USFSM staff member Sarah Gentry and faculty member Jessica Szempruch are joined by camper Paige Adair, counselor Christy Wilkerson and Laurel Richardson, director of community outreach for the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association, at Camp Footprint.

Bulls Notebook: USF Sarasota-Manatee staff, faculty members volunteer at CMT kids camp

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: September 06, 2019

Bulls Notebook LogoSARASOTA, Fla. (Sept. 06, 2019) – Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) is a rare disease that affects peripheral nerves in the hands, feet and legs, causing chronic nerve pain, numbness and imbalance.

Moved to help those with CMT, USF Sarasota-Manatee Instructional Media Technologist Sarah Gentry and Instructor Librarian Jessica Szempruch recently spent five days volunteering as counselors at Camp Footprint, an annual summer camp for children with CMT ages 10 to 18.

Begun four years ago, Camp Footprint is the only camp in the United States dedicated to kids with CMT. It’s located in western Pennsylvania, 45 minutes north of Pittsburgh. The children enjoy outdoor sports, hiking, canoeing, paddle-boarding, crafting, sing-alongs and roasting marshmallows.

    Camper Paige Adair

The idea, Gentry and Szempruch said, is for the kids to have fun despite their diagnosis and enjoy a breather from their everyday lives. Indirectly, the camp encourages friendships by enabling the children, or “campers,” as they’re called, to meet others with the same condition.

“It’s important for these kids to be able to see someone like them, to not feel different, to feel included and that they can go and take on the world,” Gentry said.

The 94 campers at Camp Footprint came from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and other countries. They called their group the “Tribe of Funky Feet,” in reference to CMT.

They were greeted by 65 volunteer counselors, from all walks of life, who came to engage and embolden the campers. The small staff at the Charcot-Marie-Tooth Association (CMTA), many of whom have CMT, led the charge.

This was Szempruch’s first visit to Camp Footprint. For Gentry, it was her second. The two were assigned to a group of 16- to 18-year-old girls.

“It was truly an empowering experience for us and the campers,” Szempruch said. “Mostly, we made sure they felt comfortable to engage in activities and feel they were doing the same things other kids do at summer camp. I’d say we got just as much out of the experience as the campers did.”

The camp offered a menu of fun events. One highlight was the Slip ‘n’ Slide, a water-soaked plastic sheet that allowed campers to skid down a slope. Other favorites were archery, canoeing and sing-alongs.

Counselors and campers enjoy Camp Footprint’s welcoming atmosphere.

There were opportunities for more serious moments as well, such as when Gentry and Szempruch talked to the girls about college and encouraged them in their academic careers by sharing how they help youth succeed in their everyday jobs at USFSM.

Perhaps the most satisfying experience was to see the campers enjoy themselves. For some, Camp Footprint fueled a desire to take on leadership roles in advocacy for CMT. Due to the youths’ interest and efforts, the CMTA created a Youth Advisory Council comprised of specialized focus areas to promote awareness, including a “Book of Dreams” project with stories from youth with CMT.

There’s no question Gentry and Szempruch will return for next year’s Camp Footprint.

“Camp Footprint did not offer Wi-Fi for campers. However, campers quickly realized their ultimate connections did not require a device or password,” Gentry said. “Campers were surrounded by people who shared similar challenges, had hope, courage, joy and laughter. The campers, counselors and staff became their best connection. Being a part of these connections will be something forever engraved in my heart.”

September is CMT Awareness Month. Gentry will lead a CMT “Walk ‘N’ Roll” awareness event on Oct. 19 at Macfarlane Park in Tampa. The event is open to the public.

To get involved locally, including participating in the walk, contact

To learn more about CMT, visit

USFSM virtual info session for transfer students set Sept. 10

    The virtual info session for transfer students is set for Sept. 10.

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee will hold a special Virtual Information Session for transfer students on Tuesday, Sept. 10, from noon to 5 p.m.

The session is free and can be accessed from home, work or anywhere with online connectivity. Check out USFSM’s many undergraduate programs, chat with professors and learn about the admissions process by talking live with admissions advisors.

USFSM’s degree programs are affordable, convenient and flexible with many online class options to make life easier. Save thousands of dollars by earning a degree close to home. Register for the session by visiting Click the RSVP link.

“Students transferring into USFSM immediately experience a sense of belonging,” Admissions Advisor Jackie Grosser said. “With an average class size of 18 students, they are able to get to know their classmates and receive personalized attention from faculty. At USFSM, more than 50 percent of students are transfers, and faculty and staff make every effort to streamline the transfer process.”

