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College of Arts & Sciences
Maintained by A. Fairbanks
Florida Studies Alumni
Jennifer Aldrich grew up in Green Bay, Wisconsin and moved to the Tampa Bay area in 2002. She graduated from Eckerd College in 2005 with a BA in Visual Arts in the PEL program. As a professional photographer she has taught photography to children at several local institutions such as the Arts Center and Melrose Elementary.
Jennifer lives in the Old Southeast neighborhood of St. Petersburg and enjoys the cultural diversity and history it has to offer. When she is not hitting the books for the Florida Studies program she can be found biking or kayaking on the waterfront. Jennifer is involved with the arts community and an environmental activist. Her appreciation for Florida led her to pursue her graduate degree in Florida Studies with the intention of creating a photo documentary and creating a career in the arts.
Hope Black (ne Levy) graduated as an Interior Design major with an Associate in Applied Science from Rochester Institute of Technology in 1955. Throughout the next four decades she raised four children, worked as a market research analyst, and pursued a B.A. in History at Nazareth College in Rochester, NY, taking one course a semester. Upon establishing residency in Florida in 2001, she enrolled in USF-Sarasota to complete the degree in History in 2004. An abiding interest in her adopted state, its history, political issues and environmental concerns led her to the Florida Studies Program. Hope graduated in 2007 and worked as an Archivist for the History Center of Sarasota County.
Now that she is retired, Hope continues to lecture occasionally on aspects Florida history. She is currently auditing literature courses at the University of South Florida. She and her husband, Robert, enjoy watching old movies, listening to music and walking in quiet undiscovered places in Florida. They treasure visits with their growing family and caring for three pets, two cats and a dog, all rescued and in need of loving care.
"It's never too late to learn."
Adam Carozza retired from the U.S. Postal Service in 2001 and graduated “Magna Cum Laude" from the University of South Florida in 2003. Always interested in social history and the preservation of local heritage, Adam decided the Florida Studies Program was the next logical step and completed his master’s degree in 2009.
Currently, Adam teaches Global Perspective, American History, and Florida History at Saint Leo University, as well as high school world history online with the Florida Virtual School. When Adam is not at work or grading papers, you can find him at the local art gallery or playing his trumpet with the community concert band.
Originally from Astoria, New York, Adam now calls New Port Richey home. He is active in his adopted community through the Richey Concert Band (member since 1997); West Pasco African-American Club after school program; West Pasco Historical Society (Vice President); Florida Historical Society (member); and Historic Preservation Board, City of New Port Richey. Adam also shared his passion for the history of his adopted city with a published pictorial work, Images of America: New Port Richey (Arcadia Publishing, 2004).
Being married to a Tampa native means one will eventually return to the Bay area. So in the summer of 1999, Michelle and husband left Atlanta to a make significant career changes. For her, the change meant going from corporate director to high school teacher. While working toward her state certification, she realized that graduate school needed to be a part of her development as a teacher.
So in 2003, she was awarded a James Madison Memorial Foundation Senior Fellowship that opened doors never imagined. As part of her Madison requirement, Michelle studied last summer at Georgetown University focusing on constitutional theory and development. Next to the academic rigor, the highlight of the experience was the afternoon she spent with retiring US Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor.Earlier in 2005, Michelle received a Florida Studies Research Stipend to document oral histories of merchant marines who trained in St. Petersburg. This project led to the publication of a book in May 2006 titled St. Petersburg's Maritime Service Training Base. When not studying, researching, or playing with her two children, Michelle teaches at Gibbs High School.
Monica Rowland Kile
I’m a native Floridian, born in Fernandina Beach and raised in Jacksonville. After receiving my BS in Communication degree from Florida State, I moved to Europe where I worked in a youth hostel in Switzerland and for a tour guide company in Germany.
Upon my return to the States I worked as a Tour Director, taking groups on tours around the U.S., and as a tour guide in St. Augustine, Fl. I entered the Florida Studies Program to explore avenues for heritage tourism in Florida. I now work full time for the Florida Humanities Council.
"Support your community: Volunteer"
GI Bill in hand and adventure in his blood, Nevin Sitler - kayaker, student, and former Air Force firefighter - became a Floridian in 1995. The Sunshine State's complex and colorful history has captivated and educated him since.
Nevin received his B.A in Political Science from USF St. Petersburg in early 2004. Since enrolling in the Florida Studies Program later the same year, Nevin has provided historical review and consultation for several Florida-themed books. He recently had an article, "Passages From Ft. Brooke," published in Cigar City Magazine.
Graduating among the top 10% of his class in December 2006, Nevin provides historical writings, review and editing, both in print and electronically. In addition to webmastering for the St. Petersburg Museum of History, Nevin is currently working with several authors on a forthcoming Florida historical guidebook. Nevin can be reached at NSitler@gmail.com.
