Celebrating International Graduates 2020

New International Student Orientation group photo of students graduating in 2020. Taken in August 2016.

Four years ago these eager and new faces graced our campus for the first time. This week, our international seniors and WORLD Ambassador seniors will graduate and become alumni of Stetson University, but what would a beginning and ending be without the middle?  Four years ago we could not predict they would be such a pleasure to work with. nor could we predict that collectively they would win award after award in all areas of personal development. Some of their awarded development was for community engagement and service on and off campus, for outstanding grades and other academic measures, for leading their team to victory time and again, for leadership on campus and off, for outstanding performance in real world experiences locally, regionally . and nationally and for all other sorts of activities. We are so proud of everything they have accomplished and what they will continue to accomplish as alumni.  

While we are sad that we cannot have our normal celebrations to congratulate them on all of their achievements and to mark this milestone in their lives, we are looking forward to celebrating at commencement this December and we hope they can all return and take part in those events. We wish all of our graduates a safe and happy and successful future. Congrats Class of 2020! #hattergrad

FAQs for International F1 Students

Last updated : July 24, 2020

July 24, 2020

What are my options for study if I can’t return this fall? International students who cannot return to Stetson this fall are able to take online-only classes from anywhere in the world, including within the USA. Be sure all the classes on your schedule are marked OL signifying online. If you prefer you can choose to take a leave of absence for the fall from Stetson and work with me to be sure your Sevis record is updated. Before you return in the Spring we need to be in touch to reactivate your Sevis record so you can enter then.

What are my options for study since this will be my first semester as a college student this fall? All first time in college international students who have an F1 visa MUST take at least half of their credits either face to face or hybrid, therefore you must come to campus. If you are unable to come to classes you have the option to defer your start date until spring and take a gap semester. you cannot study this fall.

I’m a first time in college student but I didn’t get a visa yet. Can I study from home? Yes. If you do not have an F1 visa yet you are not officially a international student in Sevis. Therefore, you are able to defer your start date until spring and take classes from Stetson while at home. Be sure to reach out to RLewis1@stetson.edu to keep your Sevis record available so you can continue to work toward getting a visa for the spring term.

Can I quarantine somewhere other than campus? Yes, you are permitted to quarantine anywhere in the USA for two weeks upon arrival but you are welcome to Quarantine on campus if you need to. Be sure to fill out the form distributed by residential living and learning to let them know your arrival date so they can have your room ready.

Can arrive late to campus? I am having trouble getting a flight to the US Stetson is able to accommodate a late start up to a point. You have until the end of the add/drop period (August 19) to begin classes without needing to seek permission to start late. If you must arrive after that time reach out to WORLD to begin that process of requesting permission.

I will still be in quarantine off-campus when classes begin. Can I start classes late? If you are taking all online classes you can begin from wherever you are quarantining on time. If you are expected to participate in face to face or hybrid classes you should reach out to your instructors and let them know you are in quarantine and will be arriving late. Ask them to help you keep up with the assignments until you can attend in person. WORLD can support your request if necessary.

How do I know if Stetson has a room reserved for me? You must fill out the housing form last sent out to all students in their stetson email on July 17th. Residential Life and Learning has committed to reserving space for our international students. However, space will fill up so fill out the form and submit it as soon as possible.

When is the WORLD Center open for the fall semester? The WORLD Staff will be in the office Tuesdays and Thursdays unless otherwise noted.  WORLD will update all signage on our website and office doors if there are any changes to the schedule.  The staff at WORLD is available to assist international students with their adjustment acclimation to Stetson University, as well as to answer any questions regarding study abroad.  Meetings will take place virtually whenever possible.  If an in-person meeting is needed, students should make a specific request or arrive at the center during WORLD’s pre-determined walk-in hours. If you would like to speak with someone on staff, you have two options:

  • Call the office at 386-822-8165 and ask to speak with any staff member.  Calls will be answered as staff is available.  All staff members have 8×8 set up on their computers and can take phone calls during office hours whether working on campus or at home.
    • Schedule an appointment to meet virtually with a staff member via Zoom or Microsoft Teams.  By scheduling an appointment, you can lock in dedicated time with any of our professional staff.
    • August and September – Paula Hentz
    • October – Roxanne Lewis
    • November – Wendy Viggiano
    • December – Roxanne and Wendy will split the month (this will be confirmed at a later date pending university remote working guidelines.)
  • Does WORLD offer walk-in hours?
  • Walk in hours will be Tuesdays and Thursday from 10 am – 2 pm Eastern Time.  You are strongly encouraged to schedule an appointment for walk in hours.
    • WORLD is always available virtually Monday through Friday, except on University holidays, 8:00 am – 4:30 pm Eastern Time.

I need a signature on my I-20. You may schedule an appointment with the WORLD staff member in the office (see schedule above) or you can come to the walk in hours

  • I want to drop off required study abroad forms or a payment (check, money order, or cash)You can drop off forms and payments during walk in hours but we strongly encourage students to send forms and payments through campus mail. 

  • I have questions about studying abroad
    • You have questions, we have answers.  Feel free to schedule a virtual meeting with Paula Hentz (Exchange programs) or Wendy Viggiano (Faculty Led and Affiliate Programs).  We are happy to help find the right study abroad program for you.

