Feature Stories

USF accounting students volunteer to offer free income tax help

Luke Richardson, an associate professor of instruction and Kerkering Barberio Fellow, teaches in the Lynn Pippenger School of Accountancy at the USF Muma College of Business.

With just over a month until Tax Day, last-minute low- and moderate-income taxpayers can still take advantage of a federal program to have their taxes done for free by IRS-certified volunteers. Among the thousands who volunteer in the national program are University of South Florida Muma College of Business accounting students who are eager to apply the lessons they’ve learned in the classroom and to contribute to the community.

FBI Human Trafficking Prevention Training



On Thursday, March 1, 2018, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Palm Beach County Human Trafficking Task Force gave a presentation to University of South Florida (USF) students, staff, and faculty as well as local community leaders. The event was co-organized by the student organization Triumph over Trafficking (TOT), the USF Department of Sociology, and the USF Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships (OCEP).  

A Multimodal Approach to State Road 580 in Dunedin


As part of the Community Sustainability Partnership Program (CSPP), the project was completed in Multimodal Transportation Planning, a graduate leveling planning course taught by Kristine Williams, AICP. Throughout the semester, students evaluated the existing conditions along the corridor; proposed corridor management, land use, and complete street concepts; and identified implementations strategies for improving the compatibility of a multimodal transit network along the corridor.

Spoto High School Students GEAR-UP for USF


A partnership between USF and Hillsborough County Public Schools aims to increase college awareness among low-income high school students. GEAR-UP, Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs, offers critical early college awareness and support activities to improve access to higher education.

USF, Hillsborough County Public Schools, and East Bay High School Gear Up Students for College Access  


A partnership between the University of South Florida and Hillsborough County Public Schools aims to increase the college awareness among low-income students. Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR-UP) offers critical early college awareness and support activities to improve access to higher education. Read more >>


USF Faculty member, Elizabeth Dunn, in collaboration with the USF Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) 


USF Faculty member Elizabeth Dunn and the USF Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) mobilized 250 students, faculty, staff, and alumni to assist over 25 different governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations with the response to Hurricane Irma. Read more >> 


Refugees + English as a Second Language (ESL) = American Stories


 Dr. Roberta D. Baer and Emily Holbrook created a fantastic service-learning opportunity for USF students that is supporting new members of the Tampa Bay community! Applying their ethnographic interviewing skills in the field, students interviewed local refugees about their lives and experiences.  Read more >>


Outstanding Community-Engaged Teaching Award Recipient Dr. Maria Brea-Spahn Finds Inspiration Working with Students and Families Developing Literacy in Bilingual Learners 



A young mom rode her bicycle with her two children, one on the front and one in the back, for an hour each way in a torrential downpour to attend one of Dr. Maria Brea-Spahn's highly successful family literacy nights developed as part of her service-learning courses. Little wonder that Brea-Spahn was one of two USF faculty to receive the 2015 Outstanding Engaged Teaching Award for her literacy outreach work in the community. Read more >>
USF Professor of Anthropology Christian Wells received a crucial Research
that Matters grant to help fulfill a community's dream of building a collection for a new cultural museum
Cultural tourists are becoming increasingly selective as they make their travel plans, seeking out "undiscovered" regions in search of what they hope is a little piece of paradise. In the wake of this growing movement, a small village community like Seine Bight in Belize has become a highly sought after destination for adventure seeking travelers. Yet, University of South Florida anthropologist Christian Wells has found there is a bittersweet side to this rise in tourism, because the community itself does not always reap the benefits of this increased exposure. Read more >>

Research that Matters grant recipient Dr. Elizabeth Miller studies breastfeeding support among African-American new moms
Mothers, practitioners, researchers, doctors, and doulas extol the virtues of breastfeeding. It is considered the "perfect" food for a newborn with its own moniker "breast if best." Yet baby formula is an over $10 billion dollar a year industry, and there are many obstacles to breastfeeding, including moms heading back to work and social pressures to keep this natural form of nurturing newborns hidden behind closed doors. Read more>>


OCEP Grantee Elizabeth Dunn – a Ray of Sunshine in the Field of Global Emergency Management


 Elizabeth Dunn is a ray of sunshine in the world of global disaster management and humanitarian relief at the USF College of Public Health (COPH), where she serves as an adjunct faculty member. With her dynamic personality and generous spirit, she touches the lives of her students who want to follow in her footsteps. Together they work on a wide variety of public health related projects while sharing a passion for helping others. Read more >>


WLP Junior Faculty Recipient Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman Returns from Summer in Brazil with Deeper Understanding of Human Trafficking


While interviewing working class Afro-Brazilian families for her upcoming book The Color of Love, Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman began to notice shadowy figures that seemed out-of-place in the family dynamics she had traveled to Brazil to study. Hordge-Freeman, USF Assistant Professor of Sociology and recipient of the 2015 Women in Leadership and Philanthropy junior faculty award, spent sixteen months over the course of the past five years studying the interpersonal dynamics of ten families, finding that racial hierarchies and stigmas exist within families. Read more>>


Dr. David Himmelgreen's Research that Matters grant will study the impact of school back packs on childhood hunger


 One in four children locally are hungry. Half of local children receive a free lunch at school but may not have enough food at night, on the weekends, and during the long summers, according to Feeding America Tampa Bay. In fact, 16 million children nationwide are "food insecure," which means they have "inadequate access to sufficient, nutritious and safe food."  Read more>> 


