Fulbright Scholar Speaks About Experience In Costa Rica


Kevin Orner was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship while he was attending the University of South Florida. The scholarship allowed the environmental engineer to continue his research in Costa Rica.

This video is on display in the Marshall Student Center at the heart of the USF campus. This video was produced by Stephanie Ines.



Explore Eastern Hillsborough County

Begin your day-cation in Eastern Hillsborough County by visiting Downtown Plant City. You can grab a cup of coffee and pastries at Krazy Kup Cafe. Across the street is Robert W. Willaford Railroad Museum, where you can expand your knowledge of railroads for free.

You can continue walking around downtown for your next meal at The Corner Store. They cook with organic and local produce, so you can continue your day feeling great. Another option is the Whistle Stop Cafe, where you can get a chicken salad sandwich.

Continue your day in Downtown Plant City by checking out State Theatre Antiques. It originally opened as a theater in 1939, but closed and reopened as an antique store in the 1950’s. The shop sells circus antiques and vintage signs for everyday prices.

When the sun is fully out, make your way out to Lithia Springs Park to enjoy a refreshing dip in the clear water. You can take a canoe out on the Alafia River, or extend your stay and camp out on one of the 44 camping sites.

Before you head home, you have to stop by Parkesdale Market. It is the largest family-owned strawberry and citrus market in Florida. They have fresh produce, homemade jams and flowers. Whatever you decide to buy, you have to add one of their strawberry shakes to your shopping list.

To find more fun things to do in Hillsborough County, go to www.hcflgov.net

USF Student To Walk Across Stage With Father’s Memory

Vanessa Rushing, 22, is going to add letters to her name when she graduates from USF’s nursing program this spring.

Rushing knew she was going to become a nurse ever since she was a little kid. She never envisioned herself as anything else. She grew up with two older sisters who were both nurses.

When Rushing was 8 years old, she was diagnosed with Familial Hypophosphatemia Rickets. Her health caused her to constantly be in and out of Shriners Hospital until she was 18 years old. Being surrounded by nurses made Rushing’s career path even more clear.

Rushing is originally from St. Petersburg, Florida. She did not want to stray too far from home when she was choosing what college to attend. She also put USF high on her list, since it is the home of one of the best nursing programs in the state.

During her second semester at USF, Rushing joined a sorority on campus. Being a member of Gamma Phi Beta helped her create her best memories of college.

“My favorite part about coming to college and coming to USF was definitely joining my sorority, Gamma Phi,” Rushing said. “I met so many amazing women through it. I live with two of my sisters now and great memories are made every day.”

Rushing’s best advice for new USF students is to get involved at school as soon as possible.

“You meet a ton of people through getting involved, whether it be from a sorority or a fraternity, or any other organization,” Rushing said. “You make connections and form really awesome bonds that way. Your whole college experience from that point on is just 10 times better.”

The friends she made in her sorority and her classes helped Rushing through the hardest time in her life.

“My worst experience at USF was my sophomore year after my dad passed away,” Rushing said. “It was a really tough semester. I was just applying to the nursing program, so I had all that stress on me at that end. Losing a parent is also really hard and really difficult to go through, especially when you’re at such a young age.”

Many college students’ nightmares became a reality for Rushing.

“It became harder to keep up my grades,” Rushing said. “But he was my biggest support system.”

She didn’t let her dark days keep her from reaching her goals. She became more motivated to make her dad proud of her.

“I feel like I subconsciously would make myself work harder,” Rushing said. “Just to make sure I was doing him justice and make him feel proud.”

Rushing is going to make her dad proud as she walks across the stage in May. She will be taking her exam to become an official registered nurse soon after. Her goal is to work on either the pediatric floor, the ER or the pediatric ER.

Her friends who have known her all throughout college are cheering her on and know Rushing is following the correct career path. Nicole Keesee has been friends with Rushing since their freshman year at USF.

“Vanessa will make an absolutely amazing nurse because of how much she truly cares for other people and how selfless she is,” Keesee said. “She is always putting others before herself and I think that is such an important quality to have when entering the medical field.”

Clearwater Beach Voted Best in US

Clearwater Beach was named the best beach in the United States in TripAdvisor’s 2018 Traveler’s Choice Awards.

Being the best beach isn’t anything new for Clearwater. The beach was also ranked #1 on TripAdvisor’s list in 2016. In 2015, Clearwater Beach was the only beach from the U.S. to be ranked in the World’s Top 25 Beaches category on TripAdvisor.

The beach was also named in the Top 10 Best Family Beach in 2018 according to Family Vacation Critic.

Clearwater Beach is known for its white sand and sparkling water. The beach about 2.5 miles long of never-ending beach activities, such as jet skiing and beach volleyball.

Florida locals are not very surprised that the beach was ranked so high. Amanda Carlton moved to Tampa, Florida five years ago. She was born and raised in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Clearwater Beach was the first beach she discovered in the area.

“Clearwater being the No. 1 beach doesn’t really surprise me at all,” Carlton said. “There’s a bunch of people here and everybody loves it.”

In the middle of the beach there is Pier 60, where people can get great views.

The beach is perfect for any occasion and any group of people. There is a playground to entertain children, and live music and local vendors for adults.

“I definitely think this beach is very energetic.” Carlton said. “There is so many activities for you to do. You got the pier, you got beach volleyball, jet skiing, there’s music and games, and all of that going on at all times.”

The great thing about Clearwater Beach is it is located on the west coast of Florida. It makes it a perfect spot to watch the famous Florida sunset on a nightly basis. Whether it’s cloudy or not, it is still a great view.

Clearwater Beach isn’t only just the ocean and sand. It is a must-see beach town, filled with culture from the Tampa Bay Area.

“If you are visiting for the first time this is a great tourist attraction,” Carlton said.



Seminole Heights Tile Shop On HGTV


A family-owned business in Seminole Heights is getting national exposure. The Cement Tile Shop was featured on HGTV’s shows “Property Brothers” and “Fixer Upper.” The product has also been featured on HGTV’s magazine.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Jamie Addison, Cement Tile Shop’s Customer Service Manager. “Especially when you get to work with the designers, and again see it come to fruition on TV.”

The shop sells encaustic cement tiles that are handmade with naturally pigmented colors and designs. They are extremely durable and can be used for indoor and outdoor use.

“It’s all about the pattern and the colors,” Addison said. “It just really makes a statement.

The business started in Lutz, Florida. When they outgrew the location, they moved to Seminole Heights. Addison believes that the tile fits in well in the neighborhood.

“It’s an excellent location, a lot of development happening,” Addison said. “A lot of our tile going around in the neighborhood. It’s a fun, kind of funky product, which there is a lot of that in this neighborhood as well.”

The shop gains a lot of their exposure through social media. They have over 130,000 followers on Instagram.

The company continues to expand. They recently opened a second showroom in Scottsdale, Arizona.

They offer shipping all throughout the United States and internationally. The easiest way to purchase tiles is on their website, but they are also available via phone or email to help customers place orders.