How to check if your courses are online, hybrid, or Face to Face

Log into MyStetson

Click on One Stop

Go to My Classes

Click on Change Term

Select a Term (from the drop down box):  Fall 2020- DeLand, the click Submit

Click Student Detail Schedule

Next to your Course Name you will see abbreviations

OL = Online

HY = Hybrid

FF = Face to Face

Example:  Fundamentals of Accounting – 7771 – ACCT 201 – HY

This course is a Hybrid course

July 13, 2020

  • What are my options for study if I can’t return this fall? We have published a few options here. Check your email often for updates.
  • What does the July 6, 2020 ICE Statement affect my study at Stetson as an F-1 student? See our email to students for an explanation.
  • What are the latest guidelines for international travel related to re-opening Institutions of Higher Education from the American College Health Associations? Although not all of these guidelines are relevant to Stetson we will be following these to help us re-open international travel and support services for all students, faculty, or staff who have been traveling internationally and are planning to re-enter the campus environment:
    • Should be encouraged or required to communicate their intentions with identified contacts at their institutions in order to receive critical relevant information well in advance of their anticipated return.
    • Must follow state, tribal, territorial, and local health department recommendations and requirements.
  • Considerations for Reopening Institutions of Higher Education in the COVID-19 Era
    • It is crucial to inform our international students and colleagues of relevant, reliable, and current travel health and safety resources and to encourage the serious consideration of current recommendations prior to travel.
    • Every international student, faculty, and staff member is in a unique situation, which warrants individually tailored recommendations.
    • All new or returning international travelers should refer to CDC returning travelers guidelines and review CDC’s “Travelers Prohibited from Entry to the U.S.
    • Existing international students, faculty, and staff currently at an IHE in the U.S. who are considering travel to their home countries should review global travel restrictions as noted by the U.S. State Department and CDC (see above and in Resources).
    • Faculty and staff contemplating travel with subsequent return to the U.S. to continue IHE studies or work must seriously consider:
      • Current COVID-19 travel health risks and the possibility of significant unexpected changes in risks during their travels.
      • Potential for abrupt disruption, cancellation, or other serious complications of the planned return to the U.S. due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • Rapidly changeable re-entry restrictions (including at any intermediate points in itinerary).
  • International travel is an evolving situation. Most IHEs in the U.S. have canceled or prohibited international travel for any university-related reasons through August 2020.
  • Incoming international students, faculty, and staff are faced with a multitude of uncertainties as well, and challenges and uncertainties abound in both host and
  • Home institutions and countries. Considering the multitude of unknown factors involved with this pandemic, knowledge and resources to inform new international travel guidelines will emerge in the coming months, and ACHA will offer updates as appropriate.
  • I missed the WORLD International Students FALL 2020 panel discussion. Was it recorded? Yes, you can watch it here. We did not click record right away, so the first 10-15 minutes are missing, but the bulk of the session is still available. Panel Discussion
  • I heard travelers from some countries are restricted from flying into the U.S. How do I know if that applies to me? CDC Countries restricted from entering USA
  • If my country is on the restricted travel list how can I come to the U.S.? The travel ban says that anyone who has been in the countries listed on the site above WITHIN the last 14 days is restricted from entering. Therefore, a student who is traveling from a country on the list would need to go to a third country (one not on the list) for 14 days before traveling into the USA. We strongly suggest you keep your boarding passes and travel receipts on all travel to support your entry.
  • My I-20 was signed before September 1, 2019.  Should I request a signature? YES. Everyone who has an I-20 with a signature on the travel page (2nd page) that is older than September 1, 2019 needs to get a new signature before leaving the US. If you have already left reach out to your DSO today.

I am am an international students but I spent the summer in the US. Do I need to quarantine when I get to Stetson? No. Domestic students and those internationals who have spent the summer in the United States are not required to quarantine .

Can I take the fall semester off and return to Stetson In the spring if the COVID-19 situation gets better? Yes. If you are a returning student and you wish to take a Leave of Absence from Stetson for one semester you are able to do that. You need to first check with financial aid to be sure your scholarships and other awards will not be affected. If after that you decide to you can fill out the Leave of Absence form and send it in. Then make sure you contact your DSO at Stetson so your SEVIS record can be managed. Your SEVIS record will be terminated for leave of absence with a note that it is due to travel restrictions in place because of COVID-19. That will allow us to reactivate your record when you return.

Other schools are going to teach online-only classes. Why is Stetson not doing that? In March, 2020 the USCIS issued accomodating rules to allow international students to complete the spring term. At that time those accommodations included “Continuing F-1 students can take all online courses if they live outside the US or inside the US. They must remain full-time enrolled.  Unfortunately, the accommodations set out in March are set to expire at the end of summer.   Still, universities and colleges need to plan. Some Institutions of higher education are building their plans and are counting on the accommodations being extended into the Fall Semester. Stetson has opted to plan as though the federal government will not extend the accommodations into the Fall semester, but revert back to the normal laws and guidelines.

At this point in time, no one knows if or when they will send out the Fall Guidance. Unless/until SEVP officially announces that they are extending the guidance issued in March 2020 to the fall semester, we cannot tell international students that they will be allowed to take all online courses in the fall.  We certainly hope that the guidance will be extended, as it will offer more flexibility for our students; however, we cannot guarantee our international students that fully online learning will be allowed in the fall, because we simply do not have proof that it will be.

