Each year the University of South Florida student affairs office recognizes twenty undergraduate and graduate students who exemplify the “spirit of USF.”
The Golden Bull Awards are presented during the spring semester to students with a minimum GPA of 3.0 and who have demonstrated leadership experience both on campus and off.
This year’s program held April 17 included four College of Public Health students.
“Being selected as a 2018 Golden Bull recipient has been a highlight of my time here at USF,” said undergraduate student Lauren George. “This award helped confirm that the path I took throughout my undergraduate career and all of the endeavors were worth it. I kept my goals in mind as I discovered my passion for public health, travel, and new experiences. I was involved on campus in organizations that I care about. Focusing on my passions and my individual journey is what got me to where I am right now, and earning this award makes me grateful for all of the opportunities that USF has given me.”
George took on leadership roles through USF Relay for Life and also founded the Lambda Zeta chapter of Sigma Kappa while at USF.
She earned her BSPH in public health from the COPH, with a minor in Spanish. After graduation she will be pursuing her master of public health degree at Brown University.
She said her public health passion is global health.
“I am passionate about this field because I believe that every single person deserves access to good health care,” she said. “Health equals happiness and happiness is a right that everybody has. I am an advocate in this field as I am working toward becoming a public health professional. I am very connected to developing countries and the health systems that exist in different places around the world. I hope to work both nationally and abroad through organizations that strive to create changes such as lowering health disparities, improving health equity, and sustainable development.”
Dr. Marlene Joannie Bewa said she dedicates this award to all those from her home country of Benin Republic, Africa and in the U.S. who are working toward improving health and equality in their communities.
“This award means service, resilience, humility, achievement and gratitude, but most importantly a bridge between Benin Republic and the U.S.,” she said. “During my time at USF, I was exposed to research, leadership, and service. COPH and its outstanding faculty provided me with experience to shape my skills previously acquired during my training and career in Benin Republic. I was able to push all boundaries, work boldly toward success and academic achievement through research, pursuit of knowledge and critical thinking skills.”
In addition to earning research awards and discussing women’s health during an International Women’s Day event with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada, Bewa also served as president of the Public Health Student Association, research chair of the Maternal and Child Health Student Organization (MCHSO) and a member of the group WISE – Women Ignite Student Engagement, a campus wide advisory council under the leadership of the Women in Leadership and Philanthropy (WLP), founded by USF President Judy Genshaft. She’s also a Fulbright student and ambassador.
“COPH is a place where I was able to continue my commitment to respect, integrity, and civility,” she said. “The USF COPH is one of the best places to be to learn, to earn and return.”
Bewa, who has an interest in adolescent and youth sexual reproductive health and holds a medical degree, graduated with her MPH in community and family health this spring.
“Earning this award means that I have succeeded in my growth,” said undergraduate Fabiana Echevarria Quinones. “When I first came to USF I didn’t see myself as a leader, but by working with the Center for Leadership and Civic Engagement, I have been able to foster confidence in my ability to lead the change instead of waiting for it to happen.”
Echevarria Quinones earned her BSPH this spring. After graduation, she said she hopes to gain public health experience in the field by serving underserved populations and then apply to graduate school.
Her public health passion is addressing how the determinants of health affect populations disproportionately.
“I want to be able to see first-hand how my community needs me beyond volunteer service and how my skills will best allow me to empower them,” she said. “My hope is that health disparities can be diminished by working with the root cause.”
Dr. Kamal Patel is earning his MSPH degree in occupational medicine from the COPH.
“This award helps acknowledge all the hard work by my peers and advisors in the COPH and especially the occupational medicine residency,” he said. “I don’t think I would have been able to win this award without the help and insight from my colleagues.”
Patel, who attended medical school at George Washington University and is currently a third year chief resident at the USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, said in the future he plans to pursue a fellowship in interventional pain.
“I have always had a desire to pursue international healthcare in developing countries,” he said. “I look forward to using what I have learned at USF and bridge the healthcare disparity around the world.”
To learn more about applying for the Golden Bull Awards or to see the full list of winners, visit the student affairs website.
Story by Anna Mayor, USF College of Public Health