SMU Professor Earns a Fulbright Award
Dr. Rolando Lazaro, associate professor and co-chair of the Department of Physical Therapy, has been selected for a prestigious Fulbright award to teach master’s level courses at the University of the Philippines (UP). As a Fulbright scholar, Lazaro will also study community health delivery at UP’s internationally recognized rehabilitation program that he hopes will benefit his work when he returns to Samuel Merritt University (SMU).
Following the completion of several formal requirements of the Fulbright program, Professor Lazaro plans to travel to Manila in June. For five months he will teach global health, disability prevention and physical rehabilitation at the University’s College of Allied Medical Professions to help further its goal of increasing the number of faculty with post-baccalaureate degrees.
“It’s the country of my birth so it’s really a way to give back,” said Lazaro, who lived in the Philippines until moving to the United States 25 years ago.
Lazaro was inspired to apply for a Fulbright grant after spending two months as a volunteer teacher at the College of Allied Medical Professions in 2011, near the Manila suburb where he grew up. During that time, he witnessed the same healthcare disparities as we have in the United States.
“We’re such a rich country, but there’s such a big divide in our access to healthcare,” he said. “In the Philippines, most people gain access through limited public services. They stretch their limited resources to provide as much as they can, and I want to learn how they’ve been successful at it.”
Lazaro plans to do that by closely observing the Manila College’s renowned community-based rehabilitation program and implementing the same approach at SMU. He intends to expand the pro bono Physical Therapy Neurologic Rehabilitation Clinic he started at SMU nine years ago into a multidisciplinary community health clinic.
“My goal is to make the clinic interprofessional so all SMU programs can participate,” he said.
Lazaro’s Fulbright award is the second received by a faculty member at SMU. In 1996-1997, ANSN Professor Richard MacIntyre served as a Fulbright scholar at the University of Tromsø in Norway.
“I am pleased that the J. William Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board has recognized Professor Lazaro’s talents as a teacher and his deep concern for addressing health disparities,” said SMU President Sharon Diaz. “He exemplifies Samuel Merritt University’s mission of educating skilled, compassionate and culturally competent healthcare professionals.”
The Fulbright Program, sponsored by the U.S. Department of State, enables U.S. citizens to study, teach, and conduct research in other countries. It also brings citizens of other countries to the United States, with the goal of establishing open communication and long-term cooperative relationships. The program chooses participants based on their academic merit and leadership potential, and provides them with the opportunity to observe one another’s political, economic and cultural institutions, exchange ideas, and embark on joint ventures of importance to people around the world.