Daily Archives: February 28, 2016

UWF baseball defeats nationally ranked Valdosta State in three-game series

By Grier Wellborn
Sports Editor

The UWF Argos exit the field after dominating Valdosta State 8-0 in the first game of this weekend’s three-game series on Saturday.
Photo by Grier Wellborn.

The University of West Florida baseball team faced off against the No. 19 Valdosta State Blazers this weekend at Jim Spooner Field. The Argos continued Gulf South Conference play in a double-header on Saturday.

In the first game, junior pitcher Walker O’Connor took the mound for the Argos. O’Connor was named GSC player of the week after shutting out No. 1 Tampa two weeks ago in the third game of the series. O’Connor shut out Valdosta state while he pitched in the first seven innings. O’Connor now has pitched 21 consecutive innings without allowing an earned run.

“It feels good,” O’Connor said. “Just going to keep working and taking it one game at a time.”

O’Connor is 3-0 as starting pitcher for UWF and is currently ranked fourth in UWF All-Time ERA Records (2.34).

A home run in the bottom of the first inning by senior Jean Figueroa gave the Argos the first lead in the game, a lead they would carry on throughout the next eight innings. Freshman Robert Lopez hit his third home run of the season in the second inning. Lopez was named GSC player of the week this past week for his stellar performance against Mississippi College.

Big plays from Figueroa, sophomore Nic Strasser, junior Justin Ambrosino, and senior Alex Greene in the bottom of the fifth allowed the Argos to score three more runs to reach a 5-0 lead.

The Argos went on to score two more runs in the sixth and one last run in the eighth to win game one 8-0.

Senior pitcher Josh McLaney made his sixth appearance of the season by relieving O’Conner in the eighth inning and closing Game 1 for the Argos.

The Argos went from shutting the Blazers out in the first game to being shut out by the Blazers in the second game of the day.

Junior JT Granat took over the mound to start the second game for the Argos. Granat gave up three runs in the first five innings of the game.

While the Argos offense came out with vigor in the first game, they were no match for the Blazers’ senior pitcher Kellan Baily and lost heat in the second. Baily played all seven innings, only allowing the Argos four hits and zero runs.

“We came out with all intensity in the first game,” Ambrosino said. “We came out fired up, but by the second game we didn’t have it and they did.”

Junior Jared Petree relieved Granat and pitched the last two innings of the game. While the Argos lost the second game 0-3, a night’s rest would give the Argos the time the needed to finish the series on Sunday.

Junior Anthony Mazzurco took the mound in the start of Game 3 on Sunday afternoon. A slow start to the game resulted in a scoreless tie game until the bottom of the fifth when Greene hit a single to allow senior catcher Kyle Hamner to score for the Argos.

The Blazers would also score in the next two innings to take their first lead of the game. The Argos tied the game back up in the bottom of the seventh when Ambrosino brought it home after a single hit by junior Michael Savas.

Senior pitcher Brandon Nagem took over for Mazzurco in the sixth inning and pitched through the seventh. While he allowed one run, he recorded abutting strikeouts against the Blazers.

Junior pitcher Steve McClellan relieved Nagem in the eighth inning, leaving the Blazers scoreless in the eighth, ninth and 10th. Senior pitcher Sean Kennedy took the mound in the 11th inning to close for UWF. Just when it looked like game three might head into 12th inning, a walk-off single by Hamner allowed junior Ladeavon Matthews to score at the bottom of the 11th to win the series for the Argos 3-2.

Beating Valdosta State marks a huge triumph for the UWF baseball team, as the Blazers were ranked No. 3 in the South Region and No. 18 nationally. UWF now has extended its nine-game winning streak at Jim Spooner Field against the Blazers.

The UWF baseball team will return to The Spoon to face off against Stillman College at 4 p.m. Wednesday, March 2.

For a complete season schedule, visit goargos.com.

So many books, so little time: Must-reads for your Spring Break bucket list

By Mackenzie Kees
Opinions Editor


This writer started on her must-read books at an early age.
Photo courtesy Mackenzie Kees.

