University of South Florida

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Arbor Day festivities sprout all over campus

The Arbor Day Foundation planted nearly 300 trees Friday throughout the USF Tampa Bay campus in celebration of Arbor Day. In total, Live Oak Trees and Huntsmen Tree Supplier donated more than 1,000 for the celebration with help from donations and fundraising from the student organization Net Impact. A dedication ceremony also took place at the Patel Center for Global Solutions this afternoon, at which USF was recognized as National Tree Campus USA. (PHOTO: Nicholas Trobiano/The Digital Bullpen)

Students recognized during National Student Employment Week

USF employs nearly 3,500 students every semester and this week these students are being recognized.

Monday marked the first day of National Student Employment Week, a national event to celebrate the importance and success of student employee programs.

“Student employment on campus is a great way for students to connect to campus,” said Ashley Motley, a career counselor at the USF Career Center.

Career Peers from the USF Career Center mentor other student employees. PHOTO: USF Career Center

With 12.4 percent of student employees, Campus Recreation employs the largest number of students at USF. Housing and Residential Education and Intercollegiate Athletics are second and third with 7.4 percent and 6.1 percent respectively.

“The initiative is called Student Employment at USF, and it came out of the Student Success task force,” said Cynthia Bacheller, Student Success recruiter for USF Human Resources. “Based on the research student employment is connected positively towards student success.”

Bacheller said students who work on campus for 20 hours a week or less are also more likely to graduate on time than students who don’t work.

“[USF] gets the opportunity to have student employees that are more connected and understand the university better versus and outside employee that would have to learn the culture of USF,” Bacheller said.

President Genshaft sent emails to all student employees on Monday thanking them for their efforts and commitment to the university.

“I know balancing both work and academic responsibilities is challenging and requires a great amount of determination, time management and discipline,” Genshaft said. “We commend you for your choice to make work a part of your academic success.”

Senior telecommunications major Dani Barta has worked for University Communications and Marketing for seven months.

“Working in this office has really broadened my scope because working with students in class, you fall into the same patterns,” Barta said. “Being in the office with professionals who do what I do every day and have been doing it for years is totally different.”

In addition to the mentoring students receive from their superiors, Bacheller said peer-to-peer relationships impact student success tremendously.

“If you have students working at a front desk or working in a peer leadership role, sometimes your other students are going to respond more to that because they feel the student has a better understanding,” she said.

Motley agreed.

“Students respond more positively when they are getting feedback from their peers because they are both at the phase of life,” Motley said. ”Our Career Peers are able to talk to students in their language that students understand.”

Friday the Career Center will host the Have Your Cake and Career, Too! Workshop to teach current student employees how to use the skills they learned on the job and apply them to their future jobs.

“It’s about taking responsibility for developing your own transferable skills through conversations with your current supervisors to ask for more and owning your own experience,” Motley said.

Smoking ban? No biggie

Two women in their twenties puffed long Black Lucky Strike cigarettes beneath some trees on the business administration building lawn. Their books and empty Starbucks cups pilled on a bench just outside a designated smoking area on the USF Tampa Bay campus.

On March 20, officials at the campus implemented the “Change is in the Air” initiative to restrict areas where students and faculty can light up. And so far, it seems that restrictions have made little impact on smokers’ regular schedules.

Sunny, who refused to give her full name, is a second year graduate student studying finance, who stood in the shade wearing jeans and a polo shirt and tight ponytail of light brown hair.

“I think it’s fine,” Sunny said, as she flicked ash from her cigarette butt into the leafy grass. “I know I’m not doing a favor to my lungs, so I might as well not do harm to others.”

She said she doesn’t smoke habitually – just to relieve stress.

“I’m not really a hard core smoker,” Sunny said. “I smoke maybe once in two or three days or when I’m feeling stress or have an exam. But I’m sure someone who smokes all the time or who is a habitual smoker and needs to smoke, I think it is inconvenient for them to go find a place to smoke.”

Sunny said most of her friends who smoke only travel to campus for classes, so they don’t spend enough time on campus to need a smoke break.

“[The ban] is more for people who smoke habitually or who don’t smoke at all,” Sunny said. “I have a few friends in the health sciences, and they really care if you smoke around them because of their major. They would obviously have concerns about it, but we don’t smoke that often.”

Sunny’s friend, another finance graduate student who wore thick eyeliner and a nose ring—declined to reveal her name—but she agreed with the sentiments.

