Zack Papalia, PhD, ‘19 Kinesiology
While the foundational education speaks for itself, the support given by the faculty and staff has truly been the differentiator.
With a rich educational background from Penn State, including a BS and PhD in Kinesiology, Zack has carved out an impressive career in Public Health and Population Health consulting since leaving Penn State. Currently working as a Population Health & Well-being Consultant for Brown & Brown Inc., Zack works with companies across the globe to identify health risks, develop strategies, and implement programs to maximize the health and well-being of employees and their families while enhancing overall workplace culture and performance.
His journey with Penn State began in 2007 when he arrived on campus as a wide-eyed freshman. From the very start, he felt a strong sense of belonging within the Penn State community. The abundance of resources, activities, and vibrant student groups both on and off campus provided him with ample opportunities for growth and exploration. Zack's deep involvement in the Kinesiology Club, instrumental contributions to launching the Exercise is Medicine program, and participation in the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) conferences are just a few highlights of his dynamic tenure at Penn State. Additionally, his passion for basketball found an outlet at the IM Building, further solidifying his connection to the university. Zack expresses immense gratitude and joy for being able to continue his involvement and contribute to the development of future generations of students as he participates in many alumni on campus events.
Zack's educational journey at Penn State was marked by its transformative nature. His pursuit of a BS in Kinesiology laid the groundwork for his academic and professional endeavors. However, what truly set Zack's experience apart was the unwavering support and guidance he received from the faculty and staff of the Kinesiology department. The nurturing environment, coupled with ample networking opportunities and career advice, played a pivotal role in shaping his trajectory. To this day, he maintains strong ties with the department, a testament to the enduring impact of his Penn State education.
Zack's academic journey did not end with his undergraduate degree. Following graduation in 2011, he went on to complete his Masters of Public Health in the Department of Health Policy and Management at the University of Pittsburgh in 2012. It was at this point in which point he became deeply engaged with the concept of employee well-being and population health, an area which he considers a non-traditional “force multiplier for good” within the realm of Public Health. This foundation paved the way for his doctoral studies in Kinesiology at Penn State, culminating in a PhD in 2019 under the tutelage of Dr. Melissa Bopp.
When asked about his favorite Penn State memory, Zack fondly recalls the professional development course, led by Lori Gravish-Hurtack and Michele Duffey, that would take students to the American College of Sports Medicine annual conference each spring. Attending three conferences throughout his undergraduate tenure, Zack found the experience to be incredibly enriching both in terms of education and personal growth. The connections forged and experiences gained during these conferences were instrumental in shaping Zack's professional journey, underscoring the profound impact that Penn State has had on his life.
Zack Papalia's journey from a dedicated Kinesiology student at Penn State to a dynamic Population Health Consultant is a testament to the transformative power of education and mentorship. His story serves as an inspiration to current and future Penn State students, highlighting the boundless opportunities that await those who are willing to seize them. As Zack continues to make strides in the field of population health, his alma mater can proudly claim a share in his accomplishments. The Kinesiology department’s legacy of producing exceptional alumni like Zack is a testament to our enduring commitment to excellence in education and its profound impact on individuals and communities alike.