Ask Sudsy- February 2018
Does USF St. Petersburg still have an Honors Program?

Absolutely! The University Honors Program is flourishing and celebrates its 25th year in 2018.

According to a brochure, the vision of the Program remains the same: to offer “academically gifted, highly motivated students an exceptional college experience that broadens and deepens their undergraduate education.”

An Honors Program prototype was initiated in the early 1980s. History professors Dr. Ray Arsenault and Dr. David Carr spearheaded the project. There were a few talented students, lively seminars, and a collegial setting. But, a shortage of funds forced the campus to abandon the fledgling concept until 1993. A major donation from Demetrious Karamesoutis, a Greek immigrant who left his carefully invested life savings to USF St. Petersburg, provided student scholarships and enabled the Honors Program to be officially established. Another generous gift from the St. Petersburg Times helped with expenses such as cultural field trips, equipment, and other programmatic necessities.

Dr. Carr nurtured the revitalized USFSP Honors Program from 1992-1995. Then, Dr. Arsenault served as director from 1995-2005. When the historic Snell House was moved to campus in 1993 and subsequently renovated, the Honors Program was given a home base and a seminar room. Dr. Thomas Smith, political science, has ably guided the Program since August 2005.

Throughout the past 25 years, Honors Program students have received many prestigious national fellowships and awards. Students have been accepted to some of the best graduate programs in the country: Duke, Miami, Indiana, University of Arizona, and University of California Santa Cruz, to name a few. Some students have received full scholarships.

Honors Program scholars have contributed research and provided University recognition in an array of fields. Among them are Sean Cornell, Tiffany Nicholson, and Kristen Walker, who star on the nationally ranked USF Co-Ed Sailing Team. The students have been named to the 2017 Inter-Collegiate Sailing Association’s All-Academic Sailing Team.

Honors Program alumni also continue to excel. Marco Padilla-Rodriguez is completing a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology at the University of Arizona. Currently a medical student, alumna Deshanie Govender partnered with ImagiNET Ventures to create a mobile application called Scan-Rite. After graduating from USFSP, Nicholas Popp completed his law degree at Stetson University College of Law. He was recently appointed by Gov. Rick Scott to the Florida Film and Entertainment Advisory Council. Nick’s term runs from Dec. 1, 2017 to August 20, 2020. Additionally, he is the associate general counsel of Banker’s Financial Corporation.

First held in 2013, the Honors Program presents an annual Honors Brunch designed to introduce high-achieving high school students to the intellectual and scholarly environment of USFSP. Over 150 prospective students and their families travel from across Florida to attend each year.

In addition to participating in Honors classes, conducting research, and writing an Honors thesis, students attend an array of scholarly events, such as the St. Petersburg Conference on World Affairs. The annual Conference is co-sponsored by the Honors Program and takes place this year on Feb. 20-23. Other public events are also offered throughout the academic year.

For additional information, see the USFSP Honors Program website:

Questions about USF St. Petersburg? Ask Sudsy. She is a proud alumna, with degrees in English, ’71 and ’83. Arriving at USFSP as a student in 1969, Sudsy was a full-time employee here from 1971-2011. She’s still on campus as a part-time staffer in University Advancement. Sudsy would love to hear from YOU!