Dean’s Ambassador Spotlights

Parigian, Ashley

Ashley Parigian
Master of Occupational Therapy

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am from Pembroke Pines, FL. I am in my first year of UF’s Master of Occupational Therapy Program.

What attracted you to the Dean’s Ambassadors program?

I really wanted to get involved in the College of Public Health and Health Professions once I entered the Health Science program. The Dean’s Ambassadors program has given me the opportunity to pay it forward and give back to my college by helping out at events as well as serving the faculty and staff.

What is a highlight of your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador?

I enjoyed the opportunity to volunteer at the PHHP 60th Anniversary gala. It was amazing to see the evolution of the college and meet professors of the past, present and future. It was an honor to be part of this event and share my personal academic experiences with the guests.

How do you think the Dean’s Ambassadors program has helped you prepare for your career?

This program has allowed me to grow professionally and practice my networking skills. It is really rewarding to make connections with alumni and hear about how their time at UF has impacted their career. I like that this program provides students with the opportunity to represent the college and have a voice. It has been a great experience so far and I am looking forward to the growth of the Dean’s Ambassadors program.

What would you tell someone who is considering applying for the Dean’s Ambassadors program?

Just do it! I was nervous to apply, but I am so glad that I did! Working with dean’s office staff members Lauren Guidi and Kevin Jackson has been so much fun. I have learned a lot from participating in the Dean’s Ambassadors Program and I am looking forward to mentoring our new members.

What is a fun fact about you that people might be surprised to know?

I have been inside the White House! In 8th grade I went on a tour and had to go through secret service and everything, it was super cool.

Meredith Schoppe

Meredith Schoppe
Communication Sciences and Disorders bachelor’s program

What is your degree program and hometown?

My degree program is communication sciences and disorders and my minor is disabilities in society. I’m a senior and my hometown is Panama City Beach.

What are your career goals?

My career goal is to work as a speech pathologist working with children with disabilities.

What excites you the most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program?

What excites me most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program is the community it creates within the college, which is indicative of us working as professionals in the future.

What has your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador been like?

I have loved my experience so far as a DAP. I have gotten to see the behind the scenes mechanics that make our classes and research possible.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

If I didn’t sleep I would learn a foreign language and become a better cook!

Wilson, Kayleigh

Kayleigh Wilson
Master of Occupational Therapy program

What is your degree program and hometown?

Degree Program: Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)
Year: Class of 2019
Hometown: St. Pete Beach, FL

What attracted you to the Dean’s Ambassadors program?

The opportunity to become more involved in the college was what attracted me to the program at first during my junior year of undergrad. Now, as a graduate student in the college, I am still attracted to the Dean’s Ambassador program because it has given me the opportunity to represent our college and be involved in multiple events throughout the year.

What is a highlight of your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador?

The PHHP 60th anniversary gala was a highlight of my experience as a Dean’s Ambassador. Being able to attend the gala and represent the current generation of PHHP students with my fellow Dean’s Ambassadors was an experience I will never forget.

How do you think the Dean’s Ambassadors program has helped you prepare for your career?

As ambassadors, we often are interacting with distinguished members of the college as well as donors and alumni. This has helped me prepare for my future by further developing my communication and professional skills. This program has also made me realize how much goes on “behind the scenes” to make our college one of the best. This realization has taught me to always acknowledge and be grateful for the work that others are doing, even if you don’t see it being done with your own eyes.

What would you tell someone who is considering applying for the Dean’s Ambassadors program?

I would tell anyone who is considering applying for the Dean’s Ambassadors program that being an ambassador is such a unique and rewarding experience. I have learned so much about the in and outs of our college and have met so many amazing people, who work hard every day to allow us, as students, to receive an excellent education.

What are your hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of school and work?

Outside of school and work, I love to go to the beach or out on the boat and spend time with my family and friends.

Patricia Zielinski

Patricia Zielinski
Bachelor of Health Science/Master of Public Health programs

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a combined bachelor/master’s student currently finishing my Bachelor of Health Science and beginning my Master’s in Public Health. I am from Naples, Florida.

What are your career goals?

In the future, I hope to attend medical school and pursue my dream of becoming a physician. I hope this will entail working in neurology or pediatrics and focusing on neurological infectious diseases. I also hope that I’ll be able to work for a time with Doctors Without Borders.

What excites you the most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program?

I love being a Dean’s Ambassador because it allows me to reach past the boundary of just my classes. I am able to interact with students, faculty and staff from all parts of the college and it has so far been one of the most defining experiences for me in the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

What has your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador been like?

I’ve met so many great people and have been a part of a lot of fun, successful events so far!

What was the destination of your favorite vacation?

This past summer I had the opportunity to study abroad and finish my Spanish minor in Spain. I lived in San Sebastian, Spain for six weeks and it quickly became one of my favorite places in the world. Being in a small surfing town known for its food, I fell in love with just about everything and everyone there.

