H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center

Student speaking with a Moffitt employee at a table.
At the inaugural Moffitt & Saint Leo University Community Expo, senior Maurice Ferguson, a computer science major, talks with Jennie Jones, director, cancer registry/surveillance informatics at Moffitt Cancer Center, about the cancer registry profession and the Certified Tumor Registrar® exam.

Saint Leo University hosted the first Moffitt & Saint Leo University Community Expo on April 14 to showcase career and educational opportunities.

As Moffitt plans construction for its massive Speros FL medical research park in Pasco County, it is partnering with the university to create job, internship, and educational opportunities not only for Saint Leo students, but also for surrounding community members. Both institutions are committed to developing and supporting people as a whole in body, mind, and spirit, so collaborating seemed ideal.

The community expo was open to the public and offered resume reviews; a career fair; wellness and mindfulness activities; a networking lunch; and informational sessions including discussion of Saint Leo’s nursing, medical humanities, biology and natural sciences, and social work programs as well as career opportunities at Moffitt. Participants had the opportunity to engage in discussions about partnership opportunities with Pasco County and Saint Leo and learn about the exciting cancer research being conducted by Saint Leo students and faculty and by Moffitt personnel and students.

Every great project needs a great plan—a set of steps from conception through completion. Terri Vertes can attest to that. She spends her days helping the H. Lee Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa, FL, be more efficient and streamlined. As the manager of IT Project Management, she sets the standards for putting processes in place and providing consistency. When she arrived at Moffitt, there were no project guidelines. Today, there is a color-coded system that keeps everyone on track.

Although it may seem that project management would be dominated by numbers and deadlines, “It’s all about relationships,” Vertes explained. She and her team of six project managers and a coordinator have created an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration with other departments. They focus on projects that align with Moffitt’s strategic goals. One recent project involved implementing computerized physician order entry (CPOE), which enables Moffitt to meet government regulations and reduce risk. Another project involved revamping the TV system in patients’ rooms to provide tutorials, health information, and other tools for cancer patients.

Vertes’ educational journey was initially not an easy one. She was working at Bank of America in Tampa, FL, being a mom to her young son, and trying to finish her degree at the University of Tampa. She found that rushing to class during her lunch hours was becoming impossible. Lucky for her, one of her clients suggested that she take classes at Saint Leo online. “I started with one class,” she recalled, “and was quickly ready for two.” After completing her business degree and then working for an urban planner for a time, she came back to Saint Leo for her MBA. She has been in her current position since February 2015.

As a Catholic, Vertes appreciates Saint Leo’s abiding Benedictine tradition. “There was a community feel, and the people actually cared about me. The professors always made themselves available, and it was such a great educational experience,” she said.

She is also pleased to be sharing her success with others. Moffitt and Saint Leo recently entered into an agreement for an IT and project management intern program. “Saint Leo has the only university agreement with an IT relationship,” she said. Soon Saint Leo students will be benefiting from her expertise.