Giving - Office of Development and Alumni Relations

USF Health Celebrates Generosity of Scholarship Donors at Annual ELEVATE Event

Donor Robin Rivell, and Emaleigh Dawn Rivell “Never Settle” Memorial Scholarship recipient, Schneider Pierre, connecting during dinner at ELEVATE on March 12.

On March 12, USF Health held its annual scholarship donor appreciation event, ELEVATE, at the Florida Aquarium. The 160 guests included scholarship donors, scholarship recipients and leaders from across USF Health’s four colleges – the Morsani College of Medicine and its School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, College of Nursing, College of Pharmacy, and the College of Public Health.

Dr. Charles Lockwood, senior vice president of USF Health, welcomed guests at the rooftop reception, which overlooked the sun setting behind the construction site of the new Morsani College of Medicine and Heart Institute in Water Street Tampa. Guests were treated to a performance by Say “Ahhh!” Capella, an acapella group of students from the Morsani College of Medicine and College of Pharmacy.

The evening’s master of ceremonies, Joel Momberg, CEO of USF Foundation, took to the stage to welcome guests to the dinner portion of the program and introduced the first speaker of the night, Dr. Lockwood.

Dr. Lockwood thanked attending donors for elevating USF Health students and contributing to the advancement of health. He also commended Momberg for his 10 years of service to USF and recent retirement announcement.

“By giving to scholarships, you are giving your students more choices,” said Lockwood, “For some, you are making a health career possible by making it affordable. For others, you are attracting the best and brightest future health professionals to Tampa Bay.”

Over the past year, 562 donors have given nearly $2.5 million to USF Health student scholarships across the colleges of medicine, nursing, public health and pharmacy.

“I extend our gratitude to each and every one of you for your generosity in changing the lives of our students,” said Lockwood, “Your giving not only inspires your students, but also those of us who have the privilege to teach them. Thank you.”

Donor Robin Rivell paid a tribute to her daughter, Emaleigh Dawn Rivell, who passed away in a car accident in 2014 while she was a USF student pursuing a career in nursing. Guests listened to Rivell’s emotional story and were inspired by Emaleigh’s “never settle” mantra. In 2016, Robin and her husband Neil established the Emaleigh Dawn Rivell “Never Settle” Memorial Scholarship to help nursing students like their daughter fulfill their dreams of becoming a nurse.

“There are no words to describe how important it is to give, to help others,” said Rivell, “When Emaleigh died, we knew it was up to us to fulfill her dream in any way we could.”

The Rivells are continuing to honor Emaleigh’s legacy by working on establishing their second “Never Settle” scholarship, which will eventually benefit nursing students at the USF Sarasota-Manatee campus.

Indira Ranaweera, a third-year medical student in the seven-year bachelor’s-MD program, shared the story of how she and her family moved from a war-stricken Sri Lanka, and came to the United States in 2000. She was inspired to pursue medicine after growing up in a neighborhood where she saw first-hand how difficult it was for the low-income and uninsured to receive proper medical care.

“I am proud of my decision to attend the USF Morsani College of Medicine, as the incredible institutions, organizations, and faculty within this medical school have supported and nurtured my growth into a knowledgeable, compassionate, and globally minded future doctor,” said Ranaweera.

Ranaweera is planning to apply to OB/GYN residencies with the goal of championing women’s health care, both domestically and internationally.

“With the help of Morsani College of Medicine scholarships, I have had the opportunity to pursue experiences and activities throughout the past three years that would have been difficult financially otherwise,” said Ranaweera, “From the bottom of my heart, thank you for your support.”

To learn more about supporting scholarships at USF Health, visit