First USF Health Commencement marks milestone for 600 graduates [Multimedia]

The ceremony also marked the first graduating class from USF Health’s College of Pharmacy

Led by the USF Commencement Marshal bearing the university’s mace, the doctoral candidates of USF Health marched down the center aisle of at the USF Sun Dome to the strains of Pomp and Circumstance. They filled in their seats in front, backed by sections of master’s and baccalaureate degree candidates.

Altogether they were 600 strong – the candidates assembled May 1 for this first-ever commencement ceremony. The special event brought together all the undergraduate and graduate candidates from the Colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Public Health and Pharmacy, as well as the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

All of the USF Health Colleges combined to convene the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015. USF Faculty Senate President Philip Levy carries the university’s mace in the opening procession.

It was a day of other firsts.

A celebration of the first PharmD graduating class of the USF College of Pharmacy. The college’s 49 graduates are poised to take on key roles as integral members and leaders of the health care team in an evolving U.S. health system.

A recognition of the 30th anniversary of the USF College of Public Health, the state’s first accredited school of public health.  The college has graduated more than 4,500 public health professionals prepared through its excellent training programs here and abroad and this year ranked as 16th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report in the Best Graduate Schools issue.

“USF Health programs distinguish and define our university’s increasing prominence on a national and international level.  And each of you – our graduates – have contributed to that success,” USF President Judy Genshaft said, addressing the students from the platform.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Bionqua Lynch, a doctoral candidate from the College of Pharmacy’s inaugural graduating class sang the National Anthem at the beginning of the USF Health Commencement. Her classmate Ollie Marseglia sang the USF alma mater at the close of convocation. Both won the USF Health “sing-off” competition to select vocalists for the ceremony.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen below to Bionqua Lynch sing the National Anthem.

President Genshaft highlighted the stories of three USF Health graduates in her commencement remarks:

  • Nadine Nelson, graduating with a PhD in medical sciences, credited USF for the opportunity to foster a career in cancer research.  She received prestigious awards – the National Science Foundation Bridge to the Doctorate and McKnight Doctoral Completion Fellowships.  Nelson, who served on board of the Association of Medical Science Graduate Students, also received an Outstanding Service Award from the association.

 

  • Frank Fernandez, graduating with his Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD) degree, helped develop the College of Pharmacy’s first organization American Pharmacists Association, served as a student ambassador and volunteered as clinic coordinator for the Dean’s outpatient clinic at the Carol & Frank Morsani Center for Advanced Healthcare. Fernandez holds a lifetime membership with the Pharmacy Leadership Society, Phi Lambda Sigma.

 

  • Julmine Louis, graduating with a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) degree through the School of Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation Sciences transitional program, was diagnosed with breast cancer in the midst of classes in 2014. Despite the challenges of surgery, followed by chemotherapy and radiation, she persisted with her rigorous studies.  Experiencing health services from the patient side was a humbling experience for Louis.

“In her own words,” President Genshaft said. “Julmine says ‘My experience has made me a better clinician, and the professors in the program have given me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives that I don’t take for granted.’”

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

“This special event is one of the largest events of its kind in our history here at USF Health,” said Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president for USF Health and dean of the Morsani College of Medicine.

Charles Lockwood, MD, senior vice president of USF Health and dean, Morsani College of Medicine, joined President Genshaft in congratulating all the graduates for achieving their educational milestones and thanking the graduates’ families for their support.

“This special event is one of the largest events of its kind in our history here at USF Health,” Dr. Lockwood said.  “It embodies our commitment to establishing life-long relationships across disciplines, not only essential for the health care workforce of tomorrow, but also to the health of our community, our nation and the world today.”

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Public health undergraduate student Jennifer Stenback, center, with USF President Judy Genshaft and USF Provost Ralph Wilcox, was recognized as one of USF’s national scholarship recipients.

Two award recipients were recognized at the USF Health-wide commencement.

  • Dr. Peter Levin, founding dean of the USF College of Public Health, received the President’s Fellow Medallion, which is awarded at the President’s discretion to highly distinguished meritorious individuals for their lifelong service and commitment to USF and the Tampa Bay community. During Dr. Levin’s 10-year tenure, the college grew from from one faculty member and a few dozen students to 40 faculty members and hundreds of students. Under his guidance and with the support of then Florida Rep. Sam Bell, a $10-million building was funded, designed and built for the college, which had earned full accreditation in a record three years.
  • Jennifer Stenback, graduating with a bachelor of science degree in public health, was awarded a Fulbright United Kingdom Summer Institute Scholarship to study at the University of Exeter in 2013, and named a Truman Scholarship Finalist in spring 2015.
All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Dr. Peter Levin was presented with the President’s Fellow Medallion for his critical role as founding dean of the USF College of Public Health. He implored the new graduates to not let invaluable fact-finding technology like the iPhone take the place of observing and relating to their patients — and emphasized the importance of critical evaluation to integrate all the information.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen below to Dr. Peter Levin’s speech.

