.

Although the Humanities and Cultural Studies department did not award the fewest number of degrees in the 2010-2011 school year, the department is still small and was comparable to the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies before its upward trend. Regardless of the small number of students graduating with a degree in the humanities, the overall number of degrees received from the department is increasing.

Zoe Stiling, an English major writing her undergraduate honors college thesis on the public opinion about, and prejudice toward, students with a humanities major, believes that the humanities degrees offered are valuable.

“I think humanities is massively important to our world with the focus on critical thinking, cultural studies, and communication,” said Stiling.

Mandelos added that a humanities degree offers a comprehensive education.

“Humanities is a perfect [bachelor's degree] because you get to study a little bit of everything that sets up a great foundation for a graduate degree or for future employment,” said Mandelos. “Our professors provide you the full picture by presenting everything out there. I think more and more students are realizing the value in learning about culture and contemporary issues in the fact that it relates to them.”

USF humanities department hopes to boost student interest through culture, jazz

During last month’s Stampede of Culture jazz festival, only a handful of students visited the humanities table seeking counsel on offered majors and minors, illustrating the overall subdued interest in the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department.

The Humanities and Cultural Studies Department and the Humanities Institute, along with the USF Jazz Ensemble’s, combined cultural, musical and campus humanity organizations to provide students with a centralized event promoting humanities at the Marshall Student Center Amphitheater.

The USF Dean of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Eric Eisenberg, addressed both crowd and jazz musicians during the event.

“The university today is so concerned with employment issues and financial budgets that sometimes we forget there are other things to this school,” said Eisenberg. “The humanities department provides a more cultured perspective for you tonight.”

At the event, the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department’s table offered free pamphlets and fliers for courses and upcoming events aiming to encourage students to enroll in those courses.

Kasandrea Sereno, Undergraduate Adviser for the Humanities and Cultural Studies Department, provided information to students interested in the department during the event.

“The department offers both majors and minors in Humanities and American Studies,” said Sereno. “We even have film studies being offered.”

According to the USF Infomart, 10 students graduated with a humanities Bachelor of Arts degree last spring.

Aristoula Mandelos, the department’s undergraduate director, commented on possible reasons for the declining interest in the department.

“The economy always affects the trend [of student interest],” said Mandelos. “Financial worries can go a long way, where students don’t realize that they can study what they want and still make a living.”

Sleep deprivation is a potential nightmare for USF students

USF junior James Hollingsworth has early-morning classes for the first time this semester, and with them comes a common college issue: sleeping problems and, in his case, depression.

“It’s hard to wake up for class when I go to sleep after 4 a.m.,” Hollingsworth said. “I have to change my whole sleeping cycle around where I don’t have much ‘me’ time anymore.”

Hollingsworth said he winds down after a full day of classes by having his “me time” until 4 a.m. But, because of early classes, his personal time is on the cutting block. Both the lack of down time and sleep are causing him to be depressed.

Isaac Taylor, a USF graduate student, shares Hollingsworth’s sleeping woes.

“I’m not getting enough sleep because of my classes,” Taylor said. “Simple as that.”

Both students feel the pressures of classes cutting into their personal time and find cutting sleep an easy remedy. However, with the loss of sleep, depression seems to be the major outcome.

“It’s not, like, a severe depression, but it’s there,” said Hollingsworth.

USF is not ignorant of the importance of sleep for its students. The on-campus USF Sleep Center has a group of doctors dedicated to researching the importance of sleep. Dr. Daniel Schwartz is an assistant professor of medicine and the medical director for the Sleep Disorders Program.

“Education and understanding the role sleep plays in learning, cognition, memory, fatigue and depression is often the first step in helping students better allocate their [sleeping] time,” Schwartz said.

According to the USF Sleep Center website, Schwartz and 10 other doctors and faulty members “support patient care, education and research in sleep medicine.” Because Schwartz believes many students re-adjust their sleeping habits on their own after learning more about the importance of sleep, his department does not feel medical assistance is necessary.

“They are usually quite bright and, once they understand, will take steps to rectify the problem on their own,” said Schwartz. “Thus, pharmacologic management is usually unnecessary.”

Instead, Schwartz advises students learn about the importance of sleep and its role in cognitive functions and creativity. He added that students also need to allow sufficient time for sleep.

