University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Students and Staff at the USF St. Petersburg tent during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 9.

Students and staff at the USF St. Petersburg tent during the Firestone Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 9.

Bulls In the Burg: March 2024 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.

Team Accelerate Grand Prix STEM Day on campus

students sitting at a table coloring with markers

Kicking off Grand Prix of St. Petersburg weekend, USF St. Pete was a partner in bringing 85 students to campus from John Hopkins Middle School, Bay Point Middle School, Thurgood Marshall Middle School and St. Petersburg Parks & Recreation therapeutic recreation for Mayor Ken Welch’s Team Accelerate Grand Prix STEM Day. The day began on campus with an activity organized by the Pinellas Access to Higher Education (PATHe) team, which focused on future careers, followed by a welcome from Mayor Ken Welch. Then, students rotated between three activities: in the STEM Lab of the College of Education teams competed in a design competition using 3D modeling software; in the dining hall, students got to taste a bit of college life, including a dorm room tour; and in the Nelson Poynter Memorial Library Student Technology Center, students toured the makerspace, watched a demo 3D scanning of a race car, put together snap circuits in order to make an engine rev and built a catapult. The visit was a precursor for an afternoon touring the Grand Prix. USF St. Petersburg staff that made this day possible included Tia Gomez Zeller, Samantha Fiore, Erica Lovelette, Summer Natali, Amy Pounders, Richard Rho and Rick Acosta. Shelly Loos with the Mayor's Office planned the entire itinerary, making it an inspiring one filled with hands-on activities and valuable insights into STEM education and careers.

FinTech Center Featured at Synapse Summit

michael wiermer director of the USF fintech center speaking with two other males

This year’s Synapse Summit did not disappoint with 145 speakers, 40 sessions and more than 150 exhibitors. Among them was Michael Wiemer, director of the USF Fintech Center at the Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, who led a discussion about USF’s role in driving technological innovation in Tampa Bay and cultivating the next generation of tech leaders. The Synapse Summit, held annually in downtown Tampa, is one of the largest innovation events in Florida, focusing on bringing together entrepreneurs, investors, corporations, academics and other stakeholders in the innovation ecosystem to collaborate, network and explore opportunities for growth and advancement in various industries. This year, USF played a significant sponsorship role in the event, hosting a “Bull Zone” lounge. This opportunity allowed the university to highlight its connection with the business community and lead conversations of what’s next in the future. Learn more about the Fintech Center here.

Sustainability Capstone Course participates in community listening sessions

4 female students standing in front of a easel sign that says resillience community listening session

Students from the capstone class “Practicing Sustainability,” taught by Professor Rebecca Harris, are spending a semester learning and contributing to the community in a variety of ways. In February, the class attended the Resilience Community Listening Session hosted by Mayor Ken Welch and City Council Chair Brandi Gabbard, which discussed flooding and coastal resilience in the city's hardest-hit communities impacted by recent storms. The capstone class also features a variety of community leaders as guest lecturers, including Winnie Mulamba, Executive Director for Florida for Good, Allison Mihalich, City of St. Petersburg’s Sustainability Director, and Eric Caplan, Sustainability Director for the Tampa International Airport. After spring break, guest speakers will include Max Chesnes from the Tampa Bay Times, Rafael Ibercena from McKibbon Hospitality and Hans Jacob from Duke Energy. Throughout the semester, students participate in internships at Tampa Bay Watch, the City of Lakeland, Fat Beet Farm, Little Red Wagon Nursery, Keep Pinellas Beautiful, Keep Tampa Bay Beautiful, Water Warrior Alliance and the Sustainable Urban Agriculture Coalition and are taking part in educational programs, community events and environmental clean ups. Students are not only contributing to the betterment of their community but also developing a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding sustainability. This experiential learning approach enhances academic knowledge and cultivates a sense of responsibility and empowerment among students to become agents of positive change.

Crow’s Nest online coverage features major campus news

image of what the header looks like on the crows nest homepage website

While the USF St. Petersburg student newspaper, “The Crow’s Nest,” has paused the publication of its print edition, the nearly full staff is hard at work churning out the biggest news and trends impacting the USF community on its website and social media pages. Currently, there are updates on the recent FAFSA changes, a feature on the cold-stressed manatee rescued last month in the harbor, USF spring sports previews and updates on the Sarasota-Manatee campus' new residence hall. The student-run newspaper and digital media outlet is also looking to hire students to fill the roles of creative director (page design and illustrations), managing editor and staff reporting positions.

Flood Hub joins forces with local data company PVM

group of flood hub members sitting around a table

PVM, a digital services company that unlocks the power of data for good, announced a new partnership with the USF’s Florida Flood Hub for Applied Research and Innovation to improve flood-related data management and dissemination. Specifically, the partnership will include migrating existing flood data resources to enable efficient data sharing and product dissemination as well as data science services. Together through this initiative, PVM and USF will improve access to critical flooding data, which will enable the Flood Hub to improve sea level rise analysis, rainfall projections and flood vulnerability assessments. "Teaming up with USF's Florida Flood Hub is a major step forward in using data to make our communities better," said PVM CEO Pat Mack. "By making flood and rainfall data more accessible and organized, we're empowering smarter decision-making and taking action to reduce flood risks and adapt to rising sea levels.”

