USF's Youngest Graduate
19-year-old Graduates With 4-year Degree, No Regrets
By Daylina Miller
TAMPA, Fla. – While most 15-year-old girls were fretting over high school popularity, fashion and celebrity crushes, recent USF graduate Kristen Shalosky was already embarking on her college career.
After breezing through elementary school, Shalosky started middle school when she was eight, high school when she was 11 and college when she was just 15. She graduated from USF last month at the ripe age of 19.
While there were difficulties involved with being a young college student – such as being driven by her parents to college for the first few months and not being able to hit the clubs with friends until her junior year – Shalosky does not regret any of her early start in higher education.
“I did all four years of college and all four years of high school so I didn’t cut myself short,” Shalosky said.
After high school, she wanted to go out of state, try new things and get away from home, Shalosky said. But being a minor had its downfalls. Her mother insisted Shalosky attend college within a 30-mile radius of home, so a disappointed Shalosky trudged off to classes in the fall of 2006.
“When I first came to USF, I was so dead set against it,” Shalosky said. “I did not want to be here but I moved onto campus my second year and got really involved. Now I could not be a bigger advocate for this school.”
Her sophomore year was the turning point. Shalosky joined a women’s rugby team, joined the P.R.I.D.E. Alliance and went on a life-changing service-learning trip to Costa Rica.
Shalosky said that playing rugby opened her up socially, forcing her to become more out-going and inspiring her to try new things. She especially enjoyed an annual rugby tradition, where the players wear prom dresses in a game against Georgia Southern.
“Rugby is the only sport I know where you’ll play each other out on the field, beat the snot out of each other and then party together afterwards,” Shalosky said. “It was very entertaining watching girls beat each other up in prom dresses.”
For P.R.I.D.E., Shalosky served as the student group’s president and hosted their annual fundraiser this year, a drag show.
“That’s very progressive,” Shalosky said. “A lot of people leave with a new perspective on the LGBT community as a whole.”
On a 10-day trip to Costa Rica through the Honors College, Shalosky and her classmates helped workers there build irrigation tunnels for natives affected by the drought.
“That’s when I realized I needed to make international service a part of my life,” Shalosky said.
Shalosky also worked as a professional writing consultant at the Business Communications Center on campus for the last three years. Students can make hour-long appointments with Shalosky to be tutored in business writing.
“I get to learn something new every time I work,” Shalosky said. “It’s an incredible challenge – every student is different and every writing assignment is different.”
For her Honors College thesis, Shalosky was asked to analyze LGBT issues and considerations in the Education Abroad program at USF to see how LGBT-friendly each of the countries are. As a part of that, she got to help plan an LGBT-friendly study abroad program to Australia for next summer.
“It’s one of the only programs like this in the entirety of the states,” Shalosky said. “For our thesis project, they want us to do something that’s practical, that’s relevant to the rest of the world and out-of-the-box,” Shalosky said. “That’s why this school is incredible.”
As an international business major, Shalosky plans on applying for a Fulbright Research Grant to study the spread of HIV and AIDS in Nigeria.
The Peace Corps and its masters program is also an option, Shalosky said. But first, she would like to spend some time with her family.
“My family lost me early to college so I think they’d like to hang out with me for a little bit before I head off to Africa or into the Peace Corps,” Shalosky said.
The University of South Florida is one of the nation's top 63 public research universities and one of only 25 public research universities nationwide with very high research activity that is designated as community engaged by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. USF was awarded $380.4 million in research contracts and grants in FY 2008/2009. The university offers 232 degree programs at the undergraduate, graduate, specialist and doctoral levels, including the doctor of medicine. The USF System has a $1.8 billion annual budget, an annual economic impact of $3.2 billion, and serves more than 47,000 students on institutions/campuses in Tampa, St. Petersburg, Sarasota-Manatee and Lakeland. USF is a member of the Big East Athletic Conference.