The College of Public Health and Health Professions celebrated spring graduates at a recognition ceremony held Sunday, May 5 at the Stephen C. O’Connell Center. The college ceremony was an opportunity to individually recognize the more than 500 PHHP students who graduated in universitywide ceremonies during the weekend.
The college honored two faculty members as PHHP’s 2018-2019 Doctoral Mentors of the Year: Deidre B. Pereira, Ph.D., and Catherine W. Striley, Ph.D. George J. Hagerty, Ed.D., served as the ceremony’s distinguished speaker. He is president of Beacon College in Leesburg, Florida, the first accredited college offering four-year degrees designed around the needs of students with diagnosed learning disabilities. At Beacon College, Hagerty is working with a wide range of pioneering faculty and administrators — and with the students themselves — on a variety of living and learning initiatives embracing curricular, co-curricular and extracurricular programs, as well as integrating a robust four-year career development and entrepreneurship track. He previously served as president of Franklin Pierce University in New Hampshire, and as provost and professor at Hellenic American University in Athens, Greece.
Pereira is an associate professor in the department of clinical and health psychology and director of the Psycho-Oncology Clinical Service. A member of the faculty since 2003, she has served on more than 46 doctoral committees and 55 master’s student supervisory committees.
“Her students have described her mentorship as compassionate, relatable and inspirational,” said Michael G. Perri, Ph.D., dean of the college. “She has inspired her students to be strong scientist-practitioners, grounded in cutting-edge science coupled with compassion and integrity, with the ultimate goal of changing the face of cancer.”
Striley is an associate professor in the department of epidemiology and director of the Master of Science in Epidemiology program and the Certificate in Psychiatric Epidemiology. She joined UF in 2011 and has served on more than 30 UF doctoral and master’s committees.
“Dr. Striley is an invaluable member of the Gator Nation — someone who makes a difference in the Gainesville community, in the classroom and in the lives of those she mentors,” Perri said.
Patel, a bachelor’s in health science student, completed an honor thesis under the direction of physical therapy associate professor Andrew Judge, Ph.D., on interleukin 8, a substance released by tumors. Using a mouse model, Patel’s research showed that interleukin 8 may contribute to weight loss and muscle atrophy in people with cancer. He graduated summa cum laude from UF this spring with a 3.98 GPA.Two students, undergraduate student Rohan Patel and graduate student Deirdre O’Shea, were recognized as Dean’s Scholar award winners. The awards are supported by a gift from Bruce Cuthbert, Ph.D., director of the National Institute of Mental Health’s Research Domain Criteria unit.
O’Shea, a doctoral student in clinical psychology, has focused her clinical and research work on aging, particularly the identification and prevention of early cognitive decline. She is a graduate research assistant in the labs of Glenn Smith, Ph.D., chair of the department of clinical and health psychology, and Ronald Cohen, Ph.D., a professor in the department. She has already published 25 articles and two book chapters, including 11 as first author.
“As you join the ranks of hundreds of thousands of University of Florida alumni in the Gator Nation, I hope that you will not forget the profound lessons you learned during your time in classrooms, clinics and laboratories of the College of Public Health and Health Professions,” Perri told graduates. “Our faculty and staff join me in celebrating your achievements, and we wish you the very best for a bright future, a future filled with accomplishments that honor your families, your alma mater and society.”