USFSM alumni Seth Fike and Holton Irwin visited business students to talk about sales techniques.

Campus Insider: USF Sarasota-Manatee alumni visit campus to share experiences with business students

By: Rich Shopes

Posted: January 29, 2020

SARASOTA, Fla. (Jan. 29, 2020) – Kelly Cowart, PhD, and her Professional Selling class received a visit from two USF Sarasota-Manatee campus alumni on Tuesday in an event that was equal parts homecoming and “real-world” instruction.

Alums Seth Fike and Holton Irwin graduated from USFSM in 2018 and 2019, respectively, and always maintained contact with their former professor. So when Cowart reached out a month ago asking if they would talk to her class about their sales careers, the two readily agreed.

“We always liked our classes with Dr. Cowart and so when she emailed us, I had time in my schedule and thought it would be nice to give back,” said Fike, a senior account manager with Scanco Software LLC, a Nokomis-based supply chain automation software provider. “I thought it could be helpful to the students to hear a real-world perspective.”

Cowart said she was delighted for her students to learn from young sales professionals, especially two alums, about communication skills, customer relationships and selling techniques.

To illustrate these points, the two conducted an exercise in which students worked in groups to come up with descriptors to help “sell” two basic products, a bottle opener and a portable phone charger. Then the students gave impromptu classroom presentations to test their creativity and communication skills.

Seth Fike, Kelly Cowart, PhD, and Holton Irwin

Cowart said she invites professionals once or twice a semester to talk about their careers and share workplace insights. Most of her students are juniors and seniors and most are marketing majors. This was the first time both presenters were alumni.

“I was thinking about who I could bring in for my Professional Selling class and thought who better than a recent graduate working in sales now? So I contacted Seth and he reached out to Holton,” Cowart said. “They both did an excellent job and I am so appreciative that they took the time out of their schedules to meet with my students. It was very informative.”

The two spent an hour with the class. One student, Jeremy Carter, a senior risk management student, said afterward that he was grateful to hear from Fike and Irwin.

“I liked hearing about their experiences and their perspectives about selling,” he said. “And I liked that I could hear about what they actually do on a daily basis.”

Cowart said she looks forward to hosting more alumni in future classes.

Learn to negotiate salaries at Start Smart, Feb. 4

Finding that first job out of college can be difficult enough without having to worry about salary negotiations. Now students have an opportunity to learn how to boost their earnings potential by attending a free workshop, Start Smart, on Tuesday, Feb. 4, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., at USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Selby Auditorium, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Learn from local executives how to not leave money on the table when negotiating a salary. Gain confidence and learn to avoid common mistakes many first-time job seekers make.

The Start Smart workshop is open to all students from the Cross College Alliance: USF Sarasota-Manatee, New College of Florida, The Ringling, State College of Florida and the Ringling College of Art and Design.

The workshop is free, but registration is required. Visit to sign up. Refreshments and door prizes available.

Start Smart is sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, the American Association of University Women and the Cross College Alliance.

Senapati contributes to book about Toni Morrison’s ‘God Help the Child’

Su Senapati, PhD

Su Senapati, PhD, English instructor and faculty coordinator of learning support services at USFSM, recently published a chapter in Critical Responses About the Black Family in Toni Morrison’s God Help the Child: Conflicts in Comradeship, Lexington Books, December 2019.

According to the publisher, the book “explores the integral role of what Kobi Kambon has called the ‘conscious African family’ in developing commercial success stories such as those of Morrison’s protagonist, Bride.”

Senapati’s chapter is entitled “Making Black Lives and Families Matter: Honoring Family and Fatherhood in God Help the Child.”

“Toni Morrison is perhaps the most fearless and influential writer of both the 20th and 21st centuries and was the last American to win the Nobel Prize for literature, in 1993,” Senapati said.

Open House at USF Sarasota-Manatee Feb. 22

USFSM offers a high-quality, affordable education that’s close to home.

USF Sarasota-Manatee will hold an Open House on Saturday, Feb. 22, for prospective freshman students, transfer students and college graduates seeking master’s degrees.

The session for freshman and transfer students is set from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. inside the campus’ Selby Auditorium. The master’s degree session will run from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., with check-in at the campus’ FCCI Rotunda. USF Sarasota-Manatee is located at 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Students, faculty and support staff from Financial Aid and Admissions will be on hand to explain all that USFSM has to offer, as well as opportunities for financial aid and scholarships. Learn about USFSM’s many degree programs, affordable tuition and how its small class sizes facilitate collaborative learning.

