Student Profiles

Full-time students 

Miguel Hernandez, MHA '21

Tell us a bit about your path to graduate school. 
As a recipient of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Medicaid, I know first-hand how vital these programs are. This inspired me to pursue a career in public health. I want to better understand how investing in the health of vulnerable populations, by focusing on social determinants of health, can move us towards a healthier, more productive society. I’d like to focus on how occupational health, developing entitlement programs, increasing healthcare access and providing healthy food options can move the US in a healthier direction. I believe Mailman provides the opportunity to obtain the skills necessary for me to use my passion to reach my goals.

What are a few things you are looking forward to?
I’m looking forward to interacting with individuals with diverse identities and from all walks of life. Culture plays a huge role in effecting change, and the level of diversity in New York City will help me understand the world through a variety of lenses. Having the chance to meet people from different backgrounds will increase my cultural competency. Also, I’m excited to take advantage of all the available opportunities that will enhance my public health education, such as guest speakers, networking events, and work and practicum opportunities. I look forward to being surrounded by passionate individuals with different interests in public health.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
Graduating with an MHA in Health Policy & Management will give me the tools I need to ensure that vulnerable populations have equitable access to the resources they deserve. With the skills I gain at the Mailman School of Public Health, I hope to influence policies and legislation to ensure that an individual’s zip code, race, ethnicity, income, gender or orientation is never a disadvantage to their health.

Samantha Meisels, MHA '21

Tell us a bit about your path to graduate school.
As a Senior Associate of Financial and Operations Management at Monter Cancer Center, of Northwell Health, I value strong leadership in healthcare. At Monter, I examine our monthly financial and volume trends, evaluate our chemotherapy treatment chair utilization and review our staff to patient ratios. In order to deliver the best possible care, I need to learn about the reasons behind healthcare policies as well as new strategies to approach the constantly changing healthcare environment. Although I do not directly deal with patients, it is extremely rewarding to know that the work I do every day does much to help improve the lives of our cancer patients.

How do you see Mailman, and specifically HPM, meeting with your academic and professional goals?
I connect with HPM’s mission and focus—improving access and quality of care to patients, while also containing costs. Being an effective public servant means not only being concerned for a population’s well-being, but also working to ensure that whatever service is provided is in fact beneficial and accessible to the public. Learning in this department will allow me to explore the “bigger picture” concepts of healthcare and understand how to recognize the healthcare disparities and challenges that people face around the world.

What are a few things you are looking forward to?
I am excited to study real-life challenges that current healthcare leaders face, such as accessibility, affordability, efficiency and how to keep up with current technological advancements. Furthermore, I look forward to learning from the diverse perspectives of the students in my classes. Their unique backgrounds will help me explore healthcare through new lenses, challenging me to step out of my comfort zone and think differently about healthcare. Finally, I am excited to be a part of the Mailman community. Mailman offers a wide variety of student organizations, which enable students to discuss their thoughts and ideas.

Jensen Hyde, Accelerated MPH '20

Tell us a bit about your path to graduate school.
I didn’t plan to pursue a public health degree from the outset. I am a board-certified internal medicine physician by training, and I specialize in hospital medicine. I absolutely love what I do and love the challenges that come with the day-to-day practice of clinical medicine. One of the things I have enjoyed the most is working with residents and other medical trainees. I’ve become increasingly involved in the academic side of medicine during my time in practice and find it incredibly rewarding. However, I have frequently felt that I could use more tools to increase my impact as a teacher and as a leader. I therefore began researching programs that might allow me to do just that which is when I came across Columbia’s accelerated MPH—it seemed like an ideal fit!

How do you see Mailman, and specifically HPM, meeting with your academic and professional goals? 
While I am excited for all that the core MPH courses have to offer, it is really the HPM track that aligns most with my goals. In order to be the best teacher and faculty member that I can be, I must be able to navigate the healthcare system in which our training program functions. Understanding the administrative workings of this system and pursuing research projects to improve these systems will be beneficial as I seek to have the most impact within and beyond my department. What many don’t realize, is that the majority of medical training programs function primarily or exclusively within the public healthcare systems that serve the underserved of our communities. Improving medical training programs has a direct and meaningful effect on our local and community healthcare: this is where I can make a difference.

What are a few things you are looking forward to?
I am very much looking forward to being back in the classroom. Medicine is a field of lifelong learning, and the majority of my recent academic pursuits have run parallel to clinical practice. I look forward to refreshing research fundamentals and dedicating time to quality improvement projects.

What do you hope to gain from this experience?
I hope to broaden my understanding of healthcare administration as well as the interface between healthcare systems and academic medicine. Without a solid, foundational understanding of these systems, one cannot hope to evoke meaningful and lasting change. I strongly believe that we need physician leaders stepping up at the hospital level and beyond to ensure that our healthcare systems are as efficient as possible for the providers and patients who deliver and receive care within them every day. Lastly, I hope to fortify and expand my research and teaching abilities in order to better serve the medical trainees whom I hope to continue working with throughout my career.

