“This graduating class is outstanding and I know that they are going to go forth and do great work promoting and protecting the health of people,” COPH Dean Donna Petersen said. “We are truly grateful for all that you have done and accomplished here and all that you are going to do in the future.”
On Friday, December 9, the USF College of Public Health 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 2016 graduating class.
“This is really a milestone and a huge accomplishment,” COPH Undergraduate Studies Assistant Dean Kay Perrin said. “In fact you probably don’t realize this, but only 26 percent of the adult population has an undergraduate degree.”
This semester, 134 undergraduates, 77 masters and seven doctoral students graduated and entered the public health profession.
During the undergraduate pinning ceremony, speaker Venessa Colon, manager for Moffitt Program for Outreach Wellness Education and Resources, shared lessons that she had learned throughout her career.
Her lessons included: believe when no one else does, treat clients with kindness and love, be uncomfortable and find out more about the community and clients served, and make an impact on the world.
Giving her final advice to the graduates, Colon quoted poet Shel Silverstein, “Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”
Every year the COPH Outstanding Faculty Award winner offers words of inspiration to the graduating class. This year’s speaker was Assistant Professor Jaime Corvin.
Echoing Colon’s lesson of kindness, Corvin said, “If there’s one thing that you gain from me or other faculty, I really hope that it’s the importance of kindness and compassion because to me that’s the foundation of public health. Everything that we do goes back to how we treat others. We do the work that we do because we want a better world and never before has the world needed you more than we do now. When I look at things happening in the news there are things to be hopeful for but also things to be scared of. We don’t have to be scared though because we know we have leaders like each of you that give me hope.”
Take a look at some of the graduates’ individual stories:
“A consistent challenge which I had to learn to work around is finding a good balance between coursework, research work and family life. I did not view this as a challenge that I could completely overcome, but rather something that I learned to live with and strived to improve upon every day,” doctoral alumnus Yuri Sebastião said. “What I enjoyed about this challenge was the ability to learn to be flexible, adaptable and efficient.”
Sebastião began working at the Research Institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, OH in September as a biostatistician. His responsibilities include data management, data analysis, as well as serving as consultant for design and interpretation of studies on different topics related to pediatric surgery and health outcomes.
What Sebastião loves most about his new position is being able to support and use evidence to improve pediatric health services and outcomes. He is thankful for that the knowledge and skills he learned while at the COPH.
“For me, as an international physician with little public health exposure during my clinical practice years, the College of Public Health covered all the bases in my education and training: from understanding health disparities within the United States or in a globalized world to providing tools for research, analysis, and critical thinking,” doctoral alumnus Humberto López Castillo said.
López Castillo is a postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Mental Health Law and Policy in the College of Behavioral and Community Sciences at USF. His research focuses on substance use, especially alcohol use disorders and risky sexual behaviors in adolescent sexual minority populations. He analyzes nationally representative datasets to identify risk factors driving both behaviors and will then develop behavioral interventions to prevent them.
“After my first year in Public Health I fell in love with its message and goal to save lives in the shadows. I did not realize the impact public health has on the world and I was thankful for my decision to get a degree in this field,” undergraduate alumna Doshenae White said.
White works at the New Tampa YMCA as a lead staff counselor, sports attendant and youth attendant. She plans on attending graduate school next year.
Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health
Tags: Donna Petersen, Doshenae White, Graduate, graduation, Humberto López Castillo, Jaime Corvin, Kay Perrin, Office of Undergraduate Studies, pinning ceremony, undergraduate, Venessa Colon, Yuri Sebastiao