Ifechi Akaniru, Marketing and Finance

Ifechi Akaniru

When Ifechi Akaniru’s father immigrated from Nigeria to America, he worked blue-collar jobs to sustain himself and pay for school. While others were preparing for graduation, he was in a taxicab driving his classmates to ceremonies to pay his tuition. Stories of his cabbie service taught Akaniru the importance of perseverance, hard work, and steadfast resolve. They also fueled her drive to win scholarships so that she would not add to his burden.

She has been successful in that endeavor, earning seven prestigious scholarships. One of them, from USF benefactor Lynn Pippenger, helped her build a personal relationship with the woman who helped build Raymond James. As a result, Akaniru has interned at Raymond James twice, gaining analytical, organizational, and networking skills.  Continue reading “Ifechi Akaniru, Marketing and Finance”

Isabela Castrillon, Business Economics

Isabella Castrillon

Isabela Castrillon recalls overhearing conversations between parents and their freshman children on college move-in day.  She eavesdropped as a mother reminisced about a professor who changed her world view and a father remembered how he and his friends founded a fraternity in college. Castrillon says she stood in nervous silence with her mom.  Arriving on campus, she knew she could handle the academic rigor, but being the first person in her family to attend college, she was aware that she didn’t necessarily have the guidance she would need in order to succeed.

Castrillon made a concerted effort to find mentors and to attend networking events – even if she wasn’t sure how it would benefit her in the short-term.  She joined the Corporate Mentor Program and was encouraged by the program director to attend a career fair. Continue reading “Isabela Castrillon, Business Economics”

Katelyn Chin, Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Katelyn Chin

Early in her first year at USF, Katelyn Chin did something few freshman do.  She visited the USF Career Center and began building relationships with its career counselors.  She took advantage of its personal and professional development programs and got a head start on her career development plan.  One of the lessons she learned:  USF has many outstanding students and the most successful ones do more than just make good grades – they stand out from their peers.  And she decided she was going to stand out.

She started by joining the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals, a professional student-led organization that has given more opportunities than she could have ever dreamed. Not only has the organization given her lifelong friends and networks, but it also gave her Continue reading “Katelyn Chin, Marketing and Supply Chain Management”

Jennifer Cohen, Finance and Marketing

Jennifer Cohen

When Jennifer Cohen’s family moved to America, her parents relied on her as they grew their franchise business with Börner Germany, a company that produces kitchen tools.   Though just 14 years old, she spoke English better than her parents and she would often help translate.  She often found herself handling clerical tasks alongside her parents.  She soon became intricately involved in the business, processing large orders, meeting with CEOs, reconciling statements, and handling customer service tasks.  Today, she helps manage the UAE franchise of the business.  

This isn’t her only business experience.  Cohen has held additional part-time retail jobs while in college and served as an aftercare counselor in an elementary school.  Why? Because she doesn’t like to have too much time on her hands!   Continue reading “Jennifer Cohen, Finance and Marketing”

Laura Del Castillo, Finance and MIS

From an early age, Laura Del Castillo took school seriously and had a competitive nature when it came to achieving her dreams. Throughout high school and continuing into her college career, Del Castillo learned that it is not enough to just get good grades; you have to get quality experience as well.

Within the first week of working as a full-time intern at JPMorgan, Del Castillo impressed her manager with her strong work ethic. She led her team to first place in the JPMorgan expo competition, in which 10 team members compete to create a product or service that adds value to the company.  Working with JPMorgan helped her to grow not only professionally, but also as a student, as it led her to pursue a second degree in management information systems. Continue reading “Laura Del Castillo, Finance and MIS”

Nicole DeNicola, Management Information Systems

Nicole DeNicola

After losing her father at the age of 7, Nicole DeNicola coped with the tragedy by focusing her attention on school. That focus eventually led to an invitation for her to be part of USF’s Bulls Business Community, a living-learning program for high achieving incoming freshmen.  She participated in nearly every BBC workshop and extracurricular learning opportunity and says that this is where she developed the networking skills that have helped her in so many areas – and even led to an invitation for her to give a speech about her USF experiences before 300+ people at a scholarship luncheon.  During her speech, Nicole noted that her father never had the opportunity to attend college, and said that she aims to honor his memory – and make her mother proud – by excelling academically.  The USF Honors College student has clearly done so, earning a spot on the dean’s list for the past five semesters and travelling with the Honors College to study in London and Paris. Continue reading “Nicole DeNicola, Management Information Systems”

