University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Aidan Cawley reveals himself as Rocky

Aidan Cawley partially revealed himself as Rocky during the Rocky Awards on April 18, 2024.

Graduate involved in campus life also took on secret role as mascot

By Sarah Sell, University Communications and Marketing

When Aidan Cawley came to USF St. Petersburg in the summer of 2021, he never expected to be involved in so many campus activities. Or have the chance to become Rocky.

But as time passed, the environmental science major became more outgoing and confident. Three years later, as he prepares to graduate, his e-mail signature looks like a resume.

Cawley’s roles include chair of recruitment for USF Ambassadors, building manager and operations assistant for Student Centers and Events, tour guide for USF Navigators, student ambassador for USF Dining, office assistant for Student Life and Engagement, president of the OREO Tasting Club and interim chair for the Rock-Climbing Club."USF helped me realize my personal potential and value," said Cawley, a senior who will graduate on May 5. "I have fun helping people and having a good time. I scare visitors with my sheer amount of energy and enthusiasm. They are shocked that I don't drink coffee."

It only seemed natural that when USF St. Petersburg called for Rocky mascot tryouts, several people recommended Cawley for the position.

He wanted to be a mascot in high school but never got the chance.

aiden as rocky during late night breakfast

Rocky mingled with students during late night breakfast, an annual event on campus to celebrate end of semester.

In March of 2023, he was chosen as one of the four Rocky's who shared responsibilities on the St. Pete campus.

Cawley recalls one of his most fun and embarrassing moments. It was during the grand opening of USF's Research Vessel Western Flyer. The 117-foot-long ship was incredible, but the mascot's large feet and limited view made it difficult to get around. While navigating the ship, Cawley didn't see the edge of the doorway, tripped and nearly fell into the arms of USF President Rhea Law.

He was happy that no one knew who he was and the secret became a guessing game on campus.

"We have two student employees who love to launch massive investigations around campus. They got really into it, and I thought it would be funny to see who people thought Rocky was. I just told them I don't have the time for that," he added.

Cawley's duties officially ended on April 25, allowing him to reveal his tenure as the campus mascot.

It's been one of the highlights of his college career.

"I feel like I can walk into any job and have a friend by the end of the week. That's just something that I did not have the confidence to do when I was in high school,” he said.

After graduation, Cawley plans to move to Jacksonville to be with his family and apply for full-time jobs. He's passionate about animal husbandry and hopes to use his degree at a zoo or aquarium.

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