Community Collaboration: Feature on Research that Matters grant recipient Dr. Roberta Baer (originally printed in USF Magazine)


Anthropologist Roberta Baer's work with Burmese refugees is one example of USF's institution-wide commitment to university-community engagement, the central focus of the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships. Tucked away in a quiet area southeast of Ybor City and Port Tampa Bay lies Tampa Bay Gardens. Spreading across six acres behind St. Mary's Ethiopian Orthodox Church, the garden has become a sanctuary for Tampa-area refugees, primarily those from Burma. Read more >> 


Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman Develops Global Citizens, Not Global Tourists


Dr. Elizabeth Hordge-Freeman's star continues to rise. During the 2014-2015 academic year, she was named the inaugural recipient of the Outstanding Community Engaged Teaching Award (a new, annual award created by the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships and awarded by the Provost's Office to honor community engaged teaching) and the Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award. Read more >>


Small seed grants from OCEP lead to over $235,000 in grant proposals written by USF students for local non-profits


As the proliferation of not-for-profits makes the process of seeking funding as challenging as maintaining strong programming, one USF instructor is doing her part to teach students how to write strong and persuasive grant proposals for local organizations. Read more >> 


Tasha 2.0: An Inside Look at an Award-Winning Service-Learning Instructor


"For me, it is such an important part of the class—going out into the community and creating community in the classroom," reflected Tasha Rennels, a doctoral candidate in the Department of Communication, on her Communication, Culture, and Community class. "Community is both in the service and the learning," she continued. Read more >>


Dr. Roberta Baer has been sowing the seeds of engagement for years


"I've been doing these kinds of classes for years, even before it was called service-learning," said Anthropology Professor Roberta Baer, who seamlessly weaves service-learning pedagogy and community-based research into her ongoing work with Burmese refugees. Read more >>


Pepin Students Come for the Fun and Stay for the Learning with USF Pre-Service Teachers


Pepin Academy and the USF College of Education have a unique partnership that is both a model for a reciprocal educational relationship and a boon for our local community. Three USF College of Education faculty, Dr. Stacy Hahn, Dr. David Allsopp, and Dr. David Hoppey have worked with Pepin to build up a strong year-round connection culminating in a free, four-week summer institute for interested Pepin students. Read more >>


Faculty Fellow Dr. Iraida Carrion Engages the Community Locally and Overseas


Upon entering the Bangla Saheb Sikh temple in Delhi, India, Dr. Iraida Carrion, watched as people from all walks of life sat together on the floor sharing a meal, which is provided daily for free to anyone who wishes to join. "I felt a pang in my stomach—I need to add a service component to this course," Carrion, Associate Professor of Social Work, said of her study abroad course, which she co-taught earlier this summer with Dr. Manisha Joshi, Assistant Professor of Social Work. Read more >>


Dr. Sarina Ergas and her students help make our local water supply safe and healthy


When asked about her lifetime of work enhancing the communities in which she lives, Dr. Sarina Ergas, Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the USF Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering said with a lilt in her tone, "Liz says I'm the poster child for community engagement," referring to the Office of Community Engagement and Partnerships Director Dr. Elizabeth Strom. Read more >>


USF Students Help Older Adults Age in Place


We all love having a place to call home that feels special and reflects our identity; but as we age, our homes may someday become a hazard. A second floor may become inaccessible or a seemingly innocuous lower cabinet may become a threat to our health and safety. Nonetheless, the vast majority of adults approaching late-life wish to remain in their homes for as long as possible. Read more>>


Telling Our Stories: Exploring Fanni Green's Community Engaged Production of "the road weeps"


USF Theatre professor Fanni Green may have thought that a production of Marcus Gardley's the road weeps, the well runs dry would be impossible to stage on campus, but she "fell in love with his words" and didn't let the impossible stand in her way. On a bit of a lark, she applied for a grant from the Lark Play Development Center, and she got it. Read more>>


Dream becomes a Reality for Immigrant Students in Florida


Dr. Elizabeth Aranda, Associate Professor and Department Chair of Sociology, and her research assistant, Isabel Sousa-Rodriguez, are deeply involved in community-based research about the lives of immigrants and undocumented young people. Aranda regularly shares her research findings to help guide the political discussion of immigration reform. Read more >>


Service-Learning Champion Dr. Kelly Page Werder Puts Research into Practice


Dr. Kelly Page Werder, Associate Professor of Mass Communications, has fully integrated service-learning into her coursework. She firmly believes it is crucial for students in her courses to gain real-world experience and to feel a sense of civic responsibility for the Tampa Bay community. Over the past several years, her students have developed strategic communications plans for over eighty local and campus organizations. Read more >>


Featured Faculty: Dr. Angela Stuesse 


For Dr. Angela Stuesse, a key form of community engagement is activist research, in which "subjects" become crucial collaborators helping to conceptualize, carry out, and analyze the research that affects their lives. Dr. Stuesse, who joined USF's Department of Anthropology in the fall of 2010, is continuing her community engagement work on a multi-sited activist research project she initiated during a postdoctoral fellowship at the Kirwan Institute for the Study of Race and Ethnicity at The Ohio State University. Read more >>