Commencing Upon New Paths

With choosing USF came scholarship awards, an internship at The Tonight Show, the Cannes Film Festival, helping kids, travels around the globe, of course, and very bright futures for five graduating seniors.

The USF Sun Dome fills with families and friends  for each semester's commencement ceremonies.                     Photo by Aimee Blodgett | USF News

By Barbara Melendez

      USF News

TAMPA, Fla. (Aug. 1, 2014) – Every student can point to life-changing moments and experiences from their time spent in college. For these five among USF’s 2767 summer graduates, this has meant seeing the world in new ways and finding new paths.

Beginning with the decision to choose one Florida state university over another, Anson Thomas Angail couldn’t be happier after three productive years at USF.

“I had a hard time choosing between University of Florida and USF,” he said. “When I received a call from Provost Wilcox I knew USF was going to care about my success and my experience in college.”

And thus began the USF College of Business graduate’s tenure as part of the Provost’s Scholars Program in Honors College and the College of Business Honors Program. Angail also got involved in Green and Gold Guides, he was elected a senator in Student Government, and he also had the opportunity to study abroad in Slovakia, Austria, Spain and France. Participation in the Legislative Internship Program working for State Representative Will Weatherford was another highlight.

“The experience gave me an understanding of Florida politics and sparked my interest in public service,” he said.

Another experience stands out as well.

“I went to Puerto Rico with an amazing group of Honors College students and I was able to lead fundraising efforts to raise $1,500 for a boys’ home in Ponce,” Angail said. “The reason it left a lasting impression is because I saw first-hand the impact our group had on the home and the children residing in the home.”

In fact, many volunteer opportunities including two alternative spring breaks also kept him busy. It’s no wonder that he received the 25 under 25 Award and the Golden Bull award.

Originally from Chennai, India, Angail plans to become a certified public accountant and earn a master’s degree combining finance, health care administration and business. His ultimate goal is “to inspire others and make a mark that leaves this world a better place for future generations.

“Coming to USF was the wisest decision of my life,” Angail said as he now goes out into the world armed with a Bachelor of Science in accounting.

Graduate School and Beyond

Denise Marton Menendez’s stellar career at USF concludes on a very high note. She earned the Outstanding Graduate Award which is given each semester by the USF Alumni Association. It’s awarded to a graduating senior who embodies leadership, school spirit, community service, character and scholarship.

A double major in international studies and economics, Menendez earned multiple scholarships in her four years including the USF Tradition of Excellence, the Aida Grimaldi Memorial, the Mark T. Orr Endowment, the Siede Research Scholarship for Undergraduate Research and the prestigious Thomas R. Pickering Fellowship. She is one of only 20 undergraduate seniors and college graduates in the U.S. to become a Pickering Fellow this year. All of this financial support was put to use maintaining a 3.99 GPA.

Born in Cali, Colombia, Marton-Menendez moved to Palm Harbor, Florida, when she was six years old. She is fluent in Spanish and has a remarkable mastery of French, having studied in Dijon and Montpellier on study abroad trips to France. She also traveled to Florence, Italy to study art history, Italian food and culture, and comparative politics. A former GloBull Ambassador for the USF Study Abroad office, she was also a member of the Economic Scholars Society, French Club, Bollywood Dance Club and Colombian Student Association.

Marton-Menendez engaged in school and community service along with internships with an immigration law attorney, a labor and employment law attorney, the Tampa City Council, and this year as a summer analyst with Goldman Sachs in New York City.

She is headed to the Josef Korbel School of International Studies at the University of Denver for graduate school to major in global finance, trade and economic integration with her ultimate goal to be a Foreign Service officer for the U.S. State Department.

Marton-Menendez chose USF for the opportunities offered by Honors College and the promise of studying abroad but found much more.

“USF has given me the chance to meet some of my best friends,” she said. “It gave me the freedom to pursue my interests in travel and study which helped me realize my passions. It provided me with some of the most dedicated faculty and staff that guided me and made sure I took advantage of many different experiences. At the same time, I felt that I was able to forge my own path which has helped in my own personal development.”

From Football to Show Business

Grant White, who earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in mass communications with a concentration in broadcast production, is particularly thankful for one of many unforgettable experiences – an internship with The Tonight Show. The College of Arts & Sciences graduate was able to rub shoulders with the show’s host, Jimmy Fallon.