“I’m not a regular smoker so I only smoke as a stress release or if someone else is smoking,” said the female student. “I smoke maybe once every two weeks or three weeks.”

“But you caught us on an exam day,” the woman joked.

The Tampa campus currently has 24 designated smoking areas with signs and cigarette butt receptacles.

To find out more information about the clean air initiative or to find these locations, view the press release and map from

USF has a snowboarding club?

Corey Hayes and David Davis in Calgary, Alberta. Photo Credit: Joey Harrison.

The University of South Florida is now playing host to a new, and rather unlikely, club: the Bulls Ski and Snowboard club.

“I’ve been wanting to put this together for a while now,” said David Davis, a senior majoring in electrical engineering and founder of the club. Even though Davis lives in Florida, he started skiing at the age of nine and has been active in the sport for 15 years.

Students searching for the club on Blackboard will run into one little hitch. It is technically a special interest group, not a sports club. According to Davis, club sports are strongly encouraged to have insurance coverage for all members. That and a few other requirements seemed impractical with a snow sport in the Sunshine State.

The main objective of the club is not only to get people together with similar interest in snow sports, but also to coordinate a weekend trip up north to officially participate. With enough members, the group intends to plan a road trip and split costs in gas while also getting a group rate on gear and hotel rooms and a package deal on lift tickets. The destination: North Carolina.

As a special interest group, the club can hold fundraisers to help pay for the trip and possibly be reimbursed by the University for some of the costs. Davis said he regrets not starting the group sooner and applying for school funding.

“It takes about 14 weeks to get school funding,” he explained, and by the time it goes through the season will be over.

Davis is also planning a personal trip to Canada.

“I’m going to Calgary and anybody’s welcome to come with me,” he said. “I’ve got a place to stay, so you’ve just got to pay for your flight. It’s going to be a $1,200 trip so it’s hard to get interest in it, but it’s going to be fun.”

Even though the Ski and Snowboard club was just activated January 15,  it already has 24 members and the requests to join are surprisingly steady.

“I get about two or three Blackboard requests a week, or students will just email me,” said Davis.

The groups first meeting will be held at 2 p.m. Feb. 24 in the Marshall Center, Room 3708. An official website is currently in the works so a Facebook fan page is being used to inform members about future meetings.

If you are interested in joining, or if you have any questions about the Bulls Ski and Snowboard club, Davis can be reached at .

How athletics’ management handles sponsors

Verizon, Kane’s Furniture, Subway, Chick-fil-A. Go to a University of South Florida football game at Raymond James Stadium and the names of these companies will be frequently seen or heard by attendees throughout the game.

These names are among the many corporate sponsors that USF Athletics partners with as a way to not only get money for the department, but also expand the brands of those sponsors in the Tampa Bay area.

USF Athletics doesn’t scout for sponsors on its own, though. Like many other university athletic departments, they hire a third-party company to manage the process.

IMG Worldwide is a national company responsible for the management and promotion of USF as well as other collegiate athletic departments such as the University of Florida, Syracuse University and the University of Cincinnati.

According to Jason Capel, general manager of the USF/IMG sports network, IMG owns the right to promote USF to potential sponsors on a local and national level.

“IMG owns the rights here at USF, so our purpose is to cover our investment and make money because we’re a sales company,” he said. “The more money we bring in, the more money USF Athletics gets. It goes hand in hand.”

Although USF is still in the process of creating their contract with IMG, a previous contract obtained by The Digital Bullpen outlines the rights a sports management company has when marketing USF Athletics.

The previous contract allows for a management company to have worldwide license to “market, manage, and sell [USF’s] multimedia and sponsorship rights.” Such rights include official websites, radio and certain television play-by-plays, promotional materials, radio coaches’ shows and television coaches’ shows.

Based on the previous contract, USF was paid a flat fee by the management company as a form of consideration for granting the company multimedia and sponsorship rights. In addition to this fee, the university received 50 percent of the gross cash revenue obtained from sponsorships during each contract year. These dollar amounts increase each year as defined in the contract.

For the 2007-2008 contract year, USF received the guaranteed fee of $1,276,000 with an increase of $100,000 each year.

By using a private, third-party company like IMG, universities and other sports organizations do not have to worry about sponsorship contracts being made public record.

“A lot of it is the clients don’t want dollar amounts to get out there because it’s not really for public knowledge,” said Capel. “You know, how much Company XYZ is investing with USF or with any other team that we operate.”