To paraphrase one of the greats, Jane Austen: “It is a truth universally acknowledged that a man in possession of a brain must be in want of a good book.”

The importance of reading cannot be overstated. When a student is assigned a book to read by a teacher, it can sometimes be a miserable experience. It also can inadvertently steer students away from reading more for pleasure’s sake.

This is an atrocity.

Teachers are not to blame for this unfortunate side effect of assigned reading, and school-assigned books are important for their own reasons. Sometimes, they can even be interesting.

So, yes, all books are marvelous in their own right for their individual reasons, but there are some novels that unequivocally transcend the others. (Some of these books may even be on your reading list for next semester.)

I have narrowed down my list of countless beloved, life-altering and thoroughly magnificent books to a nice, round number of five. These books and/or book series have been chosen in the hopes that they might change the perspective of those students who only read when they must. With Spring Break approaching, finding a good book to read while lazing about in the sun is paramount.

For these five books I will briefly touch on the plot, but I will mainly concentrate on the writing style of each and whom I believe would most likely enjoy it. So, without further ado, here are some of my favorite novels in no particular order:

The ODD THOMAS Series by Dean Koontz


Short-order cook Odd Thomas has a peculiar life. In his seven-book series, author Dean Koontz takes his readers along for quite a ride with Thomas in the driver’s seat. All of the books in the series can be read as stand-alone novels, because they each describe a different adventure that hero Odd Thomas must face.

This series is perfect for a bit of easy reading and some light fun. When school’s stressful and work’s miserable, coming home to Thomas is a sweet relief. He doesn’t make you think too hard while offering up a mystery to solve, and along the way he provides you with an endearing sense of humor to keep you smiling. Koontz has made a relatable hero in Thomas that will keep readers coming back for more.

THE MAGICIANS Series by Lev Grossman


One of the best series I’ve read since leaving the world of Harry Potter behind is Lev Grossman’s trilogy about a group of young adults who discover they can perform magic. This series is incredibly engrossing and will have your eyes glued to the page until the very end.

The trilogy revolves around Quentin Coldwater and his friends as they navigate through life, starting as naive college freshmen and ending up as a group of mature adults. The way Grossman chooses to depict magic gives the story a more realistic feeling than most fantasy novels. Coldwater has to work very hard every step of the way to learn how to properly wield magic. It’s not as easy as just waving a stick around in the air and calling it a wand.

I’d recommend this book for readers who enjoy immersing themselves in a world full of magic, as I do, and who as a child fantasized about receiving their Hogwarts acceptance letter in the mail.

ALICE by Christina Henry


The stories we read as children are special to us in a way that can never again be felt by reading them as an adult. However, some of the best novels I’ve read have been based on some of those childhood stories. These types of stories provide a different adaptation to classic tales such as “Cinderella” or “Alice in Wonderland.” The novel “Alice” is based on the latter, but it shares none of the lighthearted, whimsical aspects of the original novel written by Lewis Carroll.

This novel is darker than its original counterpart. Its pages are filled with more sinister characters than the likes of Carroll’s Queen of Hearts, who simply pales in comparison to Henry’s villains. She takes the traditional tale of Wonderland and twists it into a terrifying nightmare that is sure to thrill.

THE ROAD OF THE DEAD by Kevin Brooks


Kevin Brooks is one of the most prolific writers I’ve ever read, and that includes J.K. Rowling, which, believe me is a compliment coming from me. (All hail the queen of fantasy! We are not worthy! We are not worthy!)

Brooks has penned many novels, all just as well written as the last, but his fifth novel, “The Road of the Dead,” is my favorite. The fluidity with which he writes to describe what the protagonist is seeing or thinking creates a breathtaking visual that even the blind could see. I’ve never before felt so transported into a story until I started reading the various novels written by Brooks. He primarily writes novels for teens, which I was when first reading the book, but in the years since I’ve come back to it several times to re-read. The worn dog-eared pages are yellowing with age, but I will never get rid of such a wonderful book.

