Louder Than Words

Nick Gerbino '17 backed his vocal advocacy with actions driven by compassion for the world.

Nick Gerbino saw Nazareth as a launching pad toward his life goals of serving the underserved and protecting the environment, and he had no intention of waiting until graduation to get started. He saw the privilege in his own life and believed it should be used to make the world a better place. With the help of Nazareth's Center for Life’s Work, he was able to find internships that allowed him to give back to the community while pursuing a personalized, hands-on education.

“Nazareth is going to give you everything you need: the nice dorm with a comfy room and good food. You’re going to have brilliant professors who are going to challenge you. But you have to seek out the experiences that make you uncomfortable and will shape your world view."

From research projects and recycling campaigns to travel abroad and challenging internships, Gerbino made his opportunities count and had life-changing experiences along the way.

Freshman year research and activism

He created a Clinton Global Initiative University project titled Earth Step Initiative. The project focused on teaching the public through monthly lectures about how many of the products they use every day have far-reaching environmental consequences. The talks tackled issues such as companies destroying natural rain forests to make palm oil and how consumers unknowingly support practices that are harming the environment.

Gerbino believes everyone has a part to play to improve the planet’s condition and was motivated to call his classmates to action. Seeing that dorm closets were full of plastic bags, Gerbino organized Plastic@Naz, a recycling drive that gathered more than 10,000 bags in three months and delivered them to a local recycling center.

Getting uncomfortable

  • Sophomore summer internship: Monroe County Nursing Services Division Tuberculosis Clinic
  • Junior summer internship: Monroe County Health Department
  • Travel abroad: Haiti, Montreal, and Toronto sophomore year
  • Travel abroad: England, Iceland, and Morocco senior year

Moment of clarity

“It’s one thing to read a case study on refugees or watch a story unfold on the news. It’s completely different to sit across the table from someone and hear their story. The very last patient I saw last summer was a young guy from Eritrea, a small country in Africa. He made it to the U.S. by himself and didn’t speak a word of English. I was about to draw his blood and I remember thinking: That could be me across the table. That’s why you’re respectful and always look at others as your equals because what if the tables were turned? That brings it to a very personal human level that I think we all need.”

Future plans

He hopes to attend graduate school and study infectious diseases or public health. He envisions working with a humanitarian organization such as Doctors Without Borders.


Degrees: B.A. public health and B.A. anthropology

Employment: The Division of Epidemiology and Disease Control for Monroe County, N.Y.

"Get comfortable being uncomfortable"