“This Open House is our chance to really show off everything that makes USFSM part of a preeminent university system,” said Brandon Avery, associate director of admissions.

“Students don’t just hear about the many programs offered here, but learn how to properly finance their education, add value to their degree and move into their chosen career in a timely manner,” he said. “We really hope students learn about all that’s offered at USFSM and enjoy this opportunity.”

Learn about USFSM’s four colleges and specific degree programs, including:

  • Accounting
  • Biology
  • Communication Science & Disorders
  • Criminology
  • Elementary Education (future teachers)
  • Finance
  • Hospitality Management
  • Pre-Engineering
  • Risk Management & Insurance

Also learn about USFSM’s unique partnerships with USF’s College of Engineering, Stetson University College of Law and Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine (LECOM), which provide a pathway to degrees in engineering, law, medicine and dentistry.

Visit to learn about USFSM degree programs.

To attend the USFSM Open House, visit

Learn about USF Sarasota-Manatee during Transfer Week, Feb. 3-7

USFSM’s Admissions Office invites potential transfer students to visit the campus next week to learn how USFSM can make the transfer process as smooth and easy as possible.

Students can book 30-minute in-person, video-chat or phone appointments from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. all next week, from Feb. 3 to Feb. 7.

To schedule an appointment or learn more, visit, the click “Transfer Events.”

Earn a Master of Social Work degree at USF Sarasota-Manatee campus

msw social work masters usf usfsm
The USFSM campus will host a Master of Social Work cohort this summer.

Applications are now being accepted for the new Master of Social Work cohort.

USF Sarasota-Manatee’s Master of Social Work degree program will begin this summer and run 2½ years, including a two-year field internship. Afterward, graduates will be free to pursue a psychotherapy license. The deadline to apply is Feb. 15.

Learn more at A link with additional information about the Sarasota program is available on that site.

Also for more information, contact Jane Roberts, PhD, at or Cheryl Hamlin, field coordinator at USF, at, or call (941) 359-4464.

Reverse Career Fair set for March 26, expanded to include USFSM, SCF, Ringling College and NCF

Bulls Notebook: International Education Week returns to USFSM
Last year’s Reverse Career Fair was at USFSM. This year’s fair is at New College of Florida and includes USFSM, New College, Ringling College of Art and Design and State College of Florida.

Last fall’s inaugural USFSM “Reverse Career Fair” sparked positive feedback from students and employers while earning recognition as a best practice by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

Now, USFSM’s Career Services Office is partnering with State College of Florida, Ringling College of Art and Design and New College of Florida to create the first “Regional Reverse Career Fair,” scheduled for March 26 at New College.

USFSM’s Career Services Office will accept student applications for the fair through Jan. 31.

To participate, apply through Handshake at

For questions, contact Ben Hyland (Heins) at or Bart Stucker at

Last year’s reverse career fair was a success with 82 percent of participants – USFSM students and recent graduates – receiving job or internship offers.

“Those student participants earned their success,” Hyland, coordinator of internships and career readiness, said. “They took the training seriously, prepared well and nailed it. We are beyond excited to do this again, especially with our education partners around the community.”

Traditional career fairs empower employers, who wait behind tables for applicants to approach them. Reverse career fairs flip that dynamic so that students are able to spotlight their skills and achievements while fielding employers’ questions.

Not every student who applies and sends in a résumé will be accepted for the fair; only 40 will be chosen. The application process closes Jan. 31, with interviews to select finalists scheduled for Feb. 10-14.

Visit for more information.

USFSM welcomes 4th Annual Financial Literacy Day: Understanding Global Markets & Finance

Loretta J. Mester, PhD

Loretta J. Mester, PhD, president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland, will lead a distinguished lineup of speakers at the Fourth Annual Financial Literacy Day: Understanding Global Markets and Finance, set for Feb. 14 at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota.

Other featured speakers include Jay Bryson, PhD, managing director and acting chief economist at Wells Fargo Bank; William A. Strauss, senior economic advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago; and Michael McKee, an international economics and politics correspondent on Bloomberg TV and Radio.

Cumberland Advisors, the Global Interdependence Center (GIC) and USF Sarasota-Manatee are sponsoring the half-day event, which begins at 8 a.m. the Selby Auditorium.

