Joined USJ: 2015
A graduate of a small, liberal arts college herself, Marguerite Zaharek-Girgasky, Ph.D., felt drawn to the University of Saint Joseph for its sense of community. After volunteering in the Peace Corps and teaching at other institutions, she selected USJ as her next professional “home,” inspired to share her passion for Nutrition with like-minded students. With a career that encompassed both community nutrition and community-based participatory research, the structure of a liberal arts education provides the ideal opportunity. “I really like the fact that this is a career-driven program housed within the liberal arts focus,” Zaharek-Girgasky said. “We are not just narrowly training students for one specific type of job; we’re providing them with a broader perspective.”
With a history strongly rooted in community-based practice, Zaharek-Girgasky knows that everyone offers something of value. Whether working with health professionals in Cameroon or first-year students at USJ, she approaches her work with the understanding that she can learn from others just as they can learn from her. “My philosophy is that everybody has something to contribute; everybody comes to the table with their own unique experiences and their own expertise,” Zaharek-Girgasky said. Her courses reflect this, with a structure that accommodates an open discussion of ideas.
As someone with multiple degrees, Zaharek-Girgasky knows the stress (and joy) of college life. She understands that content knowledge only provides a portion of the skills and preparation needed for a successful career; the rest must come from real-world experience. Zaharek-Girgasky encourages her students to extend themselves, to contact other professionals in order to gain career insight. Her ultimate goal is to teach students how to think and create a future in this field. “I want to provide students with the tools to think critically on their own, find the essential information, make decisions, and motivate others,” she said.
Ph.D., Columbia University
M.A., Wesleyan University
M.S., Columbia University
B.A., Muhlenberg College