Emilia Zarco, M.D., Ed.D., who earned a medical degree in the Philippines, spent the previous four years as associate dean in the Ammon School of Education.

by Cecil Harris

Emilia P. Zarco, M.D., M.Ed., who took over in September 2013 as chair of the Department of Exercise Science, Health Studies, Physical Education and Sport Management in the Ruth S. Ammon School of Education, has been deeply affected by the tragic aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan, which caused widespread death and destruction when it struck her native country, the Philippines.

According to a November 23 story in The New York Times, 5,235 people were killed, 23,501 were injured and 1,613 were still missing.

In a November 15 letter to the Adelphi University community, Dr. Zarco wrote:

“We would like to appeal to your generosity to help raise funds for emergency relief and community rebuilding efforts for the survivors of Typhoon Haiyan….The Philippine government estimates that about 58,000 have been displaced and two million people are in need of food and water. Most of the media relief efforts are currently focused on Tacloban and Leyte. But there are other islands that are in dire need as well.

Typhoon Haiyan caused widespread death and destruction when it struck the Philippines in November.

“I come from the province of Iloilo in Panay Island. Panay is one of the islands in direct path of the storm. The coastal communities in the Northern part of Iloilo were severely affected and need emergency relief and community rebuilding funds. There are currently about 8,000 individuals in evacuation centers in these coastal communities.”

In collaboration with Sidney Boquiren, Ph.D., chair of the Department of Music and himself a Filipino, and Adelphi University’s administrative offices, funds for the relief effort continue to be collected on the Garden City campus and at Manhattan Center.

In a recent interview, Dr. Zarco talked about growing up in the Philippines:

“I grew up in a small rural town. We didn’t have electricity until I was in the third grade. My mother was my first-grade teacher. Growing up in a small town taught me to appreciate nature and basic things. We didn’t have a lot of toys and clothes, but we had family, friends and the community. Our educational system is built upon the U.S. system, so being educated in the Philippines taught me the same universal values that we hold here.”

In May 2013, Dr. Zarco’s son, Cristobal, graduated from Adelphi’s Honors College with a bachelor’s degree in political science. Education, Dr. Zarco explained, is a priority among Filipinos:

“Education in the Philippines is valued highly–even more than money and material things. A farmer would sell his prized possession, such as a carabao [a water buffalo], or trade his rice land to send a child to college. Both my father and mother were schoolteachers. So I have always valued education.”

Dr. Zarco earned a medical degree in the Philippines. After spending the last four years as associate dean in the Ammon School of Education, she now chairs the department she once served as a faculty member. She is a contributing author of Comprehensive Stress Management and Exploring the Dimensions of Human Sexuality. Her research interests include substance abuse, maternal and child health, disease control and prevention, and health risk behaviors.

When asked about her goals for her department, Dr. Zarco said, “I would like to promote the new Sport-Based Youth Development Specialization and continue the work to develop a full online sport management program. I will also explore opportunities for collaboration within our department, among the programs in the [Ammon] School of Education and with other units in the University. We are exploring partnership opportunities involving our exercise science and health studies programs, the community health promotion program, the Master of Public Health program and the Center for Health Innovation. I will also explore the possibility of developing a doctoral program in which physical education, health studies, sport management, exercise science and other related fields can collaborate.”

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