First Provost’s Scholars Program Student to Graduate this Fall

The Provost’s Scholars Program launched at USF in Fall 2011 to allow a select group of goal-oriented students the opportunity to earn their undergraduate degrees in three years. These students are high-achieving individuals with at least 18 college credits out of high school, and either a 1200 SAT or 27 ACT score. At the December 2013 graduation commencement, the first Provost’s Scholar Program participant will walk across the stage and earn her degree in social work.

Katherine Hall was born in Thomasville, N.C.  She spent much of her youth moving throughout the Carolinas due to her parents’ jobs. Her family relocated to Panama City, Fla. in 1998 and again to Riverview, Fla. in 2005.  When she isn’t absorbed in her academic responsibilities, Katherine enjoys spending her free time sleeping, reading, singing, spending time with friends, and traveling as often as possible.

Her high school experience was different from what you would expect. Her freshman year was spent at a small private school, her sophomore and junior years at a local charter school. For her senior year, she was registered at Spoto High School, but never spent time in any classrooms there. 

“I was enrolled full-time at Hillsborough Community College as part of the dual-enrollment program,” said Hall.

This is how she managed to earn the 18-credit requirement for the Provost’s Scholars Program. The added course work left little time for her to be involved in high school activities, but she was heavily involved in many activities with organizations such as the Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and St. Joseph’s Hospital. 

“I was even involved in a small vocal ensemble through the Salvation Army,” said Hall.

With a high school graduation in Spring 2011, she was a prime candidate for this newly-established program.  She found out about the program through a letter she received in the mail informing her that she had met the basic requirements and encouraging her to apply if interested. So, she went to the internet to learn more about this prestigious program and what it had to offer.

“It just sounded like it would be a very beneficial thing for me to do for my college experience,” said Hall.

Participating in this program has turned out to be more than Katherine had ever imagined. Other than the initial recognition for her accomplishments, she has received the added motivation to continue her streak of academic success as she continues to fulfill the program’s requirements. Other than the three-year graduation deadline, which Katherine has met in 2 ½ years, students in the program are to complete a thesis project, demonstrate leadership at USF and in the community, and engage in a global experience.

For her thesis project, Katherine is writing a manuscript on the Salvation Army as an international social service organization and its importance for the social work community. To tie into this project, Katherine spent six weeks this summer in the Ukraine on a non-USF affiliated trip.  As part of a team sent by the Salvation Army, she worked with groups living in different areas in order to learn more about the work the Salvation Army is doing there. This past spring break, she also traveled with a study abroad program to Florence, Italy to examine the cultural differences between American and Italian mental health service systems.

“As I said before, traveling is something I enjoy doing in my spare time.  I think you can learn so much simply by being in a new culture,” said Hall.

Aside from her continued involvement in community service, Katherine demonstrates leadership by serving on the executive board of two organizations at USF. She is the vice president of the Social Work Society and the parliamentarian of Phi Sigma Pi, a national co-ed honors fraternity at USF.

At a young age, Katherine knew she wanted to help people in a hands-on setting. As she prepared to enter college, she was unsure of how this would translate into a major and, eventually, a degree. Fortunately for her, two friends had recently entered the social work program at USF.  They told her about their classes, professors and the program itself.

“I had tossed around the idea of education, but I wasn’t sure if that was really right for me. After listening to my friends, I knew that social work sounded exactly like what I wanted to do,” said Hall.

As part of her final semester in the Bachelor of Social Work program, Katherine is involved in a field placement at Francis House in Tampa, an agency serving the HIV/AIDS population in the community. She has spent the last few weeks familiarizing herself with the company’s policies, procedures and the clients that it serves, as well as shadowing several case managers.

“The goal is to work toward having my own small case load by the end of the semester,” said Hall.

With the amount of things that she is involved in – her community service activities, positions on executive boards for two organizations, internship in the social work program, and final coursework – Katherine has had a hard time grasping the idea of graduation. She entered college knowing that in three years, no matter what happens, she will walk across the stage and earn her diploma. She has taken this task, completed it with a semester to spare, and all the while maintained an active presence in the community. It is enough to make someone wonder where her motivation to succeed came from.

“My parents have always encouraged me to do my best. They’ve supported me in everything that I’ve done. Neither of my parents went to college when they were my age and they both wanted me to have a better life than what they had. It’s kind-of cool because now they’re both working toward their bachelor’s degrees, too.  I know they’re excited for me to graduate, but I’m excited for them, as well,” said Hall.

Though her high school and college experiences may not be within the realm of what students normally go through, she feels lucky to have had these opportunities. Katherine Hall is proof that with hard work, determination, and a support system, anything is possible.

“I am proud to be able to say that I am a Provost’s Scholar and, more importantly, I am proud to be a Bull,” said Hall.

As for the question on everyone’s minds, she has a few plans for the future. Upon graduation, she hopes to gain some work-related experience.

“I definitely want to go to graduate school, but I would also like to get a little more experience under my belt before that happens. I am looking into and applying for some different opportunities, but nothing is certain quite yet,” said Hall.

By Molly Alexander