Duane Driskell, Accounting

Duane Driskell

Although his family struggled financially growing up – his family of six lived in a two-bedroom apartment – Duane Driskell says he was determined  to overcome the adversity that comes with poverty.  And, thanks to his mother’s strong emphasis on school, he knew that it started with college.  So he worked hard in high school and was able to come to USF as part of the invitation-only Bulls Business Community.  He was also able to gain early admission to the business school and be part of the Business Honors Program, which means he will take extra research courses and requires him to earn high grades and complete as honors thesis.  The work is hard, but Driskell is determined to succeed.  

Driskell says that the choice to be part of these two groups has lead him to dream, introducing him to things he was completely naïve to before, such as  internships, study abroad opportunities, and the importance of networking.   Continue reading “Duane Driskell, Accounting”

Michael Friedman, Business Economics

Michael Friedman

The University of South Florida was the final stop on Michael Friedman’s schedule of college tours as a senior in high school. Coming in undecided, he instantly felt at home in the Bulls Business Community and never looked back. Friedman became a mentor and active member in the living learning community, an experience that helped him leave his comfort zone and grow into a more confident and professional version of himself. During his freshman and sophomore years he networked with local business leaders in the Corporate Mentor Program.

He is a member of both the Honors College and Business Honors Program, through which he completed a thesis on Uber regulation and the sharing economy. He also volunteered as treasurer for the Serve for Children volleyball tournament, a student-led event raising money for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Continue reading “Michael Friedman, Business Economics”

Jenna Ghibaudy, Finance

By the time she was 18, Jenna Ghibaudy had founded two community service organizations.        

After years of volunteering in homeless shelters in her hometown of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Ghibaudy noticed that most shelters were lacking in intellectual stimulation for its residents. In 2011 she founded ‘Zines from Teens, a community service organization that promotes education and literacy among the homeless through the collection and monthly distribution of books and magazines to local homeless shelters. More than 2,500 books were delivered, and two homeless shelters constructed libraries from the donations she initiated. Continue reading “Jenna Ghibaudy, Finance”

Kaylee Griskie, Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Kaylee Griskie

A member of the Provost Scholars Program, Kaylee Griskie made a commitment to graduate from USF in three years and has wasted no time participating in research, leadership, and global experience activities.

Understanding the importance of networking, Griskie participated in several Provost Scholars community events and was fortunate enough to be introduced to Richard Gonzmart, owner of the Columbia Restaurant Group. She shared her dream of building a career in the food industry with him.  Soon, she landed an internship in the Columbia’s marketing department, where she learned about developing new restaurants. Continue reading “Kaylee Griskie, Marketing and Supply Chain Management”

De Sica Harry, Accounting

De Sica Harry

Born in Guyana, De Sica Harry had to overcome many cultural obstacles when coming to America. She recalls struggling with things that seemed simple for everyone else in her elementary school classes – even things like ordering school lunches.  She overcame those obstacles, of course, but says that she felt much the same way when she first became a student at USF.  Harry says that this challenge – and the fact that she is one of the first people in her family to pursue a college degree is something that she is proud of but, again, it meant that she was in unfamiliar territory and things that seemed easy to others were challenging to her.  She cites an example that, like in elementary school, involves lunch, describing a business meal where she did not recognize her lunch options and the requisite business dining etiquette. Continue reading “De Sica Harry, Accounting”

Ralph Herz, Finance

Ralph Herz

Originally from the Netherlands, Ralph Herz and his family immigrated to the United States and made Tampa their home. He began attending USF in the fall of 2013 as a Provost scholar, allowing him to take an accelerated path to his degree. He is expecting to graduate a semester early with degrees in finance and accounting.  