This particular novel by Brooks is about a half-gypsy boy named Ruben who follows his older brother Cole on a journey of discovery and self-actualization. People with an appreciation for other cultures will enjoy the dynamic between the brothers and their mother, which is somewhat different than relationships are in most American families. As someone who was always fascinated by the gypsy lifestyle, I enjoyed what this novel let me do, which was live vicariously through Ruben. I recommend this book as a quick, easy read for visual readers who enjoy novels that paint the perfect picture for every scene.



The more recently published book out of the previous four, “City of Savages” by new author Lee Kelly, has a different type of story to tell than the rest.

Instead of revolving around magic and fairy tales or gypsies and mysteries, this novel illustrates a dystopian future that has been devastated by the fictitious (for now, anyway) Third World War. Sisters Sky and Phee Miller live with their mother in a prisoner-of-war camp located in a derelict version of Manhattan, in which they are fighting to survive. The novel switches back and forth from each sister’s point of view throughout the story, giving readers a unique perspective that is not offered when there is a single narrator.

For a story of survival against all odds, similar to “The Hunger Games” or “Divergent” series, Kelly’s “City of Savages” delivers with a punch. Readers can expect non-stop action, drama and a little bit of romance within the pages of this book. I recommend this novel for people who enjoy reading books set in a distant war-torn future that are full of action and adventure.

Amtrak is a possibility for Pensacola, but would it benefit UWF students?

By Sara Agans
Staff Writer


Pensacolians might get another choice for transit in the near future.
Graphic courtesy of https://nextcity.org

All aboard? An Amtrak train stopped in Pensacola on Friday, Feb. 19, for the first time since Hurricane Katrina (2005) to gauge the interest of reopening the stop.

“Amtrak, which is a company that owns and operates passenger trains, is considering the possibility of passenger trains again,” said Rick Harper, assistant vice president for UWF’s Office of Economic Development and Engagement. “Amtrak would run trains along Central Gulf Coast and Northern Florida, including Pensacola. These trains would allow passengers to connect to other train services in places like New Orleans and Jacksonville.”

Harper also said this could benefit UWF students who live in areas close to where the trains will stop.  For instance, it might be convenient to ride a train back home from Spring Break instead of driving. However, Harper said most students might still find it more convenient to drive, whether to save the expense of a train ticket or because driving is usually faster.

“Amtrak has to figure out whether they can attract enough passengers to make it profitable to run the trains in our area,” Harper said.

A couple of students shared their responses when asked how many trips they would take over the next 12 months on Amtrak if the fares for a round trip were $50, $75 or $100.

Nicole Mills, a UWF senior majoring in telecommunications, estimated she would take three to five trips by train, because she said it would be a nice experience. If the fare for a round-trip was $50, Mills said she would take maybe five trips; if the fare price was $75, then three trips; and for $100, maybe only two trips.

David French, a UWF junior majoring in journalism, said he might take between five and 10 trips over the next 12 months. If the fare for a round-trip to Orlando was $50, French said he would easily take more than 10 trips; for $75, at least five trips; and for $100, probably no more than three.

Stephen LeMay, UWF visiting associate professor in the Department of Marketing and Economics said in the 1970s, when Amtrak first started advertising, they oversold their service – meaning they promised luxury performance the system could not provide.

“Consequently, they attracted a large number of one-time riders,” LeMay said. “They promoted luxurious cars and pleasant conditions, not to mention on-time arrivals and departures. They delivered rail cars that smelled like bad gas station bathrooms, 15-hour late arrivals, and other problems.”

LeMay said that this time around, the problems seem to be fixed. The big issue for UWF students will be whether the service fits the needs of the students. If the schedule does not work, LeMay said students are likely to ignore the service. If the schedule does work – the train will depart from Pensacola at 9 a.m. on Friday, arrive in Orlando sometime in the early afternoon, and return around 9 p.m. Sunday – students could visit Disney World or Universal Studios for the weekend.

“Personally, I would like to see the service succeed, but it will depend on frequency, time of day and reliability,” LeMay said.

For more information on current Amtrak routes, schedules and services click here.

