New public health professor wants to end health disparities

by Ceighlee Fennel, Contributor

Every year San Diego State gains not only new students, but new faculty as well.

This semester Jerel Calzo joins the School of Public Health as an associate professor in the health promotion and behavioral sciences division. Unlike most professors, Calzo has an additional office off-campus at the Sky Park Court in Kearny Mesa.

When Calzo is actually on campus once or twice a week, he will be teaching a course in behavioral measurement at both the master’s and doctoral levels.

“I am really looking forward to being back in the classroom,” Calzo said. “Since I am new faculty, I’m excited to get to know the students more and explore course development.”

Prior to joining the public health team, Calzo held a position at the Boston’s Children Hospital after his collegiate experiences at University of California, Los Angeles, University of Michigan and Harvard concluded.

Calzo previously interned with a clinical psychologist, but wanted to expand his focus to help more of the public by promoting health and preventing health disparities.

“I was looking for a place that values teaching and community connection while supporting the LGBTQ community,” Calzo said. “I found (that) here.”

One way he supports the LGBT community is through his affiliation with the Center for Research on Sexuality and Sexual Health. The center combines a group of scholars who work together to rid the public of health disparities.

The peer-to-peer teaching component of his behavioral measurement course is geared to benefit the future careers of his students. He wants to help his students break down the complexities of public health to make it easier to study.

Calzo plans to experiment with new technology, while making the course material his own by adding principles from previously successful programs.

“He brings a lot of enthusiasm teaching and working with students,” public health professor Heather Corliss said. “He has had exceptional training, so in terms of knowledge he brings a lot of skill and expertise in areas of studies and research.”

Although has has several years of research experience, Calzo wants to contribute to the teaching and training of the next health promotion professionals. Calzo wants his students to form a personal connection with the material.

“I love when students move from critical to creative thinking and become of service to the community,” Calzo said. “Teaching students is something that I think is very rewarding and inspiring and I’m looking forward to it.”