“Enrolling in the Florida Studies Program was the best professional move I ever made. It made me a better journalist and writer.”
Terry Tomalin is the Outdoors & Fitness editor for the St. Petersburg Times. He began his journalism career in 1983 as an investigative reporter for several small Florida newspapers where he covered everything from law enforcement to the Ku Klux Klan.
Terry received his Master’s degree in Florida Studies in 2010. One class project led to an investigative series that won a national journalism award and was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize in local reporting by the St. Petersburg Times.
A dedicated waterman, Terry became interested in primitive open ocean travel during a year long trip to New Zealand and Australia. He has since paddled an outrigger canoe from Florida to the Bahamas to prove that Florida's first inhabitants could have crossed the Gulf Stream in human powered watercraft. His interest in the Pre-Columbian maritime tradition also prompted him to explore 100 miles of the Gulf Coast in a handmade dugout sailing canoe. Tomalin hopes to someday paddle from Florida to Cuba.
When Tomalin isn't pursuing Florida history, he can usually be found camping with his boy scout troop. An avid open-water swimmer, Tomalin started the Annual Frogman Swim across Tampa Bay held each January to raise money for the families of wounded Navy SEALs.
A Scottsbluff, Neb., native, Jon Wilson has lived in St. Petersburg since 1956. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg and has worked for Times Publishing Co. newspapers for 35 years.
Jon graduated in December 2009.
Edward Woodward is a former reporter for several daily and weekly newspapers, ranging from the Gadsden County Times to The Tampa Tribune. He also worked for the Florida Park Service as a member of AmeriCorps.
A native of Quincy, Florida, he now lives in Tampa with his family, which includes a cat that comes calling to the theme song of Sanford and Son.
"Florida Studies is a unique program that allows me to chart my own course for both intellectual and professional pursuits. The breadth of my experience has been exponentially broadened in just one year of being in the program."
Debbie Carson, 30 years and 180 credits later, finally graduated from Eckerd College in 2007 with a BA in arts marketing and management after studying business and organizational communications at Emerson College in Boston, with other credits earned here and there from the University of Maryland and Towson State University.
Debbie has been a marketing professional for 25 years. She currently works part time at the great Palladium Theater in downtown St. Petersburg and runs a consulting business on the side. Between work and studies, Debbie makes the most of her days by being on, in or by the water, with good music, camera in hand, and family, friends and critters nearby.Upon graduation, Debbie hopes to help expand and advance the profile of downtown St. Petersburg's arts and cultural community.
Award-winning journalist and Philadelphia native Theresa Collington graduated from Rutgers University in 1993 and also attended Journalism School at Temple University. Currently, she works for WTSP-TV in Tampa Bay as an Executive Producer, where she oversees all of the station's news and entertainment websites. She began her broadcasting career with theABC Television Network News in New York, has also worked for Florida's News Channel and Bay News Nine, and worked as a co-host onmorning radio.
As a self-proclaimed ‘info-junkie,’ Collington has a passion for the outdoors, Florida, journalism, investigative research, and loves the web and all things pop culture. Her pop-culture claim to fame is winning the grand prize on the MTV 80’s trivia game show “Remote Control” in 1988.
When she's not at work or in class, you can find Theresa combing the beach, camping and looking for fossils in one of Florida's spring-fed rivers, scuba diving, reflecting on how great the 80’s were, and laughing, a lot. She’s married to Roy, loves dogs, and lives in South Tampa.
AndyFairbanks graduated from the University of North Florida in 2002 and studied Environmental Science and Policy at USF before joining the Florida Studies Program in 2010. In 2011 he was honored to receive the Hope Black Fellowship in Florida Studies.
Andy was Pinellas County's recycling coordinator from 2004 through 2010, and got his start in as an intern for Duval County in 2001 while finishing his undergraduate degree. He worked his way through college, alternating between a variety of jobs during fall, winter and spring in Jacksonville, and every summer spent as a sailing instructor and outdoor educator at the Environmental Studies Center in his hometown of Jensen Beach, Florida.
After a decade spent in the waste industry Andy is still fascinated by garbage and passionate about waste reduction and recycling. He believes that what we throw away and how we do it says as much about us as what we keep. Andy is also a sucker for all things "old Florida." As a third-generation native Floridian, he loves to explore its storied places and engage their storytellers.
Andy is doing ethnographic research for his thesis on stakeholder involvement in the development of Florida's 75% recycling goal. He received an Honorable Mention for preliminary results of his research presented to the Florida Society of Geographers in 2011.
When he isn't studying, Andy enjoys exploring the world on a shoestring, whether close to home or far away. Preferred vehicles include canoe, sailboat and bicycle, but he's also happy behind the wheel on an old country road. He's currently writing a blog about life as a graduate student at USFSP.
