Nicholas Trobiano

Nicholas Trobiano is a magazine journalism major at the University of South Florida and freelance designer and photographer. He works as a a style intern for Creative Loafing Tampa and a graphic design intern for USF's Communications and Marketing department, where he most recently helped coordinate the NBC 2012 Republic Presidential Candidates Debate in Janurary 2012. He previously served as the graphic arts manager, entertainment editor, and assistant montage editor of USF’s student newspaper, “The Oracle,” as well as a news intern for WUSF Public Media. In 2011, he received a scholarship for his studies at the University of South Florida from the School of Mass Communications and the School's Garner Rose O'Brien Halderman Scholarship providers. When he is out of the office, he enjoys running, cooking, tweeting, and a great bottle of wine with friends. He currently resides in Tampa, Florida.
Nicholas Trobiano has written 9 posts for The Digital Bullpen

Gossip and movies consume desk clerks’ work lives

Yellow light from the fluorescent bulbs glows hazily through the glass doors of the Holly M building, warming the chilly February air of the USF Tampa campus. A security guard strolls the sidewalk a few hundred feet from me. Campus is silent.

It’s 12:02 a.m.

Melanie Wiesen smiles widely as the door of Holly M swings open. Beside her, her colleague Josh Mallory sits in a rolling computer chair.

This night, the duo works from 12 a.m. to 6 a.m. at the Holly M desk, which oversees the campus housing north of Holly Drive.

Desk clerks work for the Housing & Residential Education, a division of USF Student Affairs. They issue temporary room keys and swipe cards to residents who get locked out of their rooms.

Although the job is very different from resident assistant positions, Wiesen explained that desk clerks are required to attend the same training programs and learn the same protocol for dealing with everything from security threats to students who are drunk and unable to walk.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” she said. “In an emergency, we’re the ones with all the keys to residence halls. If someone with a gun wants to get into one of the halls, they’re coming to our office first.”

On the other hand, she said, the drunk residents can be quite entertaining.

“It’s tinged with sadness,” Wiesen said. “They walk in, and because it’s a small space, you can smell it. You can just smell the alcohol in the air.”

During the second shift she worked as a desk clerk, a freshman resident came into the lobby of Juniper-Poplar Hall supported by two of his buddies who soon left him inebriated and passed out on the floor near the vending machines.

After calling resident assistants and superiors, EMS arrived to take the underage resident to the emergency room for severe alcohol poisoning.

“Then the next weekend, I see this drunk guy who looks familiar stumbling into ‘JP’,” Wiesen says. “And it was the same guy that almost died. It was crazy.”

Most of the time, Wiesen prefers to work the late shift. She says it’s much quieter than day shifts, which are often slammed with residents coming in to the office in need of assistance.

She says the hardest part about the job is coordinating her social life and class schedule around work.

She says a lot of the people who work as desk clerks and employees of Housing & Residential Education are close friends out of the office. In fact, she helped Mallory get his job.

The two first met on the third day of classes their freshman year.

“I used to work overnight at Cracker Barrel on Bruce B. Downs cleaning and making grits, and I hated it,” Mallory says. “I got so fast at getting everything done that I would just line up chairs and go to sleep until my shift was over.”

He applied for the position during a period when only three new clerks would be hired and didn’t get the job. But one night four months ago when the desk was short a clerk, Mallory got a call from Wiesen, asking him to fill in.

Mallory says that although he gets paid minimum wage as a clerk and can no longer sleep on the job, he’s much happier.

“Most of the time we gossip for about the first three hours of our shift and then spend the rest of it watching a long movie or something,” Mallory says.

A few hours into the shift, the first student comes into the office in need of a temporary swipe card. But after she leaves, campus remains silent.

“This is how it usually is,” Mallory says after she left.

And with that, he clicks the mouse on the computer. Tonight, they watch “UP.”

5 things you don’t know about the SG presidential slates: Alan Ethington and Nicholas Piracci

Alan Ethington and Nicholas Piracci.

The only candidates in bow ties and top hats, Alan Ethington and Nicholas Piracci are ready to change the USF Tampa campus and want to do it in style. Inspired by Abraham Lincoln’s birthday, the two juniors hope to win the USF Student Government presidential election by lowering the stress level of going to college.

Here are the top five things you need to know about Ethington and Piracci:

1. Neither Ethington nor Piracci are political science majors nor are they members of SG. Ethington majors in economics, and Piracci studies biology. Despite their lack of experience in USF politics, Ethington said he doesn’t think the two are unprepared.

“Every job, as soon as you get there, the first thing they do is train you how to do your job,” Ethington said. “It’s not like you have to be a political science major, and you should be in Student Government for three years to be the perfect candidate.