Having IMG manage USF Athletics also prevents the university from being limited to regional sponsors and allows them to reach out to national companies like Verizon, said Jeannette Mena, assistant professor of marketing at USF.

“They know how the handle these contracts, they have the relationships to get the networking done,” she said.

In order to get sponsors for the athletic department, management companies conduct research to determine which sponsorships would best benefit the university as well as having staff members reach out to businesses to “preach the word of USF,” said Capel.

To maintain those sponsorships, management contracts may include stipulations where the university has to provide a certain amount of tickets to different sporting events.

In USF’s previous contract, the university had to regularly provide, at no additional cost, 350 season tickets to football games, 500 individual tickets to football games over the course of a season, 50 season parking passes to football games, 250 men’s basketball season tickets and 50 men’s basketball parking passes.

They also have the ability to purchase tickets to any bowl or tournament games USF teams participate in, with at least 50 percent of those tickets being in VIP seating areas.

Such a stipulation prompts sponsors to see their investment in action.

“It’s for them to see what they’re investing in, for them to entertain their clients and grow their businesses,” said Capel. “Everything we do is to grow people’s businesses through college sports and tickets are just another way for them to say thank you to their clients.”

As seen in USF’s previous contract, the management company also assists with representing USF when naming any future athletic facilities, attempting to get a Spanish-language broadcast for football games, and attempting to get non-conference football and basketball games broadcast on ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU.

Management companies also provide the university with stipends to print promotional material for athletic events.

The Digital Bullpen previously found a New York Times article from last year regarding IMG’s chairman, Ted Forstmann, and his involvement in a lawsuit after gambling on college football and the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

When asked as to whether USF was concerned about using a company involved in such an issue, Capel said the university was not concerned as the lawsuit had been dealt with.

“That I really can’t comment on and nor would I because I don’t know much about it,” he said.

AUDIO: Wynne, Women’s Basketball battles back to defeat Seton Hall


Jasmine Wynne posted a game-high 19 points as the Bulls dropped the Pirates, 57-45.The Bulls trailed throughout the first half, in which they shot just 20 percent from the floor. Wynne’s 14 second-half points helped USF improve to 4-3 in the Big East Conference. Click here to hear the audio story:

With fall coming to a close students are hoping to add a new workout routine to their schedule

Photo by: Atecia Robinson

Chelsea Brady, a senior at the University of South Florida in Tampa and non-degree seeking student, Kyle Stoper, are planning on adding a new work-out routine to their schedule.

Brady started working out a few weeks ago in the newly renovated recreation center that added 70 pieces of cardio equipment. The size of the center was also increased from 7,000 square feet to 21,000 square feet.

“I used to pay for a gym membership at my YMCA. The old one wasn’t the best. Now I have everything I need so I canceled my old one,” said Stoper.

USF graduate paints her battle with Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Overcoming Hodgkin’s lymphoma in the past two years has not only tested University of South Florida MFA graduate student Megan Hildebrandt’s inner strength, determination and endurance, but it also dramatically changed the course of her artwork.

After spending the summer of 2009 going through intense night sweats, a constant sore throat and massive swelling on her neck, Hildebrandt found out she had Hodgkin’s lymphoma in her first month of graduate school at USF.

Hodgkin’s lymphoma is a form of cancer usually found in organs that clean the blood and fight against infection, such as the lymph nodes, liver and spleen.

From September 2009, Hildebrandt underwent six months of chemotherapy at the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center, but she stayed firm on pursuing her higher education and artwork like nothing had changed.

“For me to move back home to Michigan [to] lay on my parents couch would have been the worst thing possible,” Hildebrandt said. “I had to keep busy. I had gotten into grad school with a good fellowship, and I wasn’t going to give it up.”

Prior to her cancer diagnosis, Hildebrandt focused mostly on the various communities that she lived in and explored them through performance art.

“My work was really different,” Hildebrandt said. “It was still involving labor and repetition and my body, but it was in a really different way.”

Every Saturday morning for one, eight-month performance project, Hildebrandt scrubbed and washed the front entrance steps of many Baltimore homes dressed in a traditional blue maid outfit and light-brown boots. Cleaning the front marble steps was something mothers and their children did every Saturday on a regular basis during the 1930s, ’40s and ’50s in Baltimore, so Hildebrandt attempted to resurrect this tradition and reconnect people on a personal and cultural level.

