Joseph D. Sansone: Helping Students Breathe Easy

Where Temitayo Ogunsanya grew up in Nigeria, children with breathing problems often live poorly or die for lack of simple resources. “Not enough hands and hospitals,” says Ogunsanya, who graduated from GSU in May 2011 with a degree in respiratory therapy. “If one can stand up and intercede in cases like that when the children are young, they can have a better quality of life and live longer.”

Ogunsanya’s drive to help children like that got a boost from a scholarship funded by Joseph D. “Joe” Sansone (M.B.A., 1979) who founded Pediatria Healthcare to help medically fragile children. The Daniel J. Sansone Memorial Scholarship benefits students in nursing or respiratory therapy, particularly those who specialize in pediatrics. The scholarship is administered by GSU’s Byrdine F. Lewis School of Nursing and Health Professions.

As a teenager, Sansone worked to pay his way first through parochial school, then through college as a pharmacy clerk and an oxygen technician at a Chicago hospital. Helping others toward better health as he pursued a degree in healthcare administration was immensely gratifying, but he could have used some help himself – with expenses. “If I had had some [financial] help, I wouldn’t have had that much of a fight to get bills paid at home and school,” the father of two said of his motivation to help others today.

“Getting an M.B.A. from Georgia State gave me a lot of strength going into the business world and allowed me to create the largest public company of its kind. It made sense to say, ‘Thank you.’”

His example is carried forward by Ogunsanya. A mother of two young children in her thirties, she earned her degree while working part-time as her husband did the same to graduate in physical therapy from Georgia State. To treat chronically ill young patients, she’s developed the hands and eyes of a mechanic and the heart and soul of a counselor. She is succinct about what drives her to help: “Anything you have is not worth anything until you give it.”

—By Michelle Hiskey; Contact Kim Cretors, (404) 413-3424