Believe in Bulls A collection of captivating and inspiring profiles from the University of South Florida's 2018 Spring Graduating Class

Peter Kivuva

Bachelor's in Finance

For Peter Kivuva, education has been the foundation of his values and the catalyst that has changed his life. As a first-generation university graduate, Kivuva has sought out experiences and opportunities that have helped broaden his outlook and shape his future. Last year, he worked as a finance and accounting intern at the International Transport Workers Federation in London and took a job as a seasonal au pair in Madrid, teaching English to three young children. He currently serves as the assistant dean of pledge education for Delta Sigma Pi and is the alumni ambassador for the USF Education Abroad/American Institute for Foreign Study. In 2015, Kivuva was the recipient of the Accountancy Achievement Award and in 2016, he was named a Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholar. This year, he was named to the USF Muma College of Business 25 Under 25 roster. After graduation, Kivuva will move to New York City for his dream job with Goldman Sachs.

Meredith Bissette

Bachelor's in Health Sciences

When Meredith Bissette was first diagnosed with cancer her sophomore year of college, the USF softball player knew she was in for a fight. Chordoma is a rare form of bone cancer that affects approximately one out of every one million people per year. Doctors found the baseball-sized tumor during her second season as a Bull and began treatment almost immediately. Now, more than two years, several surgeries and many chemotherapy treatments later, Bissette is cancer-free and getting ready to graduate alongside the same friends and teammates who supported her during her battle. She plans to continue her education and work toward becoming a physician assistant – helping those facing battles of their own.

John Voelpel

PhD in Philosophy

“We must always question the larger world of which we are a part and that sustains us. As moral agents of that world, we have a responsibility to ask questions and seek answers and I believe USF is an amazing place to do that.”

At 81-years-old, John Voelpel is the oldest graduate walking across the commencement stage this semester. Voelpel spent a career practicing environmental law before returning to graduate school at USF in 2003. As an attorney, he represented a variety of clients throughout his nearly 30 years in the industry, sometimes fighting against environmental regulations – something he says he regrets. So, working under the guidance of USF Professor Martin Schönfeld, PhD, Voelpel hopes to even the present scales and now be part of the solution through research, writing and education. And while it’s taken him longer than average to finish his PhD, he says it was a challenge he knew he had to complete.

Abby Pribish

Doctor of Medicine

“At USF, I have always felt supported and empowered by incredible educators and mentors. I am grateful to have found a medical school that encourages its students to develop and meaningfully explore their interests, and to become well-rounded clinicians and leaders.”

Throughout her time at USF Health Morsani College of Medicine, Abby Pribish has tirelessly worked to make a positive impact on the local community. As an avid volunteer and former co-president of USF’s Tampa Bay Street Medicine, Pribish spent countless hours providing free medical care to underserved populations across the city. Pribish is also the first Morsani College of Medicine student to receive acceptance into the three prestigious medical honor societies – Alpha Omega Alpha, Gold Humanism and the Morsani College of Medicine's Robert A. Good. She recently accepted an internal medicine residency position at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center at Harvard Medical School in Boston, where she plans to explore her interests in health equity and addiction medicine.

Prin Ocea

Bachelor's in Women's and Gender Studies

As a student activist and GLAAD Campus Ambassador, Prin Ocea is passionate about empowering leadership and emotional wellness for LGBTQ+ youth and creating programs for LGBTQ+ people to find community and support. Ocea identifies as a queer genderqueer person and has struggled with mental illness most of their life, even taking time away from USF to focus on their mental health. Because of their personal experience and struggle with mental illness, Ocea returned to USF dedicated to helping other LGBTQ+ people, especially youth, find love and power in themselves so they have the strength to achieve their full potential. Ocea has worked across campus and throughout the local community developing student organizations and programs aimed at helping the LGBTQ+ community. Ocea plans to take a year-off from school to work for a local non-profit creating empowering LGBTQ+ youth programming, then go on to get a master’s degree in social work.

*As a queer genderqueer individual, Ocea uses the pronouns they/them.

Mayah Knight

Bachelor's in Nursing

“USF fueled the passion I have for other cultures and the beauty I see in our differences. It gave me more than just an academic experience but a learning opportunity about students of various backgrounds and how I can leave my mark on the world.”

One of the first things Mayah Knight noticed about USF was the diversity of its student body. Wanting to make a lasting impact on the world, Knight knew the immeasurable value the blend of opinions and experiences would bring to her undergraduate studies and her future success. As a student leader, she served as a resident assistant in Poplar Hall, a Global Citizens Project student leader, president of the USF Fellowship of Christian Athletes and is a proud member of the Zeta Upsilon chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha. Currently, Knight is an RN student intern at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital where she hopes to work as a pediatric nurse upon graduation. She plans to continue her education and obtain a doctor of nursing practice degree, with a hope to one day open a clinic in a minority-based community to provide health care and patient education.