Graduate student speaker Nathan Seligson, a member of the College of Pharmacy’s inaugural class, delivered the charge to his fellow USF Health students.  He will begin a residency at Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, TN, this summer and hopes to forge a career path combining research and clinical care in the fields of pharmacogenetics and oncology.

“While our graduation serves as a reminder of the blood, sweat and tears that carried us through our training, its significance pales in comparison to the responsibility we have to improve the health care system over the course of our careers,” Seligson said. “Our zeal for exceptional patient care will no doubt be at its highest now as we begin our careers. Our greatest challenge will be to reaffirm a patient-centered vision daily. We must encourage one another to adopt this focus and to remind ourselves of the primary responsibility to our patients.

“My greatest hope is that the infusion of clinicians from the USF Health Class of 2015 will serve to help bring healing to our world:  mind, body and soul.”

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Nathan Seligson, a member of the College of Pharmacy Class of 2015, delivered the charge to his fellow USF Health graduates.

The culmination of the ceremony was the conferring of degrees, including the hooding of all the USF Health doctoral candidates.

The first of the 600 graduates to be announced by Dr. Edmund Funai, chief operating officer for USF Health, was doctoral candidate Ashley Dridi, a student from the USF College of Pharmacy’s Class of 2015.

The last was Judith Noreau, a nursing baccalaureate candidate.

Amid applause and cheers that grew louder as the end of the ceremony neared, Noreau walked confidently across the stage, posed for a photo with President Genshaft, shook hands with College of Nursing Dean Dianne Morrison-Beedy. Then, she exited the stage — ready to start her future as a professional nurse in the U.S. Navy.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Dr. Dianne Morrison-Beedy, dean of the USF College of Nursing, calls forward master’s candidates from her college.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen below to Dr. Dianne Morrison-Beedy words of advice to her new nursing graduates.

 

Donna Petersen, ScD, dean of the College of Public Health with Dr. Peter Levin.

Dr. Donna Petersen, dean of the USF College of Public Health, with the college’s founding dean Dr. Peter Levin.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen below to Donna Petersen talk about the dynamic role of a public health worker. 

 

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

USF President Judy Genshaft takes time out to speak with Noah-Tae Choe, son of USF College of Nursing PhD student Robyn Siegel-Choe, who passed away several months ago and was awarded a degree posthumously. Noah was accompanied across the stage by Robyn’s father David Siegel (not pictured).

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Dr. Kevin Sneed, dean of the USF College of Pharmacy, calls forward the 49 candidates receiving doctoral degrees from the college’s inaugural graduating class.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen below to Dr. Kevin Sneed’s words of advice for his college’s first PharmD graduates.

 

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

The first student to walk across the stage at the USF Health Commencement ceremony was College of Pharmacy doctoral candidate Ashley Dridi, shown here being hooded by Dr. Kamila Dell, assistant professor of pharmacotherapeutics and clinical research.

Judith Noreau

The last student to cross the stage was Judith Noreau, who completed a baccalaureate degree in nursing and will begin a professional nursing career in the U.S. Navy. – Photo by Jose Donneys, USF College of Nursing.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

A view of the platform at the USF Health Commencement, where 600 bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral students were awarded degrees. The USF Health-wide event was one of six ceremonies held as part of the University of South Florida’s Spring 2015 Commencement.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

Many graduates personalized their mortarboards with creative flair.

All of the USF Health Colleges and Schools combined to have the first ever USF Health Commencement Ceremony in the USF Sundome on Friday,1 May, 2015

L to R: College of Public Health master’s graduates Mandy Chan, Annabelle Barkley and Ila Jones are all smiles after the ceremony. The colorful mortarboards in the previous photo are theirs.

USF Pharmacy Grads_RSS

Members of the first graduating class of the USF College of Pharmacy show their Bulls spirit.

COPH sound-icon-png Listen to Dr. William S. Quillen’s advice to the new Doctor of Physical Therapy graduates.

Photos by Eric Younghans and video by Sandra C. Roa
USF Health Office of Communications and Marketing