University of South Florida


Student organization receives “Rising Star” Award

The  Lifestyle Medicine Interest Group (LMIG) at USF,  a student organization with nearly 100 members, recently received the American College of Lifestyle Medicine’s Rising Star Award.

Dr. Rita DeBate, a USF College of Public Health (COPH) professor who specializes in mental health and behavioral epidemiology, is the academic advisor for the group.

Lifestyle medicine uses therapeutic lifestyle interventions as a primary modality to treat chronic conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, type 2 diabetes and obesity. The Rising Star Award recognizes the achievements of a new student LMIG actively involved in helping to promote lifestyle medicine.

“Our purpose is to provide information about lifestyle medicine and educate members about evidence-based practices that help individuals and families adopt and sustain healthy behaviors that affect health and quality of life,” said Lennon Tomaselli, a senior health sciences major and treasurer of the group.

Group people standing outside next to banner

                                Lennon Tomaselli, far left, with other LMIG at USF members and voluneers at the                                                                                                                              TampaWell. (Photo courtesy of Tomaselli)

The group has hosted speakers, had smoothie nights, volunteered with TGH TampaWell Community Garden and Food Pharmacy and tabled at multiple on-campus events.

“We are currently in our second year and have been more active than some other longer-standing LMIGs at other institutions,” Tomaselli said. “We do our best to host engaging events that are relevant to the student body and coordinate external relationships to best serve our members. As a young organization, we were honored to be recognized for all the hard work we have done to build a strong foundation for this student org and get it up and running.”

Tomaselli said the aim of the LMIG at USF is threefold. 

“Accessibility is health care, meaning accessibility to knowledge, resources and even peer support,” she said. “We aim to provide all three to students, faculty and anyone else open to learning. By sharing the medically backed findings regarding how easy, implementable lifestyle changes can enhance your life and optimize your health, people can be an active member in their own health care and become their personal health advocate.”

Group people standing indoors next to banner

                                                                Members of the LMIG at USF. (Photo courtesy of Karen Laing)

Tomaselli, who hopes to secure a job in bioinformatics, said joining the group has given her important career experience—from conducting community outreach to engaging in scientific communication. But perhaps more importantly, it’s given her the tools she needs to prioritize her own health.

“Transitioning from undergrad to graduate school or the workplace can be very stressful, physically, mentally and emotionally,” she said. “Having the right information on how to deal with such stressors and guarantee you are in optimal health for interviews or to function in a professional environment is crucial to across-the-board success.”

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