The highly selective Frost Scholarship Programme provides recipients with funding for one year to undertake master’s courses in the STEM field at the University of Oxford, Oxford. This year, USF had two recipients — Honors College students Ricci Allen and Maie Khalil.
The scholarship, open only to those studying in the State University System of Florida who are also permanent residents of Florida, is sponsored by the Phillip and Patricia Frost Philanthropic Foundation. Only 10 students are selected each year.
Allen, a senior set to receive dual bachelor’s degrees in biomedical sciences and psychology in May will be studying clinical embryology at Oxford.
Khalil, who graduated summa cum laude with a biomedical sciences degree in December, will be pursuing her master’s in medical anthropology.
Allen said she chose USF for its distance from her hometown. Located close enough to go home on a whim, yet far enough to allow independence, USF had the perfect opportunities for her to grow all around.
Khalil, on the other hand, allowed USF’s seven-year accelerated medical program to be one of her deciding factors.
Khalil was quick to point out some of the benefits of the Honors College in her academic experience, namely small, discussion-based classes and the close-knit nature of the community, and Allen agreed.
Although initially focused on a purely medical path, Khalil found anthropology in her first semester and was thoroughly invested in the field. Then, unsure of whether she should pursue medicine or anthropology, she stuck with biomedical sciences.
She said the confusion that persisted through her college career and the lack of support for her aspirations from those around her were two of the biggest obstacles she had to surpass to achieve her current stature.
“I’m going to pursue a Ph.D. in anthropology, and want to eventually consult for the World Health Organization, the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), or the United Nations. If there is a professor opening available, I would love to enter academia and do research and teach,” she said.
Having aspired to be a physician while a high school student, Allen only developed a better idea of what she wanted to be and do as she went through the motions of college life. “I want to become a reproductive endocrinologist,” she said.
“I want to open a women’s health clinic that includes anything they need: obstetrics, gynecology, fertility, and other women specific things.”
Khalil explained that the Frost scholarship allowed her the opportunity to pursue graduate studies in anthropology without having to worry about costs, or obtaining employment afterward. She called it a “safety net” and an opportunity that became a chance for her to study what she loved.
Other than academic excellence in their respective subjects, both pre-eminent students relish a diverse array of activities outside of their books.
Swimming, reading, sewing, and working with the Honors Student Council topped Allen’s list of extracurricular activities and hobbies, while Khalil spends her free time reading, playing tennis, discovering ethnic foods and traveling.
Reflecting on her ability to believe in herself, Allen cited the example set by Hiram Rios, a decorated USF alumnus and Honors College graduate.
“Sometimes we’re quick to not believe in ourselves and not think that we’re good enough,” Khalil said. “And this Frost scholarship experience has taught me that if you put yourself out there, you really can succeed.”