Four CBCS students graduate with distinction this May

This May four students are graduating with distinction from the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. These students worked hard to achieve the requirements such as maintaining a minimum USF GPA of 3.2 and demonstrating excellence in at least three areas, and with exceptional achievement in one or more areas. Below are these students profiles highlighting their accomplishments while studying at USF.

Arantxa Almodovar

Almodovar is the first person in her family to go to college. She is graduating with a Bachelor’s degree in Criminology. She is a member of Phi Sigma Theta and Alpha Phi Sigma national honor societies. Being a member has motivated her to achieve her potential and to become even more successful. She is currently thinking seriously about obtaining a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Psychology. Her ultimate goals are to become a Crime Scene Technician and a Forensic Psychologist.

She was a volunteer for four years at Accentia Health and Rehabilitation Center for Tampa. She assisted patients with physical tasks that they couldn’t do like handing them their meals, getting them blankets, or providing a glass of water when requested. She also assisted with Bingo games, arts and crafts, outdoor activities, or field trips planned for residents. Almodovar was also an intern with the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office and Tampa Police Department’s Forensic Investigation Unit.

“I cannot express enough how eternally grateful I am of being selected to graduate with distinction!” Almodovar said. “What an honor! I would not be where I am today without the immense help and continuing support from my mom and dad. My biggest motivation is hearing and seeing how proud my mom and dad are of me, and for this reason, I am extremely happy and blessed that I am able to share this special moment with them!”

Maureen Gavin

Gavin made the Dean’s list for the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences when she started her core courses for her speech-language pathology degree. She also maintained the Gold Florida Medallion Scholarship each year. She is a current member of the Delta Epsilon Iota National Honor Society. Gavin will graduate with a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Gerontology.

Gavin was the Marketing Director for the University Lecture Series. She was responsible for planning and distributing marketing materials and promotional items throughout campus for ULS events, coordinating and executing a lecture series once a month with five additional board members, and overseeing committee members in pursuit of promoting ULS. She was also a Resident Assistant for the 2013-2014 school year with USF’s Housing and Residential Education. She mentored first-year college students living on campus. As an RA she created educational programs for students on local campus resources and social issues including wellness, involvement, diversity, alcohol, sexual safety, and discrimination. Gavin was also the team captain for her residence hall’s involvement in Dance Marathon.

As a member of the National Student Speech Language and Hearing Association on campus, Gavin volunteered at their Annual Youth Day event in 2013 which was targeted towards kids with fluency impediments. From that experience, she is leading a group for the youngest group, ranging from pre-k to second grade.

“I am honored to have been one of the students chosen to graduate with distinction,” Gavin said. “It's reassuring knowing that my professors are just as determined for me to succeed as I am.”

Shirlene Berkel

Using her grant writing skills, Berkel developed a proposal for a collaborative project between her church and Metropolitan Ministries to provide hot meals to members of her community. Currently the program feeds 150 individuals. Her goal was to see growth of the program and it was achieved when she was granted the expansion opportunity in partnership with Metropolitan Ministries.

Berkel is the Community Service Director for her church and is seeking ways to alleviate poverty in the community. She conducted community assessments and focus groups to determine community needs, organized community events, provided educational information, and offered other resources and referrals for community members. She has collaborated with Faith in Action, New Mt. Zion, AME/Publix, Department of Juvenile Justice, Webster Park Neighborhood Association, along with several others on issues such as HIV, domestic violence, homelessness and hunger, community health, early childhood education, and services to seniors.

As an HIV counselor, she is currently in the process of having the church become an HIV testing site. Berkel desires to raise community awareness regarding social issues impacting the community. She has overcome adversity and hardship as a single mother raising a teenager and grandchild, keeping a full-time job as a supervisor of a domestic violence shelter, maintaining a 32-hour a week social work internship, and commuting an hour each way to classes on campus.

Emily Reagan

Reagan was the research assistant for Dr. Batsche, Dr. Bahr, and Dr. Iovannone in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences. Working with Dr. Bahr contributed to Reagan’s research and she presented a poster entitled “Segmental Accuracy in Children with Cochlear Implants and Age Matched Controls” at the 2012 American Speech Language Hearing Association convention. Through her experiences with Dr. Iovannone, Reagan had the opportunity to observe and work in the ICEI clinic. She assisted with facilitation of “The Essential Tools for Positive Parenting” class. The class led to her discovering an interest in research of parent training and she pursued a case study on parents who took the class. She plans to present findings at the 2014 Undergraduate Research and Arts Colloqium.

Reagan was a part of USF’s volunteer service days such as the Ghandi Day of Service, Stampede of Service, and USF Summer Social Skills Group for Children with Autism. She also volunteered as a student assistant for a Social Skills Group for children with Autism. She worked with children grouped from kindergarten to second grade.

Reagan will be graduating with a degree in Behavioral Healthcare with concentrations in Research and Applied Behavioral Analysis. She recently found out that she was accepted into the Fall 2015 class for the Applied Behavioral Analysis Master program.

            “Graduating with distinction is a true honor for me,” Reagan said. “It was not until my sophomore year of college that I found the Behavioral Healthcare major and the Applied Behavioral Analysis concentration. I made a few stumbles before finding the Behavioral Healthcare major within my academic career. However, I overcame those stumbles and now I am being recognized for all the achievements I have made since then. I look forward to continuing my academic career in a field that I love so much.”