First cohort of undergraduates takes off as Health Scholars

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The USF College of Public Health is all about pushing boundaries and for the eleven students in the Health Scholars program, that’s exactly what they are doing.

The program is offered to first-time-in-college students who want to earn a bachelor of science in public health (BSPH) degree, according to Dr. Kay Perrin, associate dean of academic and student affairs.

Health Scholars are exposed to supplemental public health experiences while earning their degree, such as taking part in service learning, USF Health faculty affiliated research and leadership development.

“It is a chance for BSPH students to get involved at a higher level,” Perrin said.

Undergraduates in the Health Scholars program at the USF College of Public Health. Front row: Rosie Mulholland, Shari Zamani, David Arango, Camryn Henry, Bridget Ben-Hayon, Monica Racy, Lindsey Thompson. Back row: Joelle Aslan, Lauren Adkins, Katelyn Agosto, Tatiyana Badal, Sara Snook, Aubrey Selamu-Bell (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Brittany Finstad, a senior undergraduate with hopes of one day becoming a surgeon, is part of the first cohort of students taking part in this new program.

“I wanted to be a health scholar because I wanted more opportunities to get interact with the professors to learn about more research opportunities around campus,” she said. “It has helped me meet new people in my major and it has helped me get closer to those that have a large impact in public health around campus.”

For senior Chedelin Apollon, being a Health Scholar has enhanced her engagement as a student.

“Being a Health Scholar has enriched my opportunities to round out my education with internships, scholarships and networking opportunities,” she said. “As a Health Scholar, you are given the opportunity to experience so much beyond the classroom about what public health looks like outside of the classroom and also, presents opportunities that otherwise we would miss.”

Apollon, who studied abroad this past summer in London upon earning her Health Scholar scholarship, plans to continue her graduate studies at the USF COPH in order to “bridge the health care gap with underrepresented populations.”

Health Scholars are eligible for scholarships to attend a professional public health conference and study abroad experience of their choice.

Current COPH undergraduate and Health Scholar Shari Zamani gives incoming undergraduates a tour of the COPH building and the WELL during orientation. (Photo by Anna Mayor)

Annette Strzelecki, assistant director of academic advising, said she’s seen students benefit in many ways as Health Scholars.“For example, we’ve had some students interested in research, so they were given the opportunity to interview for positions at the COPH, others were put in touch with those working it the field to serve as mentors,” she said. “We’re able to tailor what they are asking for and help get them the experiences they need to get to next step in life.”

To learn more about graduating with a BSPH as a Health Scholar, please contact the COPH’s Office of Undergraduate Studies at


Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health