At the University of West Florida, we see change and rush forward.
Because we see change as inspirational: a source of ideas and insights, startups and breakthroughs, innovation and collaboration. We see change coming, faster than ever, and we’re ready for it. Because we’re leading it.
Sea Change: A Profound Transformation
It’s how we define the heart and purpose of the University of West Florida: to make waves on campus, in our community and around the world.
For the past
50 years, we’ve been the gathering place for bright minds in Northwest Florida. We’ve transformed the lives of our students with a close-knit academic experience and we’ve collaborated in the community with a progressive spirit. Through these efforts, coupled with our innovative programs, we've served as an economic driver in our region and state, with $1.47 billion in total annual economic impact.
UWF has undergone its own transformation over the last 50 years to become the forward-thinking, innovative side of Florida. We’ve come a long way from making small ripples of change in our community, region and state. Now, we’re creating waves and making a significant impact, not only in our surrounding areas, but across the globe.
Learn more about Sea Change through the stories of our students, faculty and alumni who exemplify what it means to make waves.
I see a way to stitch my passions into a small business.
Earning an online MBA can turn dreams to reality. The summer after her freshman year, Emily Dennis spent a week at her grandmother’s house, where she learned how to quilt—an art that quickly became a hobby. Emily graduated and began working in event management, but soon realized it wasn’t what she wanted out of a career.
She applied for the MBA program at UWF so she could work full-time while furthering her education online. When Emily’s coursework required her to write a business plan, she took the opportunity to launch a quilting brand. Home Made Emily Jane funds her hobby and teaches others the art, forming relationships she calls a blessing and a joy.
View more about Emily Dennis
I see opportunities instead of obstacles.
And a clear path to my future. Cara Womacks, freshman marine biology major, participated in the National Merit Scholarship competition for the potential opportunity to afford the college of her choice. A homeschool graduate from the St. Louis area, she received a letter in the mail informing her that she was among 1,500 students across the country to become a finalist and knew her path was clear to make the leap from Missouri to Florida to attend the University of West Florida on a full ride scholarship. We see students working hard for their futures, and we want to help make their dreams a reality. View more about Cara Womacks
I see opportunities to explore new career paths.
And a clear direction for my future. Senior Trista Blouin knew she wanted to pursue a marketing career, but hoped to determine her niche in the field. An internship with the Pensacola-based branding firm idgroup proved to be the perfect opportunity to explore marketing research and gain firsthand experience in a professional environment.
Through her internship, she was able to see where her passion for helping people merges with her skills in research-based, creative project design. Blouin wants to work in cause marketing following her graduation in May 2018.
View more about Trista Blouin
I see a second chance.
And I’m using it to make my dreams come true. UWF graduate student Renee Cox is living proof that it’s never too late to pursue your goals. After overcoming nearly a decade of substance abuse through an unplanned pregnancy and the open adoption of her son, the then-24-year-old college dropout pursued competitive running as her new outlet, unknowingly putting herself on the path to higher education and a brighter future. At one race, she connected with UWF head cross country coach Caleb Carmichael, who offered her an athletic scholarship to complete a bachelor’s degree in nursing. Now, the 30-year-old Cox is in the graduate nursing program at UWF, pursuing her dream of becoming a family nurse practitioner and ultimately, helping others struggling with substance abuse.
At UWF, we see potential world changers running toward their dreams, and we help them finish strong.
View more about Renee Cox
I see a goal ahead.
And I go for it. First generation college student Yhana Burbel is determined to build a career in aircraft routing, a passion she discovered during sophomore year while pursuing a major in supply chain logistics management. When she's not in the classroom, she serves the community through mentoring local youth and volunteering in the Escambia County School District. She said she owes it all to her Pensacola Pledge Scholarship.
For student scholars like Yhana, the Pensacola Pledge Program not only provides access to higher education closer to home, but also expands opportunities to give back to the community that made it all possible. Equipping students with the resources to achieve their personal and professional potential is one of many common goals for the Pensacola Pledge Scholars Program and UWF.
