#GraduationGoals: Three COPH BSPH graduates earn a perfect 4.0 GPA

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Three USF College of Public Health (COPH) undergraduates receiving their bachelor degrees in public health (BSPH) were given the distinction of graduating as a King O’Neal Scholar. This is an honor given by the USF Alumni Association to students who finished their undergraduate careers with a perfect 4.0, the highest grade point average (GPA) attainable. This year’s recipients are:

Ved Patel

Patel is an aspiring health care administrator, a career choice that stems from an interest in insufficient health care services and health disparities around the world.

“Health is a basic human right, and I want to work toward providing health care for everyone, regardless of socioeconomic backgrounds,” said Patel, who will be pursuing his MBA in health care management at USF. Patel also plans to work full time, “to gain real-life experience while expanding my knowledge.” 

How does he feel about graduating with a 4.0?

“This isn’t about brains,” he said. “It’s about hard work. When I was in high school, many people doubted me because of my low levels of motivation and dedication. I used that negative energy to push myself forward. But you have to crave success. If you don’t have your priorities straight from the beginning, your motivation won’t be consistent.”

Patel receives his King O’Neal Scholar award from USF System President Judy Genshaft (left) and Merritt Martin, USF Alumni Association chair. (Photo courtesy of USF Health)

Kaelan Skinner

Skinner entered USF searching for a major, one that would put her in a “happy career for the rest of my life,” she said. Her grandfather turned her on to public health, and the rest is history.

“I’m really drawn to public health’s versatility. There are so many different aspects to choose from, but no matter what side you end up going into, you’re still able to help people,” said Skinner, who hopes to get a job at the Crisis Center of Tampa Bay.

 Her advice for others seeking a King O’Neal award? “You are a student, and your school work is your priority,” she said. “Find a major that you like but that also fits you well. And start doing your work as soon as it’s assigned. Procrastination is easy, but it places extreme stress on you.”

“After a couple of years and some work experience under my belt,” Skinner said, “I’d like to go back and get my master’s in public health, or perhaps get a dual degree in public health and social work.” (Photo courtesy of Skinner)

Jessica Zelitt

Zelitt started out as a physics major, then quickly abandoned that idea. She researched various majors and finally settled on public health.

“I love public health because it allows me to learn about making a difference in people’s lives on a larger scale than other health professions,” she said.

Zelitt will be attending Stetson Law School in the fall, with the hopes of ultimately working in health policy. She says she owes her 4.0 GPA to planning and structure.

“Stay organized,” she advised. “It will take you far! I am proud to represent the COPH with this King O’Neal Scholar award and to share my success with the rest of the university.”

“I believe that through health policy, so many changes can be made, impacting so many people,” commented Zelitt.  (Photo courtesy of Zelitt)

Story by Donna Campisano, USF College of Public Health