Medi-Gators Mentorship Program connects students with UF faculty

By Anne Riker Garlington

The University of Florida Medi-Gators Mentorship Program serves as a bridge connecting undergraduate and health professions students with UF faculty and area health care professionals who share similar backgrounds and interests.

Two College of Public Health and Health Professions faculty members, Sharon DiFino, Ph.D., and Yan Wang, Ph.D., are among the Medi-Gators mentors who are providing guidance, fostering insight, encouraging growth and empowering student participants with a goal of building a more successful and equitable health career pipeline.

Each mentorship group consists of one mentor, one to two health professional students and two to four undergraduate students.

DiFino and Wang share their experiences and discuss the benefits of the program.

Dr. Sharon DiFino
Dr. Sharon DiFino

Sharon DiFino, Ph.D., CCD-SLP, a clinical assistant professor in the department of speech, language, and hearing sciences, and director of the bilingual language access and outcomes lab

What has been your experience as a Medi-Gator mentor?

I am currently mentoring two students; one is pre-med and the other wants to become a speech pathologist. The experience is a positive opportunity to give the students individual attention and guidance, as well as get to know them on a personal level.

What are the benefits of the program?

In addition to helping guide the students, it is a chance to show what a wonderful field speech-language pathology is and how rich the opportunities are to go into so many different directions and settings.

The students have such passion, drive and curiosity for learning, which is the motivating or driving force that gets me up and out the door every day.

head shot of Yan Wang
Dr. Yan Wang

Yan Wang, Ph.D., M.S., assistant professor in the department of epidemiology, and director, digital epidemiology

What has been your experience as a Medi-Gator mentor?

I am currently mentoring three students, two undergraduates and one post-bac. My experiences so far have been quite positive. Most of the students I have interacted with in the program are very motivated and many are interested in research.

What are the benefits of the program?

This is a great opportunity for those of us who are committed to nurture our next generation of health professionals or researchers.

I have student mentees from the program who ended up working as research volunteers or as a part-time research coordinator on my current National Institutes of Health projects, which helps me build a bigger team. To the students, they gain research experiences and skills from trainings they received from myself and more.

Learn how you can get involved in Medi-Gators as a mentor or student.