“You should be proud of your accomplishments!” Dr. Kay Perrin told the College of Public Health baccalaureate graduates at the pinning ceremony May 1. “As of tomorrow, you will be among the 26% of the U.S. population with a college degree,” added Dr. Perrin, associate professor and assistant dean for undergraduate studies.
[Photo: From left, USF System President Judy Genshaft, Jennifer Stenback and Provost Ralph Wilcox at the 2015 USF Health Commencement Ceremony on May 1]
Among all the honors, accolades and distinctions as the college recognized its spring 2015 graduates in the Sam Bell III Auditorium, a trio of atypical grads were especially noteworthy.
“My college experience is definitely different than that of the average student in the COPH, given that I am a ‘baby boomer,’ and considerably older than my fellow students,” said Ms. Geraldine “Gerry” Piper. “My upcoming graduation and receiving my bachelor’s degree in public health has been a 39-year journey in the making!”
That journey began when Ms. Piper, now 57, started working in the 1970s as a registered medical assistant in family medicine, Ob/GYN and dermatology.
Her career expanded into research in 2000, when she was hired as a research assistant at the University of Kentucky, working in cognitive brain imaging studies. Later, she was recruited by the Markey Cancer Center to assist in establishing a statewide network for lung cancer clinical trials. She also took classes part-time and completed her associate’s degree in 2005.
In 2008, Ms. Piper at arrived at USF as a clinical research coordinator for the Parkinson’s Disease and Movement Disorders Center. Recognizing the opportunity her workplace offered, she started exploring majors that might complement her experience and career goals.