Daun K. Fletcher
Daun Fletcher graduated from University of South Florida St. Petersburg in 2009 and also attended the University of Tampa.
Daun is currently the Program Assistant for the Florida Studies Program as well as the University Honors Program. She previously spent 20 years in the Student Loan industry working with Florida Federal, Chase, JP Morgan Chase and Sallie Mae.
Daun's primary passion is history. Her historical interests range from Florida and the South to Medieval Europe and the World War II era. She loves those crazy Koreshans in South Florida, kitschy Florida of the 1950s and 1960s and Pinellas County's Gulf Blvd.
When Daun is not studying, she indulges her other passions: international soccer and the National Hockey League. She follows the Tottenham Hotspur English Premier League team as well as the Tampa Bay Lightning. She also likes the outdoors, camping and traveling. She is a volunteer at Heritage Village and you can find her at the reception desk on the first and third Sunday of the month.
Daun would like to use the knowledge gained during her Florida Studies work to move into either a museum, archive or special collection situation.
Chris is a Florida native, born in Panama City on the “Redneck Riviera”. He has lived in California, Colorado, rural Minnesota, Texas and Mississippi and has traveled extensively to the remaining States with the exception of Alaska, an omission he hopes to rectify in his current study of wetlands. Chris’ career choices evoke the classic Renaissance man, working as a carpenter, salesman, cook, soldier and roofer in his youth, eventually evolving to visual artist and successful professional photographer.
As an undergraduate in Savannah, GA, he studied art history, American history and printmaking and earned a Bachelor of Liberal Arts. Entranced with the black and white photograph, Chris has pursued a 24-year regimen of independent study including large format cameras, American historical and contemporary portraiture, laser holography, antique optics and digital image making.
Returning to the Sunshine State in the 1990’s, the stark contrasts of sparsely populated and wild Panhandle Florida and booming, bustling, crowded Central Florida provided intrigue and fruit for research. Chris aspires to contribute to intelligent growth management, to promotion of the “Earthship”, an environmentally friendly home architecture, and to protect Florida’s rapidly diminishing natural resources and undeveloped beauty. Chris and his cat Hannah make their home in St. Petersburg and enjoy the numerous parks, beaches, family, bird watching (Hannah’s favorite) and the fascinating fellowship provided by the Florida Studies staff and students.
"After finishing my undergraduate degree, I felt that there was much more to learn and pursuing a graduate degree would be a positive way to spend my time outside of work. As a transplant to Florida, I knew I had a lot to learn about my new surroundings. The Florida Studies Program was a perfect fit."
Samantha McHugh graduated from the University of South Florida, Sarasota campus. Currently she works for Universal Health Care in Sales and Marketing. She began her healthcare career over 10 years ago at CentraState Medical Center in Freehold, NJ. Since relocating to Florida five years ago, she has worked in Provider offices and also as a physician contractor.
Samantha lives in Ruskin and works in downtown St. Pete. In her free time, she can most often be found in a state park exploring with her dog Sasha. She is also fond of reading by the water, dining on Beach Drive in St. Pete, and traveling the world. She also enjoys volunteer work, which has helped broaden her knowledge of the communities where she lives and works. Her most passionate projects involve Pet Pals Rescue and the Spring, which houses women and families involved in domestic violence.
Jono is a New Jersey boy who came to Florida in 1970 to attend New College. He graduated in 1974 with an area of concentration in Environmental Studies and soon formed an environmental consulting partnership with his future wife, Julie Morris. In 1981 they took a position coordinating the Environmental Studies Program at New College. Julie has chaired both the Florida's Wildlife Commission and the Gulf of Mexico Fisheries Council. Jono has walked all of the beaches in Sarasota and Manatee Counties and has canoed the length of Southwest Florida's coast from Tampa south to Flamingo.
Lois Ricciardi holds a bachelor's degree in English from the University of South Florida where she graduated magna cum laude with a major in Professional and Technical Writing and a minor in Literature.
Lois works for the Pinellas County Health Department as a Human Resources Specialist and for the Institute for Broadening Participation as a Project Coordinator on the Minorities Striving and Pursuing Higher Degrees of Success Professional Development Program.
As a small child, Lois arrived in Florida in the backseat of a 1947 Cadillac shared with her parents, older brother and a mixed chow hound. After a long and interesting journey from Colorado, Lois awoke and immediately proclaimed, "What a clever Daddy! You finally found Florida!" From then on Lois took a keen interest in exploring her Florida surroundings including lakes, rivers, parks and beaches.