At USF, Herz has been involved in Greek life through his fraternity Sigma Phi Epsilon, where he previously served as the vice president of finance and currently serves as president. He has also been a member of the Interfraternity Council executive board as the vice president of operations and acting president for a period of time. Continue reading “Ralph Herz, Finance”

Kalen Hess, Accounting

Kalen Hess

Kalen Hess came to USF with one main goal: take advantage of every opportunity. She has been highly involved and credits the Bulls Business Community and the marching band for helping her find her fit at USF early.  

As section leader in the USF Herd of Thunder, Hess leads and plays alongside 33 saxophonists. Although this requires 15+ hours of practice and instruction weekly, Hess says the role has provided her with experiences and friendships that she will cherish forever.

Hess is a member of Beta Alpha Psi, an international accounting honors organization that provides networking and professional opportunities for accounting students. Continue reading “Kalen Hess, Accounting”

Zoe Knapke, Finance

Zoe Knapke

After just three years at USF, Honors College student Zoe Knapke has already accepted a position as a commercial banking analyst with JPMorgan after graduation. She will travel to Chicago this summer to begin training for her two-year job commitment with JPMorgan.  She says this is is the first step to attaining her goal of being a successful business woman in finance.

Knapke serves as a research analyst for the USF Student Management Investment Fund, where she and a team of 11 students manage a portfolio of equities in excess of $400,000. Continue reading “Zoe Knapke, Finance”

Andres Kofman, Management Information Systems

Andres Kofman

Andres Kofman says that deciding to pursue a college degree in America was a life-changing moment. Coming from a small town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Argentina, he says that facing this new stage in life knowing his closest relatives were 4,500 miles away was terrifying.  He also says it has been incredibly rewarding.

Kofman says that being an international student has forced him to take risks and step outside of hiscomfort zone.  One of the first times he did so was when he joined ENACTUS in his freshman year.   Continue reading “Andres Kofman, Management Information Systems”

Julia Krems, Accounting and Finance

Julia Krems

A student who puts high importance on community service, Julia Krems has dedicated a significant amount of time improving the lives of children in the Tampa Bay community.

One of Krems’ biggest achievements has been her involvement with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay. After serving as the director of events in 2015, she was promoted to president of the Big Brothers Big Sisters Club at USF. She now leads the club in directing fundraisers, recruiting volunteers, planning events, and increasing membership in the program. She is currently in charge of USF’s Bowl For Kids’ Sake fundraiser, aiming to help raise $10,000 to contribute to Big Brothers Big Sister of Tampa Bay’s fundraising goal. Continue reading “Julia Krems, Accounting and Finance”

Quan Nguyen, Finance

Quan Nguyen

When Quan Nguyen’s family emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S. in 2008, he had trouble adjusting. Knowing little to no English, Nguyen developed a fear of public speaking and was hesitant to take on challenges. The strong student leader and young professional worked hard to overcome this hesitation when he arrived at USF.

Nguyen joined Pi Delta Psi Fraternity, a Greek organization that emphasizes academic achievement. His leadership as academic chair led to Pi Delta Psi being recognized as the fraternity with the highest GPA among USF fraternities for two consecutive semesters. He now serves as the fraternity’s vice president. Continue reading “Quan Nguyen, Finance”

Robyn Oliveri, Marketing

Robyn Oliveri

After months of uncertainty, Robyn Oliveri found a way to integrate her marketing studies with a field she is truly passionate about: sports.

Two weeks after moving to Tampa, Oliveri decided to get out of her comfort zone by joining the Women’s Rugby Team on campus. She was elected treasurer of the club her sophomore and junior year, and now serves as the president. By leading her team on and off the field, Oliveri fundraised enough to move her team from Division II to Division I, and helped her team win Sport Club of the Year her first year on the executive board. Continue reading “Robyn Oliveri, Marketing”

Gabe Patil, Marketing and Supply Chain Management

Gabe Patil

When Gabriel Patil was invited to join USF’s Bulls Business Community and Business Honors Program, the Pennsylvania resident jumped at the chance to study in Florida.  Just three years later, he has excelled in the classroom, served as an intern, held a part-time job, led service projects, mentored his peers, and landed a co-op.  

