Sarah Pollei, a junior majoring in biology, and Antonio Morales, a sophomore majoring in criminology, are running for student body president and vice president this spring. They have been campaigning and reaching out to the student body to gain recognition in hopes to be elected this week.
Their initiatives include three main pillars: connection, sustainability and inspiration.
They want to create a better connection with Student Government and the student body, push for a greener university by implementing more recycling bins around campus and inspire students to be bold in their actions and love the university.
Students may know these candidates because they are Residential Assistants (RAs) and were Orientation Team Leaders (OTLs) over the summer, which is how they met.
All of this information is helpful, but doesn’t really identify who Pollei and Morales truly are.
Below are 5 facts (each) about these candidates that you may not know about them.
Pollei gets away from her busy schedule and meditates for about 30 minutes every day. “I usually like to do it before its evening when the suns about to come down,” she said, “and you feel more in tune with things because animals are more active at night and trees are happier at night.” She usually does her breathing exercises alone, on top of parking garages, but sometimes invites people to share the experience. “If I don’t meditate, I am a burning stress ball,” she said.
She is interested in becoming a doctor in geriatrics/orthopedics, “because old people need bones.” Pollei loves the older generation because of their life stories and feels people need to respect the elderly more. “People like puppies, I like old people,” she said. When she walks into a restaurant with friends and there is an elderly couple sitting at a table, she said her friends will stare at her waiting for Pollei’s excited reaction.
Kidd Lucid, a chief executive dreamer, created Time-Peace, a four-philosophy symbol, which represents living in the present moment. Pollei said her favorite saying came from him, which is “stop worrying and start being.” She has the symbol tattooed on her thigh, along with six other tattoos on her foot, side, back and arm, all of which are covered by her clothing. “It’s a tree, a brain, and a clock. If you turn it upside down it’s a peace sign,” she said. “If you eliminate your worries of the past and the future and you live in the present moment,” she said, “99 percent of your problems will disappear.”
Growing up, Pollei’s family was not wealthy. “My parents were poor, dirt poor,” she said. All she ate was bologna and macaroni and cheese because they were cheap. To get by, she would steal food, like cereal and milk cartons, from her elementary school cafeteria. “It’s not something I am proud of because people get a wrong depiction of that,” she said. “But in that moment, I did it for what I needed, not for things that I wanted. Fending for yourself, I had to do that a lot.”
While she was a sophomore in high school, Pollei entered a dance competition hosted by Universal Dance Association and won a free trip to Paris. She represented the state of Florida and traveled with 49 other girls from the other states and performed under the Eiffel Tower on New Year’s Eve. “I was really, really lucky,” she said. She was allowed one guest, and chose her mother. “Other than that, my mom would have never seen the outside of America. I was glad I was able to take her out of her humble little southerness and take her over to Paris because she was dumbfounded by the culture.”
Morales loves meeting new people and talking to them. “If I’m not socializing in the (Marshall Student Center) or walking around campus talking to random people…then I’m probably knocking on their doors or playing video games with them,” Morales said about the residents he oversees. The students across his room have a Nintendo 64, so he started playing Super Smash Brothers with them. In a relatively short amount of time, all the residents of the hall wanted to play. “We went to the flea market to buy extra controllers,” he said.
Morales’s closet is separated into his business and casual clothes. He has nine pairs of shoes, which are arranged by color. All of his clothes are hung with black hangers because “otherwise it looks tacky,” he said. His clothes range from brightest to darkest: white, yellow, orange, pink, red, light blue, etc. “In the middle of my closet, I have 25 ties,” he said, and they are color coordinated. His biggest sections are white green and brown because he wears white shirts under his clothes, lots of green because of the university’s colors and brown for his fraternity Lambda Theta Phi.
If Morale’s was given a million dollars and did not have anything to worry about, the first thing he would do was visit his mother. Morale’s is very family oriented and said, “It’s been about two months since I’ve seen her,” he said. He would also pay off her house and give her the rest of the money. He has a great relationship with his mother, since she has always supported him through everything, he said, and would want to repay her.