Education professor recognized for research and service

ann marie gunn standing in front of palm trees smiling

College of Education Professor AnnMarie Gunn has received the 2024 American Educational Research Association (AERA) Dr. Carlos J. Vallejo Memorial Award for Exemplary Scholarship! The award recognizes a mid-career scholar faculty member or professional whose scholarly contributions to multicultural/multiethnic education have been vital to research, theory and/or practice in this field. Gunn's teaching, research and service are highly intertwined. For over a decade, she has geared her investigative methods, pedagogies and community engagement efforts towards the improvement of educational outcomes of children and adults, especially those who have been marginalized in our society. Within the community she has collaborated with the Florida Holocaust Museum, the Department of Corrections, Florida County Schools and with out-of-school organizations that serve children and families. In the past few years, she has worked closely with the St Petersburg Police Athletic League and is currently looking to further develop relationships with other local organization such as ReadStrong Pinellas, YMCA, Shirley Proctor Foundation, Barbershop Book Club and others. 

New companies praise St. Pete at EDC annual event

economic development corp annual event in the USF st. Petersburg ballroom

The St. Petersburg Area Economic Development Corporation (EDC) celebrated the city's growth and highlighted the importance of collaboration among local stakeholders at its annual event on campus on February 22. Sponsored by the USF Kate Tiedemann School of Business and Finance, as well as St. Petersburg College, W3, St. Anthony's Hospital and the Tampa Bay Rays, the event highlighted key projects like the redevelopment of the Historic Gas Plant District and the Tampa Bay Rays' proposed new ballpark, which were seen as crucial for the city's economic future. Leaders emphasized the significance of Class A office space and inclusive marketing strategies to attract diverse businesses. The meeting also highlighted successful founders who relocated their companies to St. Pete, such as Cathie Wood of ARK Invest, who praised the city's innovative and collaborative environment. Other founders included Nicky Bruger, CEO of Digital Twin Marine; Anthony Nagendraraj, co-founder of Spontivly; and Mason Salit, chief talent officer for Dynasty Financial Partners.

Neighborhood News Bureau relaunches online presence

Last semester, the Neighborhood News Bureau (NNB) relaunched its website with updated coverage on topics including community, business, education, sports and faith, all reported by students in a community journalism class. To date, there are a dozen recently published news stories from senior-level journalism students, which can also be seen on the NNB Instagram page, with plans to post updated story graphics in the coming weeks. NNB students are reporting on the impact of El Nino during strawberry season, how students' faith evolves during college, how a local woman came to be one of the top pinball players in the world and how students navigate working on campus.

Jacksonville high school student repeats win at state poetry competition

poetry out loud winners

On March 2, USF St. Petersburg hosted the state finals for the national Poetry Out Loud poetry recitation competition. For the past four years, USF staff have organized programming through high schools across the state and hosted the state of Florida finals. This year, Niveah Glover, from Douglas Anderson School of the Arts in Jacksonville, won first place, and Janessa Montilla, from Pembroke Pines Charter High School, came in as runner up. This was Glover’s second time winning the top prize, having done so in 2022 as well. Thirty-seven high schools conducted POL programming and hosted local competitions across the state, and 33 sent a finalist to compete in the state competition. Glover will continue on to the national competition on May 9, 2024, in Washington, D.C. Since 2005, the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation have sponsored Poetry Out Loud programming to help students master public speaking, build self-confidence and learn more about their literary heritage. In Florida, more than 6,000 students participate annually. 

Students team up with community partners to get out the vote on campus

table event on harbor walk showing student government and center for civic engagement members

In February, the League of Women Voters of the St. Petersburg Area, USF’s Center for Civic Engagement and Student Government joined forces to host two events aimed at boosting voter registration: "Donuts and Democracy" and "Voting and Valentines." These collaborative efforts underscore a broader commitment to civic engagement on campus. According to Lieutenant Governor Taylor Herman, student government's agenda this term prioritizes fostering meaningful engagement opportunities. These initiatives include facilitating interactions with local elected officials, fostering dialogues that embrace diverse perspectives and actively promoting voter registration alongside non-partisan voter education. By cultivating a culture of civic responsibility and involvement, these events and initiatives aim to empower students to become informed, active participants in the democratic process.

Employ-A-Bull Spotlight: Journalism student interns at Radio St. Pete

jordan kalajian sitting at the fountain on usf st pete campus

A journalism degree offers a multitude of opportunities! Student Jordan Kalajian recently began an internship at Radio St. Pete and has ambitions of entering the field of marketing post-graduation. Currently majoring in Digital Communications and Multimedia Journalism, she is set to graduate in May 2024. Kalajian hopes her internship will facilitate valuable connections in the marketing realm, expressing enthusiasm for the diverse array of individuals she has already encountered. She emphasizes the significance of networking and exploring potential career paths: “It’s all going to help me in the real world.”

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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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