What does USCIS say about when they will distribute guidance for the Fall 2020 semester? SEVP has not issued guidance to international students and schools for the fall semester. We understand international students and schools have questions, and SEVP is actively working to issue guidance. In the meantime, the temporary procedural adaptions that permit international students to engage in remote learning are still in place through the summer session. As soon as SEVP finalizes guidance for the fall term, the academic community will be updated. We are all eagerly awaiting the update from SEVP, and once we receive it, we hope we will have better news regarding the fall 2020 online learning options for international students. You are also welcome to watch the recording of the panel discussion we held on Monday.  We, unfortunately, didn’t click the record button right away, so the first 10-15 minutes are missing, but the bulk of the session is still available.

I am a new student coming to college for the first time. What happens to my SEVIS record and visa if I want to wait until the spring to start my classes and see if COVID-19 gets better? You can work with the staff at WORLD to defer your SEVIS start date until the beginning of the spring term. If the visa you hold is valid at that time you can use it to enter the US. Make sure you contact Stetson’s admissions office to let them know so they can be sure all other departments are aware and you can avoid errors in billing.

I am worried my visa will expire before the COVID-19 virus has passed and the borders reopen worldwide. Has USCIS and Homeland Security made any adjustments to the way that will be handled? As of this time (June 30 , 2020) there have been no changes in deadlines and expiration dates as associated with visas. Throughout the world wide health event the National Association of Foreign Student Advisers (NAFSA) has been pushing for accommodations appropriate to the situation as has been enacted in other countries. As time has passed, there has been movement on this issue. American immigration lawyers have made the decision to sue USCIS and Homeland Security to force them to suspend relevant deadlines and expiration dates. We will continue to share news as it comes in. More information.

As an international student, can I take all my courses online in fall 2020? At this time, the answer is no. Currently, the adaptations made to SEVIS compliance rules which allowed international students to take only online classes to complete the spring 2020 term is no longer in effect once Stetson returns to a “normal” course delivery system of face to face classes on August 13, 2020. USCIS has not yet issued guidance for the fall 2020 semester. Once they do, WORLD will look over the policies to determine if any online learning will be allowed.

How will I keep in compliance if I am not able to return to the US and attend classes? Each situation is different. You must stay in active status to continue your current SEVIS record. That requires that you be present, on campus and in full-time face to face classes. If that is not possible, protecting the integrity of your visa and SEVIS status so you are able to return at a future date becomes our priority for your record. Reach out to Roxanne Lewis rlewis1@stetson to discuss your situation and explore the options available in your case.

What do I need to do before I return to campus? Be sure to tell Residential Living and Learning the date you will arrive on campus. These are the options.

-July 23rd or 24th for new international students who need to quarantine on campus

July 28th or 29th for students returning from another country and need to quarantine on campus

August 8th – 13th for all returning students who have either been in the US all summer or have quarantined for two weeks off campus before coming to Stetson.

Do I need to quarantine upon arrival?  If so, how will the quarantine work? International students who have been in the USA throughout the summer will not have to quarantine but all others will. If you are entering the US after having been abroad you will be expected to quarantine for either two weeks on campus or off campus with a friend or family member beginning the 28th or 29th of July. Those choosing to quarantine off campus can move in to Stetson housing starting on the 8th of August. If you are coming to Stetson as a new student you will be expected to participate in New International Student Orientation and FOCUS so you will need to quarantine on campus for two weeks starting the 23rd or 24th of July. There will be no additional cost for the extra two weeks of housing. You can also choose to have meals delivered to your door for a discounted rate.

What if I can’t arrive on campus and fulfill the quarantine in time for the start of classes? There is a little bit of room for you to arrive late if you are experiencing flight delays or other short term complications in arriving at Stetson. If you should find you are not able to arrive before your assigned quarantine date, or before the start of classes for those not required to quarantine, contact WORLD for advice on next steps. Each situation is different and therefore each requires a different solution.

What do I do if I switch addresses before Stetson allows us to return?  Please alert your DSO (designated school official) that you are moving.   Again, it is REQUIRED that we have the correct address on your SEVIS record.

My visa is expiring soon but I have applied for OPT.  Can I work OPT if it is approved on an expired visa?  YES.  The visa allows entry into the country. The I-20 keeps your record up to date while you are here and allows USCIS to track you. As long as you do not cross an international border you can use your OPT to work. Please work with your DSO to keep your I-20 updated.

What do I do if I am witness to or I am subjected to discriminatory actions or comments? Please share your experience with the Dean of Students, Lynn Schoenberg, at lschoenb@stetson.edu. Our intent is to be very clear. There is no place at Stetson University for discriminatory behavior. 

Can I come to the WORLD Center if I need help?  The WORLD Center (the building) is currently closed. As of the third week of March 2020 Stetson University has sent all non essential employees home. That means the WORLD building is closed until further notice. However, staff from WORLD are all working online from 8:00am-4:30pm M-F and are available to assist you and answer your questions.

How can I get help from someone at WORLD ? You have several options.  You can call the WORLD Center at 386-822-8165 during the hours of 8:00 am-4:30 pm M-F.  Or you can send any one of us an email or make an appointment at calendly.com:

Phentz@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/Phentz

Rlewis1@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/rlewis1-world

Wviggiano@stetson.edu or Calendly.com/wviggiano

How can I get advising for next fall while we are affected by the school evacuation? You can reach out to your faculty advisor, or you can make an appointment with one of the WORLD Staff.

