Dr. Robert Dardenne

Like A Hand Print in Cement

Why do things happen like this? Why was Wednesday, October 16 just like the Wednesday before?

The day was the same. A few students did their presentations, he had his usual curious questions, we discussed the end of the sexism book, handed back papers and went home.

These were the last papers he ever handed back. My 9.2/10 grade was one of the last papers he read.

Dr. Robert Dardenne left a hand print in my cement. We called him Dardenne. Dardenne wasn’t smart, he was brilliant. He wasn’t kind, he was utterly compassionate for life and people. He wasn’t just sensible, he was wise.

His educated perception on the world around him touched students, faculty and the whole USFSP body.

He would tell us that posting on Facebook about him is so silly. What kind of world is this where we express the deepest of emotion, the loosing of a loved one, online? The movement of today’s technologies never fazed him. He accepted the change as a transformation of culture.

On the first day of class this semester in his Media and Culture class, he was already sharing his wisdom and acknowledgement of today’s technologies. He was talking about having cell phones in class and how it was absurd that we are so attached to “this little thing,” he would say. He talked about an emergency, what an “emergency” actually is and how the meaning of one has changed so much. Now, anything can be an emergency to run out of class and pick up the phone, only to hear that your sister ran out of gas at the top of your street. He poked fun at the addiction to technology, but never rejected it. He had a special love for watching the movement of culture.

I will always remember what advice he has given me. On an article I wrote for class, he commented “You’re a smart girl. You can do better.” At the time, I thought to myself, “Jerk.” But, he was so right. I know I can. I was being lazy and he saw straight through me. He was that kind of person. He knew his students, expected the best and graded exactly on that basis.

His classes were tough, but they were tough only for one reason. He wanted his students to learn, not just to understand.

I wish he was still here. I wanted to watch the movement of the journalism industry with him. As newspapers adapt to the digital world, I wanted to know what he thought about the changes now and the changes that are to come.

I am going to be thinking to myself throughout my journalism career, “What does Dardenne think about this?” He was so intuitive. I will always wonder what he thinks about the changes happening throughout the journalism industry.

I went to Dardenne’s office on October 14 to ask questions about an upcoming AP Style exam. He dug through his thousands of books in search of an old AP Stylebook, commenting on the difference in size. He talked about how the Associated Press has made changes to the book just for business purposes, since now we can go online to resell the books. Of course, that’s not making the publisher any money. All his little insights, I will carry with me.

I miss him terribly. Did I absorb every last bit of information he shared with me? He was so wise, knowledgeable and respectable. I get angry thinking about the students who played on their cell phones during class or laid their head down. They didn’t understand exactly who was teaching. Dardenne deserved all the respect in the world and I owe it to him.

His wisdom and open-minded character will remain with me as I travel from college to my career. I will never forget Dr. Robert Dardenne. He helped me when I was confused, taught me when I was oblivious, and more importantly, never lost faith in me.

I will never have another professor like Dardenne. USFSP will move forward, but we will never be the same.

Sunken Gardens

Study, Work and Play in Downtown St. Petersburg.

Attending college is an important step in most teenagers and young adults lives. There are a few important factors in deciding where to spend the next few years of your life.

As an undergrad I made my choice based on a few factors: The academic programs being offered, distance from my immediate family, the school that would give me the best opportunities academically and athletically.

My years as an undergrad ended in 2008 and 4 years later I made the very important decision to return to school and receive my M.A. in Journalism and Media Studies. As an undergrad I attended a very large school in the South that boasted a top 10 football program and that gave me the opportunity to play the sport that I loved, basketball, at the highest level collegiality. I did not take into account the environment of the city that my University was a part of.

As a graduate student I made it a point to chose a vibrant, relaxing city with a beach and so much more. St. Petersburg, Florida houses my current University, the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The University is academically top notch and it doesn’t hurt that I’m surrounded by culture and adventure!

A Look at What Downtown St. Petersburg has to offer

The Dali Museum

The Salvador Dali Museum

The Dali Museum is a striking building is a concrete trapezoid wrapped in an undulating wave of glass and steel. And its design is an homage to the Dalí Teatro-Museo in Figueres, Spain. The Dali houses beautiful works of art from around the world. The museum’s collection includes 96 oil paintings, over 100 watercolors and drawings, 1,300 graphics, photographs, sculptures and objets d’art, and an extensive archival library, and displays are periodically rotated. The museum was recently rebuilt in 2011.

Sunken Gardens


The Sunken Gardens currently contain over 500 species of tropical and subtropical plants amidst pools and cascading waterfalls, lushly planted in a collection of more than 50,000 tropical plants and flowers. They include a Japanese garden, cactus garden, and butterfly garden, and Chilean flamingos. Plants include bougainvilleas, royal palms,water lilies, shrimp plants, and fruit trees. The garden atmosphere is peaceful and many of the plants are quite large (compared to typical specimens) due to their long history of protection and cultivation.  Sunken Gardens is the oldest commercial tourist attraction on Florida’s west coast.

The NEW St. Pete Pier

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

New Pier sketch, Picture courtsey of: Michael Malt

The Pier is a landmark and major tourist destination in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Some of the activities and sights it encompasses include fishing, boat rentals, weekly festivals, and the Pier Aquarium. Shopping, dining and nightlife are other amenities. The pier is probably undergoing a complete renovation and may close for renovation on May 31, 2013 and reopen with a new refreshed look and feel!

