Teresa Petrozzi, Xavier University
Teresa Petrozzi, a Senior Nursing major, seeks initiatives that combine direct service with long-term solutions, particularly for medical issues. For four years she has embedded herself with an organization that serves the most marginalized in her community. Her longstanding commitment to the Jimmy Heath House – which houses and supports men suffering from addiction – has provided Tess a lens into the complications of recovery and allowed her to witness the healing power of acceptance. She has leveraged her passion and aptitude for healthcare through weekly service with a hospice provider and a summer service internship with Healthy Moms and Babes where she worked in low-income neighborhoods providing pregnancy screenings and health education. It was this experience that inspired Tess’ next chapter: this summer she will travel to New Zealand on a Fellowship to research inequalities in healthcare systems with a specific concentration on infant mortality rates. Tess’ goal is to apply this research in her practice and in a county where infant mortality rates have hit an alarming high over the past decade. Tess has a real ability to make significant contributions to this very public problem and the community connectivity to insure results that can benefit all.
-Father Michael Graham, SJ
My engagement has actively sought relationships with those who experience life from a different side of the spectrum than I do. One cannot understand injustices within complex systems of our society if time is not invested with those immersed in these injustices. For the past four years I have invested my time with the residents of Jimmy Heath House, a housing program for homeless, alcoholic men. At Heath House we don’t define ourselves as the “helper” or the “helpless,” and instead work together towards something greater: establishing community and building bridges that connect students like me with men struggling against their surroundings and themselves. Although our engagement has not cured these men of their alcoholism – and it wasn’t designed that way – it has established relationships between those whose paths might have never crossed before and created understanding, empathy, and solidarity between us. My experiences fostered a desire to create systemic change through direct engagement and applied research. I am focusing my research fellowship in New Zealand on inequalities in healthcare systems, primarily on infant mortality rates. It is my hope to return with knowledge that can be applied in my own community to close health gaps in our country.