Part-time Students

AJ Fields is currently a market health analytic consultant at UnitedHealthcare, where he applies data analytics to advise clients on their specific medical utilization trends, financial data, and population health needs. He was recently promoted from UHC’s network management training program, which focused on data integrity, provider outreach, and contract negotiation skills. Originally from New Rochelle, NY, AJ returned to the New York City area after graduating from Tufts University. During his undergraduate studies, he was involved in public health research, education, and advocacy efforts with a focus on the role of racial health disparities in prostate cancer care. As a program assistant the Prostate Health Education Network, a national non-profit committed to ending the prostate cancer racial disparity, he worked with an extensive network of cancer survivors to assist with community education, enrollment in clinical trials, and collaboration with large pharmaceutical companies to advocate for further, more equitable research. Through the MHA program at Mailman, he is particularly interested in learning the financial and managerial strategies behind organizations that act as stakeholders in the healthcare system.

Israt Hossain graduated from NYU in May 2017 with a BS in Global Public Health and Science. She started full-time employment at NYU Langone Medical Center as a Care Transitions Associate. Her work enables her to interact with a diverse patient pool affected by a range of medical conditions. Working with the Sunset Park Federally Qualified Health Center, she tracks patient follow-up care, focusing on the readmission rates of high-utilizer patients. She also co-authored a clinical vignette, which was presented at the 2018 Society of General Internal Medicine conference. The vignette centers on the experience of a hemodialysis patient forced to leave Puerto Rico following the almost complete breakdown of healthcare delivery on the island. Her current interests revolve around increasing healthcare access and identifying areas in current administration where improvements can be made.

Jennifer (Jenny) Kessler is a Certified Health Education Specialist with five years of experience in the healthcare, non-profit, and educational sectors. She graduated from the University of Wisconsin- La Crosse with a Bachelor of Science in Community Health Education and a minor in Psychology. She worked in Milwaukee, WI for several years as a Quality Improvement Specialist at Molina Healthcare before moving to New York City last fall. She currently works as a Project Coordinator in NYU Langone Health’s Comprehensive Transfer Center, where she is involved in a vast array of projects in hospital operations.

Born in the Nature Isle of Dominica and raised in the Helen of the West Indies Saint Lucia, Tamara Marie is currently employed at Columbia University Medical Center. She is a part of a multidisciplinary group dedicated to the care of brain tumor patients – spearheading the procurement of neurosurgical specimens and managing the Bartoli Brain Tumor Laboratory’s biobank, which facilitates multiple clinical trials and research studies. Tamara’s past experience as a high school teacher in Saint Lucia sparked her interest in public health, as she learned firsthand that an individual’s education and health are heavily influence by factors far beyond their control. She is driven by a passion to work with public health systems in the Caribbean, and believes that the operations of public health systems and the management of their services, are crucial in facilitating the innovations that will lead to the improved health of Caribbean people. Tamara is excited to be a part of Mailman’s Health Policy and Management department, and looks forward to the plethora of opportunities that will strengthen her capacity to be a healthcare manager and leader. Her professional aspirations include working with Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) or Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA).

Arghavan (Natalie) Shahsavarian was born in Iran and migrated to the United States at the age of 12. She lived in Los Angeles for 6 years, and after completing high school, moved to Santa Cruz, California where she earned her bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of California. She worked in an immunology lab where she studied development of T-cells in mice. She also volunteered at the local hospital. Through these experiences, she realized that she enjoys working in a healthcare setting far more than she enjoys laboratory work. Thus, she moved to New York City to study Clinical Nutrition at New York University. She completed her Dietetic Internship at St-Luke’s-Roosevelt in 2017, and was offered a position as a clinical dietitian. She began working at Mount Sinai West (Roosevelt) in 2017. Her goal is to combine the training she receives in the MHA program with her experience in clinical and community nutrition, to take on leadership roles in the healthcare setting with a focus on developing partnerships with communities and greater attention to preventative care.

As Clinical Quality Improvement Project Manager at the Community Health Care Association of New York State (CHCANYS), Cole Unger facilitates training and technical assistance for New York State’s Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) through the NYS-Health Center Controlled Network project. Part of the CHCANYS Quality and Technology Initiatives team, Cole works with health center leaders to leverage data, improve care processes and outcomes, and prepare providers for alternative delivery and payment systems. Prior to joining CHCANYS, Cole led electronic health record software implementation projects at Epic Systems, working with clinical and administrative health center staff to redesign workflows, coordinate testing and training efforts, and provide technical and reporting guidance. Cole is an NCQA Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) Certified Content Expert and holds a Bachelor’s degree in Economics from Grinnell College.

