Shrinking the world by increasing understanding
Jason Scozzafava, clinical assistant professor of health science studies
Jason Scozzafava likes to collect shooting stars. Or, at least, their stories of wonder and success.
As a clinical assistant professor of health science studies, Scozzafava is energized by the ideas and aspirations of his students.
“Health science studies is our most flexible program in the School of Health Sciences. It really allows students to follow their own interests and their own paths,” Scozzafava said. “We have shooting stars all over the place.”
Some of those shooting stars are aspiring doctors on a pre-med path. Others are preparing for graduate-level careers in the health professions, including physical therapy and occupational therapy. Still others hope to work in social work, military medicine, art therapy and radiology.
The list goes on and on. The common bond is always choice.
“We try to offer enough variety to let students figure out what they want. That’s really where the program excels,” Scozzafava said. “Health science studies allows students to pivot.”
One of those pivots is the opportunity to learn about other cultures through global engagement trips. Over the years, Scozzafava and his students have conducted research and partnered with communities in Costa Rica, Barbados and the Dominican Republic.
“We’re really focused on community development and establishing partnerships,” Scozzafava said. “It’s absolutely not, ‘Hey, we’re so great and we know it all.’ I can’t stress that enough.”
Along those lines, Scozzafava has created an international research chain. Students first learn about ethical field research methods in HSC 380: International Health Research. From there, students can apply that training to independent study projects and capstones.
Last spring, Scozzafava went to Nicoya, Costa Rica, to study human longevity with 13 students. Nicoya is one of five “Blue Zones” around the world where many people live to be 100 years old at 10 times the rate of the United States, according to National Geographic.
Scozzafava and his students studied the Ticos, the native community of Costa Rica, during the trip. The students learned about the local diet of the Ticos, along with their family trees, social interactions, exercise habits and level of happiness.