When he was a freshman, Morale’s drove up to Tallahassee with his roommates. While on back roads, he drove his friend’s Mazda RX3. He was pulled over driving 100 MPH in a 65 MPH zone at four in the morning. “I couldn’t go to court because it was near Tallahassee and I was in school when they had the court date set,” he said. He had a lawyer fight the case and instead of receiving a felony charge, he had to pay a five hundred dollar ticket because he did not have a history of any crimes. “It won’t happen again,” he said. “Never.”
The day after Thanksgiving, his family always buys a Christmas tree and decorates it. This family tradition ends with a sled Morale’s grandfather made his mother, called the Deborah Flyer. “Unless the tree is completely put up, she will not put it on,” he said. When he was in eighth grade, his house got robbed in Bradenton a week before Christmas. “All the presents were taken and the place was trashed,” he said. They were lucky to have dinner that year, but no presents to open. The following year was rough and his mother did not buy a Christmas tree because she was still devastated.“I remember drawing a picture on Christmas eve. It was a picture of a Christmas tree and I drew in the little Deborah Flyer and put it on the TV screen. My mom kept that and she laminated it and she puts it on the Christmas tree every year right before she puts on her sled.”
The Marshall Student Center will not reverse global warming any time soon, but it will have solar panels installed in an effort to help USF pursue a more sustainable campus.
The solar panels will arrive on the roof on Saturday, begin installation on Monday and be completed in a week. This project is possible thanks to the money from the Student Green Energy Fund, generated from the one dollar per credit hour student tuition green fee.
The fund supports sustainable projects that students, faculty or staff may submit to the Office of Sustainability.
“(Solar panels) are a feasible and essential means to reduce our fossil fuel consumption,” Jamie Trahan, a graduate student majoring in mechanical engineering, said. “Wind turbines need a lot of area and need to be in places that are uninhabited. Solar panels, you can pretty much put them anywhere.”
The 108 panels will provide144 watts of energy each, which will feed into the electrical system of the Marshall Student Center.
“Well if you have a 60 watt light bulb – a typical incandescent – that would power a few light bulbs, one of those panels,” she said.
The amorphous panels on the student center, which are silicon based, have a lower efficiency than typical crystalline panels but have a better output during inclement weather and high temperatures.
“We thought in Tampa’s conditions the Amorphous would fit pretty well,” she said.
Trahan and three other graduate students submitted the $160,000 proposal, which included a second option to add solar panels to the canopy being built over the amphitheater outside the student center.
The canopy was designed to have the panels, Trahan said, but the Marshall Student Center ran out of funds to include them.
“When we found out, we said, ‘why don’t we just ask for the money to put those panels up,’” she said. “They went ahead and moved forward getting us the funding for both of (the projects).”
The canopy installation will begin May 10 and consist of crystalline panels, which have a higher efficiency because of their absorbent small silicon crystals.
Trahan and her team proposed the solar panels because they will be visible to the student body, proving their tuition is hard at work.
“The Student Green Energy Fund only has a three year time period so after three years it has to be renewed,” she said. “And that means students have to vote on it again, and unless they see what their money is going towards, they might not do that.”
The team is working with a design group creating a kiosk to be available at the end of February in the Marshall Student Center to track and display the energy output of the panels.
“You can replace light bulbs and reduce energy consumption, but we really wanted something that was symbolic of USF’s initiative toward sustainability,” Trahan said.
Zaida Darley, program director in the Office of Sustainability, said President Judy Genshaft signed a climate action plan in the spring 2011 semester to become a more energy efficient university.
“This Student Green Energy Fund allows for USF to meet those goals to become a greener campus,” she said.
The fee generates about $800,000 a year and supplied $300,000 for the first four projects last fall semester.
“I get a lot of students that have ideas about how to make the campus greener,” she said. “Sometimes that student interest just needs a little money and back up to make those ideas happen.”
The Office of Sustainability has not received any proposals yet for this semester. This is not an issue considering 12 of the 14 submitted proposals in the fall were turned in the day of the deadline, Darley said. The deadline this semester is March 5.
Chuck Nduka-Eze demanded an apology from the Nigerian government for the genocide during the Nigerian-Biafran War.