Kayla Croft

Kayla Croft
Communication Sciences and Disorders bachelor’s program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am an undergraduate senior in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program and am pursuing a minor in Disabilities in Society. I am from Lake City, which is about 45 minutes north of Gainesville.

What are your career goals?

My career goals include becoming a speech-language pathologist and possibly becoming certified in a specific area of practice once I decide what population I’d like to work with. As of now, I’m leaning towards becoming a pediatric speech-language pathologist and working with children with disabilities, but I’m keeping my options open to various other populations.

What excites you the most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program?

There are many exciting things about being a part of the Dean’s Ambassador Program, but meeting new people is definitely the most exciting. I love learning more about the many fields of study PHHP has to offer. Assisting in events has also allowed me to meet professors, students and potential students, which is another exciting part of being a Dean’s Ambassador.

What has your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador been like so far?

My experience being a Dean’s Ambassador has been great. I’m looking forward to assisting in other events within the college and have enjoyed networking with alumni, professors and potential students. I’m so grateful to be a part of a program that allows me to expand my social network and learn from people that come from a variety of diverse backgrounds.

What are your hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of school and work?

In my spare time, I enjoy volunteering at Tacachale, a community for adults with disabilities. I also make time for the gym, and usually finish off my night with Netflix.

Melissa DulceyMelissa Dulcey
Doctoral program in One Health

What is your degree program and hometown?

Degree program: Ph.D., One Health Class of 2020
Hometown: Reno, Nevada

What are your career goals?

In the future, I want to continue to work with zoonotic and vector-borne diseases. Specifically in the area of disease outbreak investigation and developing preventative interventions.

What attracted you to the dean’s ambassadors program?

I feel that this program is a great opportunity for me to further my involvement in my community here at the University of Florida and to give back to the institution and people that have fostered my personal and academic development.

How do you hope the dean’s ambassadors program will help you prepare for your career?

Through this program, I hope to gain a better appreciation and understanding of the effort and resources that are required to develop and provide activities and events to a large and diverse population like that of PHHP and its affiliates. I also want to continue to improve my interpersonal and communication skills at the individual and group level so that I may foster an environment of collaboration that encourages involvement, dedication and appreciation for people’s work and contributions.

What is a fun fact about you that people might be surprised to know?

I used to play roller derby.

Payton Harvey

Payton Harvey
Bachelor of Health Science program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a senior in the Bachelor of Health Science program on the Pre-Occupational Therapy track. I grew up in a small town in the Orlando area called Saint Cloud.

What are your career goals?

My career goal is to become an occupational therapist. Right now I am leaning towards working with children, but I am not closing myself off to exploring the many different opportunities that occupational therapists have to work with people all across the lifespan. I am currently in the process of applying to graduate schools and hope to complete a Doctorate of Occupational Therapy degree.

What excites you the most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program?

The thing that excites me the most about being a part of the  Dean’s Ambassador program is that I can be one of the faces for our college. It is an amazing opportunity to network with faculty and alumni while being a representative for the students in the College of Public Health and Health Professions.

What has your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador been like so far?

In the events that I have been a part of as a Dean’s Ambassador so far I already feel a stronger sense of pride and purpose being in the College of Public Health and Health Professions. It has been wonderful getting to talk to faculty and alumni who are doing fantastic things while expanding my personal knowledge about all of the various endeavors that are taking place in the college.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

If I didn’t have to sleep, I would probably use that time to learn another language. I’ve always admired people who could speak two languages. I also would use that time to visit Disney World more often while being up at school! I have a sincere love for the happiest place on earth, and I miss it dearly when I am up at school.

Naomi KellyNaomi Kelly
Communication Sciences and Disorders bachelor’s program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a junior in the undergraduate Communication Sciences and Disorders program and I am pursing minors in Disabilities in Society and Educational Studies. I am from West Palm Beach, Florida.

What are your career goals?

After I complete my undergraduate degree I would like to go on to graduate school for speech-language pathology. My goal is to become a pediatric speech pathologist and work with children with diverse abilities. I am especially interested in the impacts of hearing loss on speech development and communication development in children with autism.

What excites you the most about being part of the Dean’s Ambassador program?

I love getting to work with other students from diverse backgrounds and fields of study. It is so exciting to assist in the execution of College of Public Health and Health Professions events and form connections with alumni, faculty, staff and students within the college.

What has your experience as a Dean’s Ambassador been like so far?

I have enjoyed my time as a Dean’s Ambassador and I appreciate all the unique opportunities available to me through the program. I anticipate this program will provide me with valuable experiences and networking opportunities to help me as a student and future speech pathologist.

What was the destination of your favorite vacation?

This summer I went to Israel, and I had an amazing time! I loved hearing different languages and experiencing the culture. Israel is such a beautiful county and I hope to visit again soon!

