Upward Bound Program sets up USF student for potential career in health care

Tracey Vilvert, junior Health Sciences major with a concentration in Biological Health Sciences.

To 21-year-old Tracey Vilvert, the thought of going to college was just a thought.  Now a USF junior majoring in Health Sciences with a specialization in Biological Health Sciences, Vilvert’s dream to serve her community as a doctor is a possibility.

Vilvert said pursuit of a college education wouldn’t be possible without the help of The Upward Bound Program (UBP), sponsored by the U.S. Department of Education.  The program not only gave her the resources, but the confidence she needed for college.

“I didn’t think college was possible until I learned about the Upward Bound Program,” she said.  “The program gave me every tool I needed to not only get ready for college, but also to succeed in college. I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for the program.”

The Upward Bound Program provides support to high school students in their preparation for college entrance. The program serves students from low-income families and families in which neither parent holds a bachelor’s degree.  The goal is to increase the rate at which participants enroll and complete college-level degrees.

Tracey Vilvert talks with a STEM Wars participant about her experiences at USF.

It was through the UBP that Vilvert learned about the Pre-health Scholars Program (PSP), a cornerstone program of the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine Office of Student Diversity and Enrichment.

The Pre-health Scholars Program is a multi-year program for pre-health students.  It provides services and support to students throughout their undergraduate education to prepare them for success in health care colleges including medicine, nursing and pharmacy.  The Office of Student Diversity and Enrichment works with students as they progress through the program adding new experiences and opportunities including experiential learning programs and clinical simulations including conducting and presenting research projects, and interviewing standardized patients.

Tracey Vilvert during the Pre-health Scholars Program Poster Presentation event.

“This program has truly opened my eyes to all of the ways to work in health care,” she said.  “Getting first-hand information from the students and mentors about what being a medical or nursing student is like makes me more confident that I’ll be able to succeed.  I hope to be able to continue working with the [OSDE] staff as a medical student here.”

Vilvert hopes pursue her dream to become an obstetrician at MCOM.

-Photos by Freddie Coleman, USF Health Communications and Marketing