To register, visit

Also featured:

  • Megan E. Greene, senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School
  • Nicholas Colas, co-founder of DataTrek Research, which produces the DataTrek Morning Briefing on investment and economic news
  • John R. Mousseau, president, CEO and director of fixed income at Cumberland Advisors
  • Dave Nadig, managing director of, which provides news and analysis about exchange-traded funds
  • Chris Hartshorn, chief commercial officer at risQ, Inc., which models financial risks posed by climate change
  • Christopher Whalen, chairman of Whalen Global Advisors, LLC, and the author of three books, including, Ford Men: From Inspiration to Enterprise (Laissez Faire Books, 2017)
  • Eddie Sanchez Jr., DBA, a professor of finance at USF Sarasota-Manatee

David R. Kotok, chief investment officer and chairman of the board of Sarasota-based Cumberland Advisors, and USF Sarasota-Manatee Regional Chancellor Karen A. Holbrook, PhD, will offer welcoming remarks.

Bloomberg-certified recruiting event set for USFSM
David Kotok

“This year we plan to deeply discuss credit and debt markets with a worldwide perspective,” Kotok said. “We will examine payments systems, electronic and virtual. And we will hear a keynote from the member of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee. We assembled a blockbuster speaker lineup for the region to hear, question and appreciate.”  

Created in March 2017 to promote financial education, Financial Literacy Day is intended as a forum for investors, state and local officials, financial institutions, market analysts, pension trustees, policy makers and members of the general public to learn more about financial markets and economic issues and to pose questions to experts.

The Fourth Annual Financial Literacy Day: Understanding Global Markets and Finance will feature panel discussions focused on two chief topics: the bond market, which will explore categories of debt and debt influences, including budget deficits and central bank quantitative easing; and Real Time Payments (RTP), which will examine digital currencies, including Bitcoin and Libra, and mobile payment services such as Venmo.

Mester, who became president and CEO of the Federal Reserve Bank of Cleveland in June 2014, will deliver the keynote speech. She is a distinguished and widely respected economist who participates on the Federal Open Market Committee in the formation of U.S. monetary policy. She oversees 1,000 employees in Cleveland, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh who conduct economic research, supervise banking institutions and provide payment services to commercial banks and the U.S. government.

For more information about the Fourth Annual Financial Literacy Day: Understanding Global Markets and Finance, including the agenda, speakers and speakers’ biographies, visit

For more information or to register, visit To learn more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

Drone TETRA 2020 tech conference coming to USFSM campus

Drone TETRA 2020 will be held on Feb. 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at USF Sarasota-Manatee.

Interest in drone technology is soaring with conventions and expositions globally. Now, the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee is partnering with drone experts to hold a conference to explore drone use in educational, commercial and recreational settings.

Drone Technologies, Education, Training, Research and Applications (TETRA), or Drone TETRA 2020, will be held on Feb. 21, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at USF Sarasota-Manatee, 8350 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota. The conference is free, but registration is required.

The all-day event will focus on the technology’s rapidly growing role in recreation, agriculture, utility inspections, public safety, surveying, mapping, cinema, photography and national defense and security.

Ehsan Sheybani usf usfsm
Ehsan Sheybani, PhD

“This conference is for anyone with an interest in drones, from the casual user to professionals who want to learn more about drone technology and its potential uses,” conference co-chair Ehsan Sheybani, PhD, said.

The event’s speakers will include Robert Bishop, PhD, dean of the College of Engineering, the University of South Florida; Yu Zhang, PhD, associate professor, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, USF; and Marvin Andujar, PhD, assistant professor of computer science and engineering, USF.

Also scheduled is a special session to examine the science and engineering behind drones, including Artificial Intelligence, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality and the Internet of Things, along with drone competitions for both middle and high school students and the general public.

Sheybani, an associate professor of information systems and decision sciences, and Giti Javidi, an associate professor of information technology and cybersecurity, are serving as conference co-chairs. Both are from USF Sarasota-Manatee.

The conference includes lunch and refreshments. Registration is free. To register or for more information, visit

For more about USF Sarasota-Manatee, visit

Deryol completes review for his online criminology course

Rustu Deryol, PhD

Criminology instructor Rustu Deryol, PhD, has successfully completed an Internal Quality Matters Course Review for his online course, Crime Prevention, CCJ4933.

 The Internal Quality Matters Course Review process is rigorous and designed to certify quality and alignment through the Quality Matters rubric of best practices in online learning.

Courses that meet the Internal Quality Matters Review’s requirements may display the USFSM Quality logo on the front page of their online course descriptions. They’ll also receive the “High Quality” designation in the Florida Virtual Campus course directory.

To learn more about Quality Matters, contact E-Learning Services.

Read more news stories below or view as a list