Patil worked as a student assistant while attending school and, more recently, served as an intern with Baldwin Krystyn Sherman Partners.  Many students work while attending school, but Patil doesn’t forgo campus involvement activities just because he has a busy schedule.   Continue reading “Gabe Patil, Marketing and Supply Chain Management”

Shelby Povtak, General Business

Shelby Povtak

Shelby Povtakcomes from a working class family that puts great value on education, self-reliance, and community service.  Povtak was selected for the USF Provost’s Scholars program and also lived in the Bulls Business Community her freshman year. She says that these and other opportunities that USF has provided have given her the opportunity to discover what she loves, what she is good at, and how she can contribute to the community.

Balancing multiple part-time jobs, playing competitive soccer, and achieving honor roll throughout high school, Povtak quickly learned that at the core of every successful team Continue reading “Shelby Povtak, General Business”

Jacoobi Rodriguez, Accounting

Diego Jacoobi Rodriguez

Jacoobi Rodriguez kicked off his first semester at USF by becoming a part of the Bulls Business Community – and he immediately emerged himself into the business atmosphere. He was later selected to become a mentor in the BBC during his second year in the program.

A tour of one of the big four accounting firms was all it took for Rodriguez to know he wanted to pursue an accounting career. He visited Deloitte in Tampa his freshman year and networked with professionals who gave him insight into an accounting career, which motivated him to be the involved and motivated student he is today. Continue reading “Jacoobi Rodriguez, Accounting”

Alexandria Scarpiello, Marketing and Management

Alexandria Scarpiello

Alexandria Scarpiello knows that hard work and community involvement are important factors in becoming a successful leader and student. She’s juggled jobs, leadership positions, and community service activities — and is on track to graduate a semester early with two degrees. Scarpiello attributes much of her success to the Bulls Business Community where later served as BBC mentor, residence hall association mayor, and social committee co-chair.

But she didn’t stop there. She has been involved with campus organizations such as Golden Key Honors Society, Delta Epsilon Iota Honors Society, Zeta Tau Alpha sorority, an Acapella group, and USF’s American Marketing Association. Continue reading “Alexandria Scarpiello, Marketing and Management”

Thea Kleive Tobiassen, Finance

Thea Kleive Tobiassen

Born and raised in Norway, Thea Tobiassen was submerged in a slightly different learning environment than Americans – one that focused on rigorous academics and work experience. But during the USF application process, she noticed an emphasis on serving the community. While Tobiassen said her Norwegian upbringing and working part-time during school gave her a maturity for which she is grateful, Tobiassen was excited about an opportunity to not only develop herself academically and professionally, but also to serve others.

She began her mission to become more involved within the community by pursuing a leadership certificate through the Center for Leadership and Civil Engagement at USF. Continue reading “Thea Kleive Tobiassen, Finance”

Tristen Utterback, International Business

Tristen Utterback

Tristen Utterback came into college with a solid academic foundation that helped pave her way for success at USF. Her hard work in high school earned her the USF Green and Gold Scholar Award, and she has continually made the dean’s list each semester. At the closing of her freshman year, she received the Exceptional Ethical Scholar Award, which is one of the most prestigious awards for business honors students and recognizes academic excellence, leadership accomplishments, and societal achievements.

Utterback is finishing her first of three years as an intern at the USF Federal Credit Union. This internship allows her to learn the teller, member service representative, and loan aspects of the credit union. Continue reading “Tristen Utterback, International Business”

Mark Zakota, Accounting

Mark Zakota

Originally from Hungary, a country that only recently became democratic, Mark Zakota grew up with limited opportunities.

After visiting Florida with his family in 2006, he realized the immense opportunities that the U.S. had to offer. Since that moment, his goal was to move to Florida. He saw academics as the tool to accomplish it.

Zakota completed his IB Diploma in Hungary and scored above the 99th percentile worldwide. His countless efforts and rigorous study schedule paid off as he was accepted to the Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, one of the top 10 business schools in Europe. Continue reading “Mark Zakota, Accounting”