George Mason University Names Kevin Cevasco as the 2021 College of Health and Human Services Alumni of the Year.
Kevin Cevasco is a proud Mason alum. Cevasco graduated from Mason in 1989 with a bachelor’s degree in Computer Science and returned to pursue a Master of Public Health degree, which he completed in 2020. Currently, he is working toward his third Mason degree as a doctoral candidate in the College’s inaugural cohort for the PhD degree program in Public Health.
While Cevasco is now an accomplished scholar in public health, his career didn’t begin in the health field. “For me, the calling to public health started in my 40s,” said Cevasco, whose prior career was in business and Information Technology (IT).
Cevasco became interested in public health while serving as the treasurer for Friends of Patients at the National Institute of Health (NIH) where he discovered socioeconomic discrepancies in access to life-saving treatments and financial concerns affecting patients and their families.
“I joined the board as the Treasurer at the request of a retired NIHer,” Cevasco said. “Friends at NIH’s mission is to provide emotional, financial, and logistical support to patients while they are receiving groundbreaking and life-saving treatments at the NIH.”
Through his work at Friends at NIH, Cevasco encountered a family facing housing uncertainty while the mother was undergoing a Lupus Research Protocol at the NIH Clinical Center. The experience of helping this family enlightened him on the importance of making health care accessible to all.
“Our funds prevented her oldest child from dropping out of high school to work to save the family home,” Cevasco said. “With a tear dripping down my cheek, I approved the rent check. I’d approved such requests before, but this time I emotionally grasped the contradiction between world-class NIH research and the dire health-related financial distress many American families face.”
The opportunity to support patients facing financial concerns when seeking treatment at the NIH inspired Cevasco to pursue a Master of Public Health degree at Mason. While completing his master’s degree, Cevasco applied his knowledge of information technology with the new information he was learning in the Master of Public Health degree program to develop IT health solutions and foundations for programs that increase access to care.
Cevasco has worked with leading experts in public health and also led studies of his own. At the beginning of the pandemic, when universities across the nation were making decisions on the best ways to continue operating while mitigating the spread of COVID-19, Cevasco led a group of MPH students to publish a study on university response rates in relation to the guidance from the Center of Disease Control (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
After graduating with his Master of Public Health degree, Cevasco continued his work through his involvement in various programs. He is currently an active member of the Northern Virginia Area Health Education Center (NVAHEC), where he advocates for the Center’s workplace development programs. In addition, he worked with the National Association County and City Health Officials (NACCHO) to publish a Community Health Needs Assessments (CHNA) directed at the Opioid Overdose Epidemic.
His work has been recognized with several awards at Mason. In 2020, he was awarded the CHHS Graduate Award for Excellence in Leadership. This year, in addition to being named Mason’s CHHS Alumni of the Year, he is set to address graduates at the upcoming spring graduation ceremony.
When asked what he would say to Mason’s soon-to-be graduates, Cevasco spoke on the importance of maintaining involvement with the Mason Community. “One thing I’ve learned is that your Mason experience doesn’t end with graduation,” Cevasco said. “Earning your degree is an incredible achievement, and while your time as a student may be over, your relationship with Mason is just beginning. You are now part of the Mason network.”
To learn more about Cevasco’s work, visit his Research Gate page.