View more about Yhana Burbel
I see mountains as opportunities, not obstacles.
And I accept the challenge. Since childhood, junior biochemistry major Natalie Fallows has followed in her dad’s footsteps, whether it’s planning to attend medical school or becoming a trained mountain climber. In May 2018, she’s attempting to replicate one of his most accomplished feats, which is climbing Denali, the highest mountain peak in North America. As she juggles her studies, UWF dance team practices and campus gym training sessions five days a week, Fallows said the experience is preparing her for much more than climbing a mountain; it’s preparing her for a lifetime of setting goals and putting in the hard work and effort required to make them a reality. View more about Natalie Fallows
I see my opportunity to engineer success.
Volunteer teacher, research assistant, engineering intern: all describe hard-working electrical engineering senior, Everette Petsinger. His education and experience enabled him to help the Caterpillar engine plant in Seguin, Texas eliminate downtime in production by diagnosing the problem and re-coding it himself. Thanks to his internship through the University of West Florida, the company offered Everette a full-time position available upon graduation. Empowering students to be self-starters and engineer their own success—that's UWF. View more about Everette Petsinger
I see hard work paying off.
And a college education that comes debt-free. Diana Hanks, a freshman mechanical engineering major, knew the cost of her education would be high, as she aspires to ultimately pursue a doctorate and become an aerospace engineer for Boeing. After participating in the National Merit Scholarship competition, Hanks was named a finalist and awarded a full ride scholarship to the University of West Florida. UWF is helping today’s bright minds become leaders of tomorrow. View more about Diana Hanks
We see potential.
In our students, in the University of West Florida, in our community. Graduate student Kelby Thornton is creating his own dream job. Thanks to resources made available through the UWF College of Business, Kelby is starting a personal and professional development center to help others in their lives and careers. At UWF, we support students willing to carve their own paths. Sometimes they make the biggest waves.
Learn more about the
UWF College of Business. View more about Kelby Thornton
I see the college experience of my dreams.
And a University that feels like home. Hannah Funk, a freshman pre-nursing major from Fort Walton Beach, dreams of the day she’ll become a nurse practitioner to make a difference in people’s lives. But first, she is ready for an undergraduate college experience like no other. As one of three National Merit Finalists to call UWF home starting in Fall 2017, Funk was given a scholarship covering tuition and room and board, as well as book and research stipends that enabled her to live on campus, but still be close to home. View more about Hannah Funk
We see opportunities for groundbreaking research.
2010 Oil Spill
And ways to help in the wake of tragedy. In the wake of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill, University of West Florida researchers jumped into action to study the interactions of oil with the environment, gathering crucial data on how the changing chemistry affects microbial and food webs over the course of ten years. To date, the UWF Center for Environmental Diagnostics and Bioremediation has been awarded more than $1.8 million in research grants funded by BP. When the ocean is your backyard, you’ll use every resource you have to protect it. View more about 2010 Oil Spill
We see a million possibilities for innovation.
Mother Mother Ocean
So we connect and engage a culture around creativity and collaboration. The University of West Florida’s Innovation Institute brought together five exceptional faculty researchers to showcase everything from local history and archaeology to economy and environment in a free online course for the general public to enjoy: Mother Mother Ocean, the first in a series of Gulf Stories highlighting UWF’s deep engagement and connection with the Gulf of Mexico. Through sustained shared thinking, we’re full-speed ahead on creating transformative experiences. View more about Mother Mother Ocean
We see smarter health care for our community.
Usha Kundu, MD College of Health and Andrews Research & Education Foundation
So we’re increasing quality of life, through research and collaboration. The Usha Kundu, MD College of Health and Andrews Research & Education Foundation have partnered to promote research, education, industry engagement and community outreach in the medicine and public health fields. The partnership focuses on injury prevention and rehabilitation for both amateur and professional athletes. We’re moving forward together for the health of the community. View more about Usha Kundu, MD College of Health and Andrews Research & Education Foundation
I see records breaking.
