Connecting Academics, Community, and Career Readiness
Orlando Huertas-Hermina has participated in the Community Engagement Associates Program (CEAP) program since August 2018. His community placement is with the University Area Community
Development Corporation (UACDC), whose primary focus is the redevelopment and sustainability
of the neighborhood west of the USF Tampa campus.
Orlando is a first-generation college student majoring in Business Analytics with a concentration in Cyber Security. At the age of eight, he moved to Tampa Bay with his family from Puerto Rico. He then moved to the University Area, which influenced his decision to work at the UACDC. Orlando chose to apply for CEAP in partnership with the UACDC because he wanted to play a direct role in improving his community. Orlando not only impacted the area he grew up in, but the work has impacted him as well. “It has been a great experience so far,” he stated. “It has allowed me to grow personally and professionally.” Orlando has seen improvements in his communication and leadership skills through his work at the UACDC.
Orlando’s on-site supervisor, Catalina Cedeño echoed his sentiments of personal growth. She has witnessed enormous development with Orlando in terms of his communication. Specifically, Catalina notes he has come out of his shell, more open in his communication, and shown greater initiative as time has gone on. Catalina also expressed her appreciation for his insider perspective as a University Area resident, and at the same time, his objective perspective as university student employee.
Orlando’s work with the UACDC has supported him with his academics, specifically his business classes, where professors were covering topics he was already familiar with from his work-study placement. His sense of career readiness has also developed greatly. For example, Orlando had a job interview at Cyber Florida in which he was able to speak about managerial and business practices, and specifically about a business dashboard matrix he had worked on at the UACDC. When Orlando interviewed with Cyber Florida, they asked about the Business Dashboard Matrix and were deeply impressed. Cyber Florida called back—they officially offered Orlando the position of Security Analyst. Orlando’s story is a testimonial of how students can yield meaningful outcomes for career readiness through community engagement practices.