USF Health students join USF Day at the Capitol

White coats were among the sea of green and gold that filled Florida’s Capitol this week when dozens of USF Health students took part in this year’s USF Day at the Capitol.

The turnout was intended to show Florida’s legislators the commitment USF Health students have for keeping USF’s legislative priorities moving forward, including the final installment of funding for the new Morsani College of Medicine building in downtown Tampa.

USF Health students give a Go Bulls! in front of the Florida Capitol building in Tallahassee.

The USF Health students were among more than 300 USF students, alumni and administrators who arrived in Tallahassee by bus Feb. 13 to spend a tightly scheduled day meeting with elected officials and their aids, touring the Capitol, and advocating for USF. In addition to helping push legislative initiatives important to USF and USF Health, the visit also aims to spark a lasting interested for the students to in stay engaged in the state’s political process and advocating for USF for setting policy and seeking state funding.

“Meeting with legislators during the USF Day at the Capitol was an exciting and humbling experience,” said first-year medical student Matthew Nguyen. “I felt grateful for the opportunity to speak with those who make important decisions for all of Florida. Most importantly, I am inspired to serve others in any capacity I can, and to advocate for my fellow students. I hope I can use what I’ve learned to help the USF community and medicine as a whole in the future.”

First-year medical student Matthew Nguyen joins fellow first-year medical student Tampa Hutchens inside the House of Representatives.

The full day included dozens of meetings with elected officials to discuss the 2019 USF System’s legislative priorities and see firsthand how government works. In addition, the day included an interactive lunch with USF alumni panelists who work in and around state government. The panelists shared their professional experiences and urged students to remain engaged in their community during college and after graduation, as well as offered advice on pursuing a career in government affairs.

Students enjoyed lunch while listening to panelists discuss their time in Tallahassee. From left, Steve Murray, Communications and External Affairs Director of the Florida Department of Veterans’ Affairs; Lawrence Mower, staff writer in the Tampa Bay Times/Miami Herald Tallahassee bureau, where he covers state government and the Legislature; Merritt Martin, Public Affairs Director for Moffitt Cancer Center and Research Institute, and a USF alum; and Derick Tabertshofer, Legislative Aide for State Representative Heather Fitzenhagen of Fort Myers, and a USF alum.

“We explained to the legislators what it means to us to have CAMLS, our medical training facility, close to our hospital and close to our medical school. They all seem very excited about the impact that USF Health is going to have in the Tampa Bay community,” said second-year medical student Jasmina Ehab.

Ray Rodrigues, State Representative for the Fort Myers area, listens to second-year medical student Jasmina Ehab in one of many meetings across the day.

A VIP reception hosted by USF Health closed the day, where students, alumni and legislators networked and celebrated the day. USF System President Judy Genshaft was honored with her very own USF Health Morsani College of Medicine white coat.

USF System President Judy Genshaft shows off her gift from the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine medical students.


USF Health faculty and administrators attending this year’s Day at the Capitol include:

Dr. Charles Lockwood; Dr. Harry van Loveren; Dan Minor, USF Health Development; Dr. Gianluca Del Rossi, USF Health Athletic Training; Dr. Deborah Dewaay, MCOM Educational Affairs; R.B. Burford; Don Mullins; Jesse Casanova,; and Kristin Steffen.


USF Health students attending this year’s USF Day at the Capitol include:

Prisca Alilio, Kevin Allison, Katherine Ammon, Joseph Balbona, Adriana Bodlak, Adriana Bodlak, Alexandra Cochrane, James Collins, Robert Dieu, Jasmina Ehab, Antoinette Farrell, Devina Gilmore, Elisabeth Givens, Taylor Goldman, Megan Greenberg, Samuel Harris, Madeline Hooper, Tampa Hutchens, Brian James, Nadia Khalil, Ryan Kim, Jameson Kuang, Amy Mickelsen, Patrick Mullen, Matthew Nguyen, Nora Nour, Katelyn Panawash, Steven Peretiatko, Fahd Rahmouni Idrissi, Justin Reynolds, Andrew Sephien, Elizabeth Simoneit, Katy Wilkin, and Cecilia Zemanek.


Darryl Rouson, state Senator from Pinellas County, speaks with a team from USF Health, including Dr. Harry van Loveren (far left), and Pres. Judy Genshaft and Dr. Charles Lockwood (far right).

Florida Senator Bill Galvano, Senate President, hears from USF and USF Health students.



Story by Sarah Worth. Photos by Torie Doll and Michelle Young.