The USF St. Petersburg campus is an urban university that aims to integrate seamlessly into the fabric of the city and region, thereby increasing prosperity for students, businesses and the public. This new community roundup series intends to shed light on the ways that USF faculty, staff, students and administration are actively engaged every day in the community. If you’d like to engage the USF St. Petersburg campus, or are a campus staff, faculty or student interested in ways to engage in the community, please contact Caryn Nesmith, Community Relations Director, and follow the new campus community relations Facebook page.
Innovation Scholars annual kickoff
For the fourth year, a job-shadowing program on the USF St. Petersburg campus offers first-year students a head start in exploring career interests by giving them a sneak peek into the day-to-day activities of the professional world. On September 15, students met with their mentors who work for local businesses and organizations in St. Petersburg such as Bayfront Health, Pyper Inc. and the St. Petersburg Police Department to kick off the 2022-23 Innovation Scholars Career Exploration Program, headed by the Career Services office. The program provides valuable job shadowing and mentoring experience to students. In the inaugural year of the program, 29 organizations participated with 33 students. This year, 43 organizations provided mentorship to 70 students. Additionally, a Part-Time Job & Internship Fair on September 22 saw 44 registered employers connect with students about job and internship opportunities in the local and regional areas. USF St Petersburg campus Career Services will host another Job & Internship Fair on February 16, 2023. Employers can register via Handshake.
Pinellas Access to Higher Education out in the community
PATHe is a collaborative effort between the University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus and St. Petersburg College (SPC) with the goal to increase the number of Pinellas County residents receiving education beyond high school. PATHe counselors talk with youth about ways to access higher education opportunities. Since October, PATHe has conducted outreach at 12 middle and high schools and 10 community organizations, engaging over 1,000 students in Pinellas county. Of note, counselors participated in the Great American Teach In; a BIPOC Leadership Initiative hosted by the Center for Healthy Equity and attended by over 200 teenage youth; and the Multicultural Night at Clearwater High School.
USF St. Petersburg campus holds first Habitat Build Day
In September, Habitat for Humanity of Pinellas and West Pasco Counties partnered with USF’s St. Petersburg Student Government to hold the first-ever USF St. Petersburg campus Habitat Build Day in which students and staff helped build a Habitat home in Pinellas County, with the hope to eventually start a collegiate chapter of Habitat for Humanity at the USF St Petersburg campus.
Providing comfort and aide relief post-Hurricane Ian
The day after Hurricane Ian, when thousands in St. Petersburg remained without power, the USF St. Petersburg campus opened its University Student Center up to local residents to recharge their devices, cool off and receive free snacks and beverages. Just days later, the campus partnered with the Rotary Club of St. Petersburg to donate supplies to a relief drive that brought truckloads of emergency supplies to areas around Fort Myers that were most devastated by the effects of the Hurricane.
Rapid transit SunRunner connects students to downtown and beyond
On October 20, the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority's rapid transit bus called the SunRunner launched, with a stop right next to campus on 3rd St. and 6th Ave S. The all-electric rapid transit service is the first of its kind in Tampa Bay. Students, like Nathan Tout-Puissant, were thrilled to share their Bull pride with USF St. Petersburg campus alumnus Mayor Ken Welch while participating in a group trip to visit local businesses along the route.
A mural with a message
In October, the SHINE St. Petersburg Mural Festival returned for its eighth year, with 18 artists creating murals around the city, including one on the west wall of the Piano Man building on the USF St. Petersburg campus. The mural was painted by Miami-based artist Reginald O'Neal and depicts both the Mundari tribe of South Sudan and historian John Henrik Clark, a pioneer in the creation of Africana Studies who established one of the first and most influential Africana departments in the country at Hunter College in New York City. Check out this video interview with O’Neal.
1st community Halloween and Trunk or Treat
Thanks to sponsorship from the St. Petersburg Mayor's Office, Bayfront Health St. Petersburg, and the Regional Chancellor’s Office, USF’s St. Petersburg campus held its first community Halloween Trunk or Treat on October 28. USF team spirit brought together the USF Judy Genshaft Honors College with USF Student Council, Regional Chancellor Christian Hardigree and volunteer teams from Student Success, Residence Life, Aramark, Advising, University Student Center and the Center for Civic Engagement to pull off this event for some 250 guests who included city and campus employees and their families. The event was so well-received, we’re anticipating a return next year.
