HCC Ybor Campus HCC SouthShore Campus HCC Plant City Campus HCC District Administrative Offices HCC Dale Mabry Campus HCC Brandon Campus

Honors Institute Alumni 


Honors Institute Alumni Survey - please click here 

Welcome to the  Alumni page! As you can read, this section is a work in progress. We want our alumni to give their input for the alumni pages because we want the design that can best serve our alumni; therefore, our first Areté President, Pete Cirak (pmcirak@gmail.com) has agreed for alumni to send him any information about themselves or others that they would like on the webpage. We love hearing from you!

Alumni Announcements:

 Broadway Bound!

Ami Fazchas: Things are going well for Ami in the big apple. In addition to studying producing this semester with Broadway producer Steve Chaikelson, she has been named as part of the Executive Board and founding member of the Columbia ArtsCollective (ArtC). But the big news is that after a lengthy interview process she has been hired by the Broadway based New Victory Theatre/New 42nd St. Productions (http://www.new42.org/) as a Development Apprentice for Fall 2014!

Exciting news!

We are pleased to share with you that one of our former international students, recruited by Dr. Daniel from Croatia, Hano Pipic (graduated from HCC and the Honors Institute in 2003) has earned his Ph.D.

As a Ph.D. student at the University of Queensland as well as the University of Vienna, his research interests involved the representations of trauma and its aftermaths in contemporary Australian and South African literatures.

According to Hano: My fascination for Australian and South African Literature grew immensely over the years.  It had something to do with societies living on the edge.  These postcolonial literatures offered images of century long struggles in environments that were built to keep off those who were considered unequal and thus wrongfully meant to be ruled.  Within these cruel struggles people’s lives changed due to violence and constant terror.

We are proud that his dissertation “Postcolonial Departures: Narrative Transformations in Australian and South African Fictions” is dedicated to one of our professors, Dr. Maribeth Mobley. The dedication: To Maribeth Mobley for igniting the spark.

M. Sonia Razaqyar, HCC graduate 2011 and Mt. Holyoke graduate 2013, has been selected in the highly competitive process to be a postbac fellow at the National Institute of Health.

Two of our alumni who graduated from HCC in 2011 and graduated from USF this spring, Angel Aquino and Nassier Harfouch, recently shared their exciting news: Nassier has been accepted to USF Medical School, and Angel has been accepted to the Theology Graduate Program at Yale. Both alumni were active in the Honors Institute and HCC and have stayed in touch with us; plus, they have kept their friendship with each other. We are proud to hear that they contribute their success to what they learned here at HCC. 

Selina Rose Gallo-Cruz, 2004 Honors Institute graduate, graduated from Emory University with her Ph.D. on May 13, 2013.  She was very active in the Honors Institute and participated in the “life altering” Honors international trip. Her article about the trip was published in the Florida Collegiate Honors Council newsletter. After Selina Gallo graduated from HCC, she transferred to and graduated from Wellesley.   Selina received four teaching offers, three from research universities and one from the College of Holy Cross.  “Holy Cross seemed the best fit to balance engaged and rigorous research with engaged and rigorous teaching, something both HCC Honors and Wellesley help me to deeply value.”   

Jacob N. Drew, 2009 Honors Institute graduate, graduated from the University of South Florida in 2011 and is pursuing his masters degree in theology at Dallas Theological Seminary in Dallas, Texas.


Jodi Catlow, 2009 Honors Institute graduate and 2011 Agnes Scott graduate, was accepted into the University of Maryland, Baltimore to complete her masters degree in social work.


Annie Chen, 2009 Honors Institute graduate, graduated from Boston College in December 2011 with her Bachelors degree in Philosophy. She is currently taking the steps necessary to become qualified to teach math in secondary schools.


Matthew Rooney is performing research for his undergraduate thesis which he is writing for both the Honors College and the Anthropology Department at USF. It concerns social stratification and historical archaeology in Ybor City around the turn of the twentieth century. He keeps a blog with updates about his research: https://yborthesis.wordpress.com/

Sara Brady, 2009 Honors Institute graduate, was selected as a UNC Chapel Hill class of 2013 Senior Marshal. The UNC senior class marshals are a select group of diverse, energetic seniors who love UNC. Marshals plan several events and programs that help seniors optimize their final school year and prepare for life after Carolina.  Marshals are some of UNC’s most committed and thoughtful students. Her son, Bailey, just turned 13.  

Honors Institute alumni continue to give service back to their communities! Dode Ackey, 2000 Honors Institute graduate, is the founder of Africa International University (AIU) Foundation, a US non-profit organization raising money to build schools through Sub Sahara Africa. On July 25, 2011, the Foundation opened its first middle and high school (International Academy of Niamey) in Niger Republic that began operating for the 2011-2012 academic year. Please visit the Foundation's website at http://www.aiufoundation.org/ for more information and ways to help.

Nader Hasan, 2008 Honors Institute graduate, writes for the University of South Florida's newspaper, The Oracle. Check out his article called, "Palestinian Peace Process is Not Dead." Nader is currently completing his Bachelors degree in International Affairs and Religious Studies.   

