Giving it the “College Try”: UF Alumnus and Employee Reaches Great Heights
“The key question to keep asking is, are you spending your time on the right things? Because time is all you have.”
– Randy Pausch, The Last Lecture
Lucas Gross ’09 M ’16, by his own admission, wears many hats.
Most recently, Gross was named by the Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging (SNMMI) as the recipient of the Ursula Kocemba-Slosky, PhD, Professional Relations Fellowship, a fellowship which “provides a gifted and highly motivated young nuclear medicine or molecular imaging professional with first-hand experience in the professional intersociety relations process.”
He has both an undergraduate and graduate degree from University of Findlay. He has a certificate of Nuclear Medicine from UF as well; and he is currently enrolled at Nova Southeastern University starting his dissertation phase in the Doctorate of Philosophy in Health Sciences.
And there’s more.
He’s also an employee of UF, recognized as the radiation safety officer of the main campus, the director of medical laboratory science, and an instructor of teaching and clinical coordinator in nuclear medicine technology; and these are only a few of his titles and roles.
Gross has come a long way from working at Best Buy as a member of the Geek Squad while working toward his Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Medicine Technology. Born and raised in Lima, Ohio, the son of a second-generation cabinetmaker at the family-owned Millwork Shop in Lima, Ohio and a mother who is a registered nurse with a 40-year career at Lima Memorial Hospital under her belt, Gross remarkably confessed that when in high school, he didn’t even see himself attending college. “I didn’t think college was for me so I completed the ACT only twice, freshman year and senior year. I applied to UF, was accepted, then came for a visit.” It seems that he liked it enough, however, to “give it the old college try,” so to speak, becoming an official Oiler shortly after.
On that visit day, he said, Gross interviewed with UF ITS for a potential job with the department. Learning about computers from his relatives who “let him hang around and pick up the basics,” led to a successful interview and a job. It was a great experience for him as a student, he said, one that helped him in a myriad of ways. “ITS polished my skills,” Gross explained. “The experience was terrific as it taught me valuable skills with computers, coding, networking, hardware, software, and most importantly, professionalism and communications with superiors and colleagues.”
Gross gives credit to the dean of the college of health professions, Richard States D.H.Sc., who was his adviser at UF, for helping him to discover not only that college was, in fact, for him, but that he had an as yet undiscovered passion. “When I met Dr. States initially, I didn’t have a strong interest in nuclear medicine,” he said, “but after discussing the field with him in greater detail, I became fascinated. It helped that the nuclear medicine program at UF is the premier nuclear medicine program in the field.”
His fascination has since led him to honors he never thought possible as a young man, including the honor of being selected as one of only thirty honorees to be named SNMMI Ones to Watch last year and of being the Slosky fellow for this year. With the latter, Gross has the unique opportunity to experience direct, personal exposure to the society’s professional relations activities with medical societies, patient groups, and professional organizations. “I’m eager and prepared to immerse myself into the unique opportunity,” he said. “I believe Dr. Slosky’s visionary establishment of this program to be absolutely vital to our field, promising to cultivate young professionals like myself who are committed to building a stronger network of communicating channels that will sustain coherent growth of the nuclear medicine and molecular imaging field.” According to SNMMI’s website, during this year’s virtual fellowship, Gross will be able to participate in crucial work being done during a time where collaboration and outreach has never been more vital to associations. He is only the second non-MD or MD/PhD recipient in the fellowship history.
Gross has been busy in the nuclear medicine community since graduating. He worked for Penn State Hershey Milton S. Hershey Medical Center and frequently collaborates with Mark Tulchinsky MD. He has served positions with the examination board, and professional societies on the national, regional, state, and local levels on varying committees. He represented UF last year at the Ohio Statehouse in Columbus, OH and Capitol Hill, Washington, DC, advocating with legislatures for patient safety.
As both an alumnus and employee of UF, Gross recognizes the many benefits of his alma mater in getting him to his current place in life and academia, and he has a positive outlook on both his and the University’s future. “Life is good [at UF],” he said. “There is a strong focus on being student-centered, and every day I can teach or advise students in medical laboratory science (MLS) and nuclear medicine.” Gross credits UF for the implementation of the Oiler Success Center with success coaches that allow him to advise other majors in the college of health professions. “Every day I contribute to helping a student achieve success working towards UF’s mission,” he said.
Life is good, as well, for Gross as a husband and father. He met his wife Sheane, an intervention specialist for Findlay City Schools, while they were students at UF, and his philosophy that “perseverance and resilience will lead to better outcomes” is already undoubtedly being challenged in life outside of academia, as the couple has three young children all under the age of six: five-year-old daughter, Quinn, three-year-old son, Spencer, and four-month-old daughter, Logan.
Regardless of the challenges he faces, however, Gross continues to don whatever wide array of hats might come his way in whichever area of life he needs to tackle. It all comes down to spending time on the right things with the right attitude. “Times are tough,” he said, “but keep working harder than you did the day before. Be confident with yourself; if you believed in Santa for ten years, you can believe in yourself for ten minutes.”