Public Health plays matchmaker and couples win

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Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching and love is in the air at the USF College of Public Health. Here are a few stories from Bulls who found their public health passion and more in the college …

Cedric Harville and Brittany Jackson met at the University of Alabama-Birmingham. According to Brittany, “Cedric only came to USF because I was there!”

Representing the Class of 2010, Brittany earned an MPH degree in epidemiology and global health.  Cedric focused on health education and graduated with his MPH in 2013.   About a month later, the couple celebrated with a night on the town and an elegant meal. As the evening concluded, Brittany was presented with an assortment of desserts. Like any smart woman would do, she chose the treat with a sparkling diamond ring in the center.



Cedric Harville and Brittany Jackson proposal ring cake

It’s more than just desserts for Brittany Jackson. Cedric Harville proposed with this delicious ring cupcake

Brittany said "Yes!" and the newly engaged couple is all smiles.

Brittany said “Yes!” and the newly engaged couple is all smiles

Cedric is a doctoral student in health behavior at the University of Florida and Brittany is a clinical research coordinator in UF’s Department of Thoracic Surgery. The couple is planning an October wedding in Tampa.

* * *

Environmental and Occupational Health has a special place in the hearts of Haofei Yu and Xiao Liu. The department’s reception area is where the couple first met.

It was 2011 and Haofei recalls, “When I saw her I thought ‘She’s cute and I would like to get to know her.’” Problem is, he was rushing off to a meeting and could only say “Hi” and keep on moving.

After the meeting, Haofei asked Nolan Kimball, the department’s academic services administrator, about the cute girl. “Nolan gave her my e-mail address and we started from there.”




Vacationing lovebirds at Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan Province, China

Vacationing lovebirds at Longmen Grottoes in Luoyang, Henan Province, China

In addition to liking each other, they appreciate all that the college has to offer. Haofei shared, “I think the most important aspect is diversity—academically and culturally.”

As their fondness for each other blossomed into love, Haofei studied environmental health and Xiao studied industrial hygiene. On July 20, 2013, he asked for Xiao’s hand in marriage and she accepted.




Haofei pops the big question at Fort DeSoto Park

Haofei pops the big question at Fort DeSoto Park

The couple plans a beach wedding for later this year. In the meantime, Xiao is completing her doctoral studies in industrial hygiene and Haofei is a research associate and adjunct instructor in the department where they first met as students.

* * *

Community and Family Health alumni Bethany (Masters) and Jarrett Brunny married over spring break in March 2010. Their son, Tai, was born during winter break in January 2011.  Determined not to put their dreams on hold, Bethany enjoyed two long weeks of maternity leave before returning to her studies in the college.




Bethany (Masters), Jarrett, and Tai Brunny

Bethany (Masters), Jarrett, and Tai Brunny

As if earning MPH degrees in health education and raising an infant son weren’t enough of a challenge, in 2011 the couple founded The Brunny Institute. Through a holistic approach to community health, the 501(c)(3) non-profit focuses on methodology and application, rather than on one specific health condition. “Our mission is to enhance quality of life in the communities we serve,” Jarrett shared.

“We are thankful to the USF COPH community for the excellent academic, research, and service opportunities we had while students there. And, for the relationships—both professional and personal—that were formed.”

Jarrett is a doctoral student at the University of Florida in the Department of Behavioral Science and Community Health. In addition to his academic pursuits, he serves as executive director of United Way of Putnam County.  Bethany, CEO and co-founder of The Brunny Institute, is currently campaigning for the Putnam County School Board.


The Brunnys

The Brunnys

“There is a strong relationship between education, policy, and community wellness. School policy is one leverage point for change,” notes Bethany.

The couple is expecting their second child, a girl, in May.

Story by Christi Owiye and Natalie D. Preston, USF College of Public Health. Photos courtesy of the pictured couples

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