Posted on Sep 23, 2021

Tampa Police Department honors Dr. Susan Perry for her dedication to the community

Tampa Police Department honors Dr. Susan Perry for her dedication to the community

On behalf of the Tampa Police Department and Acting Chief Ruben Deglado, Assistant Chief Lee Bercaw presented Dr. Susan Perry the Outstanding Community Service Award for her efforts with the Resources in Community Hope (RICH) Houses and the Tampa Bay community on September 23, 2021.

Perry retired in August 2021 from the USF Health College of Nursing as a senior associate dean. During her tenure at the college, she initiated the Peds to Succeed Improving Health Outcomes for At Risk Communities program in 2018.

Dr. Perry accepting her award

Dr. Perry, Outstanding Community Service Award

“The vision came simply from riding around the Tampa area with the police department one night and seeing the things that we’re going on and realizing what our nursing students could learn from the community engagement,” said Perry.

From there, the program was started as a three-year partnership between the college and the City of Tampa Police Department in 2018. It was funded by Leaders in Care, a foundational campaign that provides grant funding for faculty-led community projects through donations from nursing alumni and donors. The program was originally set to conclude at the end of 2021, the final year of the grant. However, it has now been incorporated into two concurrent undergraduate pediatric and community health courses and will continue.

College of Nursing Dean Usha Menon said, “In the three years I have known Susan, I have been so impressed and inspired by her dedication to community service. She has been critical in the development of our partnership with the Tampa Police Department and the success of the Peds to Succeed program.”

The goal of the partnership is to help train pediatric nursing students in a community setting while also providing wellness education programs to underserved neighborhoods through TPD’s RICH Houses. The RICH Houses, located in Sulphur Springs and Robles Park, are considered a haven for at-risk children. Through those locations, officers offer free educational and social enrichment activities to children living in high-crime, impoverished neighborhoods.

In 2019, the Peds to Succeed program was officially integrated into the RICH Houses. Since then, our Trailblazer nurses have presented more than 15 health and wellness education topics to the children each year through weekly visits, focusing on a new topic each visit. The education highlights crucial subjects like stranger danger, sex ed and more recently, the importance of self-care during COVID-19. Since the start of the program, approximately 60 children have participated.

“My hope was that those children would see the value that nurses bring to the community and they would go into the profession as well,” said Perry.

Since Perry’s retirement, Dr. Ann Joyce took over as the Principal Investigator and will continue to oversee the program in the semesters to come.

“My favorite part of the program is the symbiotic learning,” said Joyce. “The RICH House kids thought they were learning from the nursing students. The nursing students thought they were learning from the faculty, but it was really interdependent education and learning.”

Perry says she felt working with the children and TPD was a calling. Looking back now, she said, “I am glad the College of Nursing supported me and our team in being able to do this and bring this experience to our nursing students and the community.”

Moving forward, Perry says she hopes her legacy will live on through the Peds to Succeed program.


Story by Cassidy Delamarter, College of Nursing