ASPPH logo


School & Program Updates

School & Program Updates

South Florida Class of 2017 Leaves with the Power to Be the Change the World Needs

“Your smiles have a different quality today. When you arrived the first day it’s a smile of extreme anxiety, but now your smile is one of confidence, optimism, and hope of the great futures you will all have wherever your career paths take you,” USF College of Public Health Dean Donna Petersen said. “You all are infused with passion, knowledge, and skill sets that will help you take care of people wherever you find yourself. You will be called upon to lead.”

On Friday, May 5, 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 spring 2017 graduating class.

New alumni Cauchavius Watts, MHA, MPH; Patricia Tomasini, MPH; Melanie Marshall, MPH; Shabnam Mehra, PhD; Oluyemisi Amoda, MHA, MPH; Vanessa Tate, MPH; Tolulope Bello, MPH (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

New alumni Mr. Cauchavius Watts, MHA, MPH; Ms. Patricia Tomasini, MPH; Ms. Melanie Marshall, MPH; Dr. Shabnam Mehra, PhD; Ms. Oluyemisi Amoda, MHA, MPH; Ms. Vanessa Tate, MPH; Tolulope Bello, MPH (Photo by Ms. Caitlin Keough).

Dr. Kay Perrin, interim associate dean for the Office of Academic and Student Affairs and assistant dean of undergraduate studies, echoed Dean Petersen’s sentiments and added that the students should be so proud of their accomplishments; only 26 percent of the U.S. population have an undergraduate degree.

This semester, 135 undergraduates, 101 masters and 10 doctoral students graduated and entered the public health profession.

Students from the Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony showing off their Bull pride (Photo by Caitlin Keough).

Students from the Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony showing off their Bull pride (Photo by Ms. Caitlin Keough).

“What is public health? It’s treating others how you want to be treated, it’s realizing that there are things going on more important than ourselves, and it’s a call to action. You leave this school with the power to change, to be the change the world needs. It’s not something that comes easy but it’s something that will be worth it,” said Mr. William L. Burnap, senior account executive at Ambulatory Ability Network.

Mr. Burnap graduated from the COPH nine months ago with his BSPH. As the Undergraduate Pinning Ceremony’s keynote speaker, he urged students to continue their momentum that they’ve been building while in school and go out into the world and make a difference.

“It is up to each and every individual in this room to go out and ask the hard questions that people need to hear,” Mr. Burnap said. “To stand up for something that you believe in and to be the change we so desperately need. The time is now to stand up for something you believe in and to slowly take the country back to a place of equality, acceptance, and diversity.”

COPH MPH graduate Vanessa Tate decorated her graduation cap (Photo by Natalie Preston).

COPH MPH graduate Ms. Vanessa Tate decorated her graduation cap (Photo by Ms. Natalie Preston).

Every year the COPH Excellence in Teaching Award winner offers words of inspiration to the graduating class. This year’s speaker was Dr. Dinorah Tyson Martinez, assistant professor in the department of community and family health.

Leaving the students with this final advice Mr. Tyson Martinez said, “In our work we must listen, we must listen to understand even if we disagree. Our community and academic partnerships depend on it and we cannot do it alone. Know that it may not always be about how much or what you say, but how you say it and how that will make a person feel. That can make a world of difference.”

Class of 2017 leaves the COPH with the power to be the change the world needs