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Honors Student Profiles

Abraham Rahmanizadeh '13
Majors: Finance and Accounting
Hometown: Pembroke Pines, FL
Kaushal Vaddiraj '13
Major: Economics
Hometown: Hyderabad, India
Amita RajGuru '14
Major: Communication
Hometown: Nyon, Switzerland
Kelly Fitzgerald '15

Major: International and Cultural Studies
Minors: Leadership, Sociology, English and TESOL Certification
Hometown: South Elgin, Illinois
Chanelle Cox '15
Major: Nursing
Minors: English and Philosophy
Hometown: Niceville, FL
Kristine Zambito '14
Majors: Government and World Affairs; Economics
Minor: Finance
Hometown: Tampa, FL

When you join the Honors program, you'll meet students who work hard and dream big. Some advice on living, working and loving life at UT, directly from them:


Advice on hitting the books
Get homework out of the way as fast as possible because there are so many other things you’ll want to do – but maintain a high standard for yourself; it’ll pay off in the long run. My advice would be to do homework as soon as it’s assigned – either that evening or the next morning – and to give yourself enough time to procrastinate and look over it a few more times before turning it in. Also, if you are an early bird, take advantage of mornings: since most people aren’t awake in the morning before 9 a.m., mornings are perfect to do homework without being disturbed – just you, a bagel and a cup of coffee.
– Amita RajGuru

A mentor once said, “The more you see it, the more you hear it, the more apt you are to remember it, retain it and recall it.” In retrospect, he was correct, and this is particularly true with studying. Study methods include but are not limited to: rereading notes after class, outlining chapters, rewriting notes, creating flashcards, recording lectures and forming study groups.
– Chanelle Cox

Making friends

Join organizations, meet other Honors students and talk to strangers
Your best bet would be to join organizations (a few or many – depending on your course load) that you are genuinely interested in, because then you’ll meet motivated, like-minded people. Also, organizations like the Honors Council host events that are fun and draw other Honors students together – which is a great opportunity meet people.
– Amita RajGuru

I will be honest and say that I am a big time introvert. However, there are so many friendly and intelligent people around campus that it is not difficult to make friends. I prefer to have a very small group of friends and therefore have few friends here at The University of Tampa. The best way to find lifelong friends and potentially a significant other would be to find other students who share your interests not academically, but with regard to interests outside of the classroom.
– Abraham Rahmanizadeh

Just get out and do things! Join a club. Walk around downtown. Talk to people in your classes, on the bus, in restaurants. Have the confidence to go to events alone and make friends when you get there. Granted, this works best for people that are solid extroverts, but an extroverted personality is something that can be cultivated.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

What to wear

Be comfortbale, but learn to make an impression
On a day-to-day basis, wear shorts and T-shirts and flip flops… it’s easy to cover up with a hoodie when you go into a freezing classroom, but that combination should work for most other times. For events such as those hosted by UT Entrepreneurs, business attire is required, so I’d suggest that you keep a pair of fancy shoes and clothes for the occasion.
– Amita RajGuru

Considering that I am a finance and accounting major, my suggestion would be to dress professionally. It makes an impact not only on the professors but students and other faculty members as well. I am also a strong believer in the saying ,“When you look good, you feel good,” because it has made a tremendous difference in my life.
– Abraham Rahmanizadeh

Last year I was featured in a Minaret article precisely because of what I wear. I like to wear clothes that are comfortable and colorful. But I'll let you in on a secret: the first thing I do when I get home at the end of the day is put on boxers and a T-shirt. Really, it is important to be comfortable when you are trying to learn.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

How to be a successful student

There's more to it than academic achievement
Genuinely learn, and that will make you want to learn more. Continue to think outside of the classroom. I think that the beauty of college is that you are learning how to think, not necessarily what to know. So focus on thinking like a scholar, and that will trickle over not only into being a good student, but so much more.
– Kristine Zambito

It’s all about finding a balance, and knowing that the only person you have to please is yourself. I have been known to over-commit my time to organizations and people – but it’s not the end of the world if you say no. Remember, you’re here to get your degree, and the rest is a bonus. Your studies should be your priority, and then comes everything else – and you will have time for it if you make time.
– Amita RajGuru