Kovacs, JordanJordan Kovacs
Bachelor of Health Science program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am currently a junior undergraduate majoring in Health Science. I am from Jupiter, Florida.

What are your career goals?

My career goal includes becoming a pediatric dermatologist. This goal is personal to me; I used to have severe cystic acne throughout high school. The dermatologist I saw helped me with this issue over the years until it was completely gone and my skin was healed. I enjoyed the progress I was seeing in my skin and the confidence I was gaining. Overall, this experience has inspired me to become a dermatologist to make others feel comfortable in their skin.

What attracted you to the dean’s ambassadors program?

The thing that attracted me the most to the Dean’s Ambassador program was the fact that it is comprised of other students in public health and health professions fields, working together by volunteering and supporting PHHP events. Also, one of the potential duties of the program includes organizing and implementing events which I have always enjoyed doing.

How do you hope the dean’s ambassadors program will help you prepare for your career?

I hope this program will allow me to create professional connections with other students, faculty and staff. Also, I hope it will allow me to strengthen my interpersonal and teamwork skills.

What is a fun fact about you that people would be surprised to know?

I actually find a hair in my food almost every time I go out to eat. Unfortunately, the hairs are never mine. I have really good eyesight and can always spot a hair in my plate.

Emily PrinsEmily Prins
Bachelor of Health Science program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a senior in the Bachelor of Health Science Program on the Pre-Occupational Therapy track. In the Spring of 2017, I received my Certificate in Arts in Healthcare, additionally I am currently in the Bachelor of Health Science Honors Program and in the International Scholar’s Program. I was born and raised in Gainesville, Florida!

What are your career goals?

My career goals include becoming an occupational therapist, possibly pursing a Ph.D, and traveling around the country or world to provide occupational therapy services to underserved populations.

What attracted you to the dean’s ambassadors program?

The opportunity to participate in events not many other students get to partake in. I’m so excited to have the chance to meet alumni, visitors and families and welcome them to our college through tours and events this year.

How do you hope the dean’s ambassadors program will help you prepare for your career?

By participating in the Dean’s Ambassador Program I hope to gain valuable skills in networking and communication. As an occupational therapist it is important to possess strong communication skills so I hope to sharpen my skills this year through working with other ambassadors, the dean’s office staff and all who attend PHHP events.

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?

If I didn’t have to sleep, I think I would bake more sweet treats and do more art projects with my extra time. I love to cook, especially cookies and cakes, and I also love to paint/complete DIY projects. Having extra time to do both of these activities would make me even more happy!

Emma Hicks

Emma Hicks
Communication Sciences and Disorders bachelor’s program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a senior undergraduate student in the Communication Sciences and Disorders program and am pursuing a minor in Disabilities in Society. I am from a small town in Central Florida called Lake Wales.

What are your career goals?

I aspire to become a speech-language pathologist and would enjoy working with patients who have had a stroke, people who have been in car accidents or individuals who have experienced traumatic brain injuries.

What attracted you to the dean’s ambassadors program?

The Dean’s Ambassador Program seems like a great way to build relationships with the faculty and students among the College of Public Health and Health Professions! I knew that bridging the gap between the various majors of PHHP would be a joy to be apart of. The better we understand one another, the more we can expand our knowledge and gain deeper insights.

How do you hope the dean’s ambassadors program will help you prepare for your career?

I believe this program will be a strong stepping-stone, equipping me with the tools and experience I need in order to make a difference in my future career goals. It will allow me to gain professional insight, networking skills, new friends and a deeper understanding of our college as a whole. These opportunities will allow me to grow as an individual as well as a future SLP!

What are your hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of school and work?

In my spare time I enjoy practicing my ukulele, swimming, playing board games and making new friends. I also love being involved in my local church as well as traveling to different parts of the world!

Samari Blair

Samari Blair
Master of Public Health program

What is your degree program and hometown?

I am a second year student in the Master of Public Health program with a concentration in Social and Behavioral Sciences. I am from Fort Lauderdale.

What are your career goals?

My hope is to become a primary care pediatrician and use my MPH degree to conduct community outreach to reduce the impact of health disparities.

What attracted you to the dean’s ambassadors program?

The College of Public Health and Health Professions has provided me with so many opportunities to advance my career and help me grow personally and I thought the program would be the perfect opportunity to give back.

How do you hope the dean’s ambassadors program will help you prepare for your career?

Having the opportunity to network with not only current UF faculty and staff, but also notable UF alumni and donors, will have a great impact on my career as a future physician and public health professional. I also hope to cultivate meaningful relationships with the rest of the dean’s ambassadors, dean’s office staff and Dean Perri that will last a lifetime.

What are your hobbies or activities you enjoy outside of school and work?

I love watching stand-up comedy shows, trying new restaurants I found on Yelp, dancing, reading my Bible and other inspirational books, and going to the gym.