Serge Zelnick

Serge Zelnick

Part-time professor and a healthcare consultant at the age of 76, Serge Zelnick does not know what the word ‘retirement’ means.

Born in Cairo, Egypt in 1943, Serge has seen all corners of the world. In 1948, he emigrated to Sydney, Australia, followed by Melbourne, Australia. In 1956, he emigrated to Montreal and Toronto, Canada. He would later move to San Diego, followed by Fresno, and finally, Los Angeles.

Up until 1985, he spent most of his career in education and in the legal system. “When I decided to leave my position in 1985, I applied for a position as a financial and administrative director for a healthcare institution in San Diego.” Since then, he has remained solely in healthcare, both in traditional healthcare and behavioral health.  

At the age of 65, “My becoming a professor was an accident waiting to happen. Because I had time on my hands, I chose to consider applying to get my Master’s degree at my alma mater, Cal State LA.” 

He continued, “Dr. Steve McGuire convinced me to enter into the program as a student after introducing me to two of their most prolific professors.” After completing the program within 18 months, he was approached by Dr. McGuire to teach a class in the Spring of 2007 and the rest was history. “From that moment forward, I have taught five different classes and developed three classes for the program.” 

His reward derives from “mentoring students in the Healthcare Master’s Program to enable them to move forward within the confines of the industry and make a change and difference within the healthcare system. I have even been fortunate enough to stay in touch with many of my students and have observed their climb within the system.”

“Most students in my classes see before them an individual that is in control and easily speaks in publics,” Serge explained.  Most of them would be surprised to learn, however, that growing up, he was the shiest person imaginable. “The degree of my shyness was such that I would avoid speaking in public, and would leave the classroom when I knew my name was coming up to speak. This is why my classes include presentations and grade points for participation to encourage students to overcome their shyness.”

His favorite quote is, “There are no coincidences.” He added, “In my world, everything happens for a reason.” The CBE would have to agree - it was no accident he stumbled upon a professorial career with the college as he has certainly left his mark not only on the healthcare program but on his students.