Hispanic Heritage Month takes place each year from Sept. 15 through Oct. 15. Throughout the month, The Daily will highlight members of the university community who are of Hispanic heritage to celebrate their accomplishments and shed light on their experiences at CWRU.
One of eight children, Flavio Marsiglia grew up in a family where education and community service were always valued and encouraged. So, from an early age, Marsiglia knew he wanted to make a difference.
“In social work, I found the right venue to channel my passion,” said Marsiglia, who, in 1991, earned his PhD from the Jack, Joseph, and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences.
Marsiglia received the bulk of his social work education in Uruguay, which is where he first learned about Case Western Reserve University through the Cleveland International Program. He wasn’t thinking about pursuing a doctoral education, but once he met the faculty at the Mandel School and learned about their research, he realized the importance of evidence-based practice—one of the school’s central tenets—and its potential impact in the lives of communities.
He went on to become a research assistant for CWRU’s Claudia Coulton on a study of pain management for older adults, during which time he interviewed dozens of Spanish-speaking Puerto Rican elders in Cleveland and Lorain.
“Their answers and stories demonstrated a strong connection between culture of origin and health,” he explained. “The experience awakened in me a lasting motivation to study culture of origin as a protective factor.”
That motivation led Marsiglia to Arizona State University, where he is a faculty member in the School of Social Work. He’s also the director of the university’s Global Center for Applied Health Research (GHAHR), which exists to design, implement and test evidence-based and culturally appropriate interventions to improve the health and wellbeing of children, youth and families around the world through equitable research collaborations.
The center’s mission is something Marsiglia is quite familiar with. While in Cleveland, he worked as a school social worker and later as a researcher in the Cleveland public schools.
“I realized that we needed to support children who were doing fine and to prevent the onset of risky behaviors,” he noted. “Since then, I have developed and tested interventions with different populations within the U.S. and in other countries in collaboration with many colleagues and community partners.”
Also during his time in Cleveland, Marsiglia became the co-founder of Cleveland’s Hispanic Cultural Center and he started a Latinx scholarship fund at the Mandel School as a way to celebrate Hispanic heritage, narrow the Latinx representation gap, and honor those who opened doors for him (including Claudia Coulton; Howard Goldstein, his dissertation chair; and faculty members Caroline Tempio and Tom Holland, who believed in him and encouraged him to apply to CWRU’s doctoral program).