TAGGED exhibition opens for its spring 2016 season

By Sydney O’Gwynn
Staff Writer


Junior art major Corey Frey won Best in Show with his piece, “Quiddity,” a painting of a baby girl, modeled after his daughter.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

Junior studio art major Corey Frey took home the Best in Show award at the opening reception of the TAGGED Student Art and Design Exhibition on Thursday night.

The exhibition was open from 5 to 7 p.m. at The Art Gallery (TAG) in the Center for Fine and Performing Arts. Five juried awards were given out: two honorable mentions, two runners-up and a Best in Show award. There was also a People’s Choice award decided by the viewers at the opening reception.

The TAGGED exhibit is “an opportunity for students to compete in a juried competition, much like they will do once they graduate,” said Nick Croghan, director of TAG.

Croghan said there were more than 120 student submissions, and 13 members of the University of West Florida’s faculty narrowed the selection down to 45 pieces of artwork. Then, Croghan said, he brought someone outside of UWF to select the winners. This year’s guest judge was Raven Holloway, executive director of the Pensacola Museum of Art.

Holloway said there were several factors that went into the selection process.

“Obviously, the quality of the work, but also the creativity and imagination,” Holloway said.

She praised Frey’s winning piece.

“The painterly qualities of that piece were just outstanding,” Holloway said.

While the two runners up and the Best in Show winner received cash prizes from UWF, Holloway and the PMA awarded one-year memberships to the two students who received honorable mentions.

Frey’s winning piece, “Quiddity,” is an oil painting on wood panel. The painting is of a baby girl, modeled after his daughter.

“I’m exploring the relationship between visual imagery and the narrative that paint provides as a substance,” Frey said. “So I’m exploring whatever the subject matter may be, but I’m also really interested in what paint can do and the process of painting.”

Frey said it is nice to be in these shows because the artist sees the support in their work from others.

“For one, it’s just a confidence boost,” he said. “I think any student can just be excited that their work is being appreciated and just hearing that support is a huge deal and it keeps you going.”

Senior art major Jane Hatcher, who usually can be found taking pictures and videos at various art events, stepped out from behind the camera to accept the People’s Choice award.

“It’s a big honor because people are actually voting on your artwork,” she said about winning the award. “I love it.”

Hatcher said she had the materials for her work, which shows a tree stump with vines leading up to an upside-down chair, in her possession for the past four years. Her fascination with mushrooms inspired the outdoor theme in her piece. “It’s kind of bringing outside in,” she said.

The annual TAGGED event has been held for more than a decade. It is an all-student show, which associate professor Valarie George said is extremely important for both the students and the community.

“It’s important for a million reasons,” she said. “[Students] have to have some experience in applying for shows, being selected, being rejected; going through the motions of that process.”

Croghan agreed with George, citing art as a form of communication.

“You can talk about aesthetic issues, political issues, gender issues,” Croghan said. “Whatever platform you think is important, you can use this as a venue for expression.”

Hatcher also said student shows are important because it is an exposure opportunity for students as well as a way for the community to see the next generation.

“We’re upcoming artists; this is what we want to do for the rest of our lives,” Hatcher said. “When the community sees that, it encourages us.”

The 2016 TAGGED exhibition runs through March 12. TAG is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Saturdays. For information on the Department of Art, including TAGGED and other upcoming events, visit their website.

UWF encourages students to ‘Love Every Body’

By Sydney O’Gwynn

Staff Writer

 UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week. Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.

UWF Active Mind’s president Jessica Mager explains the activity to an interested student on Tuesday in the Commons. The “Love Every Body” event is held annually during National Eating Disorder Awareness Week.
Photo by Sydney O’Gwynn.


On Tuesday, University of West Florida students had an opportunity to shed negative self-images and celebrate their uniqueness at the annual “Love Every Body” event held in the University Commons.

The event, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., was sponsored by UWF’s Counseling and Psychological Services and featured a variety of different booths. Several organizations on campus, including Career Services, Health Services and the Peer Educators from the Wellness Center, participated in the event.