Matthew Willman – Jonathan Willman

Bachelor's in Biomedical Sciences

"The extensive academic and research opportunities provided by USF have really given us the tools to pursue our dreams. It's been the perfect university for us."

Born just minutes apart, Jonathan and Matthew Willman have grown up doing just about everything together. In fact, when they came to USF as transfer students, they decided to work toward majors and minors in the exact same subjects – taking every one of their classes together. As undergraduates, they were both able to get coveted student-research positions in Dr. Kevin Nash’s lab at the Byrd Alzheimer’s Institute studying neuro-degenerative diseases. While it may seem unusual for them to spend that much time together, the brothers say it’s actually made them more successful. They’ve always had a study partner, support system and when one misses a class, the other can fill them in later. Now, the Willmans graduate from USF’s Honors College as King O’Neal Scholars with perfect 4.0 GPA’s. They plan to continue working in the lab and hope to attend medical school together, although they say it already looks like they’ll pursue different specialties.

Juan Pablo Sanchez

Bachelor's in Public Health

Born in Medellin, Colombia, Juan Pablo Sanchez is a first-generation college graduate. The proud son of immigrant parents, who worked labor-intensive and low-paying jobs, Sanchez is motivated to end the cycle of poverty in his family through his pursuit of higher education. As an undergraduate student, Sanchez was actively involved in the USF community, serving as a student government senator, participating in various Latino and public health student organizations and representing USF during a congressional internship in Washington D.C. As a Bill and Melinda Gates Millennium Scholarship recipient, Sanchez plans to continue his education at USF and work toward fulfilling his dream of becoming a public health practitioner and physician.

Olivia Davis

Bachelor's in Business Management

Olivia Davis draws on a motivation that goes back a long way – back to when she was an infant. “I can’t wait to watch you grow and learn,” her mother wrote in Davis’ baby book. Her mom, who raised her with a vision of a bright future and successful career, passed away when Davis was just 10 years old, but that only added to the importance of the sentiment. She continues to strive to make her mother proud and live the best life she can in the classroom and in her career. Davis has served as vice president of operations at USF’s Kappa Delta sorority and has maintained an active membership in the College Republicans and Women in Business Society. She has interned both locally and in Washington, D.C., and for the past three years, has worked as a graphic design and online marketing intern for the USF College of The Arts. Davis was also recently named to the USF Muma College of Business 25 Under 25 roster. Her immediate future after graduation is set as she has accepted a job as operations analyst for The Depository Trust and Clearing Corporation.

Richard Trevisani

Doctor of Pharmacy

As an individual with autism, Richard Trevisani overcame many hurdles on his road to becoming a pharmacist. Issues like depression, disillusionment, long periods of unemployment, difficulty communicating and interacting with others and with peer-to-peer interactions were significant barriers he faced. But with hard work, perseverance, a strong family network and understanding preceptors, Trevisani now looks at the word "autism" and smiles. While many challenges still exist, he now has the foresight and the platform to overcome them. About one percent of the world’s population has autism spectrum disorder and Trevisani hopes his achievements will help redefine what that diagnosis means.

Yoana Dominguez

Bachelor's in Public Health & Bachelor's in Women's and Gender Studies

“It hasn't been easy to accept who I am, but I'm happy that my experiences in college have given me the courage and the voice to be my authentic self and to stand up for myself."

Yoana Dominguez began at USF believing she already knew everything about herself. But, for as much as she’s grown academically these last four years, she says it’s her personal growth that’s been the most impactful. During her junior year, Dominguez came out as bisexual and queer to her friends, mother and sister – finally accepting herself for who she really is. Dominguez is finishing college as the president of Iota Iota Iota, the National Honor Society for Women’s and Gender Studies, and as a REACH Peer Health Educator with USF’s Center for Student Well-Being, using some of the lessons she’s learned to help others.

Lindsey Shelton

PhD in Medical Sciences

Lindsey Shelton came to USF looking to gain experience in biomedical research after her undergraduate training in psychology. She started her PhD program in Fall 2014 focusing on Alzheimer’s disease research under the close guidance of her mentor, USF Health neuroscientist Chad Dickey, PhD, who tragically passed away just over a year ago. Still, Shelton was able to carry on the work they started together, publishing their research in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences last year. During her time at USF she has also had the privilege of presenting her research at international meetings and most recently was invited to give a talk at the Society for Neuroscience conference. Additionally, Shelton was selected to participate in the NIH Clinical Center’s Clinical and Translational Research Course for PhD students last summer, which has helped her work towards her long-term goal of clinical research.

Produced by University Communications & Marketing and USF Health Communications. Additional materials provided by USF Athletics, Honors College, USF Health and Muma College of Business.

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