In Focus: Ronald Sanchez '14
Tell us about your background and what let you to be interested in the field of health.
I was born in rural Dominican Republic and immigrated to the U.S at a very young age. My parents had very little formal education, but they managed to instill in me the value of education and, perhaps more importantly, the responsibility of giving back. In elementary and high school I was deeply involved with sports and student government; this was important to me because it allowed me to build my confidence and integrity – characteristics I depend on as a student and professional. I have always had a fascination for the health field and the science behind it, but what has always reassured me that this is where I want to work is the ability to help families and realizing that you can make a difference.
I completed my undergraduate studies at CUNY Queens College, as an Interdisciplinary Major: Chemistry and Latin American and Latino Studies. At Queens College, I was the President of the Alliance of Latin American Students (ALAS), participated in Hurricane Katrina Relief, became a member of Phi Iota Alpha Fraternity Incorporated and was awarded the CUNY Leadership Award upon graduating in 2009. Queens College was a great experience, where I