Julianne Goins

Julianne is a senior at the University of South Florida majoring in mass communications (magazine journalism) and international studies. She specializes in social media, travel writing, professional writing and strategic communications.
Julianne Goins has written 7 posts for The Digital Bullpen

5 things you don’t know about the SG presidential slates: Omar Rodriguez and C.J. Abeleda

Student Government is hosting its annual student body election this week and voting will run through March 1. The Digital Bullpen caught up with presidential candidate Omar Rodriguez and his running mate, vice presidential candidate C.J. Abeleda, to learn more about their Run with the Herd campaign and who they are outside of the political arena.

Here are the top five things you probably don’t know about Rodriguez and Abeleda (with a bonus five thrown in for democracy):

Omar Rodriguez, left, and Cj Abeleda. Photo credit: Max Lora

1. Both Rodriguez and Abeleda are presidents of multicultural fraternities. Those fraternities just happen to be rivals. After some bad altercations between the two organizations, Rodriguez and Abeleda wanted to change the way the two groups interacted. Thanks to the hard work of the two presidents, the fraternities have learned to put the past behind them as they work together to build more positive relations.

2. Although Rodriguez recently began pursuing a law career, he originally planned on becoming a history professor. One of his favorite pastimes was spending his lunch period with his history professors.

3. Abeleda graduated from the International Baccalaureate Program at his high school. Throughout his childhood, his parents stressed the importance of getting a strong education. He was a self-proclaimed “nerdy jock.”

4. Both Rodriguez and Abeleda have backgrounds in governing their peers. Rodriguez is currently a student government senator for the College of Arts and Sciences. Abeleda was the vice president of the student body at his high school.

5. Rodriguez was raised in Frostproof, FL, which is a region largely controlled by J.D. Alexander. Although his parents work for organizations led by Alexander, Rodriguez has personally written him to express his disdain for the senator’s representation of the area.

6. Abeleda plans on becoming a sports psychologist in order to help athletes become well-rounded role models for admiring youth.

7. Rodriguez is the visionary leader who dreams big and sets the high-level goals. Abeleda is the one who stays grounded and practical, nailing out the details and deadlines.

8. Both candidates originally thought twice about joining a fraternity. However, both gladly explain how the experience has provided them with solid values and supportive brotherhoods that allow them to be strong leaders on important issues.

9. Rodriguez was born in Mexico and moved to the United States when he was four years old. Abeleda’s parents married and moved to the United States from the Philippines before he was born. Both candidates learned the power of hard work and dedication by watching their families work to reestablish themselves in their new opportunities.

10. Both Rodriguez and Abeleda came to USF specifically because they saw a chance to leave a real impact on the growing university. They both strive to make the university experience a lasting one for the student body as a whole.

USF connects campus with social media

As Facebook shows off its worth with its recent IPO offering, this recently popular infographic explores the added value of colleges and universities using social media in education. We at the Digital Bullpen wonder: Has USF fully embraced the world of social networking?

USF’s official social media presence, managed by the University Communications and Marketing division, currently stretches across six platforms: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, LinkedIn and Tumblr.

So far, Facebook is the most widely used platform on campus. USF’s main Facebook page has a large following with more than 69,500 fans, compared to Florida State University’s more than 66,000 fans and University of Florida’s almost 382,000 fans.

In addition to the main page, almost 100 official active Facebook pages are affiliated with USF. Some of the more popular USF Facebook pages include USF Athletics with over 27,000 fans, USF Tampa Bookstore with 7,600 fans and USF Marshall Student Center with more than 6,500 fans. The pages with the most fans tend to be the most interactive, using diverse content that engages both students and other departmental pages.

While the study for the infographic shows that only 84 percent of colleges and universities use Twitter as a means of communication, USF currently has more than 60 affiliated Twitter pages. Yet, USF’s main twitter account, @USFNEWS, has only 5,800 followers compared to the University of Florida’s more than 22,700 followers.

Twitter has recently started to play an interesting part in the learning process at USF. Some professors now strongly encourage students to start their own Twitter accounts, while other professors go so far as to use Twitter for a means of student participation in larger classes: setting up a live, on-screen Twitter feed in the front of the room and encouraging students to tweet their opinions in class to a designated #hashtag.

USF also recently integrated Foursquare into the mix, using the platform as the base for the first USF Social Media Scavenger Hunt, hosted during homecoming week of fall 2011.

In order to maintain standards for the vast number of pages affiliated with the university, University Communication and Marketing provides social media guidelines that set expectations for departments and organizations on campus that wish to start their own official pages. These guidelines are laid out more specifically for Facebook and Twitter, describing appropriate page names, hashtag use, number of posts per day, diversity in content and conversation tone.

While USF may not be breaking social networking records yet, our herd does seem to be progressing as it transitions into the digital age of social media.

Local Businesses Upping Use of Social Networking

TAMPA- Local businesses from bars to bookstores are tapping into the overwhelming popularity of social networking as sites continue to make it easier for businesses to close the gap between the company and the customer.

