Danish Syed Hasan is first undergrad to earn Outstanding Alumni Award

| Academic & Student Affairs, Featured News, Monday Letter, Our Alumni, Students, Undergraduate Programs

Danish Syed Hasan, who received his BSPH from the USF College of Public Health (COPH) in 2017, is a 2019 COPH Outstanding Alumni, one of three selected this year.

Hasan is the first person without a public health graduate degree to be given the award.

The award—which recognizes the significant global and domestic impact COPH graduates have made in the field of public health—is presented during the college’s celebration of National Public Health Week, this year held from April 1-7.

Hasan’s first foray into public health occurred while he was in high school, in Spring Hill, Fla.

“At the time, I wasn’t even aware of public health,” said Hasan, who was born in Pakistan yet raised all over the world, including Ireland and Kansas, before moving to Spring Hill with his family in 2007.

“But I was volunteering as a medical assistant in a community health clinic for the uninsured and indigenous in Hernando County,” he continued, “and the experience helped me understand the limitations of health care in underserved communities. Without jobs, individuals struggle to maintain life necessities such as health insurance, a stable home and steady income. Without these essentials, people are more susceptible to chronic diseases and injuries. That’s why this community health center was so impactful.”

Danish Syed Hasan, BSPH, is the cofounder and president of Tampa’s
Opioid Research Network. (Photo courtesy of Hasan)

Hasan chose to pursue his BSPH at USF not just because of the college’s strong reputation, but also because of the research opportunities it provides to even undergraduate students and the field experience of the faculty. “I really liked being educated by teachers who could connect the classroom to the real world,” said Hasan.

One of the things Hasan says he’s most proud of during his time at the COPH is his work as a research assistant at the Moffitt Cancer Center’s Tobacco Research and Intervention Program (TRIP).

“I was able to lead a pilot study to determine the success of electronic cigarettes for smoking cessation in diagnosed cancer patients,” he explained. “The opportunity to work at TRIP and interact with patients was a privilege very few undergraduate students at USF had.”

Today, Hasan is enrolled in medical school and finishing up his master of legal studies degree from Washington University School of Law. He is also cofounder and president of Tampa’s Opioid Research Network (TORN), a project that stems from work he was doing with AmeriCorps VISTA (a federal program designed to fight poverty).

Hasan (center) stands with his parents after receiving his Outstanding Alumni Award. (Photo by Natalie Preston)

“While working with AmeriCorps VISTA, I was chosen to oversee a 60-day grant to investigate the opioid crisis in Central Florida,” explained Hasan. “Most of the people/organizations involved were combating the opioid crisis from a medical standpoint, and very few were doing grassroots stuff, like spreading awareness. TORN is unique. We are connecting community leaders from across the spectrum, uniting students within college campuses and hosting panels with medical professionals. I really want to bring up change from within the community.”

In addition to becoming a physician serving the underprivileged, Hasan has hopes of eventually running for office to advocate for health care changes. He would also like to continue working in the nonprofit sector as consultant, researcher and community organizer.

“I have always had the belief that even if you change the life of a single person, it matters. And slowly, individuals become families, and families become communities, and communities become states and nations. I really want to be an agent of that change.”

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

A physician

Where can we find you on the weekends?

Spending time with my family and friends and de-stressing by the water

What was the last book you read?

“The Wisdom of Life,” by Arthur Schopenhauer

What superpower would you like to have?

Time travel

What is your all-time favorite movie?

“The Pursuit of Happiness”

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health