Executive Students

For twelve years, Monica Keany worked at Morgan Stanley in the fixed income division where she was promoted to Managing Director and Co-Head of Credit Research. She was an investment analyst focused on the auto and manufacturing sectors and ranked as a top research analyst for several years by Institutional Investor magazine. Monica serves on the Board of Trustees for the Hospital for Special Surgery (HSS) and serves on the audit, investment, finance, planning and development committees. She is the Co-Chair of HSS’s Pediatric Council and a trustee of The Allen-Stevenson School and a member of The Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Council. Monica is also the Co-Chair of The Chapin School’s Alumnae Development Committee, where she attended high school on full scholarship. She is a former board member for the non-profit Safe Horizon. Monica earned her AB in psychology from Harvard College and her MBA from Harvard Business School. Originally from Jackson Heights, Queens, Monica resides in Manhattan with her husband and two sons.

Christopher (Kene) Nwoye was born and raised in Kano, Nigeria. He went to high school at Loyola Jesuit College in Nigeria's capital, Abuja, and upon graduating, he attended college in the United States at Marian College of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. At Marian, Kene received a Presidential Merit Scholarship and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in biology, and a minor in chemistry. After college, he attended medical school at Rosalind Franklin University of Medicine and Science as a Jerome R. Share scholar and then completed a four-year residency in emergency medicine at Jacobi and Montefiore medical centers in the Bronx, NY. Following his graduation in 2014, Kene first practiced in Atlanta with Emerginet, before joining Envision Physician Services in Houston. He is board certified by the American Board of Emergency Medicine, and his primary public health interest is creating systems for delivering emergency medical care in developing countries such as Nigeria. Kene also hopes to provide consulting services to sole proprietors that deliver much of the private healthcare in such countries. His hobbies include traveling, reading historical fiction and watching dramas, indulging in armchair philosophy, and avidly supporting the Green Bay Packers.

Oluebere Nwokocha is a Family Nurse Practitioner with 27 years of nursing experience (from her country Nigeria and here in the US). She lives in the Bronx, with her husband and her four adult children, three of whom are college graduates. She started her nursing career in her birth country Nigeria as a nurse/midwife after obtaining her associate’s degree in both fields of nursing. Migrating to the US opened a wide door to her academic journey and provided the privilege to acquire higher skills and experiences in nursing. She obtained her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in Nursing from CUNY at Lehman College. She had the opportunity to work in various nursing fields, including medical surgical nursing, pediatric, OB/GYN, labor and delivery, maternal and child health, psychiatric and community mental health, and in roles that ranged from entry-level positions to managerial positions. In 2018 she passed the American Nurses Credential Certification exam. Currently, she works as a Nurse Administrator with the NYS Office for People with Developmental Disability. Her career goals are focused on helping families live quality lives. She desires a broader interdisciplinary education that will give her the opportunity to take on international medical missions, allowing her to influence policies that will improve the lives of underserved families.

Pierre F. Saldinger is the Chairman of the Department of Surgery and Surgeon-in-Chief at NewYork-Presbyterian/Queens. He is also a Professor of Clinical Surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College. Pierre joined NYP/Q from Danbury Hospital in Connecticut where he served as Chairman of the Department of Surgery, as well as Director of the Surgical Residency Program. He was a professor of Clinical Surgery at the University Of Vermont College Of Medicine and previously held an appointment at Harvard Medical School. A distinguished and well-published surgeon, he has extensive expertise in the surgical treatment of cancer and benign disorders of the pancreas, liver, gallbladder, bile ducts and stomach and surgical quality improvement. He earned his medical degree from Switzerland’s University of Basel School of Medicine and completed his residency in General Surgery at Beth Israel Hospital, Harvard Medical School in Boston and a clinical fellowship in hepatobiliary surgery at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. Pierre has lectured both nationally and internationally on surgery of the pancreas, bile duct and liver as well as on surgical quality improvement. Pierre is the Co-Chair of the Quality Committee of the Military Health System Strategic Partnership with the American College of Surgeons (MHSSPACS).

Though born and raised on the West Coast, Brett Wasserman moved to New York City 10 years ago and is not sure he ever wants to leave. After studying computer science in undergrad, Brett started his career at WebMD in Portland, OR because he wanted to "work downtown and develop software that wouldn't explode if he missed a bug." As luck would have it, healthcare was a great fit, and over the past 13 years Brett has moved from development roles to roles including life sciences digital marketing strategist and chief of staff to the GM of WebMD. For the past several years, he’s been working in management consulting for Accenture’s Population Health practice focusing on Medicare and Medicaid plans, with an affinity for analytics projects. In his spare time, when not obsessively keeping up with the latest in healthcare industry trends, he is (embarrassingly) perusing spin classes, playing piano, slowly learning Spanish, and searching for delicious food in the outer boroughs of New York and abroad.