Catalyze 2023: USFSP Campus Governor Sean Schrader
We’re asking thought leaders, business people and creatives to talk about 2023 and give us catalyzing ideas for making St. Pete a better place to live. What should our city look like? What are their hopes, their plans, their problem-solving ideas? This is Catalyze 2023.
Sean Schrader, now a first-year graduate student at the University of South Florida St. Peterburg, wants to ensure the city’s youth have a seat at the table when local leaders formulate policies.
The campus governor also knows how he would like to accomplish that goal in 2023.
Schrader, 21, hopes to bring students from St. Petersburg College, Eckerd College and USFSP together and form a student advisory board. It would offer the often-overlooked youth perspective on issues affecting daily lives in the city, like housing, traffic congestion and environmental sustainability.
“I think creating an advisory board like that in partnership with other institutions would be really exciting,” said Schrader. “I’ve had some initial conversation about this with Commissioner Charlie Justice and some different folks in the community, and they’re very excited to make something like this possible.”
Schrader is pursuing his MBA and remains invested in the business world. However, he thought he could make a difference by giving students a voice in politics after the onset of the pandemic. He has worked in Congressman Charlie Crist’s office, served on the USF Faculty Council on Admissions and was a student government senator before becoming campus governor in May.
Schrader has played an integral role in bringing current and former local leaders to USFSP, and Mayor Ken Welch recently invited campus government to City Hall. Schrader said it was an honor to receive recognition at a city council meeting and relayed the cohort’s excitement to learn about St. Petersburg’s political process.
He believes that student officials are more than just college kids. The young adults are also the city’s next leaders.“I think that when you get the student perspective, it really is a perspective that is helping to shape the future,” added Schrader.
He said the strong reception for his student advisory board idea is because the three unique college populations would also provide diverse insights. Schrader believes he can get the initiative up and running in 2023 and “has no doubt” it would experience rapid expansion.
The university’s consolidation into “One USF” has led to many students taking classes across its three campuses – Tampa, St. Petersburg and Sarasota-Manatee. Schrader said he and USFSP’s student government are now working with the Pinellas Suncoast Transit Authority (PSTA) to make those regional trips more convenient and better for the environment.
Schrader noted PSTA offers a program in partnership with the Hillsborough and Sarasota County transit agencies to take passengers across county lines. However, he said many USF students remain unaware that the service exists.
Following initial discussions with PSTA officials, Schrader hopes to launch a marketing campaign and distribute informational graphics in the spring to increase awareness. He said that would help students utilize cross-campus transportation and highlight each location’s unique offerings.
“And think about it from a sustainability perspective,” added Schrader. “I’ve always been a big believer that we’re not going to make massive change happen overnight. It takes some small steps.”
Another initiative Schrader hopes to accomplish in 2023 involves the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Tampa Bay Rays and Rowdies officials visited the St. Pete campus in the fall and provided students with information regarding internship and career opportunities. He hopes to replicate that program’s success with the NFL team across the bay and relayed that initial talks are ongoing.
USF St. Petersburg’s downtown location creates a unique interwovenness with the surrounding community. Schrader said the resulting talent pipeline “is reciprocated by both students and business owners,” and he also looks forward to watching those opportunities expand in the new year.
“I think when you get students who are familiar with USF, they’re familiar with the St. Petersburg community – to then get them to apply what they’re learning in the classroom to real-world scenarios within walking distance – that’s really cool,” said Schrader. “I love USF Tampa and Sarasota, but you can’t get that on those campuses.”