Furthermore, Academic Advising will provide supplemental support to our Stetson community virtually. Their website includes helpful content and resources for faculty, current students and prospective students. For specific inquiries you can reach them directly by contacting academic.advising@stetson.edu or the Academic Success department main line (ext. 7345).  Students in the Discovery Program are required to meet with their Secondary Advisor, Miguel Ortiz-Burgos, Coordinator for First-Year Advising. Discovery students were sent communication regarding their requirement to meet with our area to their Stetson email. Please contact Miguel Ortiz-Burgos at mortizbu@stetson.edu for any questions. 

Can DSOs electronically send signed Forms I-20 to students instead of physically mailing the forms? Yes, due to COVID-19, DSOs may electronically send Forms I-20 to student email addresses listed in SEVIS. In the case of a minor students, the email address may belong to their parent or legal guardian. Schools do not need to request permission from SEVP or report their plans to electronically send Forms I-20 as part of their COVID-19 procedural changes.

 I want to sign up for OPT starting this summer but I am not in the US. Can I apply from my home? No. At this time USCIS has not changed any of the laws impacting OPT. You must be in the US to apply for OPT.

What has the WORLD: The David and Leighan Rinker Center for International Learning been doing to help international students get through this situation? WORLD has been very busy this summer supporting students, parents, exchange partners, faculty and administrators in an effort to help them understand and comply with the guidelines and regulations associated with international learning in the COVID-19 pandemic. All international students have been contacted at least twice over the summer to check on well being and whereabouts. Staff members have served on committees responsible for advising the administration on best practices for reopening. Others have been updating the WORLD web site to make it more accessible to the user. We have been a clearinghouse of information regarding all things related to international students for Stetson faculty, staff, Deans, V.P.s and the Provost. Efforts have been made to support individual students with unique situations to allow them to remain legally in the United States and major efforts went into identifying and securing support funding for international students with financial hardships due to the virus. (click the link to read the Stetson Today article.

Helpful links:

CDC Travel restricted countries list

ICE Guidance on COVID-19 | ICE

Stetson’s Covid 19 Communication page

Study in the Stetson Covid Resource

Stetson Parent’s Facebook Page

A Summer with UNITAR

By Camila Morales ’20

On Friday, October 18, I had the honor of giving a presentation to Stetson’s University Board of Trustees about my previous internships and the impact they have had in my professional life. This article is about the most recent one I had this 2019 summer in the United Nations Institute for Training and Research New York Office (UNITAR NYO).

I had the honor to work under the supervision of H.E. Ambassador Marco Suazo, UNITAR-NYO head of office ambassador, and Mr. Pelayo Alvarez, programme coordinator. Both of them served as invaluable mentors during this journey. I also worked alongside with remarkable young professionals, who I am happy to call my colleagues. UNITAR is a training arm of the United Nations, whose mission is to develop capacities to enhance global decision-making and to support country-level action for shaping a better future. The organization provides training and capacity development projects to assist mainly members of the least developed countries. In my time here I gained experience in finances and multilateral diplomacy. 

TAR team: Camila Morales ’20 (far left)

UNITAR allowed me to work in tasks that enhanced my two areas of studies: finances and world languages and cultures. I was able to hone my financial skills by presenting the project and budget proposals to members of the Permanent Missions to the United Nations and other organizations. Likewise, I was able to strengthen my technical skills by administering the underground finances and by developing the finance and statistics sections of the Midterm Summary Report.

During the internship, I assisted the office by supporting the logistics and program management to meet and work alongside mission representatives such as ambassadors and diplomats. I also supported developing and leading projects that equipped members of the diplomatic community with the capacity to contribute to the United Nations deliberative process and policy-making.

The most remarkable thing about my internship was the mentorship I received from my supervisors and my colleagues.

The UNITAR-New York Office team would always promote collaboration and professionalism. We were incentivized to take part in learning more about the United Nations and its projects. For example, I had the opportunity to attend the elections of the 74th President of the General Assembly, and the meetings of the Security Council. The UNITAR-New York Office also allowed interns to take part in the organization and the implementation of the UNITAR Economic and Social Council resolution.

We were invited to attend bilateral meetings among high officials of the United Nations. Additionally, we had the opportunity to manage and develop capacity building events which were co-organized by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Division for Sustainable Development Goals and UNITAR for the SDGs Learning, Training and Practice Center during the High-Level Political Forum.

Camila Morales ’20 in a bilateral meeting of the United Nations (4th from right)

The professional background I acquired in UNITAR was exceptional, but the unique opportunity to be directly exposed to the United Nations system I experienced in UNITAR was invaluable. This is a chapter in my life I will forever treasure.

Camila Morales,’20, is a security analyst in the Roland George Investments Program at Stetson University. Morales, a senior finance major, works at WORLD: Rinker Center for International Learning.

UNITAR supports governments to implement the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This article originally printed in LinkedIn and published at Stetson Today.

Stetson’s Portuguese Instructor at Yale University: the Building and Sharing of a Legacy

By Fernanda Ribeiro, Fulbright Brazilian Language Scholar

I have never taught my mother tongue to non-native speakers of Portuguese before. When I arrived at Stetson University as a Fulbright scholar last year, on the 8th of August, I was given the mission of continuing the wonderful work left by Raquel Santos (2015-2016), Ana Paula Spalenza Pereira (2016-2017) and Greici Buzzi (2017-2018) each in turn,  a Teacher Scholar in Stetson’s Portuguese program. Then I thought: What can I do to leave my legacy on campus in nine months and contribute to the recognition and importance of one having a Portuguese language program at Stetson after my going back to Brazil?