During her college years, she took Dr. Arsenault's class on the Civil Rights movement in Florida as well as volunteering with the Civil Rights Conference hosted at USFSP in 2004. This class awakened her to the richness of Florida's remarkable history and heritage and she was hooked on learning the history of all things Florida.
When not working or studying, Lois enjoys spending time with her husband exploring Florida’s many and varied points of interest including museums, historical sites, beaches, zoos, and state parks. St. Augustine is one of her favorite towns and the place she chose to get married. When it's time for the beach, her favorites are Pass-a-Grille, Siesta Key and Sanibel. And yes, she is a closet amusement park fan who enjoys visiting Sea World, Busch Gardens and Disney World for the occasional show and roller coaster ride.
With a degree in Florida Studies, Lois hopes to find a niche as a writer. Currently the knowledge she acquires through FSP brings a deeper sense of appreciation and understanding to her favorite Florida haunts. She would like to eventually use her degree to share her knowledge of the Florida politics that helped develop the state we know today and in particular the historical role of women in Florida legislature and policy making.
Lois is the 2010 winner of the Leland Hawes Prize in Florida History for best graduate student essay. Her winning essay was a short biography on Mary Lou Baker, the first woman from Pinellas County, and the second from Florida, to serve in the Florida legislature.
Jonathan Tallon's academic career is, in the words of Sir Paul McCartney "a long and winding road." He has at various times since 1988 attended St. Petersburg College, the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale, Ringling School of Art and Design, Hillsborough Community College, and the University of South Florida in both Tampa and St. Petersburg.
Jonathan is first and foremost, a coach. A former athlete (baseball, basketball and cross country) his primary interests revolve around sports and how they fit into American culture. His thesis revolves around sports and race in Florida. He was a graduate assistant for Drs. Arsenault, Mormino and Hallock during 2010-11 academic year, and can still be found doing odd jobs in the Snell House. In addition to his studies, Jonathan is a fastpitch softball coach and substitute teacher at Berkeley Prep in Tampa. His Berkelely JV teams won the Florida West Coast League titles in 2007 and 2008.
A native of St. Petersburg, he knows the city like an old friend who occasionally borrows money and passes out on your couch. As a result of a deep knowledge of the city's contemporary history, he was determined to gather a more complete understanding of St Pete's place in Florida history, which eventually lead him to the Florida Studies Program. As a result, he has covered more ground in Florida in the last three years than in the previous three decades. If you see Jon on the weekend in downtown St. Pete, ask nicely and he might show you where Jack Kerouac hung out and Jim Morrison did poetry readings.
Dara Vance graduated from Eckerd College with a BFA in painting in 1991. She then went on to study for an MFA from Savannah College of Art and Design from 1998-2001. She earned a MA Ed. in Educational Leadership from Argosy University in 2007.
Dara has been a teacher the Pinellas County Center for the Arts at Gibbs High School, her alma mater, since 2007. Prior to teaching Dara held an eclectic array of jobs including college recruiter, graphic designer, art instructor, human resources manager, and theater technician.
As a native Floridian Dara Vance enjoys exploring the hidden areas of the state that reckon back to 'old Florida'. This exploration evolved into a hobby of discovering Florida's numerous ghost towns and traveling to these remote locations to document what is and isn't left. The opportunity to further dig into Florida's quirky, elegant and complicated story drives Dara to conduct research, produce writing and create an array of art work in order to synthesize her findings. Dara cannot escape the thought there are endless secrets in Florida simultaneously awaiting and avoiding discovery.
"After spending a decade in a middle school classroom, I decided it was time to go back to school and enlighten myself in some new field of study. The USF campus in downtown St. Pete is the perfect location and the courses offered in the Florida Studies Program are intellectually stimulating. I have always been interested in growth and development issues, as well as everything native and wild in Florida's, so this program is a perfect fit."
Jennifer Wunderlich first moved to Florida in the fall of 1992 to attend Eckerd College. Drawn to the ocean waters of the Gulf of Mexico, she completed her bachelor's degree in Marine Biology and then promptly left it all behind to complete a one-year residency program in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, in environmental education. Though technically a grad student at Utah State University, she lived and worked in Grand Teton National Park. Eventually she made her way back to the ocean waters of Pinellas County and is currently enrolled in the Florida Studies Program at USF.
Jennifer spent most of her working career as a middle school math and science teacher in various private schools. She also taught outdoor environmental education at nature centers, summer camps, youth residency centers, and State and National Parks around the country. She currently works at the St. Petersburg Times in the education department while pursuing her master's degree.
When Jennifer has free time, you will find her knitting. She has a small web-based business where she sells her finished items to an international market, which is a good thing because all the wool scarves piling up in her closet do her no good in Florida. She is also an avid contra-dancer, can identify migrating warblers by ear, and knows how to make a mean pot of chili.