TAMPA, Fla. — A commitment to serve seems to be in Rio Tate's DNA. Though these days, the U.S. Air Force veteran is serving on USF's campus in the school of Aging Studies.
"We're trying to see [if] currently if physical activity can reduce the prevalence of Alzheimer's [and] things like that," he said.
And when asked, why he chooses to study this topic you get this response:
"It's my single greatest purpose in life," Tate said.
It's a focus on the cognitive future that one of his professors says will change lives.
"When you talk to older adults, they would much rather be in a wheelchair than be cognitively impaired. So they really fear dementia," said Dr. Ross Andel, the Director of the USF School of Aging Studies.
And while he's not done just yet, so far Tate has made some promising discoveries when it comes to exercise and mental function later in life.
It's a commitment to "service beyond self" that makes it easy to understand why Tate was recently chosen to be a 2022 Pat Tillman Scholar. The designation recognizes people connected to the military who are taking on fields of study that can, essentially, make the world a better place and it helps fund their research.
This year Tate was one of 60 scholars chosen, in the entire world, which is an honor not lost on the Director of the USF Office of Veteran Success.
"You're sitting there with all this pride, excited for one of our students who has done this amazing work and the work that he's continuing to contribute to not just to the university, but to society as a whole," said Dr. Wayne Taylor.
But Tate sums it up in six words. "To me, it means the world," he said.