Fernanda Rebeiro, Stetson FLTA 2018-2019

“Will I be able to meet Fulbright’s goals and truly represent my country as a cultural ambassador? It was quite a challenge, I must confess.”

On my first day as a Portuguese instructor, I had 8 students from the most diverse linguistic backgrounds: Spanish speakers, heritage speakers of Portuguese, polyglots, monolinguals. In spite of the differences, all of them had chosen to learn Portuguese, among the myriad of languages that the Department of World Languages and Cultures offer every semester, and, as a native speaker of Portuguese and a graduated teacher with years of experience, I had to give them my best, and the best of my country and my language.

Fernanda Rebiero presenting her work at stetson to other Fulbright Scholars at Yale University, Connecticut in spring 2019

With a lot of guaraná, brigadeiros, cheese breads (of course!), memes and music, the classes have been fun, dynamic and full of learning. My students have become my friends and I have learned a lot from and with them too – and that is one of the priceless opportunities we have as teachers. Outside the classroom hours, I have organized tablings, Brazilian clubs, cultural credit events and tertulias, everything under the fantastic supervision of the wonderful Dr. Pamela Cappas-Toro, who has always given me a free hand to do my best here, allowing me to be truly and entirely myself.

And the days have passed, so has the semester. I have been in DeLand for 7 months now and it is already my second and last semester as a Portuguese instructor here at Stetson. During a talk with Dr. Cappas-Toro, she told me that I am the last Fulbright scholar of Portuguese and that, in the Fall semester of 2019, there will be a full-time professor, whose commitment with the Department of World Languages and Cultures includes making the Portuguese program even stronger through the offer of higher level Portuguese courses – currently Stetson offers 101 and 102 levels only. What does it mean? It means that all the work of the four Brazilian Fulbrighers had not been in vain. It is quite the contrary: the four of us have planted seeds which have been constantly watered and which have now bloomed into beautiful flowers.

Fernanda Ribiero visits Yale University to present on her work as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant at Stetson during the 2018-2019 academic year.

With such accomplishments in mind, and full of joy, I traveled to Connecticut last month and talked about the teaching of Portuguese at Stetson University at a conference at Yale University. There, I encountered the other Brazilian Portuguese instructors that came to the US with me and it was such a great experience. When I was presenting my speech, I was really moved because I could share my experience not only as a language instructor but also as a representative of Brazil, and as a cultural ambassador, I could say, and reinforce without any doubt the impact the Fulbright scholars have in a community and in the world. Raquel’s, Ana Paula’s and Greci’s work was also mentioned at Yale, after all we are a team!

These months here have been a daily learning. I am sure that I am not the same Fernanda anymore. With expanded horizons, a renewed cultural and linguistic baggage of knowledge and the most important thing – my legacy left at Stetson – , I will go back to my home country with the feeling of having fulfilled my duty. My future and my perspectives will be forever changed because my home will always have a little of this country and the wonderful family I have built here. After all, we are the result of the books we read, the places we visit, the languages we speak and teach and the people we get to meet – a  change for the better.

Fernanda Ribeiro joins Stetson University from Brazil to teach Portuguese as a Fulbright Language Teaching Assistant. She is a first-generation college student who graduated from Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro in 2015, earning a licentiate degree in Portuguese, English and their respective literatures. Ms. Ribeiro earned a Master’s degree in linguistics from Federal University of Rio de Janeiro this past February. For more on Ms. Ribero, click here.

On to the CFA Final Four

Stetson’s prestigious Roland George Investments Program will be sending four students to the Final Four championship of the CFA Institute Research Challenge (Chartered Financial Analyst) for Florida, March 2 in Jacksonville.

The CFA Institute Research Challenge is an annual collegiate research competition sponsored by CFA Institute-member societies across the state. Globally, the research challenge includes 800 participating universities, 500 industrial volunteers and more than 4,000 undergraduate/graduate students spanning four continents.

During the four months leading up the competition deadline, Stetson students Matthew Sweeney,USA, Luca Zambelli, Italy, Humberto Soares, Venezuela and Bilal Hashmi, Pakistan compiled a research report on Lennar Corp., a publicly traded company in the residential construction Industry. The students then were challenged with competing against the 16 other participating Florida institutions on the overall quality of the report, with each institution reporting on the same company.

Roland George Investment Program representatives in the statewide CFA Institute Research Challenge on March 2: (from left) Bilal Hashmi, Humberto Soares, Luca Zambelli and Matthew Sweeney.

In the end, the Stetson team emerged as one of the top four finalists, with Florida International University, Florida State University and Jacksonville University also advancing to the final round of the state competition.

“Having spent over 200 hours on the financial metrics of Lennar Corporation, and conducting a comprehensive industry analysis, the competition became less about the mere quantity of work and more about taking pride in the significance of the work we were doing,” said Soares, a senior finance and economics double major. “It takes more than just financial smartness to perform at a high level in the CFA Research Challenge. At the end of the day, it is about the blood, sweat and tears that you are willing to put in.”

“Humberto and I were looked upon as the experienced senior leaders of the group, with juniors Luca and Bilal being the newbies. But that soon changed when their skills as clever financial analysts soon became very evident,” said Matthew Sweeney, a double major in math and finance.

When asked about joining the team, Zambelli, a junior management and finance major, noted: “I did not know if I could do this, I had never done anything like this before and I felt as if I was way out of my comfort zone. But then, little by little, I felt a part of the team and knew that I could make a positive difference.” 