Ethington added that he and Piracci understand politics.

“Both of us are very active in actual politics going on, such as following Ron Paul and the other candidates in the GOP debate,” Ethington said.

2. Ethington started saving money to fund his campaign since his freshman year of college.

“Ever since I discovered the power that the president has, and the power he has to help out and influence the student body and the board of trustees,” Ethington said, “ever since I found out all that information and did some more research on it and knew it was something I wanted to do, I’ve been saving roughly about $25 a week for the past two and a half years.”

3. The running mates hope to reduce the number of Gold Zone (GZ) parking spaces around the Tampa campus. They say the spaces are very undersold this year, and the empty spaces should go to students rather than remain vacant. They propose to convert many of those spaces to Student (S) spaces if elected. They explain their proposal in further detail in a video on their website.

4. In addition to classes, Piracci volunteers at the Moffitt Cancer Center.

“I work at the information desk,” Piracci said. “Basically, I’m a greeter so everyone who comes in, I let them know where they’re going and what they have to do. I print out schedules and also take people where they need to go if they need assistance.”

5. Ethington and Piracci have worn bow ties, suits and top hats on campus every day since Feb. 13, the first day of campaigning.

“I don’t wear the top hat during class; I take the top hat off,” Ethington said. “I think with just a couple of exposures, people will definitely remember who I am and what I’m trying to work for.”

Visit the Ethington/Piracci website for more information about the running mates.

Working for love, and loving every minute

USF NAACP will host The Cupid’s Shuffle Speed Dating tonight (Feb. 13) at 8:30 p.m. While the organization’s president is excited for the amorous festivities, she won’t be looking for love.

She’ll be looking for new club members.

“We haven’t had much of a presence on campus since I’ve been here,” said President Vanity Shields, who became a member in 2009. “But with me being president, I want to be that annoying organization that every time you turn around you’re wondering, What are they doing?”

The USF NAACP chapter has more than 200 members, however, only about 50 are paid members of the national organization. Because USF Activity and Service fees do not support the organization, the chapter relies on memberships and fundraising to fuel its campus presence.

But the optimistic psychology major has not lost hope.

“At the time when I joined, I became the community service chair, but we really didn’t know what we were doing,” Shields said. “We were relying on other chapters to see what they were doing and feed off them, but they threw us out into the wilderness and had us figure our way out.”

Since becoming president, Shields utilized social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to reach as many followers as possible.

But her main focus as president is to break down social stereotypes and barriers.

“We aren’t just another black organization,” Shields said. “We are a multicultural organization. If you’re any kind of color, we consider you a colored person.”

Bethany Hemmans, a fourth-year business major, joined the NAACP a month ago, despite being a friend of Shields for more than two years.

“I didn’t join because of her,” Hemmans said. “But I saw the involvement she had with the organization and saw the positive impact they were beginning to have and create, and I wanted to be a part of something bigger than myself.”

The Cupid’s Shuffle will be the organization’s third fundraiser since Jan. 1 and seventh event since Feb. 1. While the three-minute dates are free for students and the public, the organization will sell candygrams, flowers and teddy bears in sets for $2-$7 to offset some costs.

Hemmans said she hopes to find love tonight – or at least a “like.”

“I may not find the right guy,” Hemmans joked. “But I’ll find the right guy to spend Valentine’s Day with.”

Shields, however, isn’t worried about her future.

Last week, she was offered a position as second vice president at the college level for the southeast region of the NAACP – a position that would cause her to make weekly trips to Tallahassee but bring her one step closer to her dream job of working full-time for the NAACP.

“So many students take positions for their resume,” Shields said. “But if I can’t devote 110 percent to it, then I’m not going to do it.”

Along for the ride: Super Bowl XLVI ads go viral

UPDATE: Join the USF Ad Club Monday, February 6, 2012 at 6 p.m. as they discuss ”The Best and Worst Super Bowl Ads. (For more details, see the information poster at the bottom of the post.)

Saturday, February 4: Last year, Neilsen Company reported that Super Bowl XLV was the most watched television broadcast in U.S. history. While we won’t know if the record is broken until the 6:30p.m. kickoff tomorrow night, we can be sure that not everyone is tuning in to see the pigskin.

From Seinfeld to Vader, Super Bowl XLVI commercials seem to be getting more buzz than the Giants or the Patriots. It looks like the winning combination comes when you mix cars with a bit of funny.

“[Advertisers] use humor because of the atmosphere that surrounds the Super Bowl,” said Deb Smith, professor of advertising at the University of South Florida. “They don’t want to see a spot about cancer. They’re thinking ‘Entertain me during this time.’”

