Success Stories

Name: Randy Ceballos.
Where you're from: Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2015.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: Alabama College of Osteopathic Medicine.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: My best advice would be to not give up on your dreams. The road to medical school is not supposed to be easy, but there is a lot to learn during the journey. The best decision I made was to attend the MSP3 program at USF. I felt ready for medical school and my academic success demonstrated that. In addition to preparing me with the knowledge I needed, it was the reason I created lifelong friendships and was forced to go out of my comfort zone and become a well-rounded student.

Name: Akshay Deshpande.
Where you're from: Tampa, FL.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2016.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: USF Morsani College of Medicine c/o 2019.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: MSP3 is going to be challenging and this is the time to prove that you’re truly cut out for medical school. My best advice would be to make some friends and start a study group. Before and after class you should study and go over lectures. Work out your networking skills; start talking to professors and get to know them. If you’re interested in research, end research faculty that are working on a subject of interest. Do everything you can to improve yourself as a person and medical school candidate. However, just as important as studying is giving yourself time to relax and have some fun; you will burn yourself out if you don’t.

Name: Quinn Frier.
Where you’re from: Mayo, Florida.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS Program: 2015.
USF Program Concentration: MSP3.
Current School/Program: The Florida State University College of Medicine.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants/students: For many of you, this program is an opportunity to prove yourselves academically to professional programs. While others are using this program as a “gap year” activity. Whatever the case, I advise you to use this opportunity wisely. Merely completing this program will not guarantee you admittance to professional schools, you have to do well. Reinvent yourself as a student, develop new study methods, and take advantage of all the advantages the program/faculty has to offer. Get involved and give back to the community, Tampa is rich with volunteer opportunities that will allow you to make a difference and grow as a member of society. The program is challenging, but if you buckle down and do well it will get you where you want to go and prepare you very well for the next level. All of the MSP3 graduates in my class at FSUCOM, including myself, have all done well in medical school thanks in part due to the experiences and exposure gained from this program. In closing, remember that stats (MCAT/GPA) aren’t everything adcoms consider and you should strive every day to make yourself more than “just a number.”

Name: Michael Guju.
Where you're from: Palm Harbor, FL.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2014.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: USF Morsani College of Medicine c/o 2019.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: The master's program is a great opportunity to fully immerse yourself in whatever career in healthcare you would like to pursue. The amount of shadowing and volunteer opportunities on USF campus and in the immediate area are an amazing resource. Use these resources to complement the medically based curriculum you are studying in class. It's also very important to make friends! The professional and personal contacts you can make in this program can keep you informed on what's going on in different programs and fields.

Name: Ekaterina Halivelakis.
Where you're from: Fort Lauderdale, FL.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2015.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: Creighton University School of Medicine (M.D.) Class of 2020.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: MSP3 is an excellent program to be a part of, whether you’re Pre-Med, pre-PA, pre-PhD or pre-Dent. I went into the program initially because I was unsure of which route I wanted to take between academic medicine and clinical medicine. Not only was I able to explore what I am truly passionate about, but the program does a fantastic job preparing you for medical school course loads and boosting your MCAT score. I am proud to say that I am excelling through my medical school education now, and I attribute it to how well this program prepared me for medical school. I am adamant about adamant about recommending this program to my friends who also are either undecided or want the extra edge on their medical school applications. If you’re thinking about it now, I promise you will thank yourself later once you apply and progress through the program. It is quite challenging and on par with medical school course work, but you will be surprised at how well you can handle the course loads and how accessible your professors will be for help if you need it.

Name: Lauren Schulz (Mackie.)
Where you're from: Tampa, FL.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2015.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: Saint Louis University School of Medicine (M2).
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: The MSP3 program is challenging, to say the least. However, it provides an excellent opportunity to prove to medical schools that you can handle their curriculum. It also gives the added benefit of allowing its students to tap into the vast network of USF MCOM resources for volunteering, research, shadowing and mentoring opportunities. Because the classes are so large (my year was around 230 students, if I remember correctly) it is imperative for highly motivated students to immediately begin researching these opportunities. Thee earlier you get involved, the more longevity you show, and the more and the more impressive your resume becomes. Also, don't be afraid to get to know your teachers. Many programs will ask for a "current professor" as a letter writer, and this may become even more beneficial if you and said professor have a strong relationship (maybe based on research, shadowing, etc.). Overall, this program proved extremely beneficial to my application status--at almost every interview I went on (and I went on 10, which I credit mostly to my experiences in this program), my interviewers showed great interest in our curriculum and how it prepared us for a medical school education. To applicants, if you are on the fence about this program, I strongly recommend it!