The collective efforts of the team are what ultimately drove their success in producing the “highest quality research paper in the eight years that the Stetson University Roland George Investment Program has participated in the research challenge,” commented K.C. Ma, Ph.D., the Roland George Chair of Applied Investments and director of the George Investments Institute. 

Not surprising, given their success, the students sacrificed much of their free time to prepare, including the majority of their winter break.

“Spread all around the world, we had many a skype call with our director, Dr. Ma, in Taiwan, and Luca, who was home in Milan, Italy, for the break,” said Hashmi, majoring in finance and economics.

Since being a part of the CFA Institute Research Challenge, Stetson has placed a team in the Florida Final Four six out of the eight years, including one Florida Championship.

Could this be a second big win?

-Nate Smith ’19

See related article here.

Ceramic Brahman bull wins Best of Show at Student Art Exhibit

“Rage” by Alaska Gilmour

Artist Alaska Gilmour let friend Natalie Greenshields name her entry in Stetson’s 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition “because I honestly didn’t think it would win anything,” Gilmour said of her quasi-anthropomorphic ceramic bust of a Brahman bull. Gilmour’s ceramic, named “Rage,” won the Ann West Hall Best of Show Award.

The exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s DeLand campus. Sixty-two student artists submitted 129 works to be considered for the show.

Stetson art faculty chose 77 pieces from 36 artists to be exhibited. Gisela Carbonell, Ph.D., curator of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum at Rollins College and exhibition judge, chose the winners of six awards. Stetson students voted on the Student Choice Award.

All Stetson students regardless of major were eligible to participate in the exhibition. This year’s show includes works by 16 non-art majors.

Gilmour, a junior with a double major in psychology and studio, currently is in Thailand as part of an exchange program.

Alaska Gilmour
Photo/Stuart Gilmour

By email, she said she “just thought it would be cool” if Greenshields titled the ceramic “because she went to the effort of entering it for me on my behalf. When Nat told me what she had called it, I burst out laughing. I told her it definitely wouldn’t win anything now with a name like that, but I guess I was wrong.”

A fifth-generation native of Zimbabwe, Gilmour noted her family, who still lives there, breeds Brahman bulls. “I’ve grown up around these floppy-eared cows my whole life, so I guess that was my inspiration for the piece,” she said.

Gilmour said there “are not a lot of higher education options in Zimbabwe” and she chose Stetson because of Florida’s warm climate “and I liked how small Stetson is and how much history it has.”

Her main mediums are oils and ceramics, but she had never worked in the latter until she took a class under Professor Dan Gunderson in her first year.

“I had to beg them to let me into the class because it was already full, and I took the class without much intention of pursuing ceramics,” Gilmour said. “But I fell in love with the medium and loved working with Dan.”

Gilmour is uncertain which of her degrees she will pursue as a career path.

“I get bored easily so I’m sure I’ll chop and change careers,” she said. “It’s good I have two very different degrees to follow. I’ll definitely carry on making art throughout my life – I’m just not sure if it will be professionally or just as a hobby. Life is too fleeting to have a set plan, things change all the time and therefore so will I.”

If you Go:
The 29th Annual Undergraduate Juried Exhibition runs through Dec. 7 at the Hand Art Center on Stetson’s Palm Court/Quad, 139 E. Michigan Ave., DeLand. Admission is free and open to the public. Designated parking is available in the lots at East Arizona Avenue.

Center hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday; 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Thursday and noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Closed on national holidays, holiday weekends and fall, Thanksgiving and winter breaks. Information: 386-822-7270.

Story is an adapted excerpt from an article originally posted on November 28, 2018  at Stetson Today

Zoe Weaver wins Stetson Student Employee of the Month

Zoe Weaver, ‘19, one of WORLD’s outstanding student employees, is winner of the October 2018 Student of the Month Competition at Stetson University.

Our Student Employment office hosts the monthly competition. The office seeks meritorious nominations from employers for student employees who exemplify Stetson’s Professional and Career Readiness Competency themes. This month’s theme is Professionalism and Productivity.

Stetson’s Professional and Career Readiness Competencies are the basis of each month’s theme and represent skills most sought by employers: critical thinking and problem solving, professionalism and productivity, teamwork and collaboration, communication, digital literacy, leadership, global and intercultural engagement, and career navigation. Our student workers practice and master these competencies in their campus work roles. Stetson employers are encouraged to help student employees recognize and build competencies to enable better articulation of transferable skills when students interview for internships, jobs, and post-baccalaureate educational opportunities.

Wendy Viggiano, who serves as Stetson’s international learning program coordinator and Weaver’s supervisor, offered praise as part of the nomination application.

“From the first day of work, Zoe has gone above and beyond, exceeding expectations. She has been instrumental in helping acclimate all of our international students during orientation. She led several orientation sessions, assisting in any small or large task asked of her, and always offered to do even more than asked.

Recently, Zoe organized with her WORLD Ambassador Team a panel on Immigration. She coordinated faculty, staff, and students from around campus to speak about their experience immigrating to the United States. Zoe was the main coordinator for the entire event and was the moderator for the panel. As a student employee, Zoe has anticipated the needs of our center, solving problems before we even ask for help. “

Zoe Weaver, a global development major, envisions her work experience at WORLD as critical to her future endeavors.

“Working at WORLD has not only connected me with students from all over the world and taught me how I can best support them, but has also introduced me to an environment in which all workers truly care about the job they do. The WORLD center and its staff have been an important part of my experience at Stetson, and although I am graduating soon, I am sure they will continue to serve the international community in ways unmatched by any other office on campus.”