Excellence in the pool and in the classroom. In her two years swimming for the University of West Florida women’s swimming and diving team, student-athlete and Germany native Theresa Michalak won five national championships. She holds NCAA records in the 100 Freestyle, 100 Breaststroke and 100 Fly. But it’s not just Michalak’s success in the pool that makes her a champion. She has also been nominated for the NCAA’s Woman of the Year award, which honors graduating female college athletes who have distinguished themselves in academics, athletics, service and leadership.
Michalak is just one example of the “total package” often seen in Argo sports. The very best athletes setting records for their future.
View more about Theresa Michalak
We see family traditions in the making.
UWF Historic Trust
Seek, include and welcome all. The UWF Historic Trust is ensuring opportunities for every family to explore what museums have to offer through the "Museums for All" program. In partnership with 140 museums across the country, the UWF Historic Trust is offering free admission to all of its museums and the Pensacola Museum of Art for Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cardholders. By providing access to museums, the UWF Historic Trust is opening doors to brighter futures for all children and helping families from all backgrounds make memories that will last a lifetime. View more about UWF Historic Trust
I see a way to represent my University.
And don the hallmark green blazer. Since 1987, UWF’s student ambassadors serve as the official hosts and hostesses for the University. Ambassador and recent UWF criminal justice graduate Kari McWhirter gave campus tours to student-athletes, greeted alumni at the University’s 50th Anniversary gala, volunteered at commencement and astutely answered hundreds of even the most obscure UWF related questions.
It’s just one way McWhirter gained leadership experience on campus, and it’s been her chance to give back to UWF for what it gave her: a college experience like no other.
View more about Kari McWhirter
We see a community of communicators.
National Writing Project
Confidence in reading and writing starts young. As a National Writing Project site, UWF is making good on its promise to educate the educators—helping teachers engage students at the K-12 level with the communication skills they need to succeed in a digital, interconnected world. View more about National Writing Project
We see our community’s future
in good hands.
Pensacola Pledge Scholars
Breaking down barriers to higher education. Philanthropists Quint and Rishy Studer are committed to Pensacola’s growth and development. A driving force behind the revitalization of the city’s historic district and waterfront community, the Studers know that investing in young people always pays off. And they want to keep the best talent local. In 2012, their $1 million gift seeded the Pensacola Pledge Scholars Fund, which is awarded to high school students in Escambia and Santa Rosa counties who attend UWF or Pensacola State College. Since then, more support for the program—including a $50,000 grant from the SunTrust Foundation—has paved the path to college for nearly 100 local students. An extraordinary education close to home and without the debt. And a tomorrow full of opportunity—for a city—and its future leaders. View more about Pensacola Pledge Scholars
We see innovation through analyzation.
Community Outreach Research and Learning (CORAL) Center
Watch, evaluate and learn. For the second consecutive year, the University of West Florida Community Outreach Research and Learning (CORAL) Center is evaluating Santa Rosa County School District’s STEAM Innovate! program, a five-year plan to infuse more science, technology, engineering, arts and math into the curriculum. The University’s CORAL evaluation team collected data from more than 900 classrooms in 25 schools through Summer 2017. UWF is dedicated to improving K-12 education in Northwest Florida by becoming a partner in research and evaluation. View more about Community Outreach Research and Learning (CORAL) Center
We see a community at play.
Dr. Matthew Ruckman
It’s a place you go to relax, eat lunch or play ball. It’s a space where community members of all ages can come together and enjoy the great outdoors. It’s a park. The University of West Florida’s public administration and sport management program is partnering with Pensacola’s Parks and Recreation Department to evaluate and enhance the city’s current park system. Because we believe that the community that works together, plays together. View more about Dr. Matthew Ruckman
I see a career that will leverage and improve my skills.
