University of South Florida

Judy Genshaft Honors College

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Honors Alumna, Daniela Vasquez at her white coat ceremony.

Catching Up with Honors Alum Daniela Vasquez

University of South Florida (USF) alumna, King O’Neal scholar, and aspiring pediatrician Daniela Vasquez is dedicated to promoting health care practices centered around providing patients with empathy, kindness, and quality care. Upon graduating from USF and the Judy Genshaft Honors College in 2020, Vasquez pursued her dream of becoming a physician at Florida International University’s Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine. Now a fourth-year medical student, Vasquez's dedication to compassionate medical care has been recognized with her recent induction into the college's Gold Humanism Honor Society

In an interview with the Honors College, Vasquez reflects on her experience at USF and its impact on her continuing education and career.

Q: What was your time in the Honors College like?  

My time in the Honors College at USF was incredibly supportive and nurturing. As a nervous freshman starting at a large university, I found so much comfort in the close-knit environment that the Honors College provided. The small class sizes and tight community made this daunting transition much less intimidating. It was a place where I found belonging among other like-minded individuals who were also in pursuit of academic excellence. 

photo of daniela vasquez holding the gold humanism honor society certificate

Q: Do you have a favorite or most impactful Honors experience?  

If I had to choose my most impactful Honors experience, it would have to be the guidance I received from my academic advisors. Dreaming big about going to medical school when nobody in my family had done so felt like I was navigating a maze without a map. The Honors advisors, however, provided invaluable advice and wisdom, patiently helping me with the complex application process and encouraging me to pursue my goals with confidence. Not only did this play a part in my acceptance into medical school, but it taught me that even the craziest of dreams are attainable with the right guidance and a whole lot of determination. 

Q: What are some clubs or initiatives that you were involved with during your undergraduate studies? 

During my undergraduate studies, I was actively involved in various extracurricular activities that allowed me to give back to the community and do the things I love. I served as an interpreter at BRIDGE Health Care Clinic, a free medical care clinic for uninsured individuals in Tampa which deepened my understanding of health care disparities and the importance of accessible care. I also volunteered as a golf coach for the Special Olympics, allowing me the unique opportunity to promote inclusivity through sports. Lastly, I was an active member of the USF Women’s Club Soccer team, where I was able to travel and make memories with lifelong friends. 

Q: What has it been like continuing your education in medical school? 

Continuing my education in medical school has been a challenging, yet rewarding journey. The rigorous curriculum and demanding workload have pushed me to grow both academically and personally. Thankfully, my time at USF prepared me well for this endeavor by strengthening my work ethic and critical thinking skills. The seminar-style classes in the Honors College, specifically, allowed me to enhance my interpersonal communication and challenged me to view situations from different perspectives, both of which have contributed significantly to my success in medical school.

Q: What are your future career goals? 

As for my future career goals, I will be pursuing a pediatric residency and, God-willing, staying in the sunny state of Florida. Following residency, I hope to complete a fellowship to further specialize in a field that piques my interest.  

Q: You were recently inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society for your commitment to compassionate care, what does that mean to you?

Compassionate care, to me, isn’t just a checkbox on my to-do list. It’s about taking the time to pull up a chair next to a patient and genuinely listen to not just their health concerns, but to the stories that make up their journey. Whether this is done by sharing a laugh over a common hobby or wiping away a tear after delivering difficult news, it means I'm there for them. Being inducted into the Gold Humanism Honor Society is a recognition that serves as a public testament to my commitment to treating each patient with empathy, respect, and dignity while considering their individual needs and circumstances.

Q: What advice do you have for younger students who are looking to journey down a similar path as yours?  
To the future doctor reading this, my number one piece of advice is don’t do it alone! Asking for help or advice doesn’t make you weak. There are so many people around you, advisors, professors, and students, that either have the answers you’re looking for or can at least relate to what you’re going through. Find comfort in this, humble yourself, and reach out. Be resilient! The journey to a career in medicine is demanding and challenging, but don't be discouraged by setbacks. Stay focused on your goals and remember that every experience, positive or negative, contributes to your growth and development. And, finally, enjoy the process! Yes, the road ahead is long, but remember that time will pass regardless. So, why not embrace every step of the journey and make the most of it? 

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About Honors News

Committed to intellectual curiosity, global citizenship, and service across three unique Tampa Bay campuses, Honors News shares the exceptional stories of the Judy Genshaft Honors College.