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Photos by Joshua Barrett, Student photographer/writer

Thomas University students (from left) Dante DeSipio, Jeleah Nunez and Gaby Mora – all biology majors graduating May 11 – will start doctoral programs in the fall.


Graduating TU biology majors start on road to doctorates

By Joshua Barrett, Student writer 

Three Thomas University biology majors who will graduate May 11 with their bachelor’s degrees will start graduate programs this fall that lead to doctorate degrees.

Gabriela Mora from Albuquerque, New Mexico, will attend Gannon University in Ruskin, Florida, in the Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

“I applied to several schools and Gannon University thankfully responded,” Mora said. “I was interviewed by a professor and a student at the school and had to wait for a response for about two weeks. I then received an acceptance email, and I felt on top of the world.”

Jeleah Nunez from Kissimmee, Florida, will attend the University of Florida’s Veterinary Medical School.

“It was always a dream of mine to go to this school, and my mentors spoke highly about their veterinary program,” Nunez said. “Also, it is closer to home.”

Dante DiSipio from Lakeland, Florida, will attend the University of Florida’s Doctor of Physical Therapy Program.

“At TU I learned how to study different ways for a variety of subjects,” he said. “My degree has given me a background in many fields and the confidence to pursue any graduate degree I desire.”

All three students credit TU’s biology programs with helping them prepare for graduate school.


Gabriela Mora

Mora took many classes while attending TU. She learned a lot about time management while student. In her classes, Mora learned a lot about the human body, which is perfect for what she will study at Gannon University.

Professor Elizabeth Harrell, Instructor of Biology at TU, has played an integral part in the success of many biology students. For Mora it has been much more.

“Professor Harrell was the most fantastic professor here at TU,” Mora said. “She is so patient and always helps students whenever they seek her help. No matter what she has going on, she will put her students first and make sure they understand the material that is being taught.”

Harrell said Mora influenced her as well.

“Gabriella is the type of student every professor loves to teach,” Harrell said. “She is passionate about her field and brings a tenderness and kindness that is so lacking in today's society. It has been an honor to see her grow and bloom as a student.”

Dr. Kerry Maddox, Adjunct Professor of Biology, taught some of Mora’s courses and said she believes Mora will go far in her studies.

“I expect Gabriela to do amazing things and be transformed by her experience as a physical therapy professional,” Maddox said. “This has been a life-long dream of hers, and she has worked hard to get where she is now, ready to embark on another academic chapter that will make her dream come true.”

Mora has enjoyed her time at TU, not just in the classroom but also on the field. She has been Softball player at TU. On the team is where she met lifelong friends who helped her along the way while pursuing her degree.

“I loved the environment at TU and the wonderful people that helped me get to where I am today,” Mora said.


Jeleah Nunez

Nunez is headed to the University of Florida’s Veterinary Medical School.

“It was always a dream of mine to go to this school, and my mentors spoke highly about their veterinary program,” she said. “Also, it is closer to home.”

While attending TU, Nunez balanced the rigorous training of a college athlete as a Softball play along with the long hours of a full-time student.

“My degree has prepared me for the future courses I will be taking because I will need the information as background knowledge while I am digging deeper into my profession,” she said.

Nunez said she loves TU for its many resources on campus and the people who have helped her through her journey.

“I really enjoyed the small class size and academic resources available for students,” she said. “Professor Harrell really helped me while I was in her classes. I don’t think I could have done this without her.”

Harrell said, “Jeleah is what you would think of as a gold-star student. She is determined to succeed and steadfast in her studies. Without a doubt, she will succeed in all she does.”

Maddox also sees a lot of success in Jeleah’s future because she always pushes herself to be the best in whatever she is doing.

“I’ve watched Jeleah develop from a student who was reluctant to invest any additional energy into her class work into a student who is able to look critically at scientific information and is willing stretch herself,” Maddox said. “I’ve seen the light bulbs come on and watched her become intellectually engaged with complex concepts.”


Dante DiSipio

DiSipio was a member of the Night Hawks Men’s Basketball Team while at TU. He excelled on the court and in the classroom.

“I enjoyed most all the lifelong friends and memories I have made with them,” he said. “Prof. Harrell has always been there to give me any help she can as well as encouraging words along the way.”

Harrell said she believes DiSipio stands out from the other students and will be successful in all he attempts in life.

“Dante’s enthusiasm for learning and willingness to go above and beyond are unparalleled,” Harrell said. “His drive and integrity in and out of the classroom cannot be matched.”

For DiSipio TU has been more than just a place to get him his degree; it has taught him many lessons he believes will help him in his future endeavors.

Maddox said, “Dante is one of those students whose eyes you can always count on meeting when you are scanning the classroom – no phone, no open computer, no pencil in hand scribbling notes. No, he is a sponge, soaking up every word from a lecture. He appears to be an auditory learner and counts on hearing content as well as interacting with concepts through activities. Giving a lecture to one who is so focused on your presentation is awesome, and makes me a better lecturer, knowing someone is hanging on every word.”

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