“I think this is just an awesome event,” said Victoria Weekley, a UWF sophomore psychology major. Weekley is a peer educator on campus who was working their group’s booth.

“We’re just here trying to get people to recognize their negativity and their insecurities, and then figure out what they think is unique and special about themselves,” she said.

Weekley said at their booth, attendees could write down a word on a piece of paper describing a trait they don’t like about themselves. Then they could drop that piece of paper in a jar labeled “See through to the truth; shed your negativity here,” and symbolically get rid of their insecurities. Finally, participants could take a button and write something unique and positive about themselves and wear it proudly for everyone to see.

“It’s a positive way to just get rid of it, face what’s going on, and then love yourself at the end,” Weekley said.

UWF Active Minds, a non-profit student organization, also set up a booth at the event. The goal of Active Minds is to reduce suicide by destigmatizing mental illness.

“We just try to make people feel more comfortable about it, like they can talk about it,” said UWF junior psychology major Jessica Mager. “Because that’s why people commit suicide, because they feel so alone.”

Mager is the president of UWF Active Minds. The group’s booth had two activities for participants. The first activity had attendees step on a scale; but instead of seeing numbers, they saw uplifting messages.

“[It’s] to reinforce the idea that the numbers don’t matter; it’s more about your health,” Mager said.

For the second activity, students wrote something positive about themselves on Styrofoam cups. Then the cups were collectively arranged and placed upside down on the floor in front of the booth to spell out the word “hope.”

“It kind of symbolizes that you can turn something negative into something positive,” Mager said.

Mager said the goal was to give attendees a better understanding of mental illness. She said she hoped her booth gave students a little pick-me-up.

“I just hope they get a little more positivity in their day,” she said. “And another reminder: Don’t worry about the scale, don’t worry about what people have said about you. You can turn it around.”

One interactive booth called “Share Your Care,” had students write how they take care of themselves and then color a drawing of a person. Another booth, sponsored by the Counseling and Psychological Services, taught students how to write positive affirmations about themselves. Interestingly enough, one booth even invited attendees to critique Barbie and alter her appearance to be more realistic.

“In my opinion, if students have a good sense of self-worth, they’re more likely to be successful,” April Glenn said. Glenn is a licensed mental health counselor for Counseling and Psychological Services. She has been in charge of the center’s outreach for the past three years and said the “Love Every Body” event has evolved.

“The event is about loving yourself,” Glenn said. “Initially it was about body image, loving your body, but we’ve kind of broadened the scope to loving yourself inside and out.”

Glenn said she hopes participants gain a sense of self-worth and learn to love themselves.

“Our goal here at Counseling and Psychological Services is to help students grow into their potential,” Glenn said.

For more information about the Counseling and Psychological Services, please visit the website. If you wish to learn more about or join UWF Active Minds, follow them on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

UWF Community Garden continues to blossom in its seventh year of operation

By Kenny Detwyler
Contributing Writer


About 40 volunteers, including UWF faculty and students, show up to work on Saturday work days at the UWF Community Garden.
Photo by Kenny Detwyler.

The UWF Community Garden recently has been growing more than just fresh food and flowers. It has been growing at a rate that is allowing it to develop more than the members may have thought possible when it first began in 2009.

Nestled in the woods, behind the water tower and adjacent to parking lot B, students can find the garden, which is run and maintained by UWF students and faculty. It provides a place for students to get in touch with the world that surrounds them.

“I think that students who should go to the garden are people who enjoy the environment or love gardening, and even people who have never tried it in their lives,” Garden Club officer Shawnee Doling-Tye said. “A lot of people found that they love the sunshine, and that the fresh food is even better.”

On any given work day at the garden, you can find as many as 40 volunteers from many different backgrounds coming together to grow and maintain something “all natural” in a world that is becoming increasingly artificial.

“No matter what you study, no matter what your religion, your heritage, your gender, your age, the one thing we all have in common is that we require nutritious food to survive,” said Earth and Environmental Science instructor Chasidy Hobbs. “We have become so far removed from our food system that most of us could not provide for ourselves should the grocery store disappear. We want to do our part to teach people about just how easy it is, with the proper tools and a willingness to get a little dirty, to grow your own food.”