College isn’t where you go, as much as it is what you make of it. That being said, UT offers tremendous opportunities to grow and develop as an individual, regardless of where your interests are. There is something offered at The University of Tampa for everybody.
– Kaushal Vaddiraj

Do the work! Try not to procrastinate, especially with papers, since writing is a process that needs to be digested and reworked. Last-minute scrambles happen to the best of us, but if you happen to find yourself with some spare time during the week it is a good idea to use it to get ahead on your work. Then you have the freedom to have spontaneous adventures, worry-free. A couple of other recommendations are to be diligent throughout the semester (by the time finals come around, you know what you know and there is no point in freaking out), build a relationship with your professors and other faculty in your chosen field of study and keep a planner to help manage tasks and time.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

Favorite Honors program event

From study abroad to research presentations at conferences
The Harvard National Model United Nations is by far the best event that I have been a part of in my time as a member of the Honors College. Departing Tampa and flying all the way to Boston with very intelligent and like-minded students was only the beginning of this spectacular experience. Upon our landing in Boston, we were met by more than 3,000 students from more than 50 countries. As a part of the Economic Trade and Development Committee, I worked with 65 other countries to tackle the global financial crisis. We published guidelines that countries were encouraged to follow in order to minimize volatility in their financial markets.
– Abraham Rahmanizadeh

There are so many events that I’ve enjoyed, but the conferences take the cake. Having had Professor Gary Luter as a speech professor, I developed a presentation on how to reduce rates of teenage suicide in the US. I had the opportunity through the Honors program to take this presentation to the Florida Collegiate Honors Conference in Palm Beach and the Southern Regional Honors Council Conference in Tampa.
– Amita RajGuru

The Honors Program selects three students each semester to go and study abroad at the University of Oxford, and I was fortunate enough to have been offered that opportunity. Apart from the experience of living in England, the semester also allowed me to expand my knowledge on subjects that are of deep interest to me. In addition, the Timothy M. Smith Inspiration Through Exploration award that granted me $2,500 to travel, allowed me to visit the island nation of Sri Lanka and work closely with orphaned elephants in a sanctuary. It also allowed me to teach English and learn more about the social structure of Sri Lanka.
– Kaushal Vaddiraj

The Revolutionary Cuba trip in January 2012. It was amazing to have the opportunity to go to Cuba as a first-semester freshman. The course itself was full of new information and of course, the travel was phenomenal.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

Favorite Honors class

Academics structured to Honors students' interests
In my experience, the most challenging Honors courses are the singular most enriching aspects of college. Having said that, although each Honors class was thoroughly enjoyable, Shakespeare’s Comedies and Histories is my favorite to date due to the rigor of extra coursework. I had transformed this course from non-Honors to Honors via a Tutorial Enrichment form, which allowed Professor Andy Solomon and I to critically analyze one extra play by Shakespeare, The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark. Dr. Solomon has a true passion for Shakespearean works, which made exploring and writing about Hamlet all the more insightful and exciting.
– Chanelle Cox

I have taken four Honors courses so far, and my favorite one was Gay and Lesbian Culture Studies in 21st Century America. The content was varied but incredibly interesting. The class came to feel like a family, and I looked forward to Tuesdays and Thursdays from 2 to 3:50 p.m. every week. Overall it was a fabulous class. Also, I have had the chance to present my final project from that class about gay culture and acceptance in India before and after colonization at an Honors symposium and may have the chance to bring the presentation to other conferences in the spring semester.
Kelly Fitzgerald

How Honors courses differ from regular UT courses

From content to class size
Honors courses entail copious amounts of work, yet students illustrate genuine interest and maintain high enthusiasm. It is motivating to attend class when every student prioritizes and values education; and there is literally no room for negativity, which makes every aspect about accelerated courses, such as free discussions and experiential learning, fruitful. The inherent self-discipline and optimism of most Honors students is highly respectable, as is their willingness to help others excel on an academic and extra-curricular plane.
– Chanelle Cox

Most of the Honors courses I have taken have very unique subject matter. Case in point: my class this semester is called Coming to America: The Immigrant Experience. Besides that, when professors teach an Honors course, they have higher expectations about student commitment. The workload may be a little heavier, the grading standards higher and the intellectual capabilities of the class higher than average.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

