Rising Senior in Human Science Learns to Approach Health Holistically

MAY 18, 2015 – Nicholas Santaniello (NHS’16), a human science major, credits his experience in a course on health promotion and disease prevention with inspiring his approach to health.

The class is taught by Joan Burggraf Riley (NHS’76, G’97), MS, MSN, RN, FNP-BC, FAAN, assistant dean for educational innovation and associate professor of human science and nursing.

“Learning about social and psychological aspects of health promotion and disease prevention helped me understand that health and disease are not strictly biological,” says Santaniello.

Coursework Flexibility

In addition to his human science classes, Santaniello says he has enjoyed the ability to take courses in other university departments.

“They have helped broaden my perspective and deepen my understanding of what it means to care for the whole person,” the student says.

A native of Staten Island, NY, Santaniello specifically enjoyed the “New York Stories” class, taught by Maureen Corrigan, PhD, critic in residence in the Department of English.

“After taking this course, I have tried to approach all my courses and extracurricular activities with the same level of passion, knowing that doing so will allow me to contribute and gain much more from my experiences,” he says.

Volunteer Work

A president of the Georgetown chapter of Project Sunshine, a nonprofit organization that provides free educational, recreational, and social programs to children facing medical challenges and their families, Santaniello regularly volunteers with children at MedStar Georgetown University Hospital.

Activities range from playing or doing arts and crafts with patients in the playroom to helping put the younger patients to bed.

While he is not able to perform medical procedures, the student values the time he spends with children, taking their minds off being in the hospital.

“I know that care can go much beyond procedure and protocol and that fun and entertainment can aid in overcoming psychological and social barriers to good health,” the junior says.

Future Plans

Santaniello, who plans to attend medical school upon graduation, will intern at the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center in the fall, performing behavioral cancer research related to tobacco use, indoor tanning, and diet.

He will spend the summer break with his family, working as a lifeguard at a federal beach.

“I look forward to using my summer to reflect on my Georgetown experience so far,” the rising senior says. “Being with my family and away from DC for a little while will really help me come back in the fall rejuvenated and ready to make my senior year the best it can be.”

By Masha Mikey (S’15)

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