“Your accomplishments are noteworthy; each and every one of you has achieved something very important,” said USF College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen. “You all will bring your public health perspective with you wherever you are. It’s amazing how public health is pretty much everywhere if you really start to look at it.”
On Friday, Dec. 8, the COPH hosted two celebratory events in honor of its newest graduates. Family, friends, students, faculty and staff gathered for a ceremony and reception to recognize the talents and achievements of the fall 2017 graduating class.
“This is really a milestone and a huge accomplishment,” said COPH Undergraduate Studies Assistant Dean Dr. Kay Perrin. “In fact you probably don’t realize this, but only 26 percent of the adult population has an undergraduate degree and only 3 percent have a master’s degree.”
This semester, 88 undergraduates, 75 masters and 11 doctoral students graduated and entered the public health profession.
Every year the COPH Outstanding Faculty Award winner offers words of inspiration to the graduating class. This year’s speaker was Dr. Dinorah Martinez Tyson, assistant professor in the Department of Community and Family Health.
“My message to you is to be persistent, don’t let the fear of “what if” ruin the joy of “what is”, or diminish what you are capable of. The world is full of possibilities, even the ones not planned,” Martinez Tyson said. “As public health professionals and advocates, you are pursuing opportunities where you can have an impact on the world. Where you can have meaningful careers that prevent illness, educate and inform policy, help those who are sick manage disease, and keep our workplace and communities safe. Know that you are ready and that you have the knowledge, skills and passion necessary to create a positive social change!”
Alumna Karen Serrano Acre, health education associate at Feeding Tampa Bay, was the keynote speaker for the Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony. Based on her own experiences, she gave the new graduates some encouraging words of guidance.
“I have two pieces of advice for you all. The first is to please network. I know you hear it a lot but it really does work —whether it’s in the community, with your coworkers or with students— that’s where opportunities arise. If it wasn’t for a peer I worked with on a group project, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” Serrano Acre said. “The second piece is to always practice your passion, even if you cannot get a job right away directly related to it, talk about, find a way to implement it and as soon as you get a chance go ahead and practice it. Congratulations again and good luck!”
Here are some of the stories from the Class of 2017:
Originally from Ponce, Puerto Rico, USF College of Public Health alumna Adelmarie Bones started practicing industrial hygiene after graduating with her bachelor’s degree from the University of Puerto Rico Rio Piedras Campus in 2007.
After working in the field for five years, Bones wanted to gain more expertise in the area of industrial hygiene by obtaining her MSPH at the COPH, where many of her superiors and mentors earned their degrees.
“I have a very specific interest in environmental health and how the environment plays an important role in health overall,” she said. “I enjoy reaching out to the public and educating on conservation to the planet and at the same time prevent disease that could arise from the environment.”
Bones said that she has had an excellent experience during her time as a student and enjoyed the opportunity to learn.
One of her favorite memories at the COPH was when she went to Puerto Rico for an educational exchange with the University of Puerto Rico Medical Campus.
“I was able to show our interest in public relations about industrial hygiene and was able to show off my beautiful country to my peer students and faculty members!” Bones said.
A member of the American Industrial Hygiene Association student member, Bones was also able to cross train in the field of environmental risk.
Bones was inspired by Dr. Thomas Bernard, professor in the Department of Environmental and Occupational Health (EOH).
“His contributions to industrial hygiene have been tremendous,” she said. “Thanks to him we have better knowledge and experience into how to promote occupational health, specifically in heat stress.”
Bones’ hard work and drive to learn made a lasting impression on those around her in the COPH.
After graduation, Bones will take her industrial hygiene skills to a new level by partnering with a Tampa Bay consulting firm. The firm, Air Analytics, LLC was founded by Edward Nuñez. In September 2017, Bones went into as partnership with him to expand the business with the new Tampa location.
Read more of her story here.
As someone with an MPH, an established career in health care and more than five years post GRE, USF College of Public Health alumna Angela Thomas, DrPH, was looking for an accredited doctoral public health program that would acknowledge and leverage her expertise, previous education, and would allow her to balance school with her other obligations. The COPH met all of those requirements.
Born and raised in Detroit, Thomas earned her BS and MPH from the University of Michigan and her MBA from Walsh College of Accountancy and Business.
Thomas was first introduced to public health as a senior in college.
“I was formerly pre-med and did not know that there was a way to do what I really wanted to do in health care – work with people to help them lead healthier lives – without being a doctor,” she said. “I was introduced to public health two weeks before the deadline to be admitted to the MPH program. I scrambled to get an application in, but I did and was admitted.”
Thomas said she loved being able to earn her DrPH in the advanced practice leadership in public health program.
“I really enjoyed the program. It’s perfect for the professionals who want to earn their doctorate with academic rigor along with the opportunity to meet faculty and peers, but need the flexibility for life and work. There were lots of changes to the program along the way, but being able to adjust is part of life. There’s always change,” she said.
During her time as a student at the COPH, Thomas was inspired by Dean Donna Petersen.
“I’m a student of leadership and when I took Dean Petersen’s leadership course at our first Summer Institute, she shared so much of her leadership journey and philosophy, I found myself inspired by that journey,” Thomas said.
After graduation, Thomas will continue working in her role as executive director of MedStar Health Services Research Network. As the executive director, she is responsible for research development, compliance, human resource, administration, finance and operations for MedStar’s health services research program.
Read more of her story here.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: Adelmarie Bones, Angela Thomas, Class of 2017, Dinorah Martinez-Tyson, doctorate in public health, Donna Petersen, graduation, Karen Serrano Acre, Kay Perrin, masters, Outstanding Faculty Award, Thomas Bernard, undergraduate