University of South Florida

Newest graduates ready to shape the future of health

More than 500 of the 5,000 degrees to be conferred during the University of South Florida System’s fall commencement ceremonies, Dec. 7-9, will be awarded to USF Health students. USF System President Judy Genshaft will preside over a total of seven ceremonies, marking the university’s 116th commencement convocation.

Bachelor’s degree candidates from the College of Nursing and College of Public Health will be among those to graduate beginning 1:30 p.m., Saturday Dec. 8, at Yeungling Center, followed by a 6 p.m. ceremony at Yeungling for all degree master’s, specialist and doctoral degree recipients, including those from medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy. The Fall Commencement includes two degree candidates from the College of Pharmacy’s growing master’s program in Pharmaceutical Nanotechnology, a rapidly expanding field that combines the science of nanotechnology with direct medical applications.

Here’s short stories about a few of USF Health’s incredible graduates who are shaping the future:

Jeremy Baker – Doctorate in Medical Science

Jeremy Baker, will be heading to the opposite corner of the country (Seattle, WA) upon graduating from the Morsani College of Medicine with a PhD in medical science focused on neuroscience.  Baker was the recipient of a very selective Washington Research Foundation postdoctoral fellowship, which funds three years of postdoctoral work by “highly creative and dedicated” scientists.  He received his bachelor’s degree in biology from USF, and began the PhD program at MCOM in 2014 – completing the program in less than five years.  Working out of the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute laboratory of USF Health neuroscientist Laura Blair, Baker investigated how a naturally-occurring human enzyme, Cyclophilin 40, can untangle toxic protein aggregates contributing to both Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. He garnered numerous awards throughout his studies, including the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference Travel Fellowship and the Chih Foundation Research and Publication Award.

Corjashon (Shon) Henson, Bachelor’s in Nursing 

A former Ranger medic and 14-year U.S. Army special operations combat medic, Henson was deployed to some of the most dangerous places in the world, including Kabul, Afghanistan and Al hillah, Iran. After completing his prerequisites while still deployed, he gained acceptance into the College of Nursing’s Veteran to Bachelor’s (V-CARE) program, tailored to service members and veterans who have completed training as Army and Air Force medics and Navy corpsmen.

Henson will graduate with honors in front of his two children, Caden and Aria, and plans to work at James A. Haley Veterans’ Hospital. He hopes to pursue a Doctor of Nursing Practice degree in adult gerontology.

Menkeoma Laura Okoli – Master’s in Public Health

Menkeoma Laura Okoli’s first name means “Do Good” in Nigeria’s Igbo language. It’s a fitting translation for a woman who has dedicated much of her life to helping others. Before coming to USF, Dr. Okoli was a practicing physician in her native Nigeria. There she witnessed multiple terrorist attacks and treated countless victims who had been maimed and injured in the bombings. It was these experiences that Dr. Okoli says inspired her to come to USF, seeking deeper training to help her make a larger impact on those in need. During her time on campus, Dr. Okoli has worked at the Florida Prevention Research Center at USF Health, advocating for colorectal cancer disease prevention, and has also volunteered for USF’s Health Services Corps, an outreach program that educates high school students on important health topics and career goals. She plans to one day return to Nigeria and use the skills she’s gained here to effect real change in the place she calls home.  Her master’s degree in public health has an epidemiology focus.

Shawn & Shari Zamani –Bachelor’s in Public Health

When Shawn and Shari Zamani emigrated from Iran in 2012, the siblings were still learning to speak English. Now, just six years later, they’re graduating together from USF Health’s College of Public Health and hope to continue making an impact in the lives of those who may cross their paths. As the recipient of this semester’s Outstanding Graduate Award, Shawn has been remarkably active both on and off campus. He’s conducted research on USF’s tobacco-free policy and serves as the director of public health at the USF Health BRDIGE Clinic. His older sister, Shari, is graduating as a King O’Neal Scholar with a perfect 4.0 GPA and has participated in the USF Foundation’s Women in Leadership & Philanthropy program. Both plan to continue their education through graduate school, and say their experiences at USF have helped shape who they want to become and the impact they want to have on the world.


2018 Fall USF Health Graduates by the Numbers

Medicine: 61 master’s, 9 doctorates

Nursing: 121 bachelor’s, 116 master’s, 16 doctorates

Pharmacy: 2 master’s

Public Health: 83 bachelor’s, 88 master’s, 9 doctorates

For the more information about USF Fall Commencement, click here.

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