Alumni Profile: Joseph Castro, MPH '13

Please list your job title / employer name / employer location.

Supervisory Sports Specialist / U.S. Army Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation (DFMWR) / Fort Belvoir, VA

What degree did you receive from GW? What was your concentration?

MPH - Physical Activity in Public Health

Please tell us about your current position. Can you describe a typical day?

My current position is the director of the Kawamura Human Performance Center on Fort Belvoir, VA. The center provides a unique strength and conditioning program that focuses on managing risk, refining functional movement, and optimizing athletic performance. I lead a team of seven staff members consisting of strength, fitness, and recreation specialists. My day starts at 0500 hours supporting my strength and recreation specialists with programming and implementing fitness exercises. We use principles and concepts from the Functional Movement Screen, National Strength and Conditioning Association, USA Weightlifting, and CrossFit to design an exceptional program. Throughout the morning, we’re cueing and coaching individuals and groups on proper Olympic and power lifting techniques.  

As the day progresses, my focus shifts to guiding my fitness specialists on various coordination meetings to develop fitness and wellness activities. We organize and execute multiple five and 10 kilometer races which host over 5,000 runners and spectators annually. Other fitness events include weightlifting and CrossFit competitions, fitness open houses, and health expos. Our wellness activities include classes and lectures on nutrition, weight loss, sleep fitness, EFT Tapping, Reiki massage, yoga, etc.  

Before my day ends, I check on my fitness specialists to see if they need guidance on managing the aerobics schedule, personal training program, tennis lesson activities, and equipment repair contracts. The best part about my job is being able to exercise throughout my entire day. I currently compete in National Physique Committee body building competitions, so I get lots of time to train. After my morning duties, I work on my Olympic and power lifts. Following my afternoon meetings, I complete my strength exercises. Before I leave, I do my cardiovascular conditioning.        

Please tell us about your path from the Milken Institute School of Public Health to where you are today. How did you get your first job in the field?

After graduating from the Milken Institute School of Public Health, I applied to various positions within the Department of Defense. I applied to become a health educator, health systems specialist, health promotion program coordinator, and exercise physiologist. In fact, I applied only to vacancies on www.usajobs.gov. Being a U.S. Air Force Veteran, I received multiple phone and in-person interviews. I also received a handful of not selected letters and a couple of offers; however, I made sure to stay patient and not rush into the first job that was offered to me.  When I was offered my current job, I was also offered another position in military health policy.  The military health policy position also offered a hire starting salary from my current job. In the end, I think I chose the right job. I have the best job in the world; I get to wear gym clothes and exercise all day at work.    

I got my first job in government health and fitness right after graduating from George Mason University with my BS in Exercise Science. I was hired by the U.S. Navy as an Afloat Fitness Director for the USS Enterprise Aircraft Carrier. Having military experience and being a U.S. Air Force Veteran helped me land that job. I also think I impressed my past boss during the interview process.  

What advice would you give to someone who wants to work in your field?

Treat others the same way you want to be treated. In regards to my current field of work, don’t make anyone perform an exercise you wouldn’t do.

What was the impetus for getting your degree at the Milken Institute SPH?

After receiving my undergraduate degree in exercise science, I explored options and internships in physical therapy, occupational therapy, exercise physiology, strength and conditioning, prosthetics, sports business, and biomedical engineering. It took me several years to understand and realize what my career purpose would be and it’s pretty simple: “just move and be active.” I don’t care what you do — workout, sport, walk, etc. Just do something. The MPH Physical Activity in Public Health was the perfect program for me to enhance my knowledge and skills for my career purpose. I also learned a whole bunch of fancy epidemiology concepts.  I actually measure a lot of health and human movement statistics in my current job too.

Interview conducted August 2014