Peace Corps offers student volunteers freedom of choice abroad

The language of Kazakhstan, a large country below Russia, was starkly different than what Katie Roders was used to here in the United States; however, now returned after her two year service, Roders continues to speak the native Russian she learned there and incorporates it in everyday use.

Roders, a Peace Corps volunteer returned from Karaganda, Kazakhstan, and a USF student, combined her personal experiences of serving in the Peace Corps with the application process during the global talk last week at the Dr. Kiran C. Patel Center for Global Solutions.

“Those three months [of training] were rough,” Roders said. “I was learning Russian eight hours-a-day, six days-a-week. I didn’t know a lick of Russian when I started, but you bet I knew some Russian afterward.”

The Peace Corps has roughly 8,700 active volunteers this 50 anniversary year of the organization, with an average recruitment age of 28 years old, and is recruiting more yearly. Roders joined two weeks after graduating with her Bachelor of Arts in women studies. She served in Karaganda working in public health with the prevention and awareness of AIDS, in women’s groups, and periodically taught English as a second language.

“You can do anything in the Peace Corps,” Roders said. “You’re not pigeonholed into one program.”

The Peace Corps has seven programs for prospective applicants: education, health, business, culture and development, environment, youth development, and agriculture. However, Roders advises students to be flexible with what program they are willing to serve in since open positions don’t happen all at once. But no matter what program a student wants to join, a student’s application is favorable if he or she has program-related volunteer or work experience.

“If you want to build houses for people, the Peace Corps is looking in your application to see if you know how and have experience building houses,” Roders said. “It was probably my [women’s clinic] work and volunteer experience that got me into the [public health department of the] Peace Corps.”

Alysha Romero, an intern for USF’s information sessions and a senior studying psychology, attended the information session but worried about adapting to a foreign country for the complete 27 months away from the United States.

“There will be a culture shock, for sure,” said Romero, “but the whole point of joining is to rise above it.”

Katie Johnson, also a senior studying psychology, believes the positives outweigh the negatives.

“Yeah, I’m nervous about leaving my family, but it will be a life changing experience for me,” said Johnson. “I’ve been wanting to do something big like this since I was five.”

The Peace Corps global talk information sessions with Roders will happen monthly and is scheduled to take place again on Oct. 13 at 7 p.m.

It’s not jobs USF students look for at career fair; it’s networking

With the declining economy and Florida’s notoriously high unemployment rate, this year’s fall USF Career Networking Fair focused on networking and not necessarily employment.

“Networking, targeting employers, and making connections with employers is what this fair is about,” said USF Career Center adviser Terry Dowling.

The career fair featured approximately 80 different companies during Wednesday’s all majors accepted fair and 44 during Thursday’s fair, which was specifically for accounting, science, technical and engineering majors.

Organizers said that the number of employers on campus for the event did not rise appreciably this year.

Isaac Taylor, a graduate student studying computer science, noticed this year’s focus on networking and said it’s just another task to which seniors must commit.

“I went to this fair with a list of companies in mind that I wanted to apply and hopefully get a job from,” Taylor said. “But when I talked to the companies, I felt the pressure more on myself to make a personal connection with them instead of just submitting my application online.”

Taylor said many of the companies handed out business cards and pamphlets that were about the company image instead of application-related information.

“It seemed like many companies told me to check back with them next semester to see if more job openings were available,” Taylor said.

Claire Stephens, an employee and representative of ConnectWise, focused on making student connections during the fair.

“I’m an IT support employee at the company and am here to help students make a connection with ConnectWise instead of just handing out applications,” Stephens said. “I want to make sure students know and appreciate the company before they apply.”

According to the ConnectWise website, “ConnectWise is a leading provider of IT services to companies in the Tampa market and the publisher of the industry’s most widely-used business operating system.”

The difference this fall with the career fair, Dowling said, is that many students are realizing the job market is declining and becoming more competitive. No longer can they easily rely on their degree for a job. Thus, the focus of this year’s career fair is no longer getting employment but making connections.

Dowling advised students to make connections outside of Tampa Bay to better secure future employment.

“It might be a good idea to expand the scope of one’s search to go beyond the Bay area and to even consider other regions of the nation,” Dowling said. “Treat this fair as a way to start and continue your networking and targeting of employers.”

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