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Williams, Derek R.
h [electronic resource] /
interviewed by Danielle E. Riley.
Tampa, Fla. :
University of South Florida Tampa Library,
1 sound file (52 min.) :
digital, MPEG4 file +
e 1 expanded summary (digital, PDF file)
USF 50th (2006) anniversary oral history project
Interview conducted May 5, 2004.
Derek Williams discusses University of South Florida including the Sarasota Campus student government program.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
Williams, Derek R.
University of South Florida.
University of South Florida at Sarasota.
College student government.
Riley, Danielle E.
University of South Florida Libraries.
Florida Studies Center.
Oral History Program.
University of South Florida.
y CLICK HERE TO ACCESS DIGITAL AUDIO AND EXPANDED SUMMARY
COPYRIGHT NOTICE This Oral History is copyrighted by the University of South Florida Libraries Oral History Program on behalf of the Board of Trustees of the University of South Florida. Copyright, 200 8 University of South Florida. All rights, reserved. T his oral history may be used for research, instruction, and private study under the provisions of the Fair Use. Fair Use is a provision of the United States Copyright Law (United States Code, Title 17, section 107), which allows limited use of copyrighted materials under certain conditions. Fair Use limits the amount of material that may be used. For all other permissions and requests, contact the UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA LIBRARIES ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at the University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Avenue, LIB 122, Tampa, FL 33620.
1 USF Florida Studies Center Oral History Project USF 50 th History Anniversary Project Narrator: Derek Williams Interviewer: Danielle E. Riley Current Position: President Elect, Alumni Location of Interview: Tampa Association, USF Sarasota Campus Library Date of Interview: May 5, 2004 Abstractor: Jared G. Toney Editor: Danielle E. Riley Final Editor: Jared G. Toney Date of Edit: May 18, 2004 TOPICS OF DISCUSSION Mr. Williams is a graduate of USF Sarasota. Background Mr. Willi ams is a native of Florida. He grew up in the Sarasota Bradenton area. In early 1997, he had a son and decided to do his undergraduate studies locally. He recalls being attracted to USF because of both its geography and its reputation. "It did attract me because I think USF is an up and coming university What attracted me to USF was opportunity." USF Sarasota While at USF Sarasota, Mr. Williams was elected Student Government president, and also served as the university's ambassador. "Part of our goals during my term was to continue to build on the profile of USF in the Sarasota Manatee area." USF Sarasota was particularly appealing to Mr. Williams when he began considering different universities, in part because it provided him with the "hands on" exper ience that he desired. "Sarasota/Manatee offered me an opportunity to get to know every one of my professors and really it was a personal relationship that helped me really accelerate the learning process because of those intimate relationships that I formed." Involvement in the workforce He believes that during the years he worked for Publix Supermarkets he developed a strong work ethic and refined his ability to work effectively with people. This lead to his academic and professional success. Manage ment training also increased his leadership skills and prepared him for his position as the president of student government at USF Sarasota. He asserts that his participation in student government "gave me a venue to share my vision for what I thought USF could continue to be." After high school After graduation, Mr. Williams "meandered through community college" while he was working full time in the retail business. As a student at USF, he took advantage of the
2 opportunity to speak local business leaders about the nature of their professions. As a result, he was determined to be an accounting major. He was encouraged to exploit his relationship to the university, "exploring all avenues" and networking himself by building relationships with people on and o ff campus. Involvement in student government Mr. Williams became involved in student government as the result of a suggestion by his advisor at USF. The opportunity to participate in the governance of the university while representing the student body pr esented an enormous appeal to him. With an interest in accounting and finance, he particularly relished the opportunity to negotiate how funds were spent and distributed on the Sarasota campus. One of the most rewarding aspects of the position, he asserts, was "Being able to work with new people and do something good for the community and the area." Student government met with the student government representatives from other campuses four times a year in order to exchange information and evaluate particul ar programs. Of primary importance was their ability to promote the local identity and autonomy of the Sarasota campus in response to the specific needs of students in the area. His involvement in student government "took up quite a bit of time," though they tried their best to accommodate the schedules of commuter students in addition to those who had occupational or familial obligations outside of the university. Student government officials at the Sarasota campus took advantage of a list serv in order to reach out to members of the university and the surrounding community. "It took a little bit of organization to see all this through." The experiences, he recalls, helped him to better develop his leadership skills above all else. "I can take orders fin e, but I always know that being able to delegate and get things done is also very important and it's not a skill that everyone has. I took that and said, this is something I can offer.'" Professional experience While studying at USF, Mr. Williams worke d for an accounting and financial services firm in Sarasota, an experience that provided him the opportunity to meet with a variety of people in the business world. "Those are a lot of the people that I personally took advantage of by sitting down and spea king with them and getting their perspective on the profession." As a result of those experiences in the workforce, he decided to give financial planning a chance, and it has since turned out to be his passion. All the while, he was balancing the responsib ilities of being a single father, full time student, and having a full time job in addition to his involvement in student government. He was able to maintain such a hectic schedule, he asserts, by staying focused on his ultimate goal of being a successful entrepreneur. "It's a lot of dedication and hard work it was exciting for me." Shared space at USF Sarasota Because USF shared facilities with New College in Sarasota, there were certain disparities and occasional animosities between the two organizatio ns and their students. "New College is an honors liberal arts college, and they've always been a little different."
3 Though they are more traditional students in terms of age, "They were much more outlandish in the way that they dressed and the way that the y acted and the type of things that they did." Mr. Williams understood the importance of distinguishing USF Sarasota from New College, asserting an academic and organizational identity of its very own. "We wanted to let each [college] have [its] own autono my, and then within the confines of the university, we wanted to synergize the efforts of the administration, the alumni, and the students." Mr. Williams asserts that there was also a certain competitiveness between the Sarasota campus and the main Tampa campus. He cites the allocation of funding as a particularly volatile issue among students who felt that the branch campus should receive more attention and resources. The establishment of a football program at USF, in his opinion, served to unite people from the disparate campuses around a common unifying element. USF Ambassador Because of his dedication to the university, Mr. Williams was selected to be a USF ambassador, charged with promoting the spirit and reputation of the school throughout the local community. His involvement provided him with an opportunity to participate in an orientation at Chinsegut Hill, a historic site owned by the university and utilized as a retreat for faculty, staff, and student groups. He served as an ambassador for both o f the two years that he was a student at USF. USF Alumni Association It was through the Ambassador Program that Mr. Williams first became involved in the Alumni Association at USF. He was invited to serve as a student representative to the Association dur ing his tenure as the student body president. After graduation, he decided that he wanted to continue his involvement by serving as part of the executive board. The board is a "pretty good group" consisting of local community leaders, congressman, and bus iness owners, among others. "I am proud to say that we're the only two time "Chapter of the Year" award winner and hopefully this year it will be three times." This year, Mr. Williams has been serving as vice president of the Alumni Association, and he is currently president elect. After graduation Mr. Williams obtained his bachelor's degree in finance and information systems from USF Sarasota. Because of his involvement in student government, he had the privilege of speaking at his graduation ceremony before an audience that included his friends and family. "USF offered me an opportunity, I believe, and I set a goal. I remained focused on that, and all these other things motivated me to [finish]. That's part of who I am, I think, today." Currently, Mr. Williams works as an independent financial planner in addition to his responsibilities with the Alumni Association. "I'm really proud of USF. I'm proud that we've been able to evolve the way that we [have]." End of Interview