Other transfer info sessions are planned Oct. 1, Nov. 5 and Dec. 10. Visit for more information. For questions, write to or call 941-359-4331.

Register for accelerated second degree nursing program by Oct. 4

The USF College of Nursing is accepting applications through Oct. 4 for admission into the first cohort of the Accelerated Second Degree (ASD) nursing program at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The first cohort will begin classes at USFSM in January.

The second degree nursing program, offered by the USF College of Nursing and hosted at USFSM, is an affordable option for college graduates looking to switch gears and obtain a high-quality bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Through the ASD nursing program, students can obtain a degree within four semesters, including one summer term, and complete all coursework, together with clinical training, at USFSM’s campus and at hospitals in Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Learn more about joining one of the first cohorts of a program that begins in Spring 2020. Learn more about the program and apply by visiting

USFSM recognizes new and promoted faculty

    Steve Miller, PhD, of the College of Business

The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee congratulates USFSM faculty on their recent promotions and welcomes new faculty to campus as the academic year gets underway.

Joining USFSM as new faculty:

  • Linda Barbeto, PhD, visiting instructor of chemistry, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Cheryl Hamlin, visiting instructor of clinical social work, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Deb Kochman, PhD, visiting instructor of composition and theatre, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Steve Miller, PhD, associate professor of risk management and insurance, College of Business
  • Trishna Mistry, PhD, assistant professor of hospitality and tourism leadership, College of Hospitality & Tourism Leadership
  • Brian Turnbull, PhD, visiting instructor of interdisciplinary social sciences and political science, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Newly appointed (permanent) faculty:

  • Brett Blackburn, instructor, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Vanessa Marasco, PhD, instructor and coordinator of clinical education, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (School of Education)
  • Zacharias Pieri, PhD, assistant professor of interdisciplinary social sciences, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Cassie Yacovazzi, PhD, assistant professor of history, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Recently promoted faculty:

  • Ken Caswell, PhD, instructor II, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Kiyoung Chang, PhD, professor, College of Business
  • Kelly Cowart, PhD, associate professor of marketing, College of Business
  • Anthony Coy, PhD, associate professor, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Wilma Davidson, EdD, instructor III, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences
  • Jenni Mariano, PhD, professor, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (School of Education)
  • Lisa Penney, PhD, professor, College of Business
  • Helene Robinson, EdD, instructor II, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences (School of Education)
  • Christine Ruva, PhD, professor, College of Science & Mathematics
  • Tim Turner, PhD, associate professor, College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences

Two USFSM professors: Musical performance to raise funds for beach wheelchairs

Sunita Lodwig, PhD

Two USF Sarasota-Manatee professors, Sunita Lodwig, PhD, and Bhuvan Unhelkar, PhD, are helping raise awareness about a special fundraiser featuring world-renowned musicians Pandit Shubhendra Rao on the Indian cello and Saskia Rao-De Haas on the traditional western cello.

Their performance, “East Marries West,” has been featured at festivals and concert halls worldwide. Rao and De Haas are scheduled to perform at the Sarasota Opera House on Friday, Oct. 4. Proceeds support the Sarasota Sunrise Rotary Club’s beach wheelchair project. Visit for tickets.

Lodwig and Unhelkar are members of the Rotary Club and teach information technology in the College of Business.

    Bhuvan Unhelkar, PhD

“Given that Sarasota is home to many disabled veterans and others who are mobility challenged, it is essential that we provide the means for them to enjoy our famous beaches,” Lodwig said of the fundraiser.

Rao and De Haas are renowned for their collaboration and have performed at Carnegie Hall, the Kennedy Center and other popular venues. They are creators of Sangeet4All, the first Indian music curriculum for young learners.

Visit to view a performance.

Feng Hao’s research cited in Bloomberg article

Feng Hao, PhD

Feng Hao, PhD, of the College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, is gaining international attention for his research into environmental sociology.

The assistant professor’s work was recently cited by Bloomberg.

Hao recently collaborated on a paper published in The China Quarterly, a British academic journal, which explored Chinese perceptions toward climate change.

Bloomberg referenced the paper for an opinion piece about climate change. Citing a survey by Hao and his colleagues, the article noted that only 14.2 percent of Chinese respondents said they were “very seriously concerned” about global warming and climate change.

