A new partnership between Pima Community College and the Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona will provide a direct pathway for community college students to transfer from Pima’s Associate of Arts in Fitness and Wellness degree program to the college’s BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice degree program so students can start at Pima and finish with their BA as preparation for careers in health and wellness.
A new partnership between Pima Community College (PCC) and the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health (MEZCOPH) at the University of Arizona will provide a direct pathway for community college students to transfer from the PCC’s Associates of Arts in Fitness and Wellness program to the college’s BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice degree program, a pathway that enables students to start at Pima and finish with their BA from University of Arizona.
The pathway is often called a “2+2” since students can do two years at PCC, then finish up with two years at MEZCOPH to graduate with a BA degree. In addition, the partnership will allow students from selected high schools in the Tucson area that currently offer a few PCC introductory wellness courses to access a pathway from high school to college.
To establish the new partnership, Gaby Valdez, PhD, the director of global education for MEZCOPH, worked with Seth Schutte, director of the Associates of Arts (AA) degree program in Fitness and Wellness at PCC. Additionally, Nancy Gamboian, PhD, department head for Fitness and Sports Sciences at PCC, and Velia Leybas Nuño, PhD, MSW, director of the BA program at MEZCOPH, supported the process. Together they developed a direct new path for PCC students to transfer into the College of Public Health’s BA program from PCC’s AA program. Now, students who want to pursue career paths in the expanding fields of health and wellness have the opportunity to earn many course credits at PCC that will then count towards the completion of their BA degree at MEZCOPH. This pathway will enable many students to go further in their education and thus expand their career potential.
“We are very pleased to partner with Pima Community College for this 2+2 pathway. Pima does such a good job connecting with our regional students who need more flexibility in their educational journey,” said Dr. Nuño, “These are students we have not reached before, and Pima also reaches students in some high schools. There is so much career opportunity in the wellness field as our population ages, and many organizations need our BA in Wellness graduates, so this pathway benefits the students and our communities.”
High School to College Pathway
The partnership with PCC also opens a pathway for high school students who are interested in a health and wellness career to embark on a path to the BA degree. The PCC has partnered with Marana High School and Cholla High School to offer a few introductory wellness courses to high school students. This enables high school graduates to enter the PCC programs with some course credits they have already earned at no cost, then continue to earn their Associates degree at PCC and then their BA from MEZCOPH. This high school engagement also raises awareness about health and wellness careers and shows parents the potential pathway to college.
Growth in Wellness Careers
Job growth in the areas of fitness and wellness is expected to double in the next ten years, far faster than many other areas. This sequence of wellness certificates to the AA degree to the BA enables students to stack their credentials and credits. The educational pathway will prepare them for careers as community health workers, health educators, and fitness instructors. The degrees also lay the groundwork for more advanced education and careers in healthcare and health services.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, when they leave Pima Community College as certified personal trainers or health coaches, they can further their education and grow in the health, wellness, and fitness fields,” said Seth Schuttee from PCC, “It has been great working with the College of Public Health and look forward to building the program collaboratively.”
PCC Certificates and Degrees
At Pima Community College, students can earn both certificates and an associate’s degree. The Fitness and Wellness Specialist Certificate will help students towards a career helping people make positive behavioral changes in their lives by becoming a fitness trainer, community health or recreation leader or health club professional. The Fitness Professional Certificate prepares students to work as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor or to prepare for the national personal trainer certification.
Both certificates provide a foundation of course work that can then be applied towards the Associate of Arts (AA) degree in Fitness and Wellness. Building on those course credits, students can then transfer easily to the BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice program at MEZCOPH.
Zuckerman College of Public Health BA Degree
The BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice (WHPP) offers students the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills, ethics, and cultural competencies needed to provide professional wellness services and interventions. Students learn to work with diverse populations in a range of communities and stages of life, and to promote a healthy lifestyle and overall wellness. This knowledge guides them to nurture optimal wellness within themselves, among individuals, in families and in communities.
Experiential learning is a cornerstone of the new WHPP BA program. This experiential learning model combines classroom study with practical, hands-on experience, providing students the opportunity to put knowledge and skills into practice, and to gain the competitive edge they need to advance their career. The practicum and internships are in a variety of settings such as homes, communities, governmental organizations, businesses, health care centers, hospitals, schools, faith-based organizations and other non-governmental organizations.
The BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice at MEZCOPH offers three different degree tracks:
Students can choose the track they want to pursue based on their career interests.
High School Engagement
For students who are interested in a health and wellness career path, PCC has partnered with Marana High School and Cholla High School to offer their introductory courses to high school students. This enables high school graduates to enter the PCC programs with some credits they have already earned at no cost. This high school engagement also raises awareness about health and wellness careers
A Pathway to Wellness Careers
With the growing emphasis on health promotion and preventative care in health services, and a rapidly aging population in need of those services from health educators and health coaches, new opportunities in wellness-related industries emerge every day. These programs benefit diverse communities and need skilled healthcare workers. This new pathway to the BA in Wellness and Health Promotion Practice prepares students for rewarding careers in this expanding field of health services.
“We are very pleased to partner with Pima Community College and provide a pathway for their students,” said Iman Hakim, dean of the College of Public Health, “there is so much opportunity here, for the students to go further in their education, and for the communities they will be able to help with the knowledge and skills they gain. It benefits everyone, it improves our collective health, our public health.”