Health science studies graduate triumphs in the face of adversity

December 18, 2019

students walking outside in a campus courtyard

Vanessa Guzzardi ‘19, a graduate of Quinnipiac’s online BS in Health Science Studies program, was recently inducted into the School of Health Science National Honor Society, Alpha Eta, a distinguished honor.

Guzzardi’s impact in the health science studies program is lasting. In turn, her classmates, professors and curriculum have had an ever-changing effect on her and the work she does. Guzzardi is an Advocate Coordinator for the Connecticut Coalition on Domestic Violence.

Her BS in Health Science Studies helped prepare her for her current role and serves as an exceptional steppingstone to her planned future graduate degree.

The health science studies program includes courses in ethics, leadership and public health that directly relate to Guzzardi’s career. Her education, training and personal experience give her confidence to help her clients through extremely difficult situations.

Guzzardi gained valuable skills from the courses and professors, plus her classmates brought global experiences to the online classroom. One student was stationed in Iraq, one in Italy and another worked as a hospital respiratory therapist in Connecticut.

Guzzardi brought her own perspective to the group discussions as she is originally from Guatemala. Guzzardi relates well to others and is equipped to thrive in our global society.

Guzzardi says that her formal education and life experience have helped prepare her for her current role.

Guzzardi had to flee her native Guatemala to leave her abusive husband. The New York Times reports, “The homicide rate for [Guatemalan] women is more than three times the global average” and women, like Guzzardi, are fleeing for their lives.

Although Guzzardi’s mother is American, Guzzardi was not registered with the embassy and therefore, did not have any legal status in the U.S. Guzzardi was one of the lucky ones who was able to seek asylum in the United States.

She feels grateful to have the opportunity to serve those who are in need of assistance. With first-hand knowledge, intense training and her bachelor’s degree in Health Science Studies she is well-equipped to help those who are victims of domestic violence.

Her work doesn’t stop here. Guzzardi’s message is loud and clear – she is going to make a difference in people’s lives through the work she does.

The Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence recently launched Safe Connect, an online support initiative which enhances communication for victims and survivors of domestic violence by providing bilingual phone, text, chat or email communication options that are available 365 days per year, 24 hours a day 7 days a week. 

News8 WTNH New Haven interviewed Guzzardi and her coworkers about the launch of Safe Connect. Guzzardi sees the promise of this launch and attributes her Health Science Studies degree for sparking a commitment to learn as much as she can to make her community a better place.

Experiences mold people, but they don’t define them. Guzzardi is positive, she is thankful and she is committed to helping her community. Guzzardi is a survivor whose unwavering attitude will make a considerable difference to those she serves and beyond.

Q & A

Did you have credits to transfer into the BS in Health Science Studies program?

I came to this country with an associate’s degree and my credits transferred into Quinnipiac’s online BS in Health Science Studies program. Dr. Fitzgerald, program director and advisor, guided my course selection so that I would graduate with coursework directly targeted for my career as an Advocate Coordinator.

QU allows you to customize your schooling to meet your career goals and I am benefitting from that in my job.

What class did you enjoy the most? Why?

It is difficult to choose just one! All of the classes are amazing, but if I had to pick, I would say public health is my favorite class. I fell in love with the class first because of Professor Wolfe and then the subject matter.

There are so many interesting topics to discover and I am seeing a direct relation from my public health class to what I am doing now. It has opened new doors for me in terms of my future as well.

I also enjoyed my music class. I learned about music as therapy. And taking Evidenced Base Research and Statistics allowed me to see how things are related and what that means. It is fascinating.

I use many of the tools I learned in these classes in my personal and professional life.

How was your overall experience at Quinnipiac?

My relationships with the faculty and my classmates have far exceeded my expectations. I still have a good relationship with Dr. Fitzgerald and have very fond memories of other professors and classmates that have made such a difference in my Health Science Studies program.

I am forever grateful for Quinnipiac and think so highly of the university that I will apply there for my graduate degree.

It sounds like you are not done yet. What is on the horizon for you?

I plan on returning to Quinnipiac for my graduate degree in public health or a leadership degree. I haven’t quite figured that out yet, but I am not ready to stop studying. You need knowledge in order to make a change. I want to be part of United Nation Sustainable Goals 2030.

This initiative is committed to end hunger, have basic needs met, ensure gender equity and end poverty everywhere. These are just a few of the goals. I believe that ignorance is the one aspect that weakens humanity and I plan to learn all I can to help better our society.

Learn more about Quinnipiac’s BS in Health Science Studies program and how it can contribute to your career goals.

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