University of South Florida St. Petersburg



Undergraduate studies office replaces advising center with expanded services and welcomes new student success advocates

New Undergraduate Studies office in Davis Hall

The old academic advising office inside 134 Davis Hall will become the new Undergraduate Studies office. The signage outside the building will reflect the old name briefly, but the new name and expanded services will take effect immediately.

By Sarah Sell, University Communications and Marketing

A newly named Undergraduate Studies (UGS) office with expanded services and two new student success advocates will replace the current Academic Advising Opportunity Center (AAOC) to drive student success outcomes across campus.

Building on the foundation of academic advocacy on the St. Petersburg campus, UGS will provide personalized support and coaching to help students meet their goals, overcome challenges during their college experience and graduate on time.

The reorganization includes two new Student Success Advocates and a newly redesigned webpage that directs students to the information and resources they need during their academic journey.

Located inside 134 Davis Hall, the new UGS office will encompass Academic Success Advocacy, academic advising for students in exploratory pathways and two academic programs: Bachelor of General Studies and Bachelor of Science in Applied Science. In addition, advising for Health Sciences and Criminology will continue to be located there.

“We wanted to facilitate this name change now, instead of the summer, so as we’re welcoming new students through various onboarding initiatives, we’re using the appropriate reference for these services,” said Aurèlio Valente, the regional assistant vice chancellor for undergraduate studies at USF St. Petersburg. “How faculty and staff communicate the purpose of the space to the campus community will more accurately depict how it is being used by students.”

Creating a UGS office was necessitated by the shift from a campus-based advising to a college-based advising model. While some advising is still housed in 134 Davis Hall, it is no longer the sole purpose of the AOCC.

“We conducted a crosswalk analysis and realized there were some gaps in opportunities that students were offered in Tampa and what students had access to in St. Petersburg,” Valente said. “By shifting the space, staffing and utilization of what is now the AAOC center to UGS, we’re able to increase the presence of undergraduate studies at St. Pete and provide more opportunities to create parity with undergraduate studies at Tampa.”

Valente added that the changes will include building on USF’s nationally recognized academic advocacy program, with the two new staff members serving as on-campus advocates and accountability partners for academic success.

The new advocates, Emily Jakubisin and Marketa Whitehead, said they are excited to start their new roles within the UGS.

Emily Jakubisin

Emily Jakubisin, first- and second-year student success advocate

I look forward to working with our advising and student engagement teams to ensure that students transition smoothly to the university experience and thrive as students and individuals while at USF St. Petersburg. I hope to contribute to improvements in our student retention and progression rates and help students make the most of the academic and campus life opportunities that USF St. Petersburg has to offer.

Marketa Whitehead

Marketa Whitehead, progression to graduation and transfer student success advocate

I want to gain a confident and unique understanding of the student population I serve. I desire to foster a natural and genuine relationship with them along with all university partners and stakeholders by being approachable, accessible and relatable. I want to have a daily zeal and passion for what I do and exemplify the value I can bring to student advocacy. I want students to know that they come first, and I am here to help them during their academic journey.

Students can schedule a time to meet with the student success advocates and find academic support and advising by going to the new Undergraduate Studies webpage on the USF St. Petersburg website. 

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