This performance project, like many others, was documented with a comprehensive photograph collection and even video. But at the outset of chemotherapy, Hildebrandt’s artwork took a different turn.

“I think getting cancer at 25 is not the norm,” said Sarah Kelly, a fellow MFA graduate student and close friend to Hildebrandt. “I think [her art] was a way to speak to a community whether you had cancer or not, like struggles that we all face as human beings. She does it with great dignity, poignancy and humor.”

She began to draw and paint pictures and portraits of her neighbors, new plants and animals around her, and sinkhole victims afflicted by the destruction of their homes and properties. Hildebrandt said there was a parallel between a sinkhole victim’s plight and her cancer diagnosis.

Camel swallowed by a sinkhole - by Megan Hildebrandt

A portrait of a woman crying because of a sinkhole-related loss — by Megan Hildebrandt

“The idea of the ground disappearing from under you and your house being gone is just as brutal as a cancer diagnosis,” she said.

When Hildebrandt finished her cancer treatments, she started to make a lot of pencil sketches that resembled comic book art. At this point, Hildebrandt’s artwork chronicled everything that she physically felt or was going through moment by moment fighting the disease, such as the major swelling on her neck.

Pencil sketch of neck swelling — by Megan Hildebrandt

From her depictions of her fight, Hildebrandt transitioned to painting figurative images of her emotions including how things actually felt during treatment.

For instance, when Hildebrandt underwent surgery to remove her chemotherapy port, the medical staff did not use anesthesia. This made the entire procedure extremely painful and upsetting for Hildebrandt who then turned those feelings into art.

Port removal surgery — by Megan Hildebrandt

Hildebrandt also experienced the complete loss of her hair as well as terrible nausea from Doxorubicin, one of the chemotherapy drugs she ingested intravenously.

In the image below, she draws a group of cancer patients swimming in a sea of this red-colored drug and wearing headphones while watching television. Hildebrandt watched a lot of television during her chemotherapy sessions.

Red devil — by Megan Hildebrandt

In chemotherapy, Hildebrandt suffered from short-term memory loss as well and created a figurative painting of this side effect.

Gold glitter and short-term memory loss — by Megan Hildebrandt

“I wasn’t that creature with gold glitter pouring out of my head,” she said. “I wanted to paint the feelings.”

Hildebrandt is working now on a 30-page graphic novel called Tunnel Visions –  a collection of her artwork and writings on her experience with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and general ideas of mortality at a young age. With the help of a grant from Hampton Arts Management, Hildebrandt will author, format and self-publish her book in the near future.

Originally from an affluent suburb of Detroit, Hildebrandt got her BFA from the University of Michigan before coming to USF. She is in her last year of graduate school and also teaches art classes on campus. She aspires to become a professor of art and continue painting and drawing.   

Electronic vs. paper? Voting has its glitches

Electronic voting is a method that is gaining support across some states, but in other states people are worried about the security of the machines.

According to Susan MacManus, political analyst and University of South Florida professor, this type of voting counts a vote and sends the ballot over the Internet.

“Electronic voting makes the whole process more convenient,” MacManus said.

According to, 25 percent of states have switched completely to electronic voting systems.

MacManus explained that electronic voting has increased voter turnout in nations that allow this method.

“Now people with handicaps and people who can’t make it to the polls can vote via e-mail from their own house,” MacManus said.

Brian Corley, supervisor of elections in Pasco County, personally worked with the electronic system prior to 2007 when Florida switched methods.

According to Corley, in 2007 Florida switched from the electronic voting method to a paper ballot method with optical scanning equipment.

“The electronic machines made the voting more simple for the everyday person,” Corley said.

According to Corley, residents were concerned about the accuracy of this new method and some believed that the machines had major glitches.

“In the 2006 California primary, more than 6,000 votes were missed because of a faulty machine and this really worried people,” Corley said.

According to Corley, the voting machines did not provide any type of backup proof for a candidates vote in case the systems failed.

“Once a person puts the time and effort into voting they want to trust that their vote is going to count and the fact that we can’t provide that security draws a negative response,” Corley said.

MacManus argued that people have nothing to worry about with the electronic voting machines because the Help America Vote Act requires that professional technicians ensure that all systems meet high capability standards.

“All of the machines are thoroughly inspected before any election to ensure that there are no problems,” MacManus said.

Heart condition inspires student’s participation in Dance Marathon

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.

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