He would have followed this path whether or not his mother was shot and murdered during the brutality because of his passion for pursuing difficult cases.
“I grew up with that in mind, with that sense of tragedy,” he said. “It seemed to me it was natural to want to do something about it.”
Nduka-Eze is a practicing lawyer in London but will be speaking at USF Wednesday at 11 a.m. in MSC 3709 for “Violence, Memory and Human Rights: An Interdisciplinary Conference,” a three-day event hosted by the USF Humanities Institute.
Nduka-Eze grew up in Nigeria but traveled to England to get his education. He graduated from the University of Warwick in Coventry, United Kindom.
Following in his father’s footsteps, Nduka-Eze became a lawyer because of the impact he could make in people’s lives.
“You are the mouth piece of the voiceless, really,” he said. “You represent those who can’t be represented. I like that aspect.”
After practicing for 11 years in England, he returned to Nigeria in 1998 to begin his toughest case.
When Nduka-Eze started working on his case, Nigeria was transitioning from a military dictatorship to a democracy, he said, so serious matters that were once kept quiet now were being uncovered.
Nduka-Eze presented his case to the Human Rights Violations Investigation Commission in Nigeria, a judicial commission of inquiry, not a court, which is made up usually of eight to 10 members. His main focus was to raise awareness about the victims of the genocide and receive a formal apology from the government.
“Since those events happened in 1967, there have been no acknowledgments by the authorities that these events occurred,” he said. “There have been no discussions about what to do even by way of reparation, creating the necessary awareness and seeing what can be done to support the victims.”
The case failed.
“The recommendations and the reports that (the government) were supposed to submit, which was the purpose behind the whole (case), has still not been published in over 14 years,” he said. “That’s what it takes to get things done in some places, it’s very difficult.”
In his presentation at USF, Nduka-Eze is stressing the failure in hopes of receiving feedback about options on how to move forward with his case. He has begun exploring the possibilities of taking legal action, however, to get a court document asking the government to publish the request.
Nduka-Eze met anthropology professor Elizabeth Bird and history professor Fraser Ottanelli about two years ago in Nigeria. The professors conducted studies on the genocide and asked Nduka-Eze questions, Bird said.
Bird, director of the Humanities Institute, said there are over 60 scholars who will speak over the three-day timeline, which took a year to plan.
“The purpose was to bring together scholars from around the country, around the world, who are working on similar issues but from different disciplinary perspectives,” she said, “and hope to talk to each other and come up with interesting conclusions or ideas and suggestions about how to address these pressing issues of violence and post-conflict resolution.”
Rusty Gillespie, 26, fixes the power supply to the teacher work station in Cooper 115 as students quietly file in for the next lecture class to start.
Gillespie, who graduated from USF in 2007, works for classroom support assisting professors, teacher assistants and even students with problems ranging from equipment malfunction to installing programs.
“I am working towards the greater good,” Gillespie said. “I enjoy facilitating for other’s educations.”
Gillespie receives about 30 different calls per week and must go into classrooms, conference rooms or labs across campus. In this case, he had to reconfigure the wires that plugged into the uninterrupted power supply (UPS), since someone unplugged them. Once he was finished, he placed the wireless receiver (red and black box in the photo) for the microphone back inside the workstation.
Gillespie said he is a people person but sometimes doesn’t enjoy dealing with frustrated professors who cannot use the technology in the class rooms properly.
“Professors are surprisingly not tech savvy for being so well-educated,” he said. “Students know many things that professors don’t about the technology (in the classrooms.)”
Nicole McDowell was diagnosed with an incomplete atrioventricular canal, a hole in her heart, when she was only 10 months old and had to have immediate open heart surgery.
Since that first surgery at All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, she has had three other surgeries throughout her life to replace imitation valves. Next year marks her 10 year anniversary with the newest valve.
Her last operation occurred when she was 13 years old. McDowell had to enter the hospital two days before the surgery in order to stop taking her blood thinner medicine, which made her blood flow too easily through her valves for the procedure.
While there, she said the child life workers in the hospital gave her some construction paper and scissors to entertain her. She cut out circles and stuck them to her IV pole.
