USF World News

USF World connects with partners and alumni across France

TAMPA, FL (November 2, 2023) -- In October, USF World Vice President, Kiki Caruson, and Assistant Director of International Community Relations, Vanessa Martinez, traveled to France for a week as members of Mayor Jane Castor’s Tampa Sister City delegation. During the visit Caruson and Martinez met with university and industry partners, embassy and consular officials, and alumni. The trip represented a reciprocal visit commemorating the 30-year Sister City relationship between the City of Le Havre and the City of Tampa. The Mayor’s delegation included the Mayor herself, as well as representation from Tampa City Council, the Hillsborough County Commission, Port of Tampa, the Tampa International Airport, the Tampa Art Museum, the Tampa Sister Cities organization, the University of South Florida, and a group of attorneys and judges representing the Hillsborough Bar Association. The delegation was welcomed by Le Havre Mayor Édouard Philippe, former Prime Minister of France (2017-2020). Located on the English Channel in Normandy, Le Havre was heavily bombed during World War II. The destroyed city-center was rebuilt between 1945 and 1964 by architect Auguste Perret. Among France’s many reconstructed cities, Le Havre is an outstanding post-war example of urban planning and architecture, including Perret’s innovative use of concrete as the primary building material.

Tampa Bay mayor, Jane Castor, stands with sister-city representatives from Le Havre, France, in front of Hotel de Ville

While in Le Havre, Caruson and Martinez participated in delegation meetings that explored the commonalities between Tampa and Le Havre across industry sectors, infrastructure, the arts, culture, and education. USF partner institution, EM Normandie Business School, warmly received the delegation at the Le Havre campus with a lunch reception, followed by a meeting with the school’s senior leaders and a tour of a new state-of-the-art campus building. USF regularly sends students to EM Normandie Business School at the Caen and Paris campuses as part of an established exchange program. Students have visited the Le Havre location with USF Muma College of Business professor Robert Hooker who teaches courses on resilient and sustainable supply chain management.

Tampa, USF, and EM Normandie Business School representatives stand for a group photo while visiting the school in Le Havre, France
USF World and University of Le Havre representatives pose for a group photo while on campus in France.

Invited to meet with the leadership at the University of Le Havre, a relatively young university, Caruson and Martinez discussed engaging faculty and students through USF’s Virtual Global Exchange program. This dynamic initiative pairs students with their peers abroad by connecting courses on both campuses virtually. To date, more than 500 USF students have participated in an experience that includes a virtual global exchange. Virtual global exchange allows USF students to learn side-by-side with students from another country without the requirement of travel. Once the partnership is established, faculty may choose to add a travel option to their courses. 

Before heading to Paris, the delegation made an important stop at the World War II American Cemetery near Omaha Beach. Delegation members were hosted by the U.S. Consul General to Western France, Elizabeth Webster, and participated in a wreath-laying ceremony to acknowledge and honor eight soldiers from Tampa who are buried within the grounds. Prior to traveling to France, the Consulate provided the delegation with a comprehensive overview of the region. 

Tampa and Le Havre delgation posing for a photo after participating in a wreath-laying ceremony at the World War II American Cemetery near Omaha Beach in France.

Following the visit to Le Havre, Vice President Caruson visited the U.S. Embassy in Paris, where officials were thrilled to learn of the two student scholarship opportunities available through USF exclusively for French citizens – the Miklos Scholarship and the Florida-France Linkage Institute out-of-state tuition waiver. During 2025, the U.S. Embassy hopes to sponsor 250 French students interested in studying in the United States. USF is actively recruiting French students for degree programs and study abroad experiences. Far more American students seek educational opportunities in France than there are French students studying in the United States. Paris alone hosts more than 100 USF students on study abroad programs each year. As one of the university’s most popular study abroad destinations, Paris is home to multiple USF partners who help coordinate life-changing experiences for our students, including MICEFA and Worldstrides. The Mission Interuniversitaire de Coordination des Échanges Franco-Américains (MICEFA) represents a consortium of 18 universities across Paris. USF students regularly spend a semester studying in Paris as part of the MICEFA exchange program. Worldstrides assists USF Education Abroad design high impact faculty-led short-term study abroad programs to the City of Light.

Dr. Kiki Caruson (left) and Vanessa Martinez (right) stand with a World Strides representative during a visit to France
Kiki Caruson meets with USF alumni and Global Network France members while visiting Paris, France.






Paris also offered the opportunity to connect with alumni. Paris is a city that attracts professionals from around the world, and USF alumni are no exception. Over 260 USF alumni live and work in the Greater Paris Metropolitan area alone. USF’s Paris alumni represent diverse industries from hospitality to sports management to finance – as well as a large number of entrepreneurs and business owners. Martinez met with alumni across Paris to spread the word about the USF Global Networks Initiative and in particular, USF Network France. Based on their personal and professional interests, alumni received tailored lists of their peers in Paris and abroad, and introductions to potential partners in Tampa. USF Network France is a vehicle for connecting Tampa-based community partners, such as the French American Chamber of Commerce, with stakeholders abroad. Through membership in the Network, alumni in France can make important connections with industry and business interests in the Tampa region while French-owned companies in Tampa Bay can look to the Network for talent acquisition. Additionally, alumni in France are encouraged to connect with our study abroad students when they visit, and students can utilize the Network to begin building professional contacts in France before they set foot on French soil. As alumni reach-out to one-another, to students, to faculty, and to organizations that support U.S.-France collaboration, through USF Network France, they will find potential collaborators, clients, and community, tout de suite. Our overarching goal is to connect members of every USF Global Network in meaningful and sustainable ways.

To join USF Network France or any of our other Global Networks – click here.

USF global alumnus, Hernan Herrera poses with an alumni sign amongst his coffee import and roasting business

USF Global Alumnus Hernan Herrera. His company, TerraH, imports coffee directly from producers in Colombia to roast in Paris.

USF global alumnus Alexandre Garnier poses with Vanessa Martinez and an alumni sign during a visit to her Wayden office in Paris.

USF Global Alumna Alexandre Garnier, Partner at Wayden, and Vanessa Martinez, Assistant Director of International Community Relations for USF World, at the Wayden office in Paris.