Name: Gilbert Murimwa.
Where you're from: Harare, Zimbabwe.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2015.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: USF Morsani College of Medicine SELECT Program.
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: Do well on the MCAT and treat the Master’s Program like a job.

Name: Natalie Torrente.
Where you're from: Miami, FL.
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2016.
USF Program/concentration (MSP3, Molecular Medicine, ANS, Women’s Health, Anatomy): MSP3.
Current School/Program: Kentucky College of Osteopathic Medicine (Medical School.)
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: Work very hard in the MSP3 program, form a study group and quiz one another to make sure you know the information very well. Do not give up! If you do not get the best MCAT score, do not be discouraged. Work with the faculty and staff at USF to make your application the best possible and you will get an acceptance into medical school.

Name: Kristin Berretta
Where you're from: Montreal, Canada
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: I will graduate in December 2012. Program/concentration: Pre-Professional Masters of Medical Science
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: This pre-professional program is a very time consuming and challenging year, therefore, be prepared to devote yourself to the program. The program is an intensive year that, with dedication, will absolutely prepare you for health professional school.

Name: Steven Gunther
Where you're from: Venice, FL
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2010
Program/concentration: Molecular Medicine
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: Learn as much as you can. Whatever your plans are in the future, you’ll only be challenged more as you progress. If you enjoy what you are learning and you are curious about everything from the ‘big picture’ to the small details, you’re in the right place.

Name: Amber Heyna
Where you're from: Port St. Lucie, FL
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2012
Program/concentration: Medical Sciences Pre-Professional Program
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: DO IT!! It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. Even if you have the MCAT score and the grades to get in to the school you want, I would highly recommend this program. Just imagine how many of us are already coming into medical school having taken most of these courses already. For most of us, we are in the top of our medical school classes!

Name: Josiah Hill
Where you're from: Denver, CO
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2012
Program/concentration: Pre-Professional Program (MSP3)
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: I would advise any future MS applicants that admission to and subsequent graduation from any master's program does not guarantee matriculation to medical school. It is ultimately up to you to perform very well in the program and show your passion and determination for wanting to get into medical school.

Name: Brad Miller
Where you're from: Weston, Florida
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: 2012
Program/concentration: Pre-Professional Program
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: 1. Reinvent yourself as a student and applicant learn new habits; disregard those that don’t work and perfect those that do. Branch out and expand your social and intellectual comfort zones. Set defined goals for yourself (eg. I want to be within 1 S.D. of the national averages in MCAT and GPA for matriculating medical students) 2. Don’t hold anything back; envision the student/applicant you wish to become and take every step and opportunity to embody that vision. Work harder than you think you are capable of, you will surprise yourself.

Name: Melissa Rosas
Where you're from: Temple Terrace, Florida
Year you graduated from the USF MCOM MS program: Graduated in August 2011
Program/concentration: Molecular Medicine
Advice for future USF MCOM MS applicants and/or students: My biggest advice is to not give up on your dreams. It may take a few tries to do what you want to do, but it will be worth it in the end. Be persistent, make connections, go out of your comfort zone, be patient, and don’t settle!

Name: Lecia A. M. Brown
Where you're from: Clarendon, Jamaica
Year graduated from the USF MCOM program:
USF Ph.D. area of concentration/dissertation topic: Neuroscience/The Potential Role of Antiretroviral Efavirenz in HIV Associated Neurocognitive Disorders
Current Role/Affiliation: Vaccine Development at GlaxoSmithKline; Founder of LAMB (www.lambinc.org)
Advice for future USF Ph.D. applicants and/or students: 
1) Find the right friends/colleagues that will push you when you are down, and help you when experiments get rough. They will also be there to celebrate with you every step of the way. It’s not about quantity... it’s about quality.
2) LIVE IN THE LAB! Just because USF work hours are 9-5 doesn't mean that should be your work schedule (that's why you have your badge). Find something you LOVE about your research and it will make waking up early and going to bed late worth it. Get there before everyone, and leave after everyone every day. You get out, what you put in.
3) Challenge yourself beyond the curriculum. Find ways to see your research at different angles. Ask yourself questions that bring life to your research. Who does this affect, and do I actually know anyone directly? Where can I go to find out more about what is happening outside of the lab related to my research? You will be surprised how your research comes to life before your own eyes when you directly interact with affected individuals.