“I walked around for two days doing absolutely nothing, like, ‘Yeah this is my IV pole. His name’s Spot. He’s like my new dog,’” McDowell said.
Since McDowell has been a patient at All Children’s Hospital for most of her life, she is now giving back to the hospital and helping the children there through a student organized event at USF.
When McDowell transferred to USF as a junior, she heard about Dance Marathon, a volunteer program dedicated to raising awareness and funds to serve the families of All Children’s Hospital. Realizing she wanted to participate in the event, McDowell spoke during the marathon about her life and her hospital experience to an audience of 500.
Last spring she spoke again, this time showing baby pictures of herself after her first open heart surgery.
“Since I’m no longer a patient there, I encourage them and tell them, ‘Your money helps save peoples lives,’” she said. “I’m here, able to go to school as a fellow student and live a pretty normal life… most of the time,” she said with a laugh.
Janine Kirary, a junior majoring in cellular molecular biology and psychology, listened to McDowell speak and was impacted by how passionate she is about the hospital.
“Even though she doesn’t have to go there,” Kirary said, “she still cares about the hospital so much and you can tell she really does with her connectivity and involvement in Dance Marathon.”
Kirary said she realized how beneficial Dance Marathon is through listening to McDowell’s story.
“We are helping these children when they are young and they can grow up to be adults, like Nicole,” Kirary said.
According to Kirary, Dance Marathon participants dance for the kids who can’t because they are in the hospital or being treated. The money raised directly supports All Children’s Hospital.
“To be able to see the impact we make at the hospital and how much they truly appreciate it,” she said, “it really makes the difference.”
McDowell applied for a position on the Dance Marathon Board and was accepted in May. She is the family relations director of the program, so she travels to All Children’s Specialty Care of Tampa to persuade families, including parents and patients, to attend the marathon and see the environment of the event.
“I’m always the patient,” McDowell said. “Now, to be able to work with families from a different view point, it’s helping me prepare for what I actually want to do as a career.”
McDowell, now a senior majoring in psychology, hopes to work in a hospital to aid children who have blood and cancer disorders.
“I want to work with the kids to make their stay better,” she said. “If they are going into surgery, maybe bring in instruments they are going to see so they are not so nervous.”
She said she has always wanted to work in a hospital.
“All children’s was my second home,” she said. “To work there, it would just be another day.”
These days, McDowell’s medical condition only requires that she take medicine. She now enjoys experiencing things she couldn’t when she was younger due to her heart condition, like roller coasters.
“I take a picture of the sign that says, ‘If you have heart disease, be advised,’ just to be funny,” she said.
The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement’s minor in leadership studies got a structural makeover for this fall semester and will continue the trend to offer new classes in the spring.
Todd Wells, associate director for the center, said students could take classes for the 18 credit hour minor in any order before the structural change.
“We really realized that they have to take (classes) in an order that will be more enjoyable and more beneficial to their careers,” he said.
Joseph Gallego, a senior majoring in business, will finish his minor in leadership studies at the end of this semester but has been involved in leadership classes for two years.
“I have seen how the program has become more structured and how the classes are more involved now,” Gallego said.
Gallego said the leadership minor is useful because it can be applied to almost every major at the University of South Florida, whether it is psychology or business.
The two new courses available for students to sign up for are Capstone Seminar in Leadership and Contemporary Issues in Leadership.
“(The capstone course) will help students set themselves apart by writing their resume and cover letters in a way that shows what the minor did for them and how it supplemented their major,” Wells said.
Even though Gallego will complete his minor this semester, he looks forward to taking the capstone course next semester.
“(The course will) culminate all my learning I have had in leadership so far,” Gallego said. “It’s a good time to reflect on what I have learned.”
The Contemporary Issues in Leadership class will allow students to choose current issues they want to investigate and discuss over the semester.
Wells said the center added the new structure and courses to make the minor more attractive to students.
“All of our classes are capped,” he said, “but we wanted to make it something that is really beneficial and not just something they do because they have an extra semester at USF.”