As the number of students who come to the garden continues to grow, so must the garden itself. The garden has a wealth of future developments planned for the site.

“We will be building a shade teaching pavilion this semester thanks to funds we received from SGA,” Hobbs said. “We also have our fingers crossed that we will receive funds for a request we put in for the Student Green Fee. If awarded, we will be building a rainwater collection system and doubling the amount of growing space available to anyone interested in getting involved with UWF Student Community Garden.”

Doling-Tye teased other upcoming additions including a grapevine, strawberries, and a pomegranate tree.

To find out more about the Community Garden and how to get involved in work days this spring, visit the website or ask to join their Facebook group, UWF Student Community Garden.


International student athlete Peggy de Villiers overcomes challenges while breaking records

By Tom Moore
Contributing Writer


UWF swimmers Theresa Michalak (left) and Peggy de Villiers (right) celebrate their individual and team wins in last week’s NSISC Swimming and Diving Championships.
Photo courtesy UWF Athletics.

University of West Florida swimmer Peggy De Villiers started swimming at age 12 and has always been a strong athlete. Her parents urged her to get into swimming because she had always had a natural talent for it.

In addition to swimming in her native South Africa, De Villiers also competed in water skiing, horse riding, motor biking and hockey; but in high school, she found she loved swimming so much that she to committed herself to it exclusively and went on to not only set school records, but break world records. Now UWF claims the senior as our own.

But De Villiers is different from other UWF swimmers – she has only about 30 percent of her hearing.

“I got bacterial meningitis when I was 6 months old,” De Villiers said. “After I finally recovered, I had lost 80 percent of my hearing.” She said she never really paid any attention to it, and never considered it a disability. “It was just part of who I am,” she said. “I never really thought of it more than that.”

De Villiers wears a hearing aid and has developed efficient communication skills with it on. She said she currently has about 30 percent of her hearing without the use of a hearing aid.

But regardless of this challenge, she was able to not only break many of her high school swimming records; she also competed in club swim teams. De Villiers lettered all four years at Somerset Collegiate High School while recording a time of 22.98 in the 50 freestyle. She also set five individual Provincial Junior Swimming Records during this time. At age 15 she tried out for the Summer Olympic Games, missing the qualification speed by a mere .36 seconds.

Once she graduated high school, she reviewed her options. She wanted to continue swimming, but South Africa didn’t offer any scholarships for student athletes. She packed up in search of better academic opportunities and left for the United States in 2013.

Arriving in the United States in the dead of winter, her first stop was Drury University in Springfield, Missouri.

“I absolutely hated it,” she said. “It was cold, flat, grey and snowy. Not my climate at all.  And nowhere to swim.”

She started a serious online quest for a university that offered a well-balanced curriculum, was reasonably priced, had a good athletic program, was warm and on the coast, with welcoming people who wanted her to be there. “I found it all here at UWF,” De Villiers said.

“I fell in love with UWF as soon as I saw it,” she said. “Ultimately it was my future coach, Andrew Hancock, that drew me to the school. He treated me like he cared a lot about each individual’s needs not just as a swimmer, but also as an athlete and a person. I really need that kind of personal care to reach my full potential.”

That personal care and De Villiers’ own drive, hard work and determination, as well as a dose of raw natural talent, has led her to dominating the sport of swimming, not only at UWF or the state of Florida, but nationally as well. Twice she has broken the world record for the women’s 50 fly: first with a 28.40 in prelims, and second with a 28.28 in the medal final. That takes nearly a full second off the record, which stood at 29.16 from Pernilla Kile in 2009.

Additionally, De Villiers has been a member of the South African Deaflympics team since 2007 and holds the deaf world swimming record in the 50 backstroke at 31.11.

“Peggy’s is an inspirational story,” said UWF swimming and diving Head Coach Andrew Hancock. “It’s been an incredible learning opportunity for our team to see her focus every day on the opportunities that she has rather than what she doesn’t have.”