Students roll to the polls
On Election Day 2022, the Center for Civic Engagement partnered with Student Government to make sure students got to the polls to vote.
Customer Experience Lab conducts survey of Pinellas non-profits
In November, the University of South Florida Customer Experience Lab (CEL) began conducting a countywide survey of nonprofits based in or delivering significant services in Pinellas County. The electronic survey is a joint project of the Pinellas Community Foundation, the St. Petersburg Foundation and the CEL, which is located on the St. Petersburg campus. It is a follow-up study to a 2018 Nonprofit Assessment, which was undertaken by the Foundation for a Healthy St. Petersburg and the Nonprofit Leadership Center.
125 USF faculty and staff participate in the Great American Teach In
Over 125 USF faculty and staff participated in Hillsborough and Pinellas Counties on November 16 and 17 as part of this year’s Great American Teach-In. The Great American Teach-In is a day celebrated nationally in which schools welcome visitors to introduce children to a broad variety of jobs and careers. One such visit was with Alyssa Jones, director of vocal ensemble for USF’s School of Music, who visited Meadowlawn Middle School in St. Petersburg.
Art over Erasure: African American Burial Grounds Remembering Project
In Tampa Bay and across the nation, a number of African American burial grounds and cemeteries have been lost to history, neglected, abandoned, even paved over and developed on. A research project is seeking to recover and reimagine the forgotten history of these sacred places. The African American Burial Ground & Remembering Project started in 2020 led by Department of Anthropology chair Antoinette Jackson. Research began with Oaklawn Cemetery in St. Petersburg, now a parking lot along Interstate 275. That research grew into a national database called the Black Cemetery Network, which now archives information on cemeteries in 20 states. In November, Jackson convened local visual and performing artists to celebrate and remember St. Petersburg’s Oaklawn, Evergreen and Moffett Cemeteries through the lens of research and art.
Building a Food Forest On Campus
On December 1, students visited the 15th Street Farm for a workshop on how to build a food forest. They are working with the farm on a concept to expand a food forest on campus, using the Student Green Energy Fund (SGEF). SGEF is used to assist the campus in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, improving energy efficiency and meeting goals of the university’s Climate Action Plan by investing in alternative energy, reducing waste and improving conservation on campus. The fund directly involves students with sustainability initiatives and alternative energy projects that benefit the campus and the community.
USF Day at St. Petersburg City Hall
Every year, City of St. Petersburg leadership invite students for USF Day at City Hall. This year on December 1, students met Mayor Ken Welch, who read a formal proclamation making it USF St. Petersburg Student Government Day. City Council and many other staff greeted students, with students engaging in an open dialogue with leaders who discussed their work, including Leah McRae, Brian Caper, Jim Nixon and Nina Mahmoudi. This was the second USF day recognized by the city in 2022. The first was May 5, 2022, when the city recognized Regional Chancellor Dr. Martin Tadlock Day!
Multi-campus Racial Justice Fellows learn about St. Pete’s racial history
Racial Justice Fellows from USF, Eckerd College, St. Petersburg College and Stetson Law School generally have their meetings virtually with guest speakers versed in topics like St. Petersburg’s racial history, reparations and campus diversity, equity and inclusion efforts. But on Dec. 2, the fellows under a joint initiative called the St. Pete/Pinellas Higher Education for Race Equity met with Dr. Kanika Tomalin, the former St. Petersburg mayor, to talk about progress in the program. This is the second year of the program and applications will begin in the fall for the third cohort.
The purpose of the St. Petersburg Racial Justice Fellows Program is to place students at the center of efforts to create systemic change, creating a pipeline for students to become involved in work related to antiracist policy and movements as well as racial healing and transformation. By supporting fellows financially and programmatically, the program is cultivating a new generation of leaders who can help build a more just and equitable society.