A surprise on center court for future pharmacy student

Adding a personal touch to the admissions process, USF College of Pharmacy Dean Kevin Sneed, PharmD, handed a letter of acceptance to Ellen Bickel… on center court.

The USF cheerleader was cheering at the USF v. Louisville men’s basketball game Sunday afternoon when, during a team timeout, she was approached by Dr. Sneed with her letter accepting her into the third entering class for the young College of Pharmacy, as well as a giant check for a newly funded scholarship.


After the initial surprise and amid tears of happiness and relief, Bickel was taken to center court and surrounded by her fellow cheerleaders and a host of photographers and videographers, including crews from ESPN, which was providing national coverage of the game.

Reports of the “ambush” also zipped across social media.

Joining Dr. Sneed and Bickel on center court were USF President Judy Genshaft and James and Sylvia Martinez, who donated the funds that made the College’s 3,2,1↠Launch Scholarship possible. The scholarship, of which Bickel is the first recipient, helps cover the costs for incoming students’ iPad, white coat and books.

“The College’s 3,2,1↠Launch Scholarship program helps launch student careers, giving an emphasis on informatics, a key component of the program,” Dr. Sneed said. “Digital health care is the way of the future.”

Bickel, who will graduate in May with double major (bachelor’s degrees in health professions (pre-pharmacy) and in public health) is the first USF student athlete to be admitted into the USF College of Pharmacy program, Dr. Sneed said.

“This announcement is important because we’re celebrating the achievement of a student athlete who has contributed above and beyond to our university,” he said.

Sneed letter to cheerleader 2again

Sneed letter to cheerleader 4

Bickel will start as a first-year student in the USF College of Pharmacy in the fall.

Social Media by Liz Peacock, USF Health Office of Communications

Photos by Eric Younghans, USF Health Office of Communications