“It makes sense,” said Durke Schmidt, bartender and manager of The Bricks of Ybor, a popular restaurant in the area. “Everybody checks social networking sites every day. People go home, feed their dogs and check their Facebook or their Twitter. If you can advertise to that, it’s priceless.”

While Facebook overhauled its “business pages,” or fan pages for businesses, in 2009, it continues to regularly add new features that enhance the interactions between those businesses and the customers they hope to attract.

VJ Kidd Leow at World of Beer Photo by J Goins

Locally based promoter and video jockey Kidd Leow, with national syndication on 17 stations across the country and over 14,000 followers on his Facebook page, relies heavily on social networking to reach his fan base.

“Social networking is where it’s at,” said Leow. “With the technology we have today, it gives businesses so many different platforms to reach people through. Right now you can have video followers with Tout and Youtube, you can have people who follow your life in pictures on Instagram, and you have people following where you’re at in person with Facebook and Foursquare and then sites like Facebook and Twitter bring it all together.”

Some companies prefer to call in professionals to navigate the world of social networking. John Bird, general manager of World of Beer in Carrollwood, hired Leow to do promotions for Thursday nights as well as to oversee the social networking for the bar. The team uses Facebook’s “check-in” feature to its advantage.

“When our customers ‘check in’ on Thursday nights via Facebook or Foursquare we give them a free four ounce beer shot,” said Bird. “People come in and get a free beer shot, but people aren’t going to just take a four ounce shot of beer and leave. And when they ‘check in’ here it shows up on the news feed of their hundreds of friends. So, we do give something out for free, but it gets people in and gets our name out. It’s a win-win situation.”

In recent weeks, Facebook has also made it easier for companies to harness the power of the “check in” feature by creating an easier process. This new process, along with another “check in” type application called Foursquare, allows customers to check in and instantaneously receive coupons for the business at which they “checked in.” The Facebook Deals feature and the Foursquare application also give businesses the option to extend the offer to customers only after they have “checked in” a certain number of times. Facebook and Foursquare keep track of the “check in” count, while companies promote the deal to their customers.

Mema's Alaskan Tacos advertising their "check in" deal Photo by J Goins

“If you check in at Mema’s five times, you get a free taco,” said Marilyn Arada, cashier at Mema’s Alaskan Tacos in Ybor. “It’s great because people want to check in anyways because it shows your friends where you’re at. And if you’re not someone who does it regularly, you might think about doing it if you get a cool offer.”

While local small businesses are using social networking to make a name for themselves, larger well-known corporations with locations in the area are focusing on the features for different reasons. “People are going to go somewhere that they can get something for free, especially the way things are in the economy these days,” said Loni Acks, manager of a Chili’s Restaurant, where “check ins” with four or more people receive free chips and salsa. “It entices people to come out. Right now, people are going to go where the deals are.”

Facebook first created the “check in” feature through the establishment of Facebook Places in 2010. As the feature grew in popularity it made massive advancements in the push to get businesses online. When anyone using Facebook “checked in” to a location for the first time they were required to give a name and description of the business at which they were “checking in.” This “check in” information was then used to link the geographic location to a new Facebook page for that company or place.

While many online communities such as Citysearch and Yelp have attempted to get an overall, nationwide online listing of all established businesses, none have had the power behind them that Facebook followers hold. Some companies are joining the Facebook movement only to maintain control over the information published about them online.

“There was a Crush Tan ‘check in’ site on Facebook with just our name, phone number and a map on it,” said Anthony Portelli, employee at Crush Tan Spa in Carrollwood. “It has 38 ‘check ins’ from our customers. Now that we know how to access it, we’re definitely going to use it to our advantage. It’s free advertising.”

For companies that have successfully harnessed the power of social networking, the resource is a gem.

“I’ve had people from other local bars say that they saw us ‘trending’ online so they came down to check us out,” said Bird. “And these are girls that are getting free drinks at the other places, but they’re coming here and paying for drinks because they see online how active we are and how many people are hanging out here at night. We just seem like the place to be.”

“Social networking is critical in that people see it every day, it’s free as heck and you’re only limited by your imagination,” said Schmidt. “If you’re posting pictures and specials and communicating with your customers it looks to the outside like we’re constantly evolving, we’ve always got something going on and we’re not stagnant. It’s not even that sophisticated so I don’t understand why every business isn’t doing it yet. It’s the best advertising ever.”

First USF Farmer’s Market proves hard to find

Those seeking the University of South Florida’s first ever farmer’s market on Tuesday last week were on a fruitless search.

Fliers and school-wide emails promoting the market led shoppers to the grassy field at Crescent Hill by the Marshall Student Center.  But, upon arrival produce hunters were greeted with a downed sign with the message “Moved 2 near BK/Cooper” painted over the name of the original location.

Those who trekked across campus were pleased once they found the market as steady crowds meandered through the vendors and talked with the local farmers about their products.

“Our worry about the locations available on campus is that students wouldn’t want to have to carry around the things they bought,” said market organizer Robin Mansour.  “We picked Crescent Hill first because it’s so close to everything, but it’s also a very scenic spot and not very market friendly so we moved here [to the walkway near Cooper Hall].  We’re discussing doing it once here and once at the Marshall Center because some students tend to spend their days here and some students spend them around there, so with both we would reach a diverse student population.”

