It was the first day of fall orientation for more than 200 Bulls in the USF College of Public Health, and this is how they kicked off the morning of Thursday, Aug. 21.
With a bam and a boom and a twirl of the baton, the best and brightest of USF’s Herd of Thunder Marching Band gave new Bulls a lesson in school spirit. Under the direction of drum major Michael Lebrias, The Herd introduced students to USF’s fight song, alma mater and other spirited tunes.
It’s tradition in USF Health for academic leadership to welcome new students at orientation. They share news from their respective colleges or schools and help demonstrate how everyone at USF Health has a role to play in “Making Life Better.”
“You need to look no further than current headlines to see the impact of public health in society,” said Dr. Bryan Bognar, vice dean for educational affairs in the Morsani College of Medicine and a COPH graduate. “The Ebola outbreak involves health care providers, first responders, health educators and disease detectives, also known as epidemiologists.”
Dr. Donna Petersen, dean of the COPH, illustrated public health’s monumental impact on society.
“As public health professionals, you facilitate the discussion, but the community ultimately decides.” Raise your hand if you drove here today,” Petersen said. “Now, who wore a seatbelt and why?”
Someone answered, “Because it’s the law.”
Petersen went on to explain that it took decades of research, advocacy, awareness and educational campaigns before anything changed. Public health professionals organized community and legislative efforts, but “we as a society decided it was okay to have a law to protect us and mandate seatbelt use.”
The incoming class includes traditional college-aged students and working professionals like Lea Heberlein-Larson, MPH. She is acting virology administrator and medical laboratory scientist III / virology supervisor with the Florida Department of Health Bureau of Laboratories. In addition to working in public health, she also mentors graduate students in field experience. And, as of 8 a.m. on Aug. 25, she is a doctoral student in the college’s online DrPH program.
Exciting perks for incoming students include a new dining facility, fitness center and multi-purpose space.
“If all goes according to plan, ground-breaking for the 30,000-square-foot addition is in January,” said Joe Ford, assistant vice president for The WELL—a space dedicated to Wellness, Engagement, Leadership and Learning for all USF Health students. “Most of you during your time here will be able to take advantage of these new programs and services.”
In the meantime, Ford invited students to visit The WELL and become frequent users of the small and large group study spaces, meeting rooms and computer stations.
By day’s end, the new Bulls had been schooled in academic policies 101, met their respective department chairs and academic advisers, participated in numerous icebreakers, and learned about ways to enhance their academic and extra-curricular experience via the USF Resource Expo.
“Thanks for taking your educational journey with us,” Bognar said.
And, on behalf of the 2014 incoming class, “Go Bulls!”
Story by Natalie D. Preston, Photos by Preston and Ellen Kent, USF College of Public Health.