SARASOTA, Fla. (Nov. 15, 2015) – This semester’s outstanding students and professor run the gamut, from a beloved business teacher with a passion for entrepreneurship to a hard-working Manatee County sheriff’s deputy.
The following are to receive special recognition at this semester’s commencement exercise, set Dec. 14, for their achievements and contributions to USF Sarasota-Manatee:
King O’Neal Award
Matthew exemplifies the best in academic achievement at USF Sarasota-Manatee. A psychology major with a minor in sociology, Matthew maintained a perfect 4.0 Grade Point Average throughout his duration at USF Sarasota-Manatee to win this award from the Alumni Association.
That is a stellar accomplishment on its own. But combine that with the fact that Matthew earned that perfect score while employed full time as a Manatee County sheriff’s deputy. Working the 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. shift, Matthew took a variety of day, weekend and online classes to earn his degree in five years.
He credits his family with keeping him focused. Matthew, 38, is married and has a step-daughter.
But he isn’t finished just yet. With his family’s blessing, Matthew has decided to continue his education at USFSM and recently completed his first semester working toward a master’s degree in criminal justice administration.
Outstanding Graduate Award
The USF Alumni Association is pleased to announce Ashley Metelus as the Outstanding Graduate for fall 2015.
An avid volunteer and scholar, Ashley is enrolled in the College of Arts & Sciences. She has worked as a research assistant for three professors and a graduate student, has been recognized by four honor societies for academic achievement and has volunteered since 2013 as a USFSM Ambassador, representing the campus at community and alumni events.
She has twice traveled to Uganda as part of a research effort, interviewing child survivors of Uganda’s civil war during one such visit. She was interviewed by local radio on her second visit, serving as an inspiration to young people.
Ashley has twice presented her work at national research conferences for undergraduate studies and this past summer participated in an extended research program at the University of Virginia.
In addition to serving as a student Ambassador, Ashley has volunteered with Habitat for Humanity, worked as promotional director for Bulls on Parade and contributed significantly to the recent Duvall Family Studies biennial conference.
Ashley will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in interdisciplinary social sciences. She hopes to continue her studies at a university in Massachusetts.
Golden Bull Service & Outstanding Leadership Award
Well known by USF Sarasota-Manatee students and faculty, Amber Haller is an exceptional student dedicated both to her studies and service toward others.
Her many activities include serving as a Student Government senator and president of both the Criminology Club and Matadors’ co-ed softball team. She is an officer in the Adventure Club and Box Office Bulls Club and has worked with the Campus Activities Board, Habitat for Humanity and Relay for Life to raise funds for cancer research.
A native of Williamsport, Ohio, where she attended Westfall High School, Amber now lives in Englewood. In 2013, she transferred to USF Sarasota-Manatee from the State College of Florida. She works part-time at her family’s office cleaning business, enjoys reading true-crime novels and owns three Chihuahuas, including two that she rescued.
Amber will graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in criminology studies. She hopes to pursue a master’s degree in criminology at USF Tampa next fall.
Outstanding Professor Award
Dr. Jean Kabongo
Dr. Jean Kabongo is an associate professor of strategic management and entrepreneurship in the College of Business at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee. Prior to joining USFSM in 2010, Dr. Kabongo was an assistant professor at Millersville University in Millersville, Penn. He also taught at Virginia State University.
Dr. Kabongo graduated in 1990 with a BA in philosophy from the Institut Saint Augustin, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, and earned an MBA in 2001 from the Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico City. He received his doctoral degree from the Université Laval, Canada, School of Business, in 2006.
Admired by students and colleagues alike, Dr. Kabongo is passionate about education, entrepreneurship, economics, the environment and international affairs. He has traveled widely, including as a representative of the Congo Basin Forest Partnership (CBFP), an organization that promotes sustainable management of natural resources within western equatorial Africa.
Closer to home, he has encouraged his students to develop entrepreneurial projects within local communities. This award, given by students, recognizes Dr. Kabongo’s outstanding contribution to USF Sarasota-Manatee.
About USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM)
USF Sarasota-Manatee is a regional campus of the University of South Florida system, offering the prestige of a nationally ranked research university with the convenience of a hometown location, including classes in Manatee County, North Port and online. Separately accredited, USFSM is ideal for those interested in pursuing a baccalaureate or master’s degree, professional certification, or continuing education credit in a small, personal setting with distinguished faculty and a dynamic curriculum of over 40 academic programs. Website: www.usfsm.edu.