Illness leads Kaitlin Hardcastle to a new career path
Kaitlin Hardcastle didn’t come to public health. Public health came to her.
In her junior year, Kaiti fell ill with Lyme Disease, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and the Human Papillomavirus.
The unfortunate series of events peaked her interest. She wondered what could have led to the disease tri-fecta that afflicted her. She learned that a tick was the likely culprit for Lyme disease and spotted fever, but also discovered an interest in public health that ultimately led her to enroll as an undergraduate.
Now fully recovered, Kaiti reflects fondly on her undergraduate years. She was a member of the USF women’s soccer team, volunteered with a home healthcare nurse through Florida Hospital Tampa, and founded Who We Play For, a non-profit dedicated to the fight against sudden cardiac arrest (SCA) in student athletes.
Since 2010, Who We Play For has donated automated external defibrillators (AED) to public schools and sports facilities across Brevard County. Currently, the group’s efforts are focused on lobbying to get the SCA Prevention Act passed in Florida.
When asked what’s next on the horizon Kaiti smiles and shares, “I’m open!”
The native of Cocoa Beach received an offer from the Brevard County Sports Commission to promote physical activity and exercise to athletes 18 years of age and younger, but won’t start until June. She applied to the Peace Corps and is awaiting their decision. And, she is still volunteering with Florida Hospital.
Regardless of which opportunity Kaiti selects, one thing is for sure. History has already proven that she is destined for success.
Story and photo by Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health