“It was an experience I will never forget and I couldn't have done it without the help of my professors,” he said. He singled out Kristin Arnold Ruyle, an instructor in the School of Mass Communications, in particular.

“She mentioned that one of her former students did the internship and loved it. She gave me her contact information and that woman gave me Late Night’s contact information. A few emails and a phone interview later, I was an intern!”

White said Fallon made it a point to speak to everyone, including the interns. When he was invited to

Grant White's internship with The Tonight Show gave him the opportunity to work with host, Jimmy Fallon, who got to know him by name.

go with the crew to Universal Studios in Orlando, White knew he had made a good impression. But it got better.

“Over the headset I heard, ‘Jimmy is arriving on set.’ Everyone stood a little straighter and prepared for his arrival. He came in the door, walked straight toward me and said, ‘What’s up brother?! I’m so glad you’re here. I’m so happy you were able to come down with us.’ I’ll never forget that moment. I knew right then that I was definitely living out my dream.”

From Watertown, New York, White transferred to USF from Jefferson Community College. He played fullback on the USF football team and was part of the American Athletic Conference All-Academic Team in 2013.

“Right now, I’m on a short production assistant gig with HBO, hopefully, it ends up being long term,” White said. “I know I’ll get to where I want to be – I just need to remember it’s a marathon and not a sprint.”

Bullish on Filmmaking…

Daniel Anthony Mall is on his way to a career in film and as far as he’s concerned, the sky’s the limit. As an RA, orientation team leader and teaching assistant among other leadership roles, Mall says he was able to develop the confidence to start his own film business.

“I have been featured in film festivals across the world such as the Cannes International Film Festival,” the Trinidad-Tobago-born Mall said. “I have won awards for outstanding achievements in storytelling and technical excellence. Because of USF, I can say that, when I graduate, I will be continuing with building my company into the multi-billion dollar corporation I intend for it to be.”

The interdisciplinary social sciences major concentrated on sociology and psychology. But it was his freshman English course that set him on the path to become a filmmaker.

“When most students chose to present their topics via PowerPoint presentations, I chose to make a music video of a song I felt embodied my topic at that time which was domestic violence,” he said. And most recently, “I utilized my classmates and group members to create a short film on Alzheimer's disease. It's on YouTube, titled ‘A Killer Diagnosis.’ It has since been noticed by the National Alzheimer's Association and Seth Rogen's charity for Alzheimer's disease, Hilarity for Charity. It is being used to raise awareness on Alzheimer's disease and raise potentially millions of dollars for the cause.”

Films, music videos and commercials are on Mall’s post-commencement to-do list when he devotes all of his time to his film production company, DM Films, utilizing the directing, cinematography and editing skills he honed while at USF.

…and Bullish on Service

While focused on earning his Bachelor of Science in management in the USF St. Petersburg College of Business, Richard W. Prince, Jr., who was born and raised on the south side of St. Petersburg, also learned a great deal about giving back.

“Throughout my time at USF I had the pleasure of mentoring foster kids and that experience changed my life forever,” he said. The subject of an article in The Oracle, Prince mentioned a foster child whose story went viral.

“It spread all over the world! What was fascinating was to see so many people respond to this young man’s plea for a loving family to adopt him. In that moment I realized that no matter what situations we’ve gone through, our feelings and emotions have no color.

“It amazed me that there are so many kids like him in the world that have no family or home to call their own. They were born into situations they didn’t ask to be in and because of that they need our help. They need an ear to listen and a heart that loves them. And I will do everything in my power to bring more awareness to adoption and mentoring.”

It was the observation of one of Prince’s professors that got him started.

“My ISM (information systems management) professor Cherie Collins, gave me the confidence to open up more in mentoring by telling me that I had more to offer than I displayed, because I would never talk in class,” he said. “She was the biggest influence in pushing me to combine my work with my service.“

He became a role model.

“I would bring the young men I mentored to the USFSP library while I studied so they could see what a college atmosphere was like and then I would take them on a tour of the campus so they could imagine themselves as students.”

Prince has accepted a job with a private holdings firm based in south Florida but is continuing his volunteer service regardless of his professional line of work.

“Mentoring and adoption are more of a mission for me completely separate from my job,” he said. “I want to inspire one person for every one dollar I make from my career.”

Barbara Melendez can be reached at 813-974-4563