University of South Florida

College of Behavioral and Community Sciences


Congratulations, Spring 2024 graduates!

USF President Rhea Law gives a bulls hand gesture at commencement

Spring 2024 Commencement was held at the Yuengling Center on the Tampa campus with ceremonies Thursday, May 2 through Sunday, May 5.

A total of 538 students earned degrees from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) during USF's Spring 2024 Commencement. The commencement ceremonies included 369 students receiving undergraduate degrees, 153 students receiving master's degrees, and 16 students receiving doctoral degrees from CBCS.

Students graduating this semester represented 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.

Haley Campbell

Haley Campbell
Bachelor of Science in long term care administration*

Haley Campbell is only 22 years old, but many of her closest friends are well over 50. She says it was those impactful relationships that influenced her decision to pursue a career in long term care administration.

“I’ve always loved being with older people,” said Campbell. “I want to work in a field where I would provide care to older people because it has always been easy for me to connect with them.”

Campbell is a recipient of the School of Aging Studies Tollette Family Endowed Scholarship in Gerontology and the Kymberly Jane Harris Endowed Scholarship in Long Term Care Administration.

“It has been a blessing to receive that financial assistance to help me forward in my education,” said Campbell. “These scholarships were part of the reason I’m completing my degree debt free. I’m very thankful for that.”

After graduation, Campbell plans to take the examination to become licensed to operate nursing homes. She will also complete courses at Polk State College to earn a physical therapy assistant degree, with the goal of using her knowledge to assist older people to become physically strong and regain independence.

*The Bachelor of Science in long term care administration has been renamed and will be known in the future as the Bachelor of Science in health care administration.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Health Care Operations taught by Kendra Ferrero, PhD

“Dr. Ferrero has worked for many years in the field, and it showed in the way she taught the class, providing many examples and information that I never would have learned in a textbook.”

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student?

“I’ll miss all of the caring staff I’ve encountered in my major that have helped me by listening to my many questions, and then providing me with necessary resources or steering me in a direction that had the answer. The college has amazing staff who go above and beyond to assist their students.

"Dr. Lindsay Peterson was always so willing to meet with me in person, hear my concerns, and offer guidance. Dr. Victor Molinari, who is now retired, had a wealth of knowledge from personal experience to share with his students and Dr. Kallol Bhattacharyya was genuine and encouraged me to challenge myself academically. Dr. Kendra Ferrero taught from experience in the field, and I enjoyed listening and appreciated that she always welcomed questions.

"Amy Corbin, Dr. Debra Dobbs, and Dr. Nasreen Sadeq were caring and helpful, and Dr. Lu Norstrand answered so many of my questions. Lisa Landis, a previous advisor of mine was also so organized and helpful."

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program?

“I would say ‘don’t hesitate to reach out to your professors and advisor with any questions you may have.’ They welcome questions and want to help you. Use the resources they provide you, and I highly advise that you take charge of your own future. There are many people who can and want to assist you, but ultimately your career is in your hands.”

Jeffrey Centeno Jerviss

Jeffrey Centeno-Jerviss, BCaBA
Master of Arts in applied behavior analysis

Jeffrey Centeno-Jerviss, BCaBA, wants his fellow USF students, especially those who are struggling, to know that they can do anything they set their mind to. If anyone is a great example of that, it is Centeno-Jerviss, himself. Not only did he manage his mental health challenges including anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder during his time at USF, but he also lost 130 pounds, became a first-generation college graduate, and passed the Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) exam.

“My knowledge from USF allowed me to pass the BCaBA exam on my first attempt!” said Centeno-Jerviss. “After graduation, I plan to pursue a career as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. I have also considered earning a certification in substance abuse counseling so that I may service a larger population.”

Centeno-Jerviss was inspired by his supervisors and peers while working as a registered behavior technician to earn his degree in applied behavior analysis (ABA).

“The way they conducted themselves inspired me to further pursue the field,” said Centeno-Jerviss. “I had already found the field of applied behavior analysis when I started my master's program, accidentally, in fact! I had always wanted to help people and found a job posting for a registered behavior technician. Sarah, one of my supervisors, took a chance on me and hired me with no experience!”

