From the Frontline: Charles “Sonny” Cherrito, Compliance, Biosafety & Life Safety Specialist

From the Frontline is an ongoing series highlighting members of the Florida Tech community who are working tirelessly to combat the coronavirus pandemic.

In this installment, Charles “Sonny” Cherrito discusses his role as the Compliance, Biosafety and Life Safety Specialist.

Q: Please describe your duties related to the university’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Charles Cherrito: I am the university biosafety officer. I serve to provide training, advice and any other related activities in regards to biosafety (e.g. infectious diseases). I also serve on the Pandemic Response Team that has been tasked with advising university leadership as to what actions to take during this crisis. 

Q: What does it mean to you to play such a key role in assisting the university during this time?

CC: My entire career has been built around this sort of scenario, and to have the ability to use my experience and expertise for the better is significant. Florida Tech, being the size it is, represents more of a family structure and it’s vital we value the campus community as such.

Q: Talk about some successes and challenges during this unique time.

CC: The successes: The individuals and departments that have been mitigating the crisis have worked together extremely efficiently and professionally. The communication within Florida Tech has been wonderful, which has really assisted in the situation being handled appropriately and correctly. Without optimal communication, nothing can get done, and that causes negative impacts.

The challenges: Like any crisis, especially of biological origin, keeping up with the ongoing research data and changes to guidance, policies and orders from governing bodies can be a full-time job in itself.

Q: From your vantage point, how well has the university responded to this pandemic?

CC: There is no doubt our response has been optimal. I have spent a great deal of time at universities who are involved in infectious disease research, and the popular idea is that they are most equipped to handle such cases. However, Florida Tech has proven, through its communication, leadership and due diligence, to be on top of the game just as much as entities that deal with such biological agents on a daily basis.

Q: What is a key thing for people to remember during this pandemic?

CC: Stay calm and be informed. Unnecessary fear and misinformation can often lead to overreaction, and in some cases, a more volatile environment. Florida Tech has professionals responding to this crisis with expert knowledge of various areas relating to such an event and we are handling it from every aspect. We will get through this.

Q: Anyone in the campus community you’d like to highlight?

CC: Campus Services (Housing & Dining) have done an absolutely tremendous job at ensuring the students are taken care of from every aspect. Jacqueline Hetherington’s time spent to voluntarily make masks for employees has been extremely generous. Bino Campanini’s leadership on the Pandemic Response Team has really helped mainstream decisions and efficiency.

Find the university’s latest coronavirus updates and information on the Coronavirus Central webpage.

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