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USF Alumni Association Announces Spring 2016 Outstanding Graduates

TAMPA, Fla. (April 20, 2016) -- The University of South Florida Alumni Association has named three spring 2016 Outstanding Graduates, one for each regional institution of the USF System. Outstanding Graduates embody leadership, school spirit, academic excellence, community involvement and a love for USF.

The following honorees will be recognized at USF Commencement ceremonies at their respective institutions May 6-9.

Lauren Henry, BS Business, strived to get the greatest value possible from higher education by committing fully to academics, community service, leadership, USF Sarasota-Manatee (USFSM) and her job. The result? She’ll graduate with a 4.0 GPA and experiences ranging from cleaning cages at a cat shelter to helping craft the university’s five-year strategic plan to coaching young adults from around the world on leadership skills. Her varied accomplishments include helping organize the USFSM Giving Challenge Campaign, which raised a record $45,800 for first-generation students. As recruitment chair for USFSM’s Student Ambassadors, she led a two-year marketing campaign that nearly tripled applications for the prestigious leadership program. An accomplished ballet dancer and artist, Henry is a member of four honor societies including Beta Gamma Sigma, which includes the top 10 percent of students in AACSB-accredited programs. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in executive leadership at Liberty University.

Vanisaben Patel, BS Biomedical Sciences and BS in Public Health, arrived at USF Tampa with enough college credits from high school dual enrollment to plunge right into her two majors – a rigorous academic load. Still, she heeded the advice of professors and others who said she needed to become involved in the USF community to round out her education. She will graduate with a 3.72 GPA and leadership skills honed through jobs such as Intercultural Student Leadership Conference mentor and Green and Gold Guide for the Office of Admissions. She also took advantage of volunteer opportunities, logging more than 2,000 hours and earning the Peer Leader Award from the Department of Chemistry and Excellence in Community Service from Delta Tau Lambda Sorority, Inc., among other honors. She augmented her coursework with real-world medical research at Shriner’s Children’s Hospital and USF’s Biochemistry Department. Patel plans to attend medical school.

Julia Strauss, BA Psychology, has excelled academically – she’ll graduate with a 4.0 GPA – while continuing a longtime commitment of service to others and dedication to research. Academic awards include 2015 Spanish Student of the Year and 2015 Junior Psychology Student of the Year. While attending USF St. Petersburg, she worked part-time as a behavioral therapist for children with autism and developmental disorders. She also gave freely of her time to children from different walks of life, including volunteering as a classroom assistant at three elementary schools and tutoring children living in emergency housing. Her interest in research led her to volunteer her help on several faculty projects, which resulted in presentations at national and institutional conferences. She co-authored an encyclopedia entry with one professor and is working on a second publication with another. She plans to pursue a master’s degree in special education at Vanderbilt University.

About the USF Alumni Association

The USF Alumni Association is a nonprofit organization composed of former students and friends of the University of South Florida. Our mission is to provide meaningful ways for USF Bulls to support, protect and promote their university. There are more than 300,000 USF graduates worldwide. For more information, log on to, like our Facebook page at or follow us on Twitter @USFAlumniAssn.

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