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Friday, September 29, 2023

Senior Rebekah Zaiser describes herself as a perfectionist — both on the gymnastics floor and in the classroom — and it shows.

It’s a characteristic she said she got from her mom, a physician who homeschooled Zaiser and her two brothers and pushed them to do their best.

As a result, Zaiser strives for perfection in everything she does.

On March 5, in UF’s tri-meet against North Carolina and Ball State, Zaiser nailed her beam routine, earning a career-best 9.95. It was a routine she said was a long time coming, and it meant a lot to her to finally perform to her potential.

In school, Zaiser has taken the term student-athlete to heart, accumulating a 3.97 GPA in her four years at Florida and is one of two UF athletes nominated for the H. Boyd McWhorter Scholar-Athlete Post-Graduate Scholarship, which is presented to the Southeastern Conference’s top male and female scholar-athletes.

“It would mean a lot to win that scholarship,” said Zaiser, who will start medical school in the fall.  “I’ve worked very hard with school, and athletics, too. I put a lot of heart and soul into everything I do at UF.”

Just where she will attend medical school hasn’t been determined.

She applied to about a dozen different schools, was granted interviews with eight or nine of them and has been accepted to five, including UF, Ohio State, Virginia, Thomas Jefferson in Philadelphia and Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.

“I can’t make a commitment yet, but it’s probably down to Virginia, Case or Ohio State,” said Zaiser, who would like to remain in the Northeast to be close to her family in Mars, Pa.

While those are options she’s satisfied with, Zaiser is still waiting to hear back from two schools that waitlisted her: Pennsylvania and Pittsburgh, where she did research with a medical resident last summer on the incidence of undiagnosed HIV in the Pittsburgh area.

During her research stint, Zaiser helped out at an inner-city hospital and gave free HIV tests, interacted with patients and helped answer their questions.

Because of that experience, Zaiser hopes to study either orthopedics, where she can work with athletes motivated to rehabilitate from injury, or emergency medical care, like her mom does, though she is leaving her options open.

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“I like the adrenaline rush of the emergency room — it’s kind of like athletics,” Zaiser said. “You have to be prepared for anything and everyone in the room is looking up to you and relying on you.”

But Zaiser, who will find out about the McWhorter scholarship April 6, still has time to decide on her destination and specialty.

In the meantime, she wants to remain focused on No. 4 Florida’s goal of an NCAA title.

When asked if she had to choose between her No. 1 school choice and a national title, she said she’d take the NCAA title.

 “As far as med schools go, I’m happy with the acceptances I have, but I can’t imagine what it would be like to win a national title here,” Zaiser said.

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