Article written by Ally Topliff,’ 19 (political science) and Roxanne Lewis, international student and scholars coordinator at Stetson University

Hao Jin Named ASUN Defensive Player of the Week

Stetson University’s international students continue to prove themselves the cream of the crop.  Included among their accomplishments Stetson University senior middle blocker Hao Jin, from China, has been named the ASUN Conference Defensive Player of the Week, the league announced on Monday.

Jin and Varga 2018  Jin helped lead Stetson to a 3-0 upset win over ASUN leader Kennesaw State on Saturday, posting eight kills and six blocks while hitting .438 for the match. Her solo block in the third set broke a 23-23 tie and was followed by Julie Varga’s game-winning kill.

Hao Jin 2018 Head ShotsOverall, Jin registered 10 blocks for the week and surpassed the 200-block mark for her Stetson career. She has 90 blocks on the season, sixth-most in the ASUN, including 20 solo blocks.

Jin said “Playing volleyball at Stetson has contributed to my international learning experience in a way not many schools could. It’s a great experience since Stetson is such a diverse and inclusive school! Even on the volleyball team we have six international students and each of them affects my experience here differently. The courses at Stetson are very challenging academically. However, with the support of my teammates I manage to stay on top of everything.”

An Economics major, Jin earned her second weekly  conference honor this season. She was named ASUN Player of the Week back on Sept. 10.


Article originally published in part on Stetson Today, October 30, 2018.

 International Student Receives Global Citizenship Scholarship, Stetson Access Grant

Congratulations to Henry Semaganda, international student from Kampala, Uganda, who received one of Stetson’s prestigious Global Citizenship Scholarships. Semaganda has long demonstrated interest in Stetson University, applying twice before receiving the scholarship.

“As a recipient of the prestigious Global Citizen Full Tuition Scholarship, I have an immense opportunity to live my dream at Stetson University, Florida. A dream that has come to pass despite the fact that the competition was indeed stiff, with only one slot available for a student from sub-Saharan Africa.“

Henry Semaganda, ‘20 (biology), proudly displays his Global Citizenship Scholarship certificate of award. Semaganda is the second recipient of the Global Citizenship Scholarship, a new scholarship program at Stetson University aimed at attracting outstanding international students.

The full tuition scholarship is awarded to incoming international students with top academic potential who exhibit Stetson’s value of global citizenship. Three students are chosen annually, each from different regions of the world. The scholarship enables recipients opportunity to deepen their practice of global citizenship as Semeganda describes in his application essay.

“For a substantial part of my life, I have always held a firm belief in the promise of humanity. This belief has persisted despite the wrongs and misfortunes that have befallen our societies. I have never given up hope in believing that there is potential to do good in all of us and that deep within us lies the solution to the problems that torment the world today ranging from war, terrorism, disease among others. I believe everyone has a place on the team in this journey to make the world a better place for posterity”.

Semaganda has also received the Stetson Access Grant Scholarship (now discontinued) to cover the remaining costs of attending university. He believes that the small class sizes and student-to-teacher ratio at Stetson  will afford him the “rare opportunity of an up-close learning experience and mentorship between the professors and me…”

Today, I rejoice in an improbable success. That as a student who began his academic journey at Masajja Bridge nursery and primary school, a school that is on the verge of demolition currently, I will be obtaining my undergraduate education at Stetson University, one of the top institutions in U.S. Both my parents dropped out of school during the 1979 Iddi-Amin civil war but held a firm belief that education would be the ultimate gift they would ever give me. It is their unwavering hope that even pushed me to limits they had never envisioned.

The biology major has participated in the EducationUSA program at the U.S. Embassy in Kampala and has volunteered to work with them to spread the benefits of an American education.

I want to share in the diversity, to bask in the depth, richness and flexibility of an American education. My story is one of hard work, tenacity and unflagging faith that I can be among the best. If one wants to achieve greatness, the door to opportunity is always open. My story has just begun. I urge students from Uganda, and from around the world to never give up on their dreams because they seem too big. Let us strive to push ourselves to limits we have never imagined before.

Semaganda’s future plans include a career as a medical doctor to help improve Uganda’s health system.

“I envision that after my time at Stetson, I will be an ambassador of hope, well equipped with knowledge, exposure and skills to contribute to sensitization and improvement of basic health care in Uganda but more especially in eradicating preventable diseases like HIV/AIDS, cholera and ebola that plague millions of Africans.

”Today, as a global citizen, I long to see African societies that are not held hostage to negative traditional beliefs and senseless stereotypes. This will boost our education, health, infrastructure, relationships, politics and leadership.”

Coming Out against Heckling and Discrimination on the Court

As a Hatter tennis player, Graham Ball sometimes stepped onto the court with added stress and anxiety.


Graham Ball, ’17 Philosophy, wrote a letter urging the NCAA to do more to protect collegiate athletes from heckling and taunting based on their perceived sexual orientation.

He worried fans or other athletes would heckle him during matches and shout out slurs based on how they perceived his sexual orientation. If they did, he would need “an incredible amount of focus” to play his best.

“I was targeted a lot and it was not routine like every match, but it was something I had to worry about,” he said recently. “It was something that was consistently in the back of my mind that caused me stress and anxiety as I was walking on the court to play matches. Okay, how are the fans going to behave? How are my opponents going to behave?”

