By TOM ZEBOLD
USF Senior Writer
TAMPA - Zak Boggs is an achiever in every sense of the word.
The former USF soccer standout's college resume alone will make you shake your head and say, "wow," while reading through his boatload of superlatives that included Bulls student-athlete of the year, Big East scholar-athlete of the year, ESPN first-team scholar All-American and the John Wooden Citizenship Cup by Athletes for a Better World award.
The list has kept growing and will probably become even more impressive as time goes on because of Boggs' drive to become someone incredible. He's made a soccer player's dream become a reality by playing in the MLS for the New England Revolution, but the former USF captain isn't satisfied with just that. It's the work he does off the field that could very well become his greatest achievement.
Boggs was named the 2011 MLS Humanitarian of the Year for the volunteer work he continues to do at Boston Children's Hospital, using his biomedical sciences degree to assist with angiogenesis topics in the lab.
"I'll always find a way to do what I want to do and to make a positive influence. That's just the way that I am," he said.
Boggs will have an opportunity to do much more in the future now that he's received the Fulbright Scholarship that will allow him to pursue a master's degree in medical sciences with a focus on cancer research in the United Kingdom at Leicester University.
"Zak was highly motivated in everything he did. He's one of those guys that you could predict he could be successful in life," USF head coach George Kiefer said. "This scholarship is not really a surprise to me or to the other coaches. It's in fact something you'd expect a guy like Zak to get."
Cancer research holds a special place in Boggs' heart because of what he's experienced in his life. His grandmother is a cancer survivor and he saw another fight firsthand while staying with a teammate during past summers he played for a semipro team in Bradenton. Boggs' teammate's mother was diagnosed with stage 4 liver cancer and it truly opened up his eyes to a battle worth pursuing.
"I was around for that and I saw how it affected her and it affected the family," he said. "She had such a great attitude and it just put a perspective on things. I think that's truly why I wanted to start studying and looking into this."
It's been about two years since Boggs, a third-year soccer pro, has been in the classroom but he's confident that he won't miss a beat when he starts the program in England this fall.
"It's going to be no different than undergraduate, playing for USF and doing all the studies that I did," he said. "I was taking pretty serious course loads and I came out with a pretty solid (4.0) GPA."
Boggs also will be staying sharp on the pitch and has been lining up teams to play with overseas as he continues to balance soccer and science far away from home.
"It's pretty much the birthplace of soccer," he said. "Going over there is unbelievable and will give me a different experience to come back to the states with and be able to play again in the league."
Boggs considers himself blessed with all he's been able to accomplish and his hunger for accomplishments that could help so many is making him a difference-maker the world truly needs.
"Whatever he wants to do he'll get done because his mind won't allow him to not get it done," Kiefer said.
Now that's an athlete you really want to root for on and especially off the field.