Fernanda Luvizotto do Amaral
Set your sights high. Fernanda joined the College of Business Executive Mentor Program as a senior, seeking professional development opportunities. Thanks to her mentor’s encouragement and professional connections, she landed a job at Silver Bullet Technology, where she is using her education and professional skills to excel in the company’s dynamic culture. View more about Fernanda Luvizotto do Amaral
I see myself making a difference in hospitality all over the world.
Leadership in Hospitality. It was an internship at Disney that sparked Toni’s passion for hospitality and made her leave the pre-med track behind. Now a recent graduate of the UWF Global Hospitality and Tourism Management program, Toni is ready to make a difference in the lives of people she serves. In the end, she says, it’s all about the impact of caring. View more about Toni Sharpe
I see conservation for critically endangered species.
Dr. Alexis Janosik
It’s fish forensics. The Alabama sturgeon is so rare that the last documented capture was in 2007. Many believe that overfishing, environmental degradation and river impoundments have caused it to go extinct. But Dr. Alexis Janosik, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, can demonstrate the fish is still out there. Seventeen water samples—out of the hundreds she’s collected over the years—have captured the environmental DNA of the fish. An entire conservation movement, sparked by traces of scales, feces, urine and gametes. And one persistent UWF professor pursuing a breakthrough. View more about Dr. Alexis Janosik
I see an end to teacher shortages.
Dr. John Pecore
The best and brightest for Florida’s schools. Nationwide, 50 percent of teachers leave the profession after five years. In Florida, schools are short more than 240 science and math teachers. Dr. John Pecore, associate professor for the Department of Teacher Education and Educational Leadership, has teamed up with a coalition of Northwest Florida higher education institutions. Together they are using a grant from the National Science Foundation to turn this trend around. By stepping up the recruitment and mentoring of “STEM”—science, technology, education, Pecore is combating the teacher shortage at its root. View more about Dr. John Pecore
We see inside the heads of 16th century Spanish explorers.
Division of Anthropology
This is where they stepped ashore. Six years before the Spanish settlement in St. Augustine and 48 years before the English settlement in Jamestown, Spanish explorer Tristán de Luna y Arellano led an expedition to colonize the northern Gulf Coast. But one month after 1,500 colonists arrived in 11 ships, a hurricane hit. Now it’s a historical puzzle, pieced together through Spanish and Native American pottery sherds, wrought iron nails and trade beads. The discovery of the first shipwreck, then the second. Finding the colony in a developed neighborhood in Pensacola. Now a third shipwreck confirms the whole fleet lies in Pensacola Bay. For the faculty and their students in UWF’s archaeology program, it’s a dream come true. It’s real history, and it’s right here. View more about Division of Anthropology and Archaeology
I see a career helping children with behavioral issues.
It started with Silly Putty. While working at UWF’s Educational Research Center for Child Development, social science major and special education minor Kaley DeVito connected with a little boy. A little boy who craved attention and struggled with behavioral issues. She wrote her senior thesis and published an article about how something as simple as Silly Putty helped modify the behavior of a 4-year-old. DeVito’s experiences at the Center have propelled her to pursue a graduate degree and a career focused on helping children. View more about Kaley DeVito
I see my future in nursing.
From the Air Force to the ER. Matt Lichtenberg has been in the Air Force for almost 16 years. He enrolled at UWF to get his bachelor’s degree in order to become an officer. After graduating in May 2017, he’s now in the hospital at 6:30 in the morning. Taking vitals, observing procedures, heading to the operating room. Thriving in the challenge and fast pace of making people well again. Maybe this isn’t as intimidating as it once seemed. UWF—welcoming active duty military personnel and making Lichtenberg’s lifelong dream of working in medicine come to life. View more about Matt Lichtenberg
We see the perfect
And it’s a home run. Business management major Talisha Williams knows she can count on Jonathan Griffith, President of Studer Entertainment and Retail. He was her mentor, matched through the UWF College of Business Executive Mentor Program. Rigorous academics, the right connections and industry knowledge from the pros—that’s how UWF makes career success happen. View more about Jonathan Griffith Talisha Williams