Before graduating from Stetson University last May, the once-closeted captain of the Men’s Tennis Team decided to speak out. With encouragement from several of his professors in the Philosophy and English departments, as well as officials in Athletics and the Title IX Office, he wrote and asked the NCAA to adopt a “No Tolerance Policy” for heckling and intimidation of character.

“In my cases, I often was the target of harmful comments aimed to induce fear or diminish character based on perceived sexual orientation,” Ball wrote to the NCAA’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion last May. “As a closeted gay student-athlete, these comments bear tremendous weight on my personal life, and I do not believe that they should have a place in any sport etiquette.”

Ball is taking off a gap year at home in Montreal, Quebec, before starting law school. But he has not given up his efforts to create a safer space for athletes. Last month, he wrote an article for Outsports.com about his experiences and outlined his recommendations to the governing body for collegiate sports.

Graham Ball said he has received an outpouring of support from current and former collegiate athletes across America and Canada.

“I do think that the sports world is relatively behind society in terms of speaking out against things like discrimination and slurs. I think my experiences in college, studying philosophy helped me largely to see that,” he said by phone from Canada. “I was exposed to issues of gender, race, sexual orientation, ethics, social justice and I was able to connect that to my life as an athlete. Growing up in tennis, I never really noticed these problems up until college.”

The NCAA opposes discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as race, ability, national origin and religious belief, according to its website.

In a Statement of Affirmation by the NCAA LGBTQ Subcommittee, the association acknowledged that LGBTQ student-athletes, coaches and administrators “too often endure social stigma and emotional trauma on the court, in the classroom, and in the workplace.” But the association said it celebrates their “courage and fortitude” and encourages everyone to speak out against all forms of prejudice.

Ball, in his letter to the NCAA, said the environment at many tennis matches did not reflect the association’s stance against discrimination. “In my view, much more should be done to amend this problem,” he wrote to the NCAA.

Ball recommended the NCAA take a firmer stand against heckling, such as requiring more oversight of the crowd and athletes to prevent taunting based on sexual orientation or gender expression. Ball said more oversight is needed because he sometimes complained about heckling at tennis matches, but the “officials brushed off my concern.”

“I think Graham is a man of character,” said Cathy Downes, Stetson’s executive director and Title IX coordinator. “I applaud his willingness to confront gender and sexual orientation discrimination in a sport he loves, especially understanding the personal risk associated with speaking up. Personal integrity is what allows his voice to resonate through the NCAA.”

Added Stetson Athletics Director Jeff Altier, “In my eyes this is leadership and I am proud that a Stetson education and leadership training from the athletic department, coaches and staff has provided Graham with a foundation that allows him to move his advocacy forward. I applaud Graham for taking a position and for sharing his experience.”

Ball said the letter to the NCAA was “a group effort” at Stetson. He met first with Assistant Professor Melinda Hall and Associate Professor Susan Peppers-Bates in the Philosophy Department, and Visiting Assistant Professor Michele Randall in the English Department. “That’s something I’m incredibly appreciative of because if I hadn’t been supported by the professors I don’t think that I would have had the strength to continue,” Ball added.

He also met with Jeff Altier and PJ Moses, associate athletics director for Student Services, and both were equally as supportive. They helped him craft the letter to the NCAA, along with Downes in Stetson’s Title IX Office.

Graham Ball is swinging his tennis racket as the ball approaches him on the court.

Graham Ball currently is taking a gap year and plans to enroll in law school this fall. He has been volunteering regularly for the West Island LGBTQ2+ Youth Centers in Montreal, teaching adaptive tennis for ProSet Autism, and has spent time working for the Instagram account: @lgbt_history.

“The reason I decided to speak up about this issue in my senior year was following the presidential election, the person who got into office, the climate that was exposed following the election made me realize that I want to contribute as much as possible to give him a counter to what the current norms are,” Ball explained. “I felt that coming out was incredibly important for sharing my story and having my voice heard in a meaningful way.”

Since then, he has been surprised by the outpouring of support from former collegiate athletes and current athletes across the United States and Canada, and as far away as Spain.

Although the NCAA has yet to adopt his recommendations, Ball said he plans to continue his advocacy. He is still deciding on which law school to attend this fall, including possibly Stetson College of Law in Gulfport.

“I will tell you that I have received attention from two tennis companies who are wanting to feature me, too, and want to partner with me on this issue so that’s very promising and we’re going to pursue this to the full extent that we can,” he said.

What is Title IX?
Title IX is a federal law that protects people from gender-based or sex-based harassment, discrimination and violence in an educational institution. Stetson University strives to be a safe place, free from harassment and discrimination of any kind, said Cathy Downes, executive director and Title IX coordinator at Stetson.

The university has people and resources in place to resolve concerns that are reported to the university, and Downes said she wants to assure the Stetson Community that these reports are responded to in a respectful, empathic and effective way.

For more information about Title IX policies, procedures and resources, go to https://www.stetson.edu/other/title-ix/. To report an incident, contact Cathy Downes at 386-822-7960, email titleix@stetson.edu or go to https://www.stetson.edu/other/title-ix/reporting-options.php.

Students interested in this work can help the Peer Advisory Council for Title IX (PACT) by contacting Downes at cdownes@stetson.edu. Stetson employees can participate in workshops and training like “Safe Zone” training through the Office of Diversity & Inclusion, or “I’m Not Trained for This!” workshops through the Title IX Office.

First reported on March 9, 2018 at Stetson Today by Cory Lancaster