And when one ad can cost as much $4 million, according to, the ads better deliver.

Below are the Top 5 Viral Super Bowl XLVI commercials as rated by

In “Transactions,” Jerry Seinfeld tries to buy the very first Acura NSX, and, despite his efforts, has some trouble convincing the man with the keys. (He even tries trading the soup man!) The commercial has been viewed 12.5 million times on YouTube.

Matthew Broderick gets his adolescent second wind in this Honda CR-V commercial that could almost be a scene-by-scene reenactment of his 1986 movie “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” The ad, “Matthew’s Day Off,” has gotten almost 11 million YouTube hits since it was posted January 26.

It seems Audi picked up on the vampire trend, but it certainly doesn’t glamorize the night dwellers in its “Vampire Party” spot. Watch what happens when a new Audi S7 rolls up to the party shining its high beams. Over 3.5 million watched this one.

Probably the most anticipated commercial of the year is the second installment in the Volkswagen/ Star Wars saga. In “The Dog Strikes Back,” the German automaker fakes us out by making the entire commercial about a dog. Well, almost the entire commercial. About 3 million played this one.

Rounding out the Top 5 is “Chevy Happy Grad,” which shows what happens when a college grad mistakenly thinks his parents got him a car. Though not as imaginative as the other ads, it’s worth a laugh. More than 1.2 million people checked it out.

For more ads, visit the 2012 USA Today Facebook Super Bowl Ad Meter where you can watch and rate your favorite commercials of the night.

Netflix makes its college mark

Just because college students are strapped for cash does not mean they are giving up on television.

In fact, some of them are even opting out of buying televisions because they watch programming on their computers.

Recent USF graduate Amy Mariani said she is eschewing a television in favor of streaming content online to her computer.

“For the longest time I did not have a TV, and in the process of buying a new one, I held off because I had Netflix,” Mariani said.

According to technology and social media website, Mariani is one of 23.6 million people who subscribe to Netflix. In fact, the California-based company made $60 million during the first quarter of this fiscal year thanks to its instant-watch service that allows customers to stream television shows and movies over the Internet.

The service, which debuted in November 2010, also gives viewers more places to watch since shows can stream to computers, televisions and other smart devices.

Christina Hurley, senior account executive of local media client services for the Nielsen Company, said trading the television for other screens is an increasingly popular trend among 18-49 year olds.

“[Netflix] is out there, people are using it, and it’s taking away from viewing being done on television stations,” Hurley said.

To measure this, Hurley said the Nielsen Company monitors television usage by randomly sampling HUT – Households Using Television.

However despite it’s convenience, Hurley said Netflix’s streaming service is actually hurting many parts of the entertainment industry.

“Right now, any of the viewing or anything that’s being done with Netflix is contributing to non-HUT,” said Hurley. “It’s basically competing against any of the broadcast stations or any of the cable networks on television.”

Peter Howard, director of news and digital media at USF and former news and special projects team leader for said cable channels are suffering the most.

“Netflix has impacted cable subscription services such as HBO, Showtime and Cinemax,” Howard said. “The advancements in technology have made it easy for companies like Netflix to stream right to your computer or your cell phone, and in this economy, that really appeals to consumers who just don’t have the money to buy cable [subscriptions].”

Mariani thinks the ease and convenience of streaming is most enticing.

“With a lot of students working, it lets them watch what they want on their time,” Mariani said. “And there are no commercials, which I love.”

But Hurley said the television networks do not favor the lack of commercials on Netflix because it reduces the price per television advertisement to accommodate for advertisements on other media platforms.

“They’re selling their airtime based on ratings, and it is all based on a cost per point,” Hurley said. “So the client’s are losing revenue because they’re competing with these other sources that are out there to consume television.”

According to the Financial Times, the on demand service now accounts for a third of new Netflix subscriptions – a trend says is growing among subscribers.

In a January 2011 study, the Nielsen Company reported that Netflix users spent 11:08 (hh:mm) watching shows online, beating out competitors like Hulu and YouTube to be the highest Time per Viewer video brand in the study.

Mariani said that while she uses other video streaming Web sites like Hulu and YouTube to look up specific video clips, she prefers Netflix because it offers full seasons of her favorite shows every day.

Mia Shuler, a USF junior majoring in magazine journalism, agrees.

“I use Netflix more often because Hulu tends to take videos [offline] after a while,” Shuler said. “I know that whatever shows I want to watch I can find every single episode [on Netflix] and not worry about the site taking it down.”

Unlike Netflix, Hulu relies on advertising sales to maintain its free online service.

