Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Hooper: One of USF's best and brightest departs, but hopefully not for good

Rhondel Whyte is one of the standouts graduating from the University of South Florida Tampa this weekend. He started in Trinidad and Tobago, but now is devoted to Tampa.

Rhondel Whyte is one of the standouts graduating from the University of South Florida Tampa this weekend. He started in Trinidad and Tobago, but now is devoted to Tampa.

The Tampa Organization of Black Affairs' annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. breakfast begins at 6:45 a.m. each and every year.

The group chooses the early-morning time as a reminder to all that we once did not recognize the third Monday in January as the King Holiday. When the breakfast began in 1978, the event had to begin early because people needed to go to work.

As a consequence, you don't find many young people at the breakfast. My 14-year-old daughter chuckles when asked to attend, and then rolls over and goes back to sleep.

At the 2015 breakfast, however, a young man sat at our table — and not only did he appear to be wide awake, he was also engaging.

You only get one chance to make a first impression and University of South Florida student Rhondel Whyte did just that. His mere attendance reflected a drive, and the more I inquired, the more I learned he truly is on the path to success.

I've stayed in contact with Whyte, largely through Facebook, and as he prepares to graduate with an engineering degree on Saturday, I continue to marvel at his achievements.

Last month, Whyte received two honors from USF: the "Golden Bull Award" goes to select undergraduate and graduate students — 19 this semester — who encompass the spirit of USF and have epitomized its values. Recipients must exemplify exceptional academic achievement, leadership, and service to the university and the community.

"There were over 160 applicants and I was blessed enough to be chosen," Whyte said.

Whyte — unexpectedly, he says — also received the "Leadership Legacy" award, which recognizes a student leader whose long-term dedication and commitment have made a positive impact on sustaining the visibility of a student organization. The USF Ambassadors, a group of students who promote the university, nominated Whyte.

What has he done to promote the university? Well, for starters, he partnered with fellow student Daniel Mall to create an app to help students save money. Borrow'd lets students rent out or sell their textbooks to other students on campus at a more favorable rate than what bookstores offer.

How well has it worked?

"We actually just expanded to the University of Michigan," Whyte said. "(We're) looking at expanding to more schools as the year progresses."

Meanwhile, Whyte plans to move to New York after graduation to work for Deloitte as a consultant in the cyber security practice. And for a minute, I think he's another promising young professional we're losing to another city.

But only for a minute.

"I'm hoping to make an impact there in the way I have here in Tampa," Whyte said. "But I always want to have roots planted here in Tampa since it's the city that made me into the man I am today.

"I love this city too much to not be a part of it and its growth."

Whyte is originally from Trinidad and Tobago, but it appears Tampa has won him over. In the future, it may prove to be one of our biggest victories.

That's all I'm saying.

Hooper: One of USF's best and brightest departs, but hopefully not for good 05/04/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 2:03pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. What you need to know for Thursday, Oct. 19

    News

    Catching you up on overnight happenings, and what you need to know today

    White nationalist Richard Spencer is scheduled to speak at the University of Florida tonight and the school is on high alert for tensions. [Associated Press]
  2. Bowen: Park land deal raises Penny for Pasco questions

    Environment

    The Penny for Pasco is unambiguous.

    At least it is supposed to be.

    There was no equivocating in 2004 when Penny for Pasco supporters detailed how the sales tax proceeds would be spent: schools, transportation, public safety and environmental lands. No money for parks. No money for recreation.

    Pasco County is considering a loan from its Environmental Lands Acquisition and Mangement Program to buy land for a park in the Villages of Pasadena Hills in east-central Pasco. Shown here is the Jumping Gully Preserve in Spring Hil, acquired by ELAMP in 2009 and 2011.
[Douglas R. Clifford, Times]
  3. Another Tampa Bay agency loses tax credits worth millions in dispute over application error

    News

    LARGO — Another Tampa Bay housing agency has lost out on a multi-million dollar tax credit award because of problems with its application.

    A duplex in Rainbow Village, a public housing complex in Largo. The Pinellas County Housing Authority is planning to build new affordable-housing in the complex but was recently disqualified from a state tax credit award because of an issue with its application.
  4. Live blog: Many unknowns as Richard Spencer speaks in Gainesville today

    College

    GAINESVILLE — A small army of law enforcement officers, many of them from cities and counties around the state, have converged on the University of Florida in preparation for today's speaking appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer.

    Florida Highway Patrol cruisers jammed the parking lot Wednesday at the Hilton University of Florida Conference Center in Gainesville, part of a big show of force by law enforcement ahead of Thursday's appearance by white nationalist Richard Spencer. [KATHRYN VARN | Times]
  5. As Clearwater Marine Aquarium expands, it asks the city for help

    Growth

    CLEARWATER — When Clearwater Marine Aquarium CEO David Yates saw an architect's initial design for the facility's massive expansion project, he told them to start all over.

    Clearwater Marine Aquarium Veterinarian Shelly Marquardt (left), Brian Eversole, Senior Sea Turtle and Aquatic Biologist (middle) and Devon Francke, Supervisor of Sea Turtle Rehab, are about to give a rescued juvenile green sea turtle, suffering from a lot of the Fibropapillomatosis tumors, fluids at the Clearwater Marine Aquarium Wednesday afternoon. Eventually when the turtle is healthy enough the tumors will be removed with a laser and after it is rehabilitated it will be released back into the wild.  -  The Clearwater Marine Aquarium is launching a $66 million renovation to expand its facilities to take in injured animals and space to host visitors. The aquarium is asking the city for a $5 million grant Thursday to help in the project. American attitudes toward captive animals are changing. Sea World is slipping after scrutiny on the ethics of captive marine life. But CEO David Yates says CMA is different, continuing its mission of rehab and release, it's goal is to promote education, not exploitation. JIM DAMASKE   |   Times