By Georgia Jackson, University Communications and Marketing
As the University of South Florida prepares to award more than 7,100 degrees during spring commencement May 5-7, three outstanding spring graduates from the Sarasota-Manatee campus share their favorite moments and insights from their time at USF.
Evelyn De Oliveira
On the eve of graduation, outgoing student government leader Evelyn De Oliveira is proud — and, rightfully so.
“I was able to inspire my peers and create initiatives,” said Sosa, who is graduating with a bachelor of arts degree in psychology. “Most of all, I’m proud to have been a part of the development of our new building.”
The building in question — a student center and residential housing complex — is projected to open in the fall of 2024, by which time De Oliveira, who was accepted into USF's master of education program, will have begun the next chapter in her academic journey. Starting in the fall, De Oliveira will study curriculum and instruction with a focus in student affairs while working as a graduate assistant in the Office of Student Life and Engagement on the St. Petersburg campus.
“I’ll miss the Sarasota-Manatee campus — the close-knit community we have and the awesome people that work there,” De Oliveira said. “It’s been a great part of my time at USF.”
Photo courtesy: Evelyn De Oliveira
Most memoraBull moment? Making lifelong friends.
“I gained experience, made connections and took advantage of many opportunities, but the people I met and friends I made are what made my time at USF most memorable.”
Favorite class: PSY 4938, “Pro Seminar: Disrupted Development in Children”
“In my capstone, we looked into different kinds of disruptions that can happen in a child’s life — and the repercussions. It was interesting to discuss the subject with other students who were just as passionate.”
Advice to future Bulls: Be open to new experiences.
“This is the time in your life to take advantage of every opportunity given to you and to network with so many different people. This is your time to become the best version of yourself.”
A student in the bachelor of social work program on the Sarasota-Manatee campus, Britney Guerra thought she wanted to spend her senior internship working with children and family services. Instead, she was placed with the Manatee County Public Safety Department, where she worked alongside the homeless policy coordinator, the Salvation Army and Manatee County Government to provide outreach and support to unhoused folks in the county.
“I’m super grateful I didn’t get my way, “Guerra said. “I’ve learned so much in the internship. It was the luck of the draw.”
During her internship, Guerra worked on the Everlasting Garden, a community project designed to boost mental health, beautify the community and provide fresh produce for Salvation Army residents.
“The Everlasting Garden was a project years in the making,” said Maria Santos, a homeless policy coordinator for Manatee County. “Britney met with donors, local non-profits, small and large businesses and county staff to collect all necessary donations. This project is not costing the Salvation Army any funds thanks to her community organizing.”
As part of her degree, Guerra also studied in Spain, where she toured a number of health care facilities, including the Hospital Universitari Sant Joan D’Alacant and the American Red Cross.
Guerra plans to take a year off — to work and save — before returning to USF for the master of social work program next year.
“I’m not finished yet!” said Guerra, who derives much of her motivation from her younger brother, who was diagnosed with Down syndrome. “I want to do more with my community in terms of advocating and community organization.”
Photo courtesy: Britney Guerra
Most memoraBull moment? Alternative Spring Break in Cincinnati.
“We worked with the local homeless coalition to learn from people who had experienced homelessness and how the coalition contributed to their success. The friendships I created there were great.”
Favorite class: SOW 4510, “Integrative Seminar and Field Placement”
“I learned so much in the internship.”
Advice to future Bulls: Take one day at a time.
“Don’t rush things. Take any opportunity given to you despite any fear you might have about leaving your comfort zone.”
As Madison Sosa prepares to bid farewell to the campus that elected her lieutenant governor in 2022, she is accompanied by good memories and lasting accomplishments.
“I am most proud of the student government-sponsored event that I created, Adulting 101, where we show students how to deal with taxes, budgeting, real estate and even investing. It is an event that will hopefully be passed onto the next upcoming governor and lieutenant governor.”
After graduation, Sosa will pursue of her dream of becoming a dentist like her sister, USF alumna Priscilla Sosa.
“I will miss the people the most,” Sosa said. “Everyone that I have met at USF has shined a light on my life through their positivity and kindness. Each individual that works at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus has given me so much guidance and is here to support my dreams and I am so happy I've had the opportunity to become a Bull.”
Photo courtesy: Madison Sosa
Most memoraBull moment? Working with John Angell, an assistant professor of instruction in the Department of Integrated Biology on the Sarasota-Manatee campus.
“I am so grateful for his guidance in my STEM career path.”
Favorite class: PCB 3403, “Medicines of the Rainforest”
“We learned how to start an outdoor garden in our community while working with a nonprofit.”
Advice to future Bulls: Don't be afraid to talk to others.
“It’s OK to be nervous when you’re an incoming student. This is a new beginning! But just remember that the way you are feeling is the same way others around you might be feeling, too. So, meet new people. Talk about your experiences. And be kind to one another.”