Jacqueline Munera-Mason, 2007 Honors Institute graduate, received news that her first research article has been accepted for publication! Check out "Human Perceptions of Coat Color as an Indicator of Domestic Cat Personality" in Anthrozoos next year.

Mario Leandre, 2005 Honors Institute graduate, has been accepted into seven different University College of Medicines and has chosen to attend Florida State University College of Medicine.

Nathan Nandkishorelal, 2007 Honors Institute graduate, has been accepted into the Florida Institute of Technology and started the Masters in Business Administration degree in July 2011.

Justine Naylon, 2007 Honors Institute graduate, received her Master of Social Work degree from the University of South Florida in May 2011.

Basel Amer (Honors Institute graduate of 2010) has received notice that he prevailed in the National Society of Collegiate Scholars' Community College Transition Scholarship for $5,000! The organization awarded the annual scholarship for the first time last year, and another of our alumni received the scholarship: Annie Chen, who transferred to Boston College. Basel is in his first semester at the University of Texas, Austin, majoring in engineering. Congratulations, Basel!

Melanie Link-Perez, a 2000 graduate of the Honors Institute, graduated Magna Cum Laude from Smith College, completed her graduate degree from Miami University of Ohio and earned her Ph.D. this year. She is teaching at the University of Oklahoma and loves being in the classroom. Her areas of research have been plant systematics (evolutionary relationships in ferns).

Shannon Bean, 2009 Honors Institute  graduate and a junior at Eckerd College.  Shannon received a paid internship  this past summer through Harvard University for Psychiatric and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Research.

         ALUMNI SOCIAL - DECEMBER 16, 2013

Catching UpDr D and Patrick Catching Up 2

Ami Fazchas 

Ami Fazchas


 Hano Pipic


 M. Sonia Razaqyar  
 M. Sonia Razaqyar  

Pete & Riki Cirak in Boston

 Jodi Catlow
Jodi Catlow 

Melanie Link-Perez, Ph.D.
JJ Rincon
J.J. Rincon

Dode Ackey

 Damirs Book
Damir Sinovcic's latest book  
Lindsey Blankenbaker & Damir Sinovcic

Sara and Bailey Brady

Matthew Rooney

Annie Chen
                                             Dr. Daniel and Patrick Brathwaite          

                                 Friends catching up in beautiful surroundings!                        


A note from Pete: 

Dear Honors Institute Alumni, 

Riki and I have been extremely busy over the past year and a half.  We've added another member to our family, Margaux, and moved into a new house in Lutz.  Since being the mother of a 5-year-old and a 1-year-old doesn't give her enough to do, Riki's been working on her Masters, too.  However, I've managed to steal away some time to remain active in both the Honors Institute and the college at large, and I've been waiting for a particular project I've been working on to come to fruition before I posted another letter. 

The last few years I've been working with the HCC Foundation to establish an Honors alumni presence within the organization.  I feel that the college probably misses out on Honors alumni contributions because they do not empower the donors with the ability to choose where their donations are utilized.  I am pleased to announce that the HCC Foundation has recently added a drop-down selection on their website to allow donors (whether they be alumni, staff, professors, or any other benefactor) to designate the Honors Institute as the recipient of their contribution. 

This update to the HCC Foundation donor website could not have come soon enough, for as you may already know, our Dr. Daniel is retiring during the fall semester of 2014.  I cannot express enough the love and gratitude Riki and I have for Lydia.  She has become as much a part of our lives as our own family and it comforts me to know that our dear friendship will continue long after she is no longer with the college.  Approximately 20 years ago, Lydia led the development and implementation of the Honors Program.  Through her leadership, desire for academic excellence, and esprit de corps, HCC is the proud owner of one of the nation's finest Honors programs.   

The HCC Foundation and I have set a goal to raise $50,000 during 2014 to endow an HCC Honors scholarship to be named in honor of Dr. Lydia Daniel.  This is the minimum amount necessary to create a permanent and self-sustaining scholarship.   Alumni may donate directly to the scholarship fund at the HCC Foundation website (https://foundation.hccfl.edu/Donate).  In the Designation drop-down menu, select "Honors Institute Endowed Scholarship Fund", and please add a comment that you are an Honors alumni along with the year you graduated.  You may also contribute by check payable to the HCC Foundation and mail to: 39 Columbia Drive, Tampa, Florida 33606.  Be sure to direct your gift by writing "Honors Institute Endowed Scholarship Fund" in the memo of the check.   

Because we believe that the Program has so enriched our college experiences, our careers, as well as our lives,  Riki and I plan to start contributing to the fund monthly in 2014.  I ask that all of you join me in this endeavor in whatever denomination your budget may allow.  I can't emphasize enough how useful even the smallest contribution is.  We have 16 years of graduates making up our alumni, and this will demonstrate to the college our conviction, and to Lydia our gratitude.

 I will keep you updated throughout the year on our progress. 

Your faithful alumnus,

Pete Cirak 

January, 2014