UF DNP Student Tree Planting Honors U.S. Surgeon General

Rene Love, Vivek Murthy, Kevin Tipton and Lakeshia Cousin attend Monday's tree planting event in South Florida

While receiving the U.S. Surgeon General’s Medallion in 2023 for his efforts during the pandemic, Kevin Cho Tipton, a student in UF’s Doctor of Nursing Practice program, extended an invitation to Surgeon General Vivek Murthy to attend a tree planting ceremony in South Florida.

Tipton wanted to plant a tree in the surgeon general’s hometown of Miami in honor of Murthy and his family’s contributions to health care. Murthy’s father and sister are also medical doctors. Murthy accepted.

On July 8, they planted a mango tree in a community garden in the Miami area.

“Welcoming Dr. Murthy home was an incredible honor and a beautiful moment to witness. His parents and sister moved to Miami in 1980 and built their entire lives around the possibilities of what America could be for a family from far away. Still today, not only does Dr. Murthy serve our entire nation as the U.S. Surgeon General, but his family continues to practice medicine here in the community,” Tipton said.

The tree was planted in a garden operated by Health in the Hood, which has nine gardens in the Miami area and focuses on urban farming, free produce distribution, and nutrition education.

“It was only fitting that this mango tree be dedicated at a community garden that feeds hundreds of his childhood neighbors from across Miami-Dade County and that his mother could help guide its dedication,” Tipton said.

The Miami-Dade County mayor issued a proclamation declaring July 8 as Vice Admiral Vivek H. Murthy Day for Service in Public Health. The gathering was attended by representatives from the University of Florida, Florida International University, the University of Miami, physicians, residents, and medical students. 

Among those attending the event were UF Nursing faculty Rene Love, PhD, DNP, PMHNP-BC, FNAP, FAANP, and Lakeshia Cousin, PhD, APRN, AGPCNP-BC. Love is a clinical professor and the associate dean for academic affairs for graduate clinical education. Cousin, an assistant professor, is Tipton’s DNP faculty mentor for his DNP project in health policy.

“It was an incredible honor to attend the ceremony supporting Kevin and to witness such a meaningful event. Seeing Kevin’s dedication to his work and ability to unite the community in such a powerful way was truly inspiring. Kevin’s efforts in organizing this event, having the tree dedication and proclamation of Dr. Vivek Murthy Day, highlight his commitment to community-driven health initiatives,” Cousin said.