Maintaining this level of extreme athleticism is intense, and when she’s not in class, she’s at the pool.

“I work out three to four hours a day, nine times a week. Three times a week I work out with a special weight training regimen adjusted to the swim specialty. Then I work out six times a week in the pool. The pool training varies. I do mostly sprint swim workouts, then sometimes my coach has me do longer, but slower, ‘recovery’ workouts.” All this is coupled with the requirement of maintaining at least a 2.6 GPA and not missing more than three practices a week.

“I feel really fortunate to be able to do this,” De Villiers said. “I get a full ride, including a housing allowance to go to school, and I get to do what I love while I do it.”

De Villiers said the most important thing for maintaining and increasing her skills is simple.

“Consistency is the key. Once you start, you don’t ever stop. You may be tired, you may feel sick, but you can’t ever stop or it’s that much harder to get back to your peak level. In the end, it’s better stay a little lower on the performance curve, and maintain consistency, than to do a whole lot one day and a lot less the next. Your body needs slow, steady, but constant progress. At least mine does.”

When asked what her ultimate dream competition is, she said, “I want just one more shot at the Olympics. If I win Nationals [March 8 and 9 in Indianapolis], I’m going to do one more tryout for the 2016 World Olympics. There would be no greater honor than compete in the Olympics. After that, I would hang up my swimsuit and focus on my career.”

Most recently, De Villiers traveled with the Argos swim and dive teams to Cleveland, Mississippi, Feb. 17-20 to compete in the New South Intercollegiate Swim Conference Championships. The team placed first in the entire meet, and De Villiers took first in both the 100 freestyle and the 4×100 freestyle relay.

After she graduates, she said she wants to pursue her Master’s Degree.

“I am going to transfer to University of San Diego, and study Public Relations with a minor in Abnormal Psychology. Upon graduation, I want to work in Public Relations as a Sports Agent.”

See more of De Villiers’ swimming stats and records on goargos.com. To see a video of de Villiers reflecting on life as a student-athlete with a hearing impairment, click here.


UWF 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference to be ‘rigorous high-impact learning experience’

By Kaitlin Lott
Staff Writer


Over the last 14 years, the University of West Florida’s Women’s and Gender Studies Program has hosted its annual Women’s Studies Conference (WSC), seeking to empower girls and women through scholastic achievements. This year, the 15th annual WSC is scheduled from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on March 21 in the UWF Conference Center.

The conference will feature scholarly papers, poster presentations and visual and performance art pieces addressing women, gender and sexuality.

Women’s and Gender Studies Coordinator and WSC faculty sponsor Katherine Romack said she is eager for the upcoming event, knowing it will provide students with formal presentations of student scholarship and public exchanges of ideas across disciplines.

“This annual conference provides our students with the invaluable opportunity to engage in a rigorous, high-impact learning experience as they prepare their creative and academic works through extensive research, revision, review and debate,” Romack, an associate professor in the Department of English, said in an email interview.

The keynote speaker this year will be Anne Fausto-Sterling, the Nancy Duke Lewis Professor Emerita of Biology and Gender Studies in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and Biochemistry at Brown University. She also is the founder and former director of the Science and Technology Studies Program at Brown and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and UWF Faculty ADVANCE Distinguished Visiting Scholar. Her speech is entitled, “Acquiring Gender: From Baby in the Yellow Hat to Gender Identity and Expression.”

“Dr. Fausto-Sterling is an eminent developmental geneticist whose work has been influential in shaping our understanding of sex, gender, sexual orientation and gender identity,” Romack said. “She is notable for her nuanced integration of genetics and biology with larger social forces in a way that bridges the nature-nurture divide.”

The WSC committee strives to have internationally prominent speakers who will bring energy to the conference and revitalize the greater Pensacola community with an appreciation for the research represented by high-caliber speakers such as Fausto-Sterling.

“We anticipate that the keynote by Dr. Fausto-Sterling will attract more STEM faculty, students and community members this year, and that her interest in challenging entrenched assumptions about the ‘nature’ of gender will be of great interest to the LGBTQ+ community in Pensacola,” Romack said.