Mansour, founder of the Farm Group on campus, helped create the farmer’s market in order to give students a place to buy fresh, locally grown foods that are otherwise difficult to find in the area.  Products for sale included a variety of fruits and vegetables and locally bottled and freshly packed foods.

“We’re trying to do the market biweekly, but the demand today was so great it might end up being weekly,” said Mansour.  “The farmers really benefited and so did the students.  We’re hoping to work out all of the details over the summer and start back up strong in the fall.”

Marshall Center prepares to act as study center for finals week

University of South Florida’s Marshall Student Center is transforming into the Marshall Study Center for students who need a motivated, focused space during finals week.

“80% of the rooms in the center will go offline starting on Thursday the 28th,” said Joe Synovec, director of the Marshall Student Center.  “Some of the rooms will be used for professors to do review sessions and some will be used for tutors to help students after the review sessions.  Some will be group study rooms and quiet study rooms, and we’ll also have spaces set up for Campus Rec to hold yoga and zumba classes for students who need to take a break and de-stress.”

The Study Center takeover of the Marshall Center will begin Thursday April 28 and last through Thursday May 5, with extended hours from 7 a.m. to 3 a.m. each day.  Dining hours will be extended to keep Subway and Moe’s open until 9 p.m. and Jamba Juice open until midnight.  Coffee and snacks will be provided each day.

The Study Center currently has 22 review sessions scheduled, including those for chemistry, finance, statistics, physics, accounting and sign language, and expects to add more to the list.

“The information desk will have a roster available for students that says which rooms are for groups, which rooms are quiet and where the review sessions are so students know where to go,” said Synovec.  A review session schedule will also be posted on the Marshall Student Center website.

The Study Center was first created for finals week in Spring 2010 and has grown from four days to over a week in order to include study time for classes with early finals.  Organizers hope that the added features, from the free snacks to the yoga classes, will help ease the strain on students.

“Finals are so important and such a stressful time,” Synovec said.  “Anything we can do to help our students out, we figure, why not?”

For more information on details and schedules at the Marshall Study Center visit

Centre Gallery hosted NCECA National Student Juried Exhibition

The University of South Florida hosted the opening reception for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts’ second annual National Student Juried Exhibition on April 1.  The exhibit was a joint effort by the Marshall Student Center’s Centre Gallery and the William and Nancy Oliver Gallery, with works showing from March 21 through April 2.

Photo Credit: University of South Florida This student's vase is one of hundreds of ceramic pieces on display around USF's campus.

The exhibit was one installment of a larger campaign called “Tidal Forces; The Next Wave.”  This art compilation includes multiple exhibits around campus, each focusing on ceramic works.

The juried exhibition offered 40 works of art chosen from 339 entries from 148 schools around the country.  The NCECA exhibit hopes to inspire and expand thoughts on ceramic arts.

“Exhibits usually get a two week time frame,” said Centre Gallery representative, Katia Setti.  “But, since this is such a large presentation it’s going to stay around a little longer.”

The Centre Gallery and William and Nancy Oliver Gallery exhibits are free and open to students and the general public Monday through Friday from 10 a. m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“I knew we had an art here, but I hadn’t actually gone in before,” said Chris Scott, junior criminology major.  “But, I saw the new art [work] in the window and it caught my eye, so I thought I’d check it out.  Some of what they have now is just really cool.”

The USF School of Art and Art History provides a map and guide in the Centre Gallery for all of the exhibits around campus.  One final showcased exhibition will remain open until May 7.

Save Japan Now joins USF Bull Market

University of South Florida’s Bull Market added a new table on Wednesday for the on-campus fundraising group Save Japan Now.

“This is the first time we’ve set up out here,” said group founder, Francis Miraj, recent USF graduate from the international studies program.  “A lot of people have been donating today.  We’ve had a great turnout and everyone has donated at least five dollars.  One person even wrote a check out for $100 and another gave $60 in cash.”

Students rally in support of relief efforts for Japan post-earthquake. Photo courtesy of

Save Japan Now raises funds through sponsorships and T-shirt sales.

“All of the shirts from the first order have already sold out,” said Miraj.  “A lot of people are interested, so I put in an order for more.  Right now we’re taking orders and payments and when the shirts come in they can be picked up.”

Crowds formed  as  students stopped at the table to donate, inquire about shirts or talk with other students about the devastation in Japan.

“I think it’s great what they’re doing,” said sophomore education major Jackie White.  “When everything happened [in Japan] it was so awful.  I wanted to help somehow, but I never would have known how to put something like this together.  It’s really impressive.”

The Bull Market event is every Wednesday along the south exit of the Marshall Student Center. If students aren’t able to visit the market, other opportunities to buy shirts or make donations are available.

“We have the website at, and we will also have tables set up at the USF baseball games and soccer games,” said international studies major Tomoyuki Iwai, an incoming exchange student from Japan and head of exchange student relations for Save Japan Now.

“We’ll also be back out at the Bull Market every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. until April 30,” said Miraj.

All proceeds go to the Japanese Red Cross to help aid in the recovery from the March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

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