Physician assistant major is changing people’s lives

Student Spotlight
Guerin Gagliastri, second-year physician assistant

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Guerin Gagliastri, left, second-year physician assistant major; Erika Heffernan; and Stephen Jones organized the 2012 Color Run at RIT.

Recipient of the Howard Ward Commendation For Community Service from Residence Life, Guerin Gagliastri, second-year physician assistant major, has coordinated multiple programs to give back to the community of Rochester, including the Color Run that took place on May 6. More than 350 people showed their support by participating in the run. Ninety-two others volunteered their time to raise $2,200 for the Trevor Project, founded to prevent teen bullying and suicide in the LGBT community.

Question: Where are you from?
Answer: Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Q: What brought you to RIT?
A: I came to RIT for the physician assistant program. After getting into the program and visiting the school I realized that it was the best fit for me. It is a school full of fun and energetic people. It was a place that I felt could open many doors for me.

Q: How did it feel to win the Howard Ward Commendation For Community Service award?
A: It felt absolutely amazing to win this award. Being involved in Residence Life, I know there were many amazing candidates for this award, and to win it, I felt very touched. With my life’s aspiration to be a physician assistant and to better others and change peoples’ lives in a positive way, this award assured me that I am on the right track to reach my dreams and goals.

Q: Can you describe the Color Run that occurred Sunday?
A: The RIT Color Run was a Residence Life program that I have been working on since winter quarter with the help of Erika Heffernan and Stephen Jones. Sponsors for the event included Residence Life, the Residence Hall Association, RITGA, Spectrum, LGBT Center, RIT Running Club and NYCM Insurance. It was an event where students, friends, family, staff and people from the Rochester community could run or walk a 5K around the RIT campus. The runners started the race with a plain white T-shirt and at various intervals during the run there were volunteers to throw colored powder at the runners—red, orange, yellow, green and blue.

Q: What other community service programs have you organized?
A: This year I have organized other programs such as an organ donation program where a representative from Rochester Organ/Tissue Donation Center came in and gave a presentation about the importance and significance of being an organ donor and how it can not just save up to one life, but actually eight; a Cards for Kids program where cards were made for children in the Golisano Children’s Hospital around the winter holiday time; two blood drives with the Red Cross; cleaning up the highway on Scottsville Road; and two “Pie A PA Days” to raise money for a charity called Smile Train, the charity that helps and repairs cleft lips in children, and for Second Harvest that helps the homeless.

Q: Are you planning any other community service events?
A: This summer I am representing RIT and the PA program as the Assembly of Representatives in the American Academy of Physician Assistants, where I will be directly involved in voting on community service projects and other physician-assistant related events.

Q: What other activities do you participate in?
A: I am a resident advisor—senior resident advisor for next year, a teacher for No Voice Zone, the president of the Physician Assistant Student Association, a member of the American Academy of Physician Assistants and a student ambassador for RIT Admissions office. My freshman year I was also on the men’s varsity cross country and indoor and outdoor track teams.

Q: Any advice you would give to other RIT students?
A: Dream big, get involved, love what you do and, most importantly, have fun.

Brittany Remington compiles “Student Spotlights” for University News. Contact her at with suggestions.