“It’s nice to learn that the findings of this study received attention from Bloomberg Opinion,” Hao said. “I enjoyed collaborating with colleagues from the U.S. and China to publish this paper. Climate change is a global issue. It is critical that we perceive its risk and figure out effective policies to address the challenge.”

Smogard addresses Bradenton Kiwanis Club

    Greg Smogard, PhD

Kudos to Greg Smogard, PhD, assistant vice president of innovation and business development at USFSM, who addressed members of the Bradenton Kiwanis Club two weeks ago.

Smogard spoke with club members about the university’s educational mission and goal to establish partnerships with local businesses and service organizations. Joining him in the outreach effort was USFSM Regional Chancellor Karen Holbrook, PhD, who introduced Smogard.

“USF Sarasota-Manatee believes in strong partnerships that will provide our graduates with the skillsets necessary to meet current and future workforce needs,” Smogard said. “Creating comprehensive and long-term mutually beneficial partnerships with businesses and community organizations is key to economic development and building a successful and productive future for our region.”

USFSM to host special Career Coaching sessions for students

business administration degree usf usfsm

    USFSM will offer Career Coaching starting Sept. 11.

USF Sarasota-Manatee is inviting students to special Career Coaching sessions featuring four renowned business and community leaders. The one-on-one sessions will run throughout the semester and kick off Wednesday, Sept. 11, from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m., in Room C118.

Students can sign up at

Designed to be informative and inspiring, the sessions will enable students to meet individually with industry experts and discuss key issues from effective résumé writing and interview techniques to communication skills, long-term career goals and other topics.

The coaches include:

  • Marco Galante, an accomplished senior executive with a multinational background in the food and food ingredients industry. His motto: “Work for a cause not applause!” Galante will meet with students from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 11, Sept. 25, Oct. 23, Nov. 6 and Nov. 20.
  • Jeannine Abele, a noted senior executive in the consumer products and industrial business sectors. With more than 30 years of executive leadership experience, Abele has led global IT organizations with a focus on supply chain, marketing and sales and service. Her motto is “Make a difference every day!” She will be available from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2, Oct. 16, Oct. 30 and Nov. 13.
  • Ann King, a talented IT industry veteran with extensive knowledge of sales and marketing and consulting. King worked in executive positions at software and hardware companies for more than 35 years. Her motto: “Think!” She will be on hand to talk with students from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 9, Oct. 3 and Oct. 17
  • Bonnie Johnson, a retired senior sales/marketing executive in the information technology industry. Johnson has more than 25 years of experience in key executive positions focused on information technology and clinical consulting. Johnson’s motto is: “Make your job a reality!” She will be available from 10 a.m. to noon on Sept. 26, Oct. 10, Oct. 24 and Nov. 17.

In addition, Career Services will host special sessions on Oct. 9, from 1 to 3 p.m., and Oct. 31, from 10 a.m. to noon, to provide further information to students seeking career and internship advice.

Visit Career Services for more information.

Let’s Talk Talent Tuesdays’ to debut Sept. 17

    Lets Talk Talent Tuesdays will launch Sept. 17 at the Military and Veterans Success Center.

Career Services reminds students that “Let’s Talk Talent Tuesdays,” featuring a slate of guest speakers discussing career issues, will launch Sept. 17.

The talks are set from noon to 2 p.m. at the Military and Veterans Success Center on the first floor of the Campus Center. Students and faculty are invited to stop by.

Topics and speakers include:

  • Sept. 17: “Remarkable Résumés,” with Jacqueline Taxdal of Cavanaugh & Co., LLP CPAs
  • Oct. 1: “Internships in Public Service,” with Heidi Raymond and Xavier Colon of Manatee County government
  • Oct. 15: “Professionalism and Social Media,” with Kayla Cramer of Enterprise Holdings
  • Oct. 29: “Networking for Success,” with Patrice Say and Camille Mars of FCCI Insurance Group
  • Nov. 12: “Interview Techniques,” with Zolia Hernandez, Matt Real and Peter Bryant of Bank of America

Students can win a gift card by registering with Handshake

    Join Handshake and become eligible for a gift card.

Students can win a $25 Amazon gift card by signing up with Handshake, the career and internship posting site that specializes in college students. Every Fortune 500 company recruits on Handshake.

Complete your Handshake profile by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 25, and become eligible for a gift card. Three winners will be chosen.

Provide the following to complete your profile:

  • A short bio
  • Three skills
  • Education experience
  • Work experience
  • Showcase three courses you have taken

Join Handshake at Visit Career Services for more information.

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