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. Trump sprinkles political attacks into Scout Jamboree speech

    GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Ahead of President Donald Trump's appearance Monday at the National Scout Jamboree in West Virginia, the troops were offered some advice on the gathering's official blog: Fully hydrate. Be "courteous" and "kind." And avoid the kind of divisive chants heard during the 2016 campaign such as "build …

    President Donald Trump addresses the Boy Scouts of America's 2017 National Scout Jamboree at the Summit Bechtel National Scout Reserve in Glen Jean, W.Va., July 24, 2017. [New York Times]
  2. Trump, seething about attorney general, speculates about firing Sessions, sources say

    WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump has spoken with advisers about firing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, as he continues to rage against Sessions' decision to recuse himself from all matters related to the Russia investigation.

  3. John McCain to return to Senate for health care vote

    WASHINGTON — The Senate plans to vote Tuesday to try to advance a sweeping rewrite of the nation's health-care laws with the last-minute arrival of Sen. John McCain — but tough talk from President Donald Trump won no new public support from skeptical GOP senators for the flagging effort that all but …

  4. Last orca calf born in captivity at a SeaWorld park dies

    Tourism

    ORLANDO — The last killer whale born in captivity under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program died Monday at the company's San Antonio, Texas, park, SeaWorld said.

    Thet orca Takara helps guide her newborn, Kyara, to the water's surface at SeaWorld San Antonio in San Antonio, Texas, in April. Kyara was the final killer whale born under SeaWorld's former orca-breeding program. The Orlando-based company says 3-month-old Kyara died Monday. [Chris Gotshall/SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment via AP]
  5. Blake Snell steps up, but Rays lose to Orioles anyway (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Blake Snell stepped up when he had to Monday and delivered an impressive career-high seven-plus innings for the Rays. That it wasn't enough in what ended up a 5-0 loss to the Orioles that was their season-high fifth straight is symptomatic of the mess they are in right now.

    Tim Beckham stands hands on hips after being doubled off first.