Believe in Bulls: Inspiring profiles from USF Health’s spring graduating class

Commencements are about celebrating the drive, perseverance and successes of an academic journey and looking ahead to the future.

Graduating students from all four USF Health colleges will take center stage at two ceremonies in May. Bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral candidates from the Colleges of Nursing, Public Health, Pharmacy and the Morsani College of Medicine will graduate in a ceremony beginning 6 p.m., Thursday, May 3, in the USF Tampa Sun Dome. On Friday, May 11, 160 medical students from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Class of 2018 will be awarded their MD degrees at the Straz Center for Performing Arts in downtown Tampa.

Below are just a few  captivating and inspiring profiles from the University of South Florida Health’s 2018 spring graduating class:


Yoana Dominguez
Bachelor’s in Public Health & Bachelor’s in Women’s and Gender Studies

Yoana Dominguez began at USF believing she already knew everything about herself. But, for as much as she’s grown academically these last four years, she says it’s her personal growth that’s been the most impactful. During her ­­­junior year, Dominguez came out as bisexual and queer to her friends, mother and sister – finally accepting herself for who she really is. Dominguez is finishing college as the president of Iota Iota Iota, the National Honor Society for Women’s and Gender Studies, and as a REACH Peer Health Educator with USF’s Center for Student Well-Being, using some of the lessons she’s learned to help others.

“It hasn’t been easy to accept who I am, but I’m happy that my experiences in college have given me the courage and the voice to be my authentic self and to stand up for myself.”

Mayah Knight
Bachelor’s in Nursing

One of the first things Mayah Knight noticed about USF was the diversity of its student body. Wanting to make a lasting impact on the world, Knight knew the immeasurable value the blend of opinions and experiences would bring to her undergraduate studies and her future success. As a student leader, she served as a Resident Assistant in Poplar Hall, a Global Citizens Project student leader, president of the USF Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a proud member of the Zeta Upsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Currently, Knight is an RN student intern at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital where she hopes to work as a pediatric nurse upon graduation. She plans to continue her education and obtain a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree, with a hope to one day open a clinic in a minority-based community to provide health care and patient education.

“USF fueled the passion I have for other cultures and the beauty I see in our differences. It gave me more than just an academic experience but a learning opportunity about students of various backgrounds and how I can leave my mark on the world.”












Abby Pribish
Doctor of Medicine

Throughout her time at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, Abby Pribish has tirelessly worked to make a positive impact on the local community. As an avid volunteer and former co-president of USF’s Tampa Bay Street Medicine, Pribish spent countless hours providing free medical care to underserved populations across the city. Pribish is also the first Morsani College of Medicine student to receive acceptance into the three prestigious medical honor societies – Alpha Omega Alpha, Gold Humanism and MCOM’s Robert A. Good. She recently accepted an internal medicine residency position at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, where she plans to explore her interests in health equity and addiction medicine.

“At USF I have always felt supported and empowered by incredible educators and mentors. I am grateful to have found a medical school that encourages its students to develop and meaningfully explore their interests, and to become well-rounded clinicians and leaders.”

Juan Pablo Sanchez
Bachelor’s in Public Health

Born in Medellin, Colombia, Juan Pablo Sanchez is a first-generation college graduate. The proud son of immigrant parents, who worked labor-intensive and low-paying jobs, Sanchez is motivated to end the cycle of poverty in his family through his pursuit of higher education. As an undergraduate student, Sanchez was actively involved in the USF community, serving as a Student Government Senator, participating in various Latino and public health student organizations and representing USF during a congressional internship in Washington D.C. As a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient, Sanchez plans to continue his education at USF and work toward fulfilling his dream of becoming a public health practitioner and physician.

Lindsey Shelton
PhD in Medical Sciences 

Lindsey Shelton came to USF looking to gain experience in biomedical research after her undergraduate training in psychology. She started her PhD program in Fall 2014 focusing on Alzheimer’s disease research under the close guidance of her mentor, USF Health neuroscientist Chad Dickey, PhD, who tragically passed away just over a year ago. Still, Shelton was able to carry on the work they started together, publishing their research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. During her time at USF she has also had the privilege of presenting her research at international meetings and most recently was invited to give a talk at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Additionally, Shelton was selected to participate in the NIH Clinical Center’s Clinical and TranslationalResearch Course for PhD researchers last summer, which has helped her work toward her long-term goal of clinical research.

Richard Trevisani
Doctor of Pharmacy

As an individual with autism, Richard Trevisani overcame many hurdles on his road to becoming a pharmacist. Issues like depression, disillusionment, long periods of unemployment, difficulty communicating and interacting with others and with peer-to-peer interactions were significant barriers he faced. But with hard work, perseverance, a strong family network and understanding preceptors, Trevisani now looks at the word “autism” and smiles. While many challenges still exist, he now has the foresight and the platform to overcome them. About 1 percent of the world’s population has autism spectrum disorder, and Trevisani hopes his achievements will help redefine what that diagnosis means.

The Willman Twins at the Bryd Alzheimers Institute

Jonathan (right) and Matthew Willman Bachelor’s in Biomedical Sciences

Born just minutes apart, Jonathan and Matthew Willman have grown up doing just about everything together. In fact, when they came to USF as transfer students, they decided to work toward majors and minors in the exact same subjects – taking every one of their classes together. As undergraduates, they were both able to get coveted student-research positions in Dr. Kevin Nash’s lab at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute studying neurodegenerative diseases. While it may seem unusual for them to spend that much time together, the brothers say it’s actually made them more successful. They’ve always had a study partner, support system and when one misses a class, the other can fill them in later. Now, the Willmans graduate from USF’s Honors College as O’Neal Scholars with perfect 4.0 GPA’s. They plan to continue working in the lab and hope to attend medical school together, although they say it already looks like they’ll pursue different specialties.

“The extensive academic and research opportunities provided by USF have really given us the tools to pursue our dreams. It’s been the perfect university for us.”