University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Group of kids participating in a science experiment at the science festival
The St. Petersburg Science Festival returned to the waterfront of the USF St. Petersburg campus with hands-on activities like a mobile aquarium, seagrass maze and a shark show utilizing virtual reality. An estimated 13,000 people attended the event, which aims to inspire creativity, engage curiosity and deepen knowledge of science and the arts.

Bulls In the Burg: February Community Relations Roundup

USF St. Petersburg is an urban university that aims to integrate seamlessly into the fabric of the city and region, enhancing opportunities for students, businesses and the public. This community roundup series highlights the ways that USF faculty, staff, students and administration are active in the community. If you’d like to engage with USF St. Petersburg, or are a campus staff, faculty or student interested in engaging with the community, please contact Caryn Nesmith, Community Relations Director.

Staff, faculty serve in more than 50 community organizations

An old adage states that a strong university and a strong city are inextricably linked. One way that this is evident is through campus members’ active participation in volunteer leadership roles that align academic institutions with community needs, creating a symbiotic relationship that positively impacts both.  A recent survey seeking how USF St. Petersburg faculty and staff are engaged in the community resulted in a list of more than 50 organizations where campus members are volunteering their time and knowledge. Campus members serve in a variety of roles, from volunteer to troop leader to board member in an equally broad variety of nonprofits.  Some of the organizations include: the Downtown Waterfront Parks Foundation; Florida Holocaust Museum; Gulf Beaches Historical Museum; LEAP Leadership and Vision Councils; Pinellas County Urban League; Pinellas County Historical Society; Phi Beta Kappa Alumna Association of Tampa Bay; SPCA Tampa Bay; St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce; St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs; St. Petersburg Downtown Partnership; St. Petersburg Economic Development Corporation; St. Petersburg Innovation District; the Tampa Bay Watch Leadership Council; the Junior League, Girl Scouts and more. This engagement not only enhances the university's public image but also creates opportunities for collaborative research, benefiting both the institution and the community. Additionally, community involvement can strengthen alumni ties, fostering a sense of pride and continued support for the university's endeavors.

Pinellas County Schools Leadership Summit brings 800 students to campus

group of kids huddled around a table working on a project

Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe) collaborated with Pinellas County Schools to bring more than 800 students to USF St. Petersburg for their annual Student Leadership Summits. From January 30 to February 2, students in elementary, middle and high school honed their leadership skills, worked as a team and used creative thinking to bring positive change back to their schools while experiencing the many unique opportunities that USF St. Petersburg has to offer. PATHe aims to increase the number of Pinellas County residents receiving education beyond high school. At the same time, the district hopes to inspire leadership in its schools while promoting continued education after graduation. Superintendent Kevin Hendrick kicked off the summit and district leaders were on hand to listen and learn from students, who provided feedback on various topics, like communicating with teachers, access to mentors, bullying and suggestions for school enrichment activities.

USF in talks with Rays-Hines team on proposed development

rays hines developlment meeting in the USF ballroom

On February 13, members of the Rays-Hines Development Team for the Historic Gas Plant Redevelopment presented an overview of their development proposal to the USF St. Petersburg Campus Advisory Board. The team included Tampa Bay Rays President Stu Silverman, Rays’ Chief Public Affairs & Communications Officer Rafaela A. Amador Fink, Hines project director Alex Shapiro and Best Source Consulting partner Anddrikk Frazier. They presented on the latest design plan as well as community benefits related to the plan.  

“We are looking at opportunities including utilizing some acreage on the site, and curriculum programming that we might be able to provide,” said USF President Rhea Law at the meeting. “I want to thank the Rays-Hines team for including us on this project.” 

Historian Ray Arsenault promotes new biography on civil rights leader John Lewis

Ray Arsenault speaking to a group of people

To promote the publication of his new biography on beloved civil rights leader John Lewis, historian and author Ray Arsenault returned to campus on February 5, two years after his retirement, to offer a public presentation and book signing at the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library. John Lewis: In Search of the Beloved Community is the first book-length biography of Lewis, and traces his upbringing in rural Alabama, his activism as a Freedom Rider and leader of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, his championing of voting rights and anti-poverty initiatives, and his decades of service as the “conscience of Congress.” Arsenault is the John Hope Franklin Professor of Southern History Emeritus at the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. He is the author of several award-winning books on civil rights history. 