The College of Pharmacy opened this semester with its first class of students and is in the midst of celebrating National Pharmacy Week for the first time – a week dedicated to promoting pharmacy awareness.
Thea Moore, associate professor in the College of Pharmacy (COP), hosted an information session last Wednesday in the Marshall Student Center.
“We wanted to broaden (information sessions) out and invite people to come down and talk to us,” Moore said. “Anyone interested in knowing more about pharmacy, the COP, or the profession can get more info about who we are and what we are doing.”
American Society of Health-System Pharmacists, a national organization representing hospital and health care pharmacists, created National Pharmacy Week and hosts events around the country to create awareness for the pharmacists in the community, Moore said.
“Pharmacists can be your first line health professional,” she said. “A lot of people will have access to the pharmacist before they have access to a physician or nurse practitioner.”
USF hosted events last week, she said, to inform people about the pharmacists available on campus.
“(Teaching) is part of what we do as faculty members, but also, we are all clinical pharmacists that are working here,” she said. “We want to provide a service, since we are here there is a lot that can be done, like help them manage their medication.”
Olivia Gonzalez, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, became passionate about pharmacy from a family experience.
“I’ve always been really interested in creating and learning about drugs and how they affect people,” Gonzalez said. “My grandmother was a cardiac patient and I wanted to find out about drugs that would not impact how she felt as much.”
Gonzalez stopped by the COP information session and asked questions about the PCAT, the Pharmacy College Admission Test. She received information about the test and learned when to take it– her most important question.
Kevin Cowart, a graduate student in the COP, is excited to be a part of USF’s first cohort COP class along with 52 other students.
“It’s a small class and everybody has really gotten to know each other,” Cowart said. “We do things outside of school and help each other in school.”
Cowart said the class has an intramural team called Prescription Strength, and they recently got kicked out of the playoffs.
The students are taking seven classes this semester Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Some of the classes are pharmaceutics, biochemistry, and drug information and literature evaluation.
“We are pretty much tested every week,” he said. “There is usually a quiz every week in (every) class and there are four tests in (every) class. We have had two tests so far.”
The group also attends a lab Friday mornings and has recently learned compounding, which is breaking down medicine, like a tablet into a liquid for a baby.
“I thought that we wouldn’t be learning as much as we are,” Cowart said. “I thought it would be introductory but it’s a lot more – each week they throw us something new.”
Last week was all about awareness, he said, and people should know their medicine and know their pharmacist.
“There are so many drugs out today, you have to have a specialist in that area,” he said. “It’s necessary.”
Jonathan Conde transformed over the past year from a typical, uninvolved student to winning the most prestigious award during homecoming week – king of the university.
Two nights ago, Conde, a senior majoring in business management and minoring in leadership studies, was crowned in front of an exhilarated audience of about 1,000 people in USF’s Marshall Student Center Ballroom.
As the homecoming dance approached, Conde doubted himself and believed there wasn’t a chance of winning, since other students had years of involvement.
“[Being crowned] was something for me that was really unexpected in the sense of how quickly it happened – in terms of me being involved,” he said.
When Conde was three years old, his family moved from New York to Ocala, a city about an hour and a half north of Tampa. Because he grew up in Ocala and attended school there through high school, he felt Florida was his home and decided to attend one of the state’s universities.
“A lot of people went to [University of Florida] who lived in Ocala,” he said, “and I feel it’s just an extension of one another. I didn’t want anything to do with UF, it just wasn’t something that appealed to me.”
Conde’s top choice was USF and knew he wanted to be a Bull from the positive feelings he received during a campus tour.
“Its nice,” he said, “I’m not far enough where I can’t go home at any moment and see [my parents]. But I am still doing my own thing.”
But, Conde wasn’t always well known at the university and has come a long way in the past year.
Todd Wells, associate director of the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, said Conde only focused on school his first two years in college.
“He just worked, went home, barely survived school [and] didn’t know too many people,” Wells said. “[He] was making average grades and then got connected in a different way.”
Conde said he and his grades struggled a lot his freshman year and was not motivated to achieve.
“I never wanted to be known as typical and have always strived to be different,” he said. “That’s when I told myself, ‘You have to do something different and step up.’”
