More than 300 students graduated during fall commencement with degrees from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS). USF's commencement ceremonies included 207 students receiving undergraduate degrees, 108 students receiving master's degrees, and six students receiving doctoral degrees from CBCS.
Students graduating this semester represent the college's Department of Child and Family Studies, Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Department of Criminology, Department of Mental Health Law and Policy, School of Aging Studies, and School of Social Work.
We're happy to recognize a few outstanding students from this graduating class.
Master of Arts in Clinical Rehabilitation & Mental Health Counseling
When asked about her favorite courses in the Clinical Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling (CRMHC) program, Samantha DiCorte says she most enjoyed her group therapy and Diagnosis and Treatment of Psychopathology classes. She says she was able to apply information from these courses to her job working with individuals who are high need/high risk.
"I feel that I was able to combine previous classes on theories and interventions with both classes," says DiCorte. "I loved learning about the diagnoses, and in group therapy I enjoyed creating relationships with my classmates."
DiCorte wrote her thesis on individuals' characteristics and social support. She says she wouldn't have been able to do it without her committee members Chih-Chin Chou, PhD, CRC; Marilyn Stern, PhD, CRC; Nan Sook Park, PhD, MSW; and Svetlana Yampolskaya, PhD.
After graduation, DiCorte says she'll miss the support and encouragement she received from her professors and seeing her friends and classmates. She recommends that current and future students in the CRMHC program lean on each other.
"Definitely soak up all the information because it is so important! Put yourself out there and make friends in your cohort; they can be an amazing support system, especially since they are going through the same thing you are," she says. "And don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone – it’s the best way to learn and grow!"
DiCorte plans to continue working and will apply to be a registered mental health counselor intern. As for her personal life, she says cannot wait to spend more time with her family and friends. And take a nap.
Master of Science in Child & Adolescent Behavioral Health
Christine Evans says that her favorite class in her program was Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Policy.
"The professors were wonderful, and while the briefs are short, only 3-4 pages roughly, the succinct explanation as to 'why?' and 'how?' requires a great deal of organization," says Evans. "The professors helped extensively with this, and I believe that after that class my writing improved significantly."
After graduation, Evans says she will continue to work with families and young children in the community. She has started her own consulting business and hopes to work as a contractor in schools, aiding early childhood educators with strategies that support the individual children and the classroom as a whole. Evans also plans to work privately with families in their homes and in the classroom.
Evans says that she has has loved USF's learning environment and the ability to use the knowledge she gained every day in the workplace.
"When I began the program in January 2021, I had been out of school for over 25 years, so there was definitely a learning curve," says Evans. "The first few months was filled with many evenings of tears! But with the help of the professors and my two teenage daughters, here I am."
Evans says the two pieces of advice she would share with incoming students is to read the syllabus and to get to know your professors and your advisor. They will provide a wealth of information, help, and guidance.
Bachelor of Arts in Criminology
Ashton Labert says his favorite class in the Criminology program was the special topics class called Parricide, taught by Kathleen Heide, PhD.
"I enjoyed this class because we were able to review and consider the mindsets of people, typically younger children and adults, who killed their own parents," says Labert. "The class was engaging, and Dr. Heide had numerous examples from her experiences in the field over the years. I would highly recommend this class to other students."
After graduation, Labert will begin working with the Tampa Police Department as a telecommunicator in their Communications Bureau. He says the best advice he could give a new student starting in the Criminology program is to be as proactive as possible.
"I always made sure to stay on top of my assignments," says Labert. "By doing this, I was able to stay ahead of everything and not fall behind. However, it is also important for a new student to schedule time for themselves."
Bachelor of Social Work
Paul Muñoz says his favorite class was Human Behavior and the Social Environment II with Nan Sook Park, PhD, MSW.
"Lessons were given in the early morning, but Dr. Park had a way of making the course stimulating and engaging," says Muñoz. "We were able to grasp the fundamental understanding of how various environments influence people's behaviors pertaining to individuals in groups, organizations, communities, society, and the cultures surrounding us."
Muñoz says that he will miss the supportive faculty educators and his outstanding undergraduate social work cohort that he bonded with over his two-year journey toward a BSW. But Muñoz has more to look forward to. After graduation, he says he intends to pursue a Master of Social Work degree at USF while persisting in advocating for and delivering services to refugees, immigrants, and the unaccompanied children population.
His advice to the BSW students who come after him?
"Trust yourself and trust your dreams," says Muñoz. "Hard work is fulfilling to the soul and mind, and it feels good in the end when you have accomplished those objectives. Social work is a rewarding and growing career, so study hard, manage your time, avoid procrastination, and, most importantly, practice self-care. You'll be successful!"
Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology
Trina Tolentino says that her favorite class in the Speech-Language Pathology program was Seminar in Dysphagia.
"It was such a challenging yet rewarding course," says Tolentino. "I learned so much and hope to apply my knowledge as I begin my career as a speech-language pathologist."
After graduation, Tolentino plans to complete her clinical fellowship and explore
her new city. She says she will miss seeing her friends and mentors at USF, but she
is thankful to have had such a great support system.
Tolentino says her advice to new and current students is to take the opportunity to step out of your comfort zone.
"Whether it's asking a question during class, volunteering to help in the clinic, or saying 'yes' to a public speaking opportunity ... it's all worth the growth and confidence you build in yourself!"
Doctorate in Aging Sciences
Carlyn Vogel says her favorite course in her program was the PhD Seminar in Mental Health with Victor Molinari, PhD, ABPP.
"He told great stories about his clinical experience and provided real world examples of topics learned in class," says Vogel. "He also showed interesting videos that further demonstrated course concepts within a clinical setting."
Vogel says she is interested in both academic and industry positions after graduation and that the interdisciplinary approach to her training in aging sciences has prepared her for both career paths.
She looks forward to maintaining connections and collaborations with colleagues at USF and says that her advice to future and current students is to connect with your cohort, other students, and faculty.
"Graduate school is an endurance contest, and you just need to keep going," she says. "You will have your high and low moments. It may help to choose a few phrases to keep you moving forward. Phrases often spoken within my cohort were 'This too shall pass' and 'We’re gonna make it.' I often reminded myself that 'I can do hard things.' Eventually, this will pass, and you will make it because you can do hard things, too."