Arsenault will be joined by famous civil rights activist Dr. Bernard LaFayette on February 22 at Allendale United Methodist Church for another public discussion and presentation.

Four students receive flight scholarships

group of scholarship winners for flight training

Friends of Albert Whitted Airport awarded flight training scholarships to four USF St Petersburg students: Yvens Jacques, Avery Siwinski, Emily Anderson and Emilia Wrucke. Jacques and Siwinski were each awarded a Starter Scholarship of $1,000, while Anderson and Wrucke were awarded an Intermediate Scholarship of $5,000. The flight scholarships are designed to create a local pathway for aviation career exploration and workforce preparation for St Petersburg area residents ages 16-24. The students completed applications, wrote an essay and provided letters of recommendation in order to compete for this honor. The students received these awards during a ceremony on February 10, attended by Captain Barrington Irving, world renown pilot, STEM+ educator and mentor, along with members of the St Petersburg City Council.

TIP Lab featured in 6th State of Science & Innovation 

Shelly Wager giving her presentation to the group

On January 23, the St. Petersburg Innovation District hosted the sixth annual State of Science and Innovation, which features lightning rounds on scientific research and initiatives from around the district. From USF, Associate Professor of Criminology Shelly Wagers gave a presentation on the groundbreaking work she and her colleagues are doing at the Trafficking in Persons Risk to Resilience Lab. Other speakers included Dr. Hank Hine from The Dali Museum; Dr. Mohamed Rehman of Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital; Dr. Julia Pfaff with Bayfront Health St. Petersburg; Nicky Bruger of Digital Twin Marine; and Dr. Nicole Raineault from the Florida Institute of Oceanography.

Family Study Center hosts year-long series on centering infant voices

On January 26, Drs. Miri Keren from Bar Ilan University and Diane Philipp from the University of Toronto presented the latest in the USF Family Study Center's year-long series of professional conference events, "Family-Centered Practice: Observational Strategies for Including the Infant's Voice in Family Therapy and other Professional Contexts." The event drew a large in-person and virtual audience from around the world.  Center director Russia Collins and her clinical team at the Infant-Family Center – the Family Study Center’s direct services community clinic -- have been meeting with Drs. Keren and Philip, as well as other family scholars from around the world, for nearly two years as members of an International Coparenting Collaborative designing best practice guidelines for practitioners who work with families of infants and toddlers. 

Call Me MISTER program broadening its reach

male giving the go bulls hand sign

During a recent Campus Advisory Board meeting on February 13, Education Professor Brenda Walker presented a comprehensive update on USFs Call Me MISTER program. This initiative aims to diversify the pool of licensed educators by offering full scholarships for undergraduate degrees with teacher certification or Master's degrees in Teaching. Operating in collaboration with Pinellas County Schools, the program—short for Mentors Instructing Students Toward Effective Role Models—has garnered local support from entities like the Duke Energy Foundation and individual donors. Originally focused on recruiting Black male teachers, the program has since evolved to embrace a broader demographic scope, including women and individuals from all racial backgrounds who demonstrate both financial need and a strong commitment to teaching in urban, low-income "turnaround" schools. Walker emphasized an assertive recruitment approach, which encompasses high school visits, partnerships with youth groups affiliated with Greek letter organizations, collaborations with faith-based institutions and alliances with community colleges for seamless transfer opportunities. 

Employ-a- Bull: Accounting Major lands internship with BankUnited

Sha'Tina Scott standing in front of the bull statue on USF St Pete campus

Sha'Tina Scott, an accounting major with a minor in management at the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance at USF St. Petersburg is poised to graduate in 2025. Recently securing an internship with BankUnited in Tampa, Scott is eager to gain experience managing liquidity, reviewing financial statements and mastering risk assessment. Reflecting on her journey, Scott credits USF for fostering her professional and personal growth. Her tenure at the Career Services center on campus has been instrumental in honing her skills, where she held various leadership positions and cultivated a strong foundation in professionalism and effective communication. Looking ahead, Scott aspires to leverage her experiences to thrive in the dynamic environment of an accounting firm, with an ultimate goal of entrepreneurship. 

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At the USF St. Petersburg campus newsroom, we highlight the people, events and initiatives that make us distinct. From groundbreaking research to inspiring student profiles, we are dedicated to telling our campus' story and promoting its value to the greater Tampa Bay community and beyond.


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