Two MHA students awarded AUPHA Foster G. McGaw Scholarship

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Two USF College of Public Health graduate students were awarded the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) Foster G. McGaw Scholarship.

The Foster G. McGaw Scholarship provides financial support to undergraduate and graduate students in health administration. Scholarship funds are awarded each year to all AUPHA full accredited graduate. The faculty within these programs disperse these monies at their discretion to students most deserving of recognition.

The scholarship was endowed by Foster G. McGaw, founder of the American Hospital Supply Corporation. McGaw recognized the importance of health administration education and AUPHA’s contribution to the field. More than 900 scholarships have been awarded since the program was established in 1975. The 2020 scholarship recipients, Ashley Abbondandolo and Emily Zapf, are both pursuing a Master of Health Administration at the COPH and plan to graduate this May.

MHA student Ashley Abbondandolo. (Photo courtesy of Abbondandolo)
MHA student Ashley Abbondandolo. (Photo courtesy of Abbondandolo)

Abbondandolo currently serves as the vice president of the Healthcare Management Student Association (HMSA) and upon graduating she will be the administrative fellow at Memorial Healthcare System in Hollywood, Fla.

According to Abbondandolo, this award came at a time when she needed it the most and that it allowed her to complete her degree.

“This award meant so much to me. I hope to make the donors of this scholarship proud with the work I do with the funds,” she said. “At the time of this award, I was struggling to pay for bills and tuition, and this scholarship helped to put some of those worries to rest. It was one of the best feelings I have experienced in my two years in graduate school.”

She also said that it pushed her to be the best version of herself academically.

“I really feel as though I want to make the people who selected me for this scholarship proud,” Abbondandolo said. “I want them to know that they chose the right person for the award and that I appreciate it every day.”

Abbondandolo said that her ultimate goal is to be a great leader in health care. “I hope to take what I have learned at the COPH and apply it to my future career,” she said. “Leading a team that prioritizes quality healthcare and access for patients is my ultimate goal. I believe that those with less access to healthcare often face challenges that many of us are lucky to never have to encounter. I strive to improve these conditions for patients throughout my career.”

MHA student Emily Zapf (Photo Courtesy of Zapf)
MHA student Emily Zapf (Photo Courtesy of Zapf)

Zapf came to the COPH from the University of Alabama after completing her undergraduate degree in management, specializing in health care analytics, with a minor in Spanish.

She currently serves as the president of HMSA and is actively involved within the COPH.

After she graduates, Zapf will begin a two-year administrative fellowship with Sarasota Memorial Health Care System. Following this opportunity, she hopes to land a full-time position with the organization.

“I was so surprised and overjoyed! Receiving this scholarship through USF has really motivated me to finish out my graduate degree strong,” she said. “It is easy to feel burnt out at this point in the program, but this honor made me feel like my hard work has been recognized.”

Zapf said she hopes to work as a hospital administrator in the future, specializing in operations, quality improvement or finance.

Story by Caitlin Keough, USF College of Public Health

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