Berkeley Public Health student Aaron Maruzzo named a 2021 Switzer Fellow

We’re pleased to announce that UC Berkeley School of Public Health student Aaron Maruzzo has been named one of 20 2021 Switzer Fellows.

The Switzer Fellowship offers one-year fellowships to highly talented graduate students in New England and California whose studies and career goals are directed toward environmental improvement and who clearly demonstrate leadership in their field.

Switzer Fellows are on the leading edge of environmental and social change through efforts in environmental science, policy, conservation, environmental justice, public health, economics, journalism, urban planning, business, law, and more. Switzer Fellows come from diverse social, academic, and economic backgrounds. They are committed to interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral work, applied results, and collaborative leadership. Further, they are committed to their own professional development and to continually improving their leadership skills throughout their careers.

For three years prior to attending UC Berkeley, Maruzzo worked as a water lab analyst for the Commonwealth Utilities Corporation , a municipal water company in the US territory of the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, serving the islands of Saipan, Tinian, and Rota. In his time there, Maruzzo assisted locals in the aftermath of Typhoon Yutu, when many were without water or electricity. He also interned for the LA Community Health Project assisting in advocacy efforts as well as working at harm-reduction sites for those struggling with addiction and homelessness. 

Originally from the island of Saipan, Maruzzo was inspired early on in his pursuit of public health by his family’s experiences with health inequities when they moved to Southern California, an experience he recognizes is not unique to him. 

“Meeting people where they’re at” in public health and using interdisciplinary and community-oriented approaches has always been Maruzzo’s interest, even more so as he continues to learn about various approaches through his studies at Berkeley Public Health, pursuing a Masters of Public Health Sciences in Environmental Health Sciences. 

“I wanted to find a way to help the community solve its challenges and build its capacity. That we can empower individuals and groups to take action if we listen to their health needs, has really motivated my interest.,” Maruzzo said.

This summer, Maruzzo is conducting an internship analyzing water contaminants on the Mariana Islands and supporting decision-makers in setting up safe contaminant levels in the drinking water systems.  

Justin Remais, Berkeley Public Health professor and chair of the Division of Environmental and Health Sciences, said that Maruzzo exemplifies the leadership and promise of Switzer Fellows. “This honor recognizes Aaron for his many achievements in his career thus far, including his outstanding academic work. He is greatly deserving of this prestigious fellowship.”

On being awarded a Switzer Fellowship, Maruzzo said,“I feel incredibly blessed and grateful to have been selected as a Switzer Fellow. Truly, it’s a powerful network of inspiring environmental stewards, and I feel like I’m among titans. Most of all, I’m looking forward to connecting with other Switzer Fellows. I’m hoping to meet colleagues, friends, and mentors that could help the Western Pacific build safer, stronger communities.”

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