The master’s in applied behavior analysis at USF is an online program. Centeno-Jerviss says that being an online student gave him the advantage of working at his own pace and the flexibility to obtain his fieldwork hours and work full time.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Applied Behavior Analysis Basic Principles taught by Justin Han, MS, BCBA
Behavior Theory taught by Heather Zerger, PhD, BCBA-D
Practicum taught by Anthony Concepcion, PhD, BCBA-D

“Each one of the professors showed extreme kindness, compassion, and found ways to make learning a truly enjoyable experience. Applied Behavior Analysis Basic Principles taught us the foundations of ABA and was incredibly interesting. It is impossible to have an impact on the future of the field if we do not know where we started! Behavior Theory, on the other hand, provided insight on the complexities of ABA, highlighting different ideologies in the field. This course made us think deeply. Finally, Practicum provided us with a recap of all that we have learned throughout the course. It was a true test of our knowledge and enabled us an opportunity to reflect while adding new ideas!”

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student?

“I will miss most having so many opportunities to engage with my peers and professors. We had such intellectually stimulating conversations about ABA and how to evolve with the field. This included personal testimonies from my peers about their experiences, and how they have adapted to an ever-changing environment!”

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program?

“I would give the advice that what you are about to embark on will be difficult. At times, you may even want to quit or give up. However, it all gets easier and becomes very much worth it. Focus on what you can achieve once you finish the program, and as cliché as it sounds, believe in yourself!”

Z'Leah Liburd

Z'Leah Liburd, BSW
Bachelor of Social Work

Z’Leah Liburd is driven by a passion for service and leadership and she says that her journey in social work began with a strong desire to make a difference in the lives of those around her. As a transfer student from a smaller community college, Liburd is proud of graduating with high honors from USF.

“I embraced the rigorous class schedule in the School of Social Work, recognizing it as an opportunity for growth and academic excellence,” said Liburd. “I dedicated myself to my studies, pushing myself beyond my limits to meet the demands of university-level coursework, as well as joined clubs and participated in a number of school-based activities.”

Liburd, who lives with visual impairment, was determined to overcome any obstacles in her path, including adapting to a new school’s accommodations office.  

“I sought out the necessary resources and support systems available to ensure that I received the accommodations I needed to thrive academically,” said Liburd. “In the end, graduating with high honors from USF symbolizes more than just academic achievement; it represents my resilience, adaptability, and unwavering commitment to success despite the obstacles I encountered along the way.”

Liburd has been involved in many organizations during her time as a student, including student government, honor societies, the National Federation of the Blind (NFB) of Florida’s student division, and the National Association of Blind Students content creation committee. As a NFB delegate, she has spoken with legislators on Capitol Hill about bills impacting the blind. Liburd interned with the Children’s Home Network and now plans to work for the organization after graduation. She plans to continue her education in the Master of Social Work program at USF in spring 2025.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Multi-Methods of Social Work Practice I taught by Kerry Littlewood, PhD, MSW

“Dr. Littlewood's genuine care for her students made a significant difference in our learning experience. One of the aspects I particularly enjoyed about the course was the emphasis on small-group activities. These sessions allowed for more personalized attention and fostered a sense of camaraderie among classmates.

"The use of videos helped to illustrate concepts in a tangible way, making the material more accessible and engaging. Projects were another highlight of the course. They provided hands-on experience and allowed us to apply what we had learned in a practical setting. Dr. Littlewood's guidance throughout these projects was invaluable, as she not only encouraged creativity, but also provided constructive feedback to help us improve.

"Additionally, Dr. Littlewood's commitment to diversity and social justice was evident throughout the course. She ensured that we were equipped with the necessary skills to work with diverse populations, including those who are disadvantaged and oppressed."

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student?

“Aside from the rigorous, highly structured academic training I received, which prepared me for my chosen profession, there were also so many other moments of fun and spontaneity. From my unexpected election to the USF Homecoming Committee and numerous other extracurriculars, to special occasions for student-led community outreach, such as the Legislative Education and Advocacy Days through the School of Social Work, I never knew exactly what exciting and new opportunities awaited me.”

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program?

“Time management is vital. If you have a mentor who’s gone through the program, their guidance and input will be invaluable. Also, communication with professors will keep you from falling behind and misunderstanding assignments.”

