University of South Florida


Four Graduating USF Students Earn Full Scholarships to Study at Oxford

Four graduating USF Students holding up bulls hand sign

(l. to r.) USF students Alejandro Navas, Janine DeBlasi, Justin Doherty and Kayla Li. Credit: Amy Harroun

TAMPA, Fla. - Four University of South Florida seniors will soon walk across the graduation stage and begin a new journey alongside a very select group of students from around the world.

Each of the four students has been awarded a full scholarship for graduate study at the University of Oxford in the United Kingdom. The group will go from USF, founded in 1956, to attending an institution established more than 900 years ago.

Kayla Li, who is studying biomedical sciences, was awarded Oxford's prestigious Medical Sciences Graduate School Studentship, which will fund her studies in clinical embryology. A graduate of Palm Harbor University High School, Li aspires to become a neonatologist.

In addition to Li, three USF Honors College students, Janine DeBlasi, Justin Doherty and Alejandro Navas, earned Frost Scholarships. This award, made possible through the generosity of the Phillip and Patricia Frost Philanthropic Foundation, provides funding for top students from the State University System of Florida (and the University of Miami) to study for a full year in master’s courses in STEM fields.

DeBlasi, from Wesley Chapel and a graduate of Wiregrass Ranch High School, will study radiation biology with an emphasis on cancer treatment. She plans to pursue a PhD in cancer biology.

Doherty, from Ft. Lauderdale and a graduate of Saint Thomas Aquinas High School, will study integrated immunology at Oxford. He plans to become a physician, and is interested in transplant surgery and emergency medicine.

Navas, from Tampa and a graduate of King High School, will study nature, society and environmental governance at Oxford. His goal is to develop and help implement climate change mitigation policies in the United States.

“Being consistently well represented in national and international scholarship programs is a great honor for our institution,” Ralph Wilcox, USF Provost and Executive Vice President, said. “I wish Janine, Justin, Kayla and Alejandro great success in their studies at Oxford and look forward to seeing many more USF students follow in their footsteps in the years to come."

The three Frost Scholars will graduate from USF next week, while Li graduates in August. The addition of three new Frost Scholars brings USF’s total to 12 in the program’s five-year history.

 Oxford was recently named the top university in the world by The Times Higher Education Global Rankings for the second consecutive year.

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