Name: Geoffrey Ciarlone
Where You’re From: Tampa, FL
Year Graduated from the USF MCOM Program: 2016
USF Ph.D. Area of Concentration/Dissertation Topic: Molecular Pharmacology & Physiology/Hypercapnic Hyperoxia Increases Free Radical Production and Cellular Excitability in Rat Caudal Solitary Complex Brain Slice Neurons
Current Role/Affiliation: Research Physiologist, Undersea Medicine Department, Naval Medical Research Center (Medical Service Corps, US Navy)   
Advice for Future USF Ph.D. Applicants and/or Students: Make sure to explore all the career paths available to you once you have your Ph.D. Your skill set qualifies you for much more than you may realize, so follow your passion and be as excited as possible about your next step.

Name: Mackenzie "Max" Martin
Where you're from: Griffin, GA
Year graduated from the USF MCOM program: 2016  
USF Ph.D. area of concentration/dissertation topic: Neuroscience/Targeting Tau Degradation by Small Molecule Inhibitors for Treatment of Tauopathies 
Current Role/Affiliation: Postdoctoral Scholar/ Duke University Advice
Advice for future USF Ph.D. applicants and/or students: 
For applicants;
1. Do some research during your undergraduate career to make sure you like being and working in a lab;
2. Find a lab you like and take the time to read about the professor's research, also if possible, try and talk to the professor, students and employees of that lab;
3. During the interview, show you are passionate for wanting to join the program and conduct research. Small Molecule Inhibitors for Treatment of Tauopathies
For Students;
1. Be patient; research takes time and results do not always come easy or quickly; 
2. Always give your best and never give up each and every day. It’s easier said than done, but keep these goals in mind as motivation. You will become a better researcher, your experiments will eventually work, and you will have success (graduation/publications), and your research is crucial in helping others;
3. Aim to be balanced: work hard in the lab and in the program, but also make time for a healthy lifestyle and social life. You'll be a better overall person in the long run!!!     

Name: Nadine Nelson
Where you're from: Guyana, South America 
Year graduated from the USF MCOM program: 2015 
USF Ph.D. area of concentration/dissertation topic: Molecular Medicine/The Role of Ikaros in T Cell Development and Function in a Murine Model of Pancreatic Cancer
Current Role/Affiliation: Postdoctoral Scientist at AstraZeneca (Cambridge, UK)
Advice for future USF Ph.D. applicants and/or students: Apart from focusing on the science and publishing, I strongly believe that it is just as important to be involved in activities outside of the lab. The Ph.D. program at USF affords students many opportunities to present their research at conferences and symposiums, apply for internal and external scholarships and grants, collaborate with colleagues and be actively involved in a number of student organizations. These activities will help to demonstrate your leadership abilities, reflect your ambition and willingness to learn, and will make you a marketable candidate for the next stage of your career. More importantly, this will also help to create a strong personal and professional network during your Ph.D. years.

Name: Jeannie Stephenson, PT, PhD, MS, NCS
Where you're from: Born in Connecticut. Now from Tampa, FL.  
Year graduated from the USF MCOM program: PhD in Medical Sciences 2014; Masters in K30 Program in Clinical and Translational Research 2009 
USF Ph.D. area of concentration/dissertation topic: Area of concentration – Molecular Pharmacology and Physiology
Title of Dissertation: Longitudinal, Quantitative Analysis of Gait and Balance in Friedreich’s Ataxia 
Current Role/Affiliation: Assistant Professor in the School of Physical Therapy and Rehabilitation Sciences, USF Health Morsani College of Medicine
Advice for future USF Ph.D. applicants and/or students: My advice to anyone pursuing a PhD is to find an excellent mentor and pick a dissertation topic early on in the program. Persistence and hard work are key to your success. Never give up on your goal to attain the PhD, no matter what obstacles you may encounter along the way.