Thometta Cozart honored with USF COPH Outstanding Alumni Award

| Academic & Student Affairs, Featured News, Monday Letter, Our Alumni, Public Health Practice

“I love the collaborative nature of our profession. Using a systems approaches has allowed me to work in conjunction with colleagues in criminal justice, food insecurity, urban planning, housing, etc. that has taught me so much while also allowing me to advocate for optimal health for all,” said USF College of Public Health (COPH) alumna Thometta Cozart.

Cozart was first introduced to the field of public health through the health and human services tract at Kent Meridian High School in Kent, Wash.

“I wanted to major in nursing in college but soon determined that the clinical path was not for me. I still wanted to work with the public, so I majored in public relations and communications at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Fla.,” Cozart said. “While pursuing a master’s in journalism and public relations at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, I was offered a public information officer position at the Florida Department of Health (FDOH), which helped me merge my interest in health with my communications background.”

While working at the FDOH, Cozart met Dr. Deanna Wathington, executive dean of the Petrock College of Health Sciences and the dean of the School of Graduate Studies at Bethune-Cookman University, and former associate dean for the Office of Academic and Student Affairs and director of the Public Health Practice Program at the COPH.

“Dr. Deanna Wathington strongly suggested that I return to school and obtain my MPH. So, after working at the health department for six years, I utilized the state employee benefit to attend courses at state institutions and started taking COPH courses without course credit,” Cozart said. “I opted to enroll in the COPH Public Health Practice program once I realized it catered to public health employees.”

Thometta Y. Cozart, MS, MPH, CPH, CHES, ABD (Photo courtesy of Cozart)
Thometta Y. Cozart, MS, MPH, CPH, CHES, ABD (Photo courtesy of Cozart)

While working full-time and pursuing her MPH was challenging at times, Cozart said that her work experience helped her make quicker connections to the public health competencies and she is thankful for the numerous opportunities to work in community health and with USF Health’s interdisciplinary teams.

“I am also grateful that our comprehensive exams were the CPH exam,” she said. “Being certified has helped me to increase my salary and be eligble for certain positions.”

Currently, Cozart is an assistant professor of public health and health equity at Bethune-Cookman University teaching behavioral and cultural foundations of public health, coordinating practicum experiences and guides capstone projects. She also consults with the Epilepsy Foundation to address epilepsy disparities among multicultural communities.

“It’s a dream come true to have helped my undergraduate alum mater establish a MPH program so I am honored to teach fellow Wildcats!” Cozart said. “After having a student have a seizure in my class and not knowing what to do to help her, I was determined to learn more about epilepsy and seizures. Now, I encourage everyone, especially educators, to become certified in seizure first aid.”

In this position, Cozart also loves connecting individuals with opportunities to enhance their lives, regardless if its students who need internships and professional development or individuals living with epilepsy who are seeking culturally competenct services.

In the future Cozart is considering seeking a federal position as a public health analyst and establishing a nonprofit to address unmet social and health needs at the community level.

Alumni Fast Five

What did you dream of becoming when you were young?

A nurse.

Where would we find you on the weekend?

Working or video chatting with friends on my balcony, watching the boats go up and down the Intracoastal Waterway.

What is the last book you read?

Becoming by Michelle Obama.

What superpower would you like to have?

Psychokinesis or telekinesis.

What’s your all-time favorite movie?


Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health