Defying "Limitations"USF Alum, Stephanie Radu, on track to make positive impacts in her field
Although it's true that USF alumni and outstanding graduate, Stephanie Radu, faced many obstacles that could have been thought of as limitations (financial need, congenital heart disease, and family difficulties among them), Radu chose to work hard and develop the strength to make her success limitless.
Born in Toronto and then residing in twelve different cities, Radu began her studies at USF far from her Canadian home and eager to find her path toward bettering the world. She joined the Honors College where she says she found a "home away from home" with supportive faculty, staff, and advisors. This support spurred her to explore the many research opportunities available at the university and led to her position as a research assistant at the USF Health Byrd Alzheimer's Institute. There, Radu realized that the future of medicine is found in genetics.
This realization was further explored while Radu was writing her personal statement for the Barry Goldwater Scholarship. While reflecting on her future goals, Radu decided that the best impact she could make through medicine would involve in-utero work. After receiving an Honorable Mention by the Goldwater Foundation, Radu worked with her Primary Investigator who suggested that she meet Dr. Fant, a neonatologist at Tampa General Hospital (TGH). "Working with him helped me verify that I want to be a fetal surgeon and research gene therapy," says Radu.
While shadowing at TGH, she attended a talk by a top-of-the-field fetal surgeon. Radu was able to speak with him after his presentation and by the time she left that room she says that she knew that she had found her passion. Her goal is now to alter genetics in utero to prevent disease progression and lead to a better quality of life for children and their families.
In addition to progressing the field of fetal surgery and developing new technologies to fight disease in-utero, Radu hopes to become a global health advocate to progress the field of fetal surgery and improve maternal and child health worldwide.
Just as she was inspired by other professionals, Radu hopes to become an inspiration for young women, especially those who are faced with challenges that at times can seem overwhelming. "You don't have to let others views of you as 'damaged' stop you from overcoming hardships," says Radu who overcame family difficulties, worked three jobs to support her education, and underwent heart surgery during her sophomore year. "That doesn't have to stop you from volunteering, working, researching... you have the choice to decide to believe that you are limited by weakness or to use your circumstances to develop strength."
Using her strength at USF, Radu formed "Hope for the Homeless," a service club to raise money for and volunteer with the homeless, won a Gilman Scholarship to study in Spain, and competed for both the university's surf and equestrian teams.
Radu was named the Outstanding Graduate in Fall 2016 and completed her degree in just three-and-a-half years and with an impressive 3.89 GPA.
Of her five top choices for medical school Radu has been accepted at three (the University of Florida, the University of Miami, and Oregon Health & Science University) and is awaiting the decision of the other two (Harvard University and the Mayo Medical School).
After completing medical school, Radu would like to one day join Doctors Without Borders and/or UN Women. "International advocacy for public health and social justice is very important to me," says Radu who hopes to use her knowledge and skills to make global impacts.
Stephanie Radu is an impressive example of how hard work, an intellectual curiosity, and a drive to be a positive change agent, can overcome hardships and lead to limitless success.