Bigger than the moment

Kevin Hartzog, Jr., graduation

BY DEXTER MCCREE, Feature Writer

RIVERVIEW – Some things in life are more significant than the moment in which they happen. Such was the case with Kevin Hartzog, Jr.’s graduation from the University of Tampa, where he received a master’s degree in nursing.

Being in an environment where it is often hard to find those who identify with you culturally can be a challenge in itself. And balancing the demands of the academic requirements along with life can bring on its own adversities.

“Dedication, integrity and perseverance defines him. I am so proud of him; this is only the beginning,” said Dr. Kaylee McCrary, Hartzog’s girlfriend.

Hartzog, Jr., who currently resides in Riverview, is a 2007 graduate of Lakewood High School. He was vice-president of his senior class and student government. He played varsity football and was named an Ebony Scholar.

Kevin Hartzog Jr., graduationAfter graduation, Hartzog, Jr. took his talents on the football field to the University of Dubuque in Iowa. He later transferred to Clarke University in the same town and became the first African-American male to earn a four-year Bachelor of Science Degree in nursing in 2013. His pursuit of a master’s degree led him to the University of Tampa.

“The reason I got into nursing is that it is an unselfish profession,” he said, adding that he maintained a 3.5 grade point average. “This allows me to continue to help and care for those in need while also holding a leadership position.”

Hartzog, Jr. has a strong desire to help expand the dreams of young black men, specifically in the medical arena because there are so few. His goal is to create a scholarship to help drive this career choice.

He has a passion for preventative medicine and believes becoming a family nurse practitioner is an impactful achievement to the communities he represents.

Frequently, it is hard to be what you cannot see. Therefore many kids are limited to what may be in front of them. He hopes he’ll be able to plant a seed of possibility for youth to dream big.

“As a teammate and lifelong friend, he consistently has motivated me by his actions and dedication,” said Clarence Scott IV, adding that Hartzog, Jr. has never swayed away from achieving his goals. “I am extremely proud of him although this is only the beginning of his legacy.”

Hartzog, Jr. recognizes he’ll face problems along the way as he has in the past. He’s always been able to overcome any obstacle by holding his favorite scripture to heart:

For I know, the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

~ Jeremiah 29:11

No doubt, his strong faith is an extension of growing up attending Mt. Zion Progressive Missionary Baptist Church where the Rev. Louis Murphy, Sr. tends his flock. Since moving to Riverview, he currently attends Love First Christian Center under the guidance of Pastor Jomo Cousins.

Hartzog, Jr. also has a strong support system in his family and friends. He continues to tell himself: “It is so much bigger than me.”

“When I graduated, my family, friends and the City of St. Petersburg graduated with me.”

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