Conde believes his life turned junior year during Survey of Leadership Readings. The director of the center informed his class about The Rising Leaders Summit, a two-day leadership retreat program.
“Jon really benefited from that leadership development experience,” Wells said. “He is one of those people who benefited from [the center] and has a true passion for leadership and service.”
Conde is an ELI student coordinator director and works with Wells in training facilitators of the organization. The Emerging Leaders Institute is a freshman leadership retreat, similar to The Rising Leaders Summit.
“I never expected to have positions with such responsibilities over others, known as a leader on campus and win homecoming king,” Conde said.
Last March, Conde became president of a new fraternity at USF, Pi Kappa Phi. The fraternity has 40 members and emphasizes service and being men of class, Conde said.
“Jon wanted to show men there’s another option,” Wells said. “He wanted to be a role model and leave a legacy for the [fraternity].”
Pi Kappa Phi was the main reason Conde ran for homecoming king. He wanted to get the fraternity’s name out to students. He put information about it and himself on the ballot to read, which was accessible after clicking on a picture of him with Shrek.
“I wanted to be the fun [candidate],” he said. “A lot of people vote based on the picture and I always try to make people laugh.”
Conde said his best friend calls him Shrek as a joke and was able to capture the picture with Shrek at wax museum in Las Vegas over his spring break.
“I’m a big guy and I have a deep voice… I don’t take [the name] offensive,” he said. “I think it’s funny.”
Jennifer Conley, 27, is the manager of 4050 Lofts on 42nd Street and said Conde has grown over the past three years and is now the resident director, overseeing a staff of eight.
But, when Conde started working at 4050 Lofts, he was a resident maintenance staff and had to clean up
trash students left from parties.
“He always [cleaned] with a smile on his face,” she said “and would be the first to make jokes about it.”
Conley then gave him a position in the office over a year ago dealing with sales, leases and customer service, which are his duties now.
Conley said Conde has the most school spirit out of anyone she knows, including the 722 students living at 4050 Lofts.
“I definitely feel like this year he exploded with school spirit,” she said. “And I feel like he has got involved with everything he can on campus and has just done it all.”
Conde plans on speaking to seniors at local high schools about the importance of getting involved. He regrets not taking part in an organization his first two years and wants to show who he has become from being involved.
“It’s a lot better if you start young and do things to get involved so by the time you are a junior, you are established,” he said. “I’m going to do what I can to get other people to the place that I am.”
The Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement is no longer surprised when 75 students sign up for a volunteer event but only 40 show up.
“What we’ve ended up doing was signing up a lot more students then we even have spots (for) just expecting that students wouldn’t show up,” said Jennifer Espinola, the center’s director.
She said this has been an issue with all the volunteer programs and the department has been forced to create new ways to increase attendance.
“Students care – they take the time to sign up,” said Espinola. “We have tried to adjust (for) the (students) forgetting. Now they get a few e-mails from us up to the date before the event.”
She also said four years ago the department did not send out notifications but because of this issue, they are sending e-mails and calling students as reminders.
The department is planning a new incentive for students who sign up for retreats.
“If students who sign up are selected to go and they don’t show up there is going to be a $50 cancellation fee,” said Espinola.
The Rising Leaders Summit, according to the department’s website, is a leadership development experience for sophomores and juniors who seek to enhance their leadership potential.
Espinola said the two day retreat is free since it’s paid through activity and service fees to the department. The cost is about $120 per student, and by implementing the $50 cancellation fee, the department will receive some money back if a student doesn’t attend.
“Obviously if you are very ill or there is a death in the family, we would be able to excuse that.”
Students can give a five day notice to avoid the fee if they have another obligation, which will give a week for the department to find another student to fill their place.
Juan Gonzalez, a senior majoring in biochemistry, said sometimes he signs up for an event and completely forgets.
“I think (forgetting) is going to be the main answer for most people,” he said. “They forget and haven’t really bought into the cause. They signed up, just to sign up because one of their friends told them to.”
He said some students sign up so their name is on the roster but don’t realize the organization checks attendance.