As a result, Hulu earned $260 million last year, while Netflix gained $2.16 billion, according to the WSJ.

The Journal also stated that Hulu CEO Jason Kilar’s concerns about Netflix’s successful ondemand feature caused Hulu to reduce the monthly cost of Hulu Plus, a paid version of Hulu that allows users to watch complete television series on multiple devices.

In January, the New York Times reported three million new subscribers joined Netflix during the last fiscal quarter, raising the total number of users to 20 million.

But Mariani said she is sticking with what she knows.

“If I am just looking to watch ‘South Park’ and just zone out, I am going to find it on Netflix.”

USF College of Pharmacy admits it’s first student(s)

When the Fall 2011 semester begins at the University of South Florida, the USF College of Pharmacy will admit 50 students for the first time into its program.

Mark LaBossiere was the first of these hand-selected students to receive the call of acceptance from the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and Assessment Heather Petrelli, according to the USF College of Pharmacy website.

“I have found that my learning is much better when it’s done in a self-directed style,” LaBossiere said in a news release for USF Health.

According to Sarah Worth, USF Health spokesperson, the College initially chose six students for the program based on their interviews and applications.

The release states that LaBossiere applied to the program through the early application process, prohibiting him from applying to other schools.

Dr. Kevin Sneed, founding dean of the College of Pharmacy, said LaBossiere’s interview and test scores earned him the first seat.

“[LaBossiere’s] interview scores were strong and his inter-personal qualities were stronger still,” Sneed said in the news release. “That combination made him our first.”

The names of the remaining 44 students have not been released.

CAMLS – the future of the USF School of Pharmacy

Months before USF School of Pharmacy students will be able to attend their first classes, ground broke on a new facility in downtown Tampa.

The Center for Advanced Medical Learning and Simulation (CAMLS) is the latest endeavor of USF Health – and an expensive one at that.

According to, the $30 million dollar plan will host medical professionals, residents, and undergraduate and graduate students, including students from the pharmacy program, in a 90,000 square foot building.

“This is going to be where everyone from around the world comes to get trained,” said USF Health CEO Dr. Klasko, MD, MBA at the CAMLS groundbreaking event.

In addition to a 2,000 square foot auditorium for teaching, the facility will include research and skills laboratories and a simulation center that will enable pharmacy students to train with interactive technology.

“CAMLS is proof that USF is the key economic engine for Tampa Bay,” said USF President Judy Genshaft in a press release for USF Health.

The facility is set to open December 2011.

Check out the video below from USF Health for an architectural rendering of the completed building.

USF receives gift from Chinese partnership

Dr. Holbrook and President Genshaft receive a gift presented by Dr. Sneed and Professor Zhou on behalf of the Southern Medical University. Photo credit: USF Health

On Friday, Dr. Kevin Sneed and Professor Shufeng Zhou met with President Judy Genshaft and Dr. Karen Holbrook in the Patel Center for Global Solutions to present a gift to the University of South Florida from their recent trip to China.

The gift, a framed 24-karat gold-plated flower, was given on behalf of the Xiaolan Hospital, an affiliate of the Southern Medical University in Zhongshan, China.

Sneed and Zhou visited the country to sign a partnership deal between the USF School of Pharmacy and the Southern Medical University. The collaboration will allow students from both schools to study medicine, herbal products and health care abroad.

“Right now, China is jumping into the Twenty-first century, and we have to recognize the opportunity that lies for us there,” said Sneed.

In addition to the Southern Medical University, Zhou said USF is partnered with ten medical institutions in China.

“Each hospital can accommodate maybe three to seven [students] every year,” Zhou said. “We can send students, especially pharmacy students, there to our partnerships to practice for usually two to three months, and I’m sure students can benefit from learning [there].”

Pharmacy program to open Fall 2011

Although the university first created the USF Doctor of Pharmacy program in 2007, the USF College of Pharmacy will officially open to medical students starting Fall 2011.

Six students who applied to the school using the early action application process have already been admitted to the school, said Sarah Worth, spokesperson for USF Health Communications.

Dr. Kevin Sneed, founding dean of the college, said one of the main initiatives of the college is to create partnerships around the globe for pharmacy students to learn about other forms of medicine and health care.

“We won’t be starting [classes] until Fall 2011, but eventually we’ll have student exchanges going on over in China, and we’ll bring some of them over here and send some of our faculty over there” said Sneed, who recently returned from the country on behalf of USF.

Currently, the college is unaccredited by the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education (ACPE), but it will be evaluated and considered this year, according to the USF College of Pharmacy website.


Digital Bullpen on FB

Blog Stats

  • 38,414 hits

Our Reporters


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 49 other followers

Powered by