Posted on Feb 12, 2022

Black History Month: Dr. Maria Russ, alumni spotlight

Black History Month: Dr. Maria Russ, alumni spotlight

“Black history isn’t just about all the bad times we’ve been through. It’s about integrity, leadership and determination.”

Dr. Maria Russ is a three-time aluma of the USF Health College of Nursing, earning her BSN in 1991, her MSN in 1996 and her PhD in 2001. When beginning her PhD in 1998, Russ was the first African American student in program.

For Russ, black history month is a time to reflect on the dedication of African American nurses that paved the way for her achievements to be possible.

“It’s a time of rejoicing, celebrating and thanking those African Americans for giving us hope or a life lesson that could be used.” Russ says she strives to continue that legacy.

Throughout her career, Russ has led a life of caring for others and giving back.

Her career began in 1991, when she started as a pediatric nurse. A few years later, she became a school nurse and eventually, a pediatric nurse practitioner. It was around this time that she first started teaching. She was an adjunct at USF when she was recruited by multiple other schools, including St. Petersburg Junior College, Florida A&M University and Florida Southern College.

Now she is the supervisor of school health services for Hillsborough County Public Schools, the third largest district in Florida and seventh largest in the nation. She still practices as a nurse practitioner and teaches as a visiting professor for Chamberlain University.

Above all, Russ says her biggest accomplishment is helping her students graduate, pass their licensure exams and ultimately, give back to their communities.

When asked what she wants to share with her students, she asked them to also continue the legacy.

“Continue to advocate for your patients and give more to your community than you receive.”

Story by Cassidy Delamarter