In addition to Fausto-Sterling, the WSC partners with other campus organizations to build partnerships and platforms that encourage women and men with different interests to be part of the event.

“We strive to involve as many UWF and community organizations as possible, so students who attend the conference are also able to discover new ways to get behind social issues and become involved in the UWF and Pensacola community,” said Erica Miller, co-president of Women’s Studies Collective in an email interview. “This year, we will have representatives from UWF’s Women in Business Organization (WiBO), Active Minds, the Feminist Society of Pensacola, the League of Women Voters, and many others.”

“We truly believe that the conference’s positive impact on UWF students, faculty, and the community is because it has created a space for all participants to create, share and connect,” said Brittany Hammock, co-president of Women’s Studies Collective, in an email interview.

The conference presents opportunities for students, faculty, staff and alumni to learn about the outstanding work of fellow students who are presenting. Members of WSC committee are excited about the diverse contributions submitted by undergraduates and graduates, and said submissions this year are the strongest that the department has had in the last 15 years.

This year, the Women’s and Gender Studies Program partnered with The Red Ribbon Charitable Foundation, which is dedicated to raising awareness about HIV prevention, and UWF Faculty ADVANCE, which has been working to improve women’s access to the STEM fields at UWF. “We are very grateful for their support,” Romack said.

Further, the WSC also presents one inspirational individual with the Mary F. Rodger’s Faculty Award for Women’s Studies. This year the recipient of this award is Jamie Snyder, assistant professor in the Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice, whose research centers on domestic violence. Snyder’s luncheon presentation will focus on sexual violence on college campuses.

The Women’s Studies Conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. Romack said attendees should expect the opportunity to develop scholarly insights into fruitful undergraduate research and graduate thesis projects.

For more information and registration see: 15th Annual Women’s Studies Conference.

A little bit of sunshine – and less technology – is what you need

By Kelsi Gately
Staff Writer


Photo courtesy of debate.org

Today, the average person spends 11 hours of his or her day with technology and doesn’t spend enough time outside. Ironically, I am writing this on my laptop, but I am doing so while swinging in my hammock.

According Nielsen’s Total Audience Report, most people are awake for about 16 hours a day, and only five of those hours are spent without interacting with technology. It’s not uncommon to have the television on in one room, be in the kitchen cooking and talking on the phone.

Kids today sit in front of the TV, with a laptop playing video games, and also have a cell phone next to them texting all their friends. They no longer take the time to run around outside or ride their bikes. It’s no wonder there are so many health problems among America’s youth.


Chart courtesy of Statista.com

“I’m worried about our generation growing up with technology in every aspect of our lives,” said James Pitts, president of the Argonaut Outdoor Club. “Younger generations are a concern as well. It seems both generations increasingly find their escape in technology, whether it be phones, internet, video games, etc., rather than in nature and the outdoors. Perhaps I am a bit biased, but spending time outdoors also seems the healthier option, both psychologically and physically.”

Simply putting down the phone, shutting the TV off for a few hours each week and going outside will help improve your day-to-day life. Taking a walk around the neighborhood or riding your bike is a great way to start getting outside more.

Jason Strahan, medical director of UWF’s Student Health Services, said that going outside and being active has health benefits. Limiting the amount of time spent on a computer will decrease stress and also keep you from becoming nearsighted, he said.

As college students, we are constantly studying, and that’s usually inside. Next time, grab your textbook and find a place under a tree to study instead. If you don’t already have a hammock, get one. They are easy to put up and are a great place to study and even take a nap on long days. I personally love mine and hope to start using it even more.

Those of you who need a laptop for homework, do any work that doesn’t require Wifi outside. Do any research for a paper beforehand, and then take the work to your favorite tree and write.

It’s easy to lose track of time surfing the web. Instead, channel that wasted time to breathing fresh air. “Just be self-motivated,” Pitts said.

What’s your favorite way to spend time outside? Or do you spend all your time in front of a computer screen? Tweet me your response @kelsi_gately_