My favorite part of an Honors course is that the topics linger with you beyond the classroom. The courses push the students more, and stimulate them to want to learn more. With fewer students, no one is afraid to be eager, which naturally leads to more professor attention, more conversation and more interaction.
– Kristine Zambito

The life of an Honors student

A well-rounded experience
I am very academically driven and strive to become a decorated professional. Therefore, I not only focus on my grades in the classroom but always ensure that I am partaking in a professional internship, where I gain valuable experience that I could apply towards my future. As an Honors student you also tend to be looked at to lead groups, because your high expectations give the other students comfort in knowing that you’re their leader.
– Abraham Rahmanizadeh

In a word: crazy. I’m running around all the time trying to fit more things into a day than there is really time for, while also making sure I keep up with all my connections (new and existing). I often have 5 minutes to spare between meetings, classes or casual get-togethers, so I’m literally running back and forth. I’m rarely ever in my room unless I’m sleeping, and I try to get off campus as much as possible so I get a little perspective of what it’s really like living in Tampa – as opposed to living in UT. As an Honors student, I’m always encouraged to take every opportunity possible, so that’s exactly what I do. I fill up my calendar with events I receive from emails or word of mouth, and I go in the hopes that I’ll meet more people and increase my network. Weekends and vacations are almost as exhausting, if not more so, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
– Amita RajGuru

Living on the Honors floor of the residence hall

Home sweet home
I got to know a lot of people on my floor my freshman year, and continue to see them around campus – there’s always a friendly face in the crowd. My RA was amazing and put on a bunch of social activities that helped us bond as floor-mates, as well as get the free stuff we all love as college students. We had de-stressing activities (like coloring nights!), movie nights and even mock-business workshops. Overall, the Honors floor was the icing on the cake for my freshman year.
– Amita RajGuru

Honors floors provide stability for the hardworking student. It is wonderful to be able to study during the evening and sleep peaceably through the night. However, living on an Honors floor is also a great precursor to better understanding the Honors Program. The University of Tampa’s Honors Program has a myriad of opportunities, and sometimes freshmen view such academic freedom as overwhelming. Not every student understands how to navigate through Honors Blackboard, or how to create an Honors Tutorial. As an upperclassman, I strive to help bridge such disconnects by living on an Honors floor and becoming a resource for newly inducted Honors students.
– Chanelle Cox

How the Honors Program prepares students

Internships, graduate school and job skills
Through the challenging projects and relevant extracurricular activities such as Harvard National Model United Nations, I have gained a variety of key skills that have enabled me to excel professionally. I have interned at a tech company with the CFO and was selected as an institutional sales summer analyst at Raymond James. In addition, I have been granted the opportunity to conduct research with a local firm on the importance of technical and fundamental indicators with regard to a company’s performance.
– Abraham Rahmanizadeh

Through the Honors program, I’ve been able to attend workshops and symposia on how to create a résumé, how to conduct oneself in an interview and learn how to get the right experience before getting the job. All the foundational structures are in place for someone in the Honors program to get an internship, and even snag a job out of it in the end, but what I have found the most helpful has been the networking meet-n-greets.
– Amita RajGuru

The Honors Program impacts the overall UT experience

A choice with an incredible outcome
The Honors program is my favorite part of UT! It’s where I’ve made my closest friends, and what I spend most of my time on. I’ve also been able to use the Honors program as an excuse to meet and socialize with highly regarded professors and advisors, so I could pick their brain on how to be even more of a contribution to the community both on and off campus.
– Amita RajGuru

In truth, I felt a little burnt out from the honors programs in high school and almost considered opting out of UT's Honors program, but I am glad that I didn't! Honors programs at the university level have much more of a community feel, and there is no "nerd" stigma. I revel in living the life of a student, and the Honors program has enhanced that by providing a stimulating academic, as well as, communal environment.
– Kelly Fitzgerald

The Honors program has been a highlight of my UT experience. I have met great people, had a variety of experiences and grown the most as a scholar, leader and individual by pursuing the Honors program’s opportunities. The Honors program is the niche that I am proud to be a part of.
– Kristine Zambito