Student Spotlights

Student Spotlights

The College of Education spotlights current and former students with inspiring personal stories of leadership, innovation and academic achievement.

If you know an outstanding College of Education student or graduate who you would like to nominate to be featured in a future spotlight story, please contact Elizabeth Engasser at eengasser@usf.edu.

STUDENT SPOTLIGHT ARCHIVES


Merritt Smith headshot

Merritt Smith

Physical Education major

At the start of her studies at USF, Merritt Smith overcame obstacles in earning her state of Florida teaching certification. Today, she is a soon-to-be graduate of USF’s Physical Education program who stands out amongst her peers by being recognized as the university’s 2019-20 Outstanding Intern of the Year. 

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Linda Morales in USF Regalia

Linda Morales

Alumna, MA in Teaching, Exceptional Student Education

As a parent of three and a former stay-at-home mom, Linda Morales was no stranger to the term “parent involvement.”

Whether it was chaperoning at school hosted events or participating in PTA meetings, Morales was present and ready to lend a helping hand. Yet when she began to take notice of the academic challenges her eight-year-old daughter constantly faced, Morales’s need to interact with teachers reached a different level. 

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Mona Jain with her family

Mona Jain, MD, PhD

Alumna, Interdisciplinary Education

Dr. Mohinder “Mona” Jain, MD, PhD `84, has dedicated her career to the field of education and serving as a fearless advocate for her students. An immigrant from India, Jain has served as both a teacher and administrator for American, British and Indian educational systems since 1961, and has given countless years of service to schools across the state of Florida. To celebrate her long-term contributions and impactful career in education, she was recognized as the 2020 recipient of the College of Education’s Dean’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

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Sara-Kay Bonti

Sara-Kay Bonti

Alumna, English Education & Educational Leadership

After spending more than two decades serving in the classroom as an English teacher, USF alumna Sara-Kay Bonti moved into a school leadership role to help support other educators in the field. To recognize her ongoing collaborations with the university in her role with Hillsborough County Public Schools, Bonti was recognized as the USF College of Education’s 2020 recipient of the Spirit of Partnership Alumni Award.

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Francesca Perrone-Britt

Francesca Perrone-Britt

Alumna, Elementary Education & Reading Education

With a lifelong desire to become a teacher, USF alumna Francesca Perrone-Britt eventually found her passion in working with elementary-aged students. Today, the soon to be three-time graduate of the university teaches at a school less than 10 minutes from USF’s Tampa campus, and the achievements she’s made so far in her career led her to become the 2020 recipient of the College of Education’s Young Educator Alumni Award.

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Robert Bhoolai

Robert Bhoolai

Student and Alumnus, Educational Leadership

Following a career change to teaching, Robert Bhoolai enrolled in USF's Educational Leadership master's program to learn how to better drive student learning and achievement. In 2019, he returned to USF to pursue his Ed.S in Turnaround School Leadership to better support his work as principal at Robinson High School.

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Samantha Gregg headshot

Samantha Gregg

Elementary Education major

Before attending USF, Samantha Gregg had already envisioned a future as an educator. After spending fours years majoring in Elementary Education and living on campus in the Education Living Learning Community, she is ready to graduate this spring with confidence in the skills she’s obtained.

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Heather Agazzi

Alumni Spotlight: Heather Agazzi, PhD

Alumna, School Psychology

Before entering the field of school psychology, Dr. Heather Agazzi was a collegiate track & field athlete who completed her bachelor’s degree in International Studies and Spanish at USF. After spending time with young children as a childcare provider, Agazzi began to garner an interest in the field of school psychology. 

Dr. Agazzi is now a pediatric psychologist and associate professor in the Section of Child Development, USF Pediatrics. She is also the internship director of the USF Health Internship in Professional Psychology at the Morsani College of Medicine where she supervises the clinical training of doctoral interns in psychology. 

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Ora D. Tanner

Ora D. Tanner

Graduate Student, Curriculum and Instruction

After seeing firsthand the difference technology has made in improving learning outcomes for her middle school students, USF graduate student Ora D. Tanner decided to go back to school to learn how to change the trajectory of future curriculum.

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Joseph Latimer

Joseph Latimer

Graduate Student, School Psychology

As the son of a teacher and a principal, Joseph Latimer felt confident in his path to becoming an educator. However, after learning about school psychology, Latimer knew he wanted to positively impact students both inside and outside the four walls of the classroom.

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Andres Rodriguez

Andres Rodriguez

Alumnus, Exercise Science

Andres Rodriguez time at USF gave him experience training professional athletes. Now, as a recent graduate of the College of Education's Exercise Science program, he aspires to bring his knowledge of health and fitness into his community.

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Bretton Varga

Bretton Varga

Graduate Student, Social Science Education

Throughout his 18 years teaching, Bretton Varga noticed a lack of LGBTQ+ education in public schools. Because of this, he developed his own digitally interactive curriculum to introduce historic LBGTQ+ concepts into social studies curriculum, and has received national recognition for his efforts.

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Ashley White

Ashley White

Graduate Student, Special Education

From campus to country, College of Education doctoral candidate Ashley White is using her time at USF to help reform special education policy and make a lasting impact on the field.


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Ryan Blew

Ryan Blew

Elementary Education Major

As an Elementary Education major in the College of Education, Ryan Blew is not only an aspiring educator, but he is also someone his coworkers and peers describe as a standout leader in the numerous roles he plays outside of his classes. 

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Gary Yu Hin Lam

Gary Yu Hin Lam

Graduate Student, School Psychology

As a doctoral student in the College of Education’s School Psychology Program, Gary Yu Hin Lam took his passion for working with individuals with autism and applied it to a career path that will help him change the lives of many students.

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Dale Cusumano

Dale Cusumano, PhD

Alumna, School Psychology

After earning two degrees from the University of South Florida's School Psychology program, Dr. Cusumano went on to serve at the National Implementation Research Network and the State Implementation and Scaling-up of Evidence-based Practices (SISEP) Center.

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