“After a while,” he said, “students don’t check their e-mails to look at notifications.”
Janine Kiray, a junior majoring in cellular molecular biology and psychology, is the director of operations for Dance Marathon, a volunteer organization dedicated to raising money for All Children’s Hospital.
In the spring semester, Dance Marathon had 500 people signed up and 450 attended.
“It’s (the board leaders of Dance Marathon) responsibility to make sure we have proper relations with every single team, not just the largest one,” Kiray said, “and make sure we reach out to each individual who registered for the event.”
Even though there was a 50-person deficit, this did not affect the $27,000 raised.
“Prior to the event, most of the individuals did all of their fundraising,” she said, “so for the people who didn’t show up it would not have made that much of an impact.”
Dance Marathon plans to promote the event starting this month and continue to stay in contact with all the teams and individuals to achieve a full turnout for next year.
Espinola said the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement is still investigating and discovering ways to helps students remember and attend volunteer events.
“We really want students to capitalize in the programs and get the best experience,” she said.
Espinola said the community becomes disappointed when they expect a certain student turn out and not enough attend.
For Stampede of Service, a day students help in the Tampa community, 3,600 students signed up and 2,400 actually showed up Saturday morning – about 67 percent.
“We told a park they were going to have 50 people and they (brought) the materials and staff, then we sent 12 (students),” she said. “It doesn’t make the University of South Florida look very good.”
Emma Goines, 21, sat at a round, plastic table with nothing on it except her tuna sub as she told members of the USF organization Project Downtown that she was living at the Salvation Army because she was kicked out of her house for being pregnant.
Goines has been living in the Hospitality House, a section of the Salvation Army for women and children in downtown Tampa, raising her 18-month-old daughter, and is expecting a son in a couple of months.
As Goines ate her dinner, she explained she has learned there are several people who are willing to help her become self-sufficient at the Hospitality House, and she has created a goal to finish school, go to college and have her own home.
Goines is just one woman whose story has impacted members of Project Downtown and keeps them coming back. There are several other homeless people who have been living in downtown Tampa for over five years and have built relationships with members of the organization.
Nadir Bakali, a senior majoring in finance and president of Project Downtown, said when the organization first started in 2005 the idea was to keep returning to the area.
“At the beginning, we didn’t have the amounts of food donated that we have today,” he said. “It was only a banana and water. So we tried to specialize in having conversations.”
Yasir Abunamous, for example, a graduate student in medical school and former president of Project Downown, has been a part of the organization for five years and has developed relationships with several homeless people.
When members of Project Downtown like Abunamous talk to the homeless people, they exchange information about their lives and talk about current events, like sports in the Tampa area.
The 2011 Homeless Coalition of Hillsborough County’s Homeless Count Survey reports about 17,755 men, women and children are homeless in Hillsborough County on any given night.
Because of this, Abunamous said people need to act more to help others in our society, even if it is just talking.
“Instead of wasting your time on a Friday night, do something valuable,” he said.
At another feeding site in front of the Aids Memorial Park off Bayshore Blvd., one homeless man, out of about 50 who were there in line waiting for food, lost his job seven years ago after his boss committed suicide because he lost his private company. Tumbleweed, the man’s nickname, has been unemployed and homeless ever since.
As the sun was beginning to go down, the 40-year-old ex-carpenter said he has spent his time traveling 48 states of the US by skateboarding, hiking and walking.
“I’m going to die with a backpack and a skateboard under my feet,” he said.
Tumbleweed has stayed in Tampa for the past nine months and said it’s the easiest city he has lived in because of all the people who donate food and clothes to him.
Keila Lopez, a freshman majoring in biomedical sciences, attended Project Downtown for the second time because her first experience was enlightening, she said.
Lopez said she wants to continue being involved with Project Downtown since she likes that, they are making a difference in the community of Tampa and are helping people who desperately need love and compassion.
“A lot of people have stereotypes of the homeless being drug addicts, (whom) some are, but a lot of (the homeless) are actually struggling to survive because of lack of employment,” she said.
Lopez has met several homeless people whose stories have touched her and looks forward to attending Project Downtown next week to meet even more people.