Gatepost Interview: Brian Souza, Food and nutrition professor

[Jillian Poland]

By Jillian Poland

Staff Writer

What is you academic and employment background?

I have my bachelor’s degree in applied exercise science from Springfield College. When I finished that, I went into personal training and did that for about a decade. I had the opportunity to be a personal training manager and even open and run my own personal training studio, which was a great experience. But I realized there were some things I needed help with, and also that I enjoy the field of physical activity so much that I’d really like to teach about it. So, I went back to Springfield College and got my master’s degree in exercise science and sports studies with a concentration in sports and exercise psychology. I used that experience as a gauge to see if I made the right choice and wanted to continue on. …  I decided continuing on was maybe the wrong decision, but continuing on was where my real passion was. So, I went to Oregon State University to get my Ph.D. and again sports and exercise psychology was my concentration. Then I landed here, luckily enough, at Framingham State.

What brought you to FSU?

I am a native of Massachusetts. When I went out to Oregon State for four years to complete my Ph.D., my wife told me that after four years, she was coming back with or without me, so that made my decision to come back pretty easy, and I love it in New England. I’ve lived in some different places and it certainly has a lot to offer.

What was your favorite undergraduate experience?

I started off at Colby College in Maine and went to Florida State for a year, so there were some unique experiences to take from both of those experiences. But I’d probably have to say, I didn’t get into my exercise science degree until I got to Springfield, so the second time transferring. I got into these exercise science courses, like exercise physiology and kinesiology, and just really loved them. It’s true when you find a passion something just sparks inside you. I can still remember – and this was late ’90s – that feeling of finally like, “Wow, this is the right choice. I really love this.”

Why did you love the field of exercise science so much? What sparked the interest for you?

I was always active, and that seems to be common among people in the field. I enjoyed sports. I had the opportunity to play a couple sports before I transferred the first time, and I would casually read magazines and things like that and I found it really interesting. It just felt like I would be good at it. I think finding something you feel competent at is pretty important. Then it grew from there, realizing that physical activity is such a key to so many aspects of living a long life and living it well. I had a desire to really be able to impact individuals, but also people on a public health level. To try to inspire active communities and active individuals is a unique opportunity that more people should have.

What has been your favorite experience at FSU?

I’d say it’s still ongoing because every moment has been great. I’ve really enjoyed working here – we could start all the way from my interview process, which was even really fun. It’s been a great experience so far. Our department is going through some changes where we’re trying to develop some specific courses for students who may be interested in fitness careers or going onto other avenues in wellness and/or health. I’ve been able to already design a few new courses that I’m teaching now that students would not have had the opportunity to take otherwise. So that’s been really fun and is still ongoing now, so I’m sure it will continue to be.

Why did you decide to leave personal training and enter the teaching field?

When I was an undergrad, I really loved my courses, but part of it was always thinking it wasn’t that I was good at it – I just wanted to work really hard at it. So I figured that would help me learn and I could probably teach that to other people. In personal training, a lot of times, you’re working with one person or a small group of people, and that is great and important – people need help. But at the same time, I think I was the type of person that felt if I could help a class of 30 go out and help people, then by proxy, I’m helping more people that way.

What is one book you think every student, regardless of major, should read?

One I think that really affected me and some students would find really interesting would be “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” [by Robert Pirsig]. I think you can learn a lot about yourself reading it.

What advice would you give FSU students?

I would tell them to – in whatever they do – judge their success based on their effort. If they do their best, then they’ve been successful and can be proud of an accomplishment.

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