With all of the wonderful options available in Downtown St. Petersburg, it’s easy to see why I chose this wonderful University and city to study, work and play.

Heart of the USFSP campus.

Sunshine And Sailboats Aren’t The Only Things USFSP Has In Its Backyard

From day one the selling point for attending USFSP to me was location, location, location!

I still remember the first day I stepped foot on the USFSP campus. Located in the heart of downtown St. Petersburg, I instantly realized how much the environment and atmosphere surrounding it added to its “tempting allure” if you will.

Being a lover of all things revolving around sunshine, palm trees and saltwater, the USFSP campus’s location overlooking the harbor, I knew it was a perfect fit.

The fact that I can do homework while watching sailboats and yachts come in and out of dock, study by the fountain with trellises covered in hibiscus flowers, or even have lunch underneath the shade of the palm trees scattered across the USFSP campus, makes me feel like the luckiest girl, or shall I say college student, there is sometimes.

How many other college students can say they have those same experiences on a daily basis? Slim to none I know of! Many are stuck at colleges that are overcrowded and overwhelmed by the urban life around them. Not to mention the fact that most likely they don’t experience the pristine 70-80 degree temperatures we do year round.

Close Those Books And Hit The Streets

Here on the USFSP campus, we are lucky enough to truly have the best of both worlds. We have the beautiful water views and serene landscape all while being situated adjacent to the bustling, but NOT overcrowded, urban life of Downtown St. Pete. Sure, we have great dining options and coffee shops on campus, such as The Campus Grind, The Reef, The Red Mango or The Tavern,  but we also have a plethora of options right at our feet. Literally.

Wander a few blocks this way and you’ll find a movie theater, shops, boutiques, and even the famous St. Petersburg Pier – which houses even more shopping and dining options! Then wander a few blocks that way and you’ll find a variety of bars and nightclubs that many USFSP students have made their local hangouts – ahem, students who are of age of course.

USFSP had me from hello.

There was no further investigation for me into other schools or hemming and hawing over minuscule details. The feeling of comfort, the warmth of the people, and the generally peaceful and positive atmosphere that envelops the USFSP campus really drove my decision home. My time here has been amazing so far and I have no regrets in my decision to come here. The quality of learning and student life is off the charts.

Walking to class when you are having a less than stellar day and having the sunshine on your face, smelling the salt air or watching the dolphins swimming in the bay, can really help put things in perspective.

Yeah, yeah so you’re looking for an “education not a vacation,” your parents may say. Well…Why can’t you have both? Sure there are many things to consider when choosing colleges, such as what and where are right for you … But the biggest thing I learned is to trust your instincts. They are there for a reason.  I did, and it has been an experience I will never forget.

This photo is of a few friends and me at a USF football game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa. The games are tons of fun.

Born-Again Traitor

After some roommate mishaps, I found myself being a traitor.

My freshman year (2010-2011), I wore USFSP t-shirts and hoodies with pride. I announced proudly that I not only attended USF, but I was a student at USFSP. You know, the one in downtown St. Pete.

But as sophomore year approached, I found myself rethinking things and in search of a new environment.

Over the Bridge I Go

I changed my home campus to Tampa, packed my bags and became just a name on a roster. Before, I was Hannah. The professors knew me and I knew them. Now I wasn’t somebody, but I was a U ID number. Either way, I went to the classes with 200+ students, took notes and went home. For a year, I was a robot and a Tampa Student.

I didn’t like just being a number and more so, I didn’t know a soul.

…I’d hate to throw a pity party but I should elaborate on how unforgiving the experience was.

  1. Registering for classes is a nightmare. When your registration time arrives, there are also about 10,000+ other students doing just what you are doing on the USF portal. Therefore, you should just brace yourself for two things. You computer is going to freeze, and by the time it regains its consciousness, the classes you want (or usually need) will be taken by other students and you’re going to have to start from the top. So here’s a tip. Have a few schedules made up that work out for you. That way, hopefully one works out. Moving on…
  2. I lived in St. Pete this whole time, by the way, because it’s better. And one semester, actually Fall of 2011, I had a 5 hour break in between classes. I didn’t want to drive home in this time because
    1. Gas is expensive.
    2. I hate traffic.
    3. I should probably do homework anyway.
      So, I sat there in the library all too often and for too many hours a week wasting too much of my own time. Hmph. That sucked.
  3. If you wanted to drive to school… and park… legally… you might consider choosing an 8 a.m. class. Otherwise (and consider this a warning) expect driving about for… say 30 minutes… to find a parking space. Or there is another option. You could just park and pay the parking ticket headed your way. The choice is yours.

And Back Over the Bridge I Went

Anyway, Spring 2012 came to a close (thankfully) and I knew right off the bat that Tampa just was not the place for me.

So I transferred back to the beautiful, lovely, quaint, magnificent USFSP. That day was a good day.

So here I am, living to tell the story of the Battle of the Campuses! I went, I saw and I conquered. Now, I proudly and ever so honestly, tell people that there really is no place like USFSP. It offers everything I was searching for, and everything I might need for my education.

This is how I describe my education. “A public school with a private school feel.” (And without the private school tuition!)

There is nothing as lovely as a view of the bay while I study, hearing the small planes land and take off overhead from Albert Whitted Airport.

Anyway, there really is no place like USFSP. I may be called a traitor for leaving, but I prefer to call this a lesson learned. Just like they say…

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.