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Venturing through life
NAU employee lives to the fullest by taking adventures and educating people

By Danielle J. DeBlois

When asked to describe Jon Rudy, two phrases come to mind-“been there, done that.”

It all begins at Millersville State College where Rudy graduated in 1972 with a degree in biological science and secondary education.

By this time, the Vietnam War was coming to an end and Rudy believed this was the best time to join the Peace Corps. He served in the Philippines from 1974-1977.

“I found the Peace Corps to be an alternative way of serving my country rather than serving in the Vietnam War, which I opposed,” Rudy said.

His time in the Peace Corps allowed him to travel, experience another culture and help others. He reaped not only reap physical benefits but emotional and psychological benefits as well. His future wife Rosemary was also assigned to the Philippines. They were married in the Philippines in 1976.

“We went into the Peace Corps to change the world. Instead, the world changed us,” he said.

Since Rudy was in the Peace Corps, he has held a special place in his heart for the Filipino people. He travels there almost every year. While in the Philippines, he stays with Dr. Virisimo Opiniano’s family in Pastrana, Leyte. He worked with Dr. Opiniano while in the Peace Corps.

After his time in the Corps, Rudy went on to teach biology near Philadelphia. However, that only lasted a few years because he decided to pursue his master’s degree at UA. He graduated in 1982 with a degree in dietetics.

Shortly thereafter, Rudy found a job opening at NAU’s Fronske Health Center. He was hired by Dr. Leonard Wright as a health educator in 1983. Wright was the director of Fronske Health Center at the time.

“We had a lot in common personally and philosophically,” Rudy said.

Rudy’s professional career includes program planning, health promotion, prevention, nutrition counseling and Qigong (pronounced chi-gong). Qigong is a Taoist yoga and meditative system. Rudy also serves as a registered dietitian.

To add to Rudy’s plethora of experiences, he did consulting work for USAID for AIDS prevention in the Philippines from 1989-1992. His wife was a consultant in 1992.

Because of Rudy’s dedication to health education and the Filipino people, a class was formed which allowed students to travel to the Philippines. He collaborated with the College of Nursing and Karl Doerry, the director of the international office to form Contemporary Health Studies in the Philippines. The course, worth six credits, allowed students to work in the urban slums in the Philippines for six weeks. Rudy has offered the class twice. The class was first offered in 1987 with eight students, and the second time in 1989 with 12 students.

“It was a rewarding experience for me and the students. When you are in a classroom, you only see the students for an hour, but this was an opportunity to see them 24 hours a day in a different culture and environment,” Rudy said.” You actually see the learning process taking place,” he said.

Rudy said he wants to offer the class again in the future. He has been too busy pursuing other projects the past few years.

But the list still goes on. Rudy’s lifelong interest in martial arts led him to begin teaching martial arts in 1993. Rudy has studied wrestling, judo and Kajukenpo. He also trained with Bucky White from the U.S. Olympic team and pursued Filipino Martial Arts. He has his black belt in Kajukenpo.

In addition, he teaches Filipino Martial Arts, which has taken him to competitions and tournaments in the Philippines. In 1997, Rudy and three of his students went to the Philippines for a tournament, where they lived and trained in a beachside barrio.

Rudy leaves in mid-April for the Philippines with three of his students. The trip is for two weeks. The competition will include opponents from at least a dozen countries, Rudy said.

“We will fly into Manila and then take a boat to the island of Negros. We will be in Hinigaran, Negros, the hometown of the Grand Master,” Rudy said.

Even with all these activities, jobs and hobbies, Rudy still makes time for more.

In Spring of 1998, Fronske Health Center began a program called Complementary Health Care. This includes massage therapy, acupuncture, meditation, herbal usage for health and wellness and Qigong.

“They are very popular programs. It’s an overall trend,” Rudy said. “This is a way for students to be more participatory in their well being and health care maintenance.”

Though at the present time, Rudy’s focus is health education and martial arts, he has had his share if adventures.

For example, he and wife took 10 months and backpacked through Asia.

“We were traveling, learning and seeking adventure. We rode the elephants through the jungles of India and we toured the opium fields with a DEA agent,” Rudy said. “Actually that experience was right out of the movie, “The Gods Must Be Crazy” with characters from central casting including my wife, the DEA agent and me getting hijacked by a tribal militia fleeing the Vietnam army.”

Rudy has also backpacked through Europe and has traveled extensively through Mexico and Guatemala.

At the end of the interview, Rudy said, That’s my life in a nutshell.”

For a humorous look at Jon Rudy’s life check out his website at:

For more information on Filipino Martial Arts check out this website:

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