Coe College - Center for Community Engagement


ICAP Spotlight: Alejandro Arzaga


Alejandro Arzaga, ICAP

Class of 2017

Economics Major at Coe College

What do you do for Blue Zones?

“My main purpose as the intern is to get Coe designated as a Blue Zones worksite and an organization. We’re really close to becoming an organization. We just need a few more pledges signed. I’ve been working with the Wellness Committee to get the Worksite started.”


What was your experience on the Service and Leadership floor? How did it lead to your involvement with Blue Zones?

“That’s why I attended the info session on Blue Zones. During our meetings, we learned the aspects of being a leader. Around Coe and in different places around Cedar Rapids, we implemented our leadership through services. We went to Habitat ReStore and helped them out there. We went down to Polk to help down there. That was mainly the first semester. Then, the second semester we had our own service project to take on. My group took on Blue Zones, and we tried to get Blue Zones implemented here at Coe. It was five of us – me, Zach Gettes, Tucker Dangremond, Makenzie Skrabal, and Ossama Abu Halawa.”


Why did you choose Blue Zones?

“I’ve always been a very active person. Transitioning into college, I see a lot of people just not taking care of themselves – stress builds up, stuff like that. I think that if you have your health maintained at a decent rate, you become more aware; you’re better in school; a lot things start to improve; and your life becomes sort of easier to handle, rather than having all of these anxieties that soon might evolve into depression.  Maintaining a healthy body and mind helps that, and it’s just really vital for a college person to learn, so they can implement that into their lives forever.

Everything’s really connected, and it really motivates me that I get to see people – that their lives just get better by doing just simple things. Their lives just get better by eating a salad even just once a week or going for a walk every day for just twenty minutes.”


Have you had an especially rewarding moment?

“I actually met one of our volunteers for Blue Zones. We were working a health fair together, and we were just discussing stuff. She was old, she wasn’t too old. She was in her sixties. But she had been diagnosed with diabetes, and her doctor was telling her, ‘you need to maintain your weight’ and all this stuff. She started with Blue Zones. She was like, well, ‘Ever since my kids left, I really don’t have anything to do. Blue Zones gave me something to do.’ She’s been very active, keeping busy with different things, and just changing that, she’s added several decades to her age and her years and her health. She went back to her doctor, and he said, ‘Whatever you’re doing just keep doing it, you’re a lot better now.’ It’s just really awesome to hear stuff like that.”


How have you implemented Blue Zones into your work as an RA?

“We have our Residential Curriculums we have to do. They’re teachings or events for our residents to attend or just enjoy, and I’ve made this poster that correlates our nine principles in Blue Zones to show how you can implement them in a college atmosphere. I hosted a purpose workshop, and I tried to get my residents to go. It helps you find your purpose and put your strengths toward that goal.”

The Power of 9


What are some challenges you have faced?

“I’ve learned a lot about planning and organizing events. Those were sort of tough, because they’re time-consuming things that just need to be done. I learned a lot about time management. I balance my Blue Zones life, my RA life, and my student life really well.”

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