Vanessa Centelles

Vanessa Centelles, PhD
Doctorate in criminology

Vanessa Centelles, PhD, is a three-time USF graduate, earning her bachelor’s degree, master’s degree, and now a doctorate in criminology from USF! A Miami native, she says that relocating to Tampa to pursue her degrees afforded her the opportunity to enjoy a vibrant city and nearby beaches, while keeping somewhat close to home. She stayed because she knew she was in good hands in the Department of Criminology, which is considered one of the best in the nation.

“I loved the classes offered and opportunities afforded if I remained a student at USF,” said Centelles. “I truly remained here, though, because of the wonderful mentorship of Dr. Ráchael Powers. She encouraged me to pursue a master's program at USF, which exposed me to a lot of different research and career opportunities, ultimately leading me to pursue my PhD and a career in academia.”

Centelles received the inaugural Scott F. Allen Outstanding Ambassador Award during the Department of Criminology’s 2020 Wall of Fame ceremony, which she describes as one of her proudest accomplishments so far.

“Dr. Allen was an incredible person, and I was privileged to receive an award named after such a compassionate individual and dedicated scholar,” said Centelles.

Centelles’ work centers on cultural processes and marginalized/minoritized populations. She says that as an Afro-Latina, most of her interest in this area stems from a genuine curiosity to explore how lived experiences of people of color influence interactions with the criminal legal system and, more broadly, criminological outcomes such as perceptions and experiences of offending and victimization. Centelles will continue her work in this area as a tenure-track assistant professor position at Colorado State University in their Department of Sociology and will be moving to Fort Collins, Colorado in July. 

“While I am trading the beaches for mountains and Bulls for Rams, I am excited to still be able to rep green and gold!” said Centelles.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Victimology taught by Joni Bernbaum, MA (favorite undergraduate course)
Communities and Crime taught by Lyndsay Boggess, PhD (favorite graduate course)

"The courses I took in my undergraduate degree, particularly Victimology with Ms. Bernbaum, really helped me figure out which direction I wanted to go in—mainly victimology, exploring experiences of intimate partner violence as I did for my dissertation, for example. In reflecting, it is incredible how my early experiences at USF paved the way for my career and long-term goals nearly a decade later."

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student?

"In my opinion, we have one of the most beautiful campuses in the state, so I will miss the greenery and palm trees; I will especially miss the blooming jasmines during spring." 

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program? 

"It's perfectly fine not to have all the answers; the key is to remain receptive to the journey ahead. This is only the beginning of your story!"

Sally Selevan

Sally Selevan
Bachelor of Arts in language, speech, and hearing sciences
Bachelor of Science in aging sciences

Sally Selevan’s interest in audiology began as a child as she watched her mother struggle with one-sided hearing loss. She observed firsthand the impact it made on her daily life and how, with the help of an audiologist, her mother was able to get the necessary treatment and support to improve her hearing.

“Since then, I have had the opportunity to shadow multiple audiologists which helped to reinforce my passion,” said Selevan. “These experiences showed me the importance of access to audiological services and the positive impact it can have on an individual's life.” 

Since becoming a student at USF, Selevan was awarded the CBCS Undergraduate Research Certificate, participated as a student in the Judy Genshaft Honors College, published a research paper, and worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Auditory Rehabilitation and Clinical Trials (ARCT) Laboratory.

“Under the guidance of Dr. Michelle Arnold and Dr. Victoria Sanchez within the ARCT lab, I dedicated over two years to impactful projects, one example being Aging, Cognition, and Hearing Evaluation in Elders,” said Selevan. “This journey aligned seamlessly with my vision of becoming a research audiologist, and my dedication highlights my focus on contributing to and advancing best-practice interventions in the field.”

Selevan, who was unable to attend her high school graduation ceremony due to the COVID-19 pandemic, says walking across the stage at commencement will be a deeply meaningful and memorable experience for her and her family. After graduation, Selevan plans to become an audiologist through USF’s Doctorate in Audiology program.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Introduction to Disorders of Hearing taught by Jill Raney, PhD.

"In this class I was able to learn foundational knowledge, treatment options, and diagnostic skills. This included topics such as how to read an audiogram, how to conduct a hearing evaluation, how to diagnose a hearing loss, and types of outer, middle, and inner ear disorders. This is one of three audiology courses that you can take in the major and it definitely reinforced my love and passion for audiology." 

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student? 

"One of the things that I will miss the most about my time as a USF student is the friends and social connections I made along the way. During those four years, I formed bonds that were unlike any other. Whether it was celebrating victories or supporting each other through challenges, knowing that I had a tight-knit group of friends by my side made every moment more meaningful. But now, as graduation approaches and we scatter to different corners of the world, I know things will not be the same, but we will make an effort to stay in touch by scheduling phone calls, video chats, and occasional visits whenever possible. Though we may be miles apart, I take comfort in knowing that the bonds we formed will endure, no matter where life takes us."

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program?

"Starting a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders (CSD) is an exciting journey that opens up a wide range of opportunities in the field of speech, language, and hearing sciences. Advice that I would give new students starting in my program is to take advantage of the coursework and learning opportunities offered in the program to explore different areas within the field and engage in extracurricular activities, student organizations, and volunteer opportunities related to CSD such as Minority Students in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Bilingual Language and Literacy Investigative and Networking Group, and National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association.

"Lastly, if possible, seek opportunities to gain exposure to clinical settings and hands-on experiences early in your undergraduate career. USF is a great place for this since we have an audiology and speech language pathology clinic on campus."

Lujayn Biuk

Lujayn Biuk
Bachelor of Science in behavioral healthcare with a behavioral healthcare across the lifespan concentration

Lujayn Biuk was inspired to pursue a degree in behavioral healthcare because she has a passion for helping others and promoting mental health and well-being.

“This field allows me to combine my interest in psychology with my desire to make a positive impact in people's lives, especially within the Muslim community,” said Biuk.

Biuk has also supported her community as an officer in the USF Sisters United Muslim Association (SUMA), which she says has also had a profound impact on her college experience.

“Being involved in this organization allowed me to connect with like-minded individuals, engage in meaningful discussions, and contribute to initiatives that promote inclusivity and empowerment within the Muslim community and beyond,” said Biuk. “Through SUMA I have met so many amazing young women and have made lifetime friendships!”

Biuk, who is described by faculty as a great scholar, has been on the Dean’s List multiple times. After graduation, Biuk plans to pursue a master’s degree in mental health counseling at USF, become licensed as a mental health counselor, and focus on supporting Muslim women and children.

“My goal is to provide culturally sensitive and empowering counseling services to this underserved population, promoting their mental health and well-being,” said Biuk.

What was your favorite course in the program?

Child Development and Trauma taught by Nicoleta Zenn, EdS, NCSP
Mental Health and Addictive Disorders taught by Vivian Mills, PhD, MSW
Cultural Diversity, Health and Behavioral Health taught by Lanicia Marshall, LMHC, EdS, CAP, RPT-S

"Each of these instructors created an engaging and supportive learning environment that encouraged critical thinking and collaboration among students. Their dedication to teaching and mentorship truly enhanced my learning experience and I am very grateful!

What will you miss most about your time as a USF student?  

"What I will miss the most about my time as a USF student is the sense of community and camaraderie among classmates and faculty members. The support and encouragement I received from my peers and mentors have been invaluable to my academic and personal growth."

What advice would you give to a new student starting in your program?

"My advice to new students starting in the behavioral healthcare program would be to actively engage in internships, volunteer opportunities, and extracurricular activities related to your field of interest. These experiences not only enhance learning but also provide valuable practical skills and networking opportunities. 

"I would also encourage you to seize the incredible opportunity to engage in one-on-one conversations with faculty members in this field. Some of the most enriching and enlightening moments of my academic journey have stemmed from these interactions.  In these meetings, I gleaned insights and knowledge that surpassed what I could have learned in an entire class. The faculty members in this department are truly remarkable and talented individuals who are eager to offer their time and guidance. It's essential not to overlook or underestimate the value of these interactions."

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About College of Behavioral & Community Sciences News

The Mission of the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences (CBCS) is to advance knowledge through interdisciplinary teaching, research, and service that improves the capacity of individuals, families, and diverse communities to promote productive, satisfying, healthy, and safe lives across the lifespan. CBCS envisions the college as a globally recognized leader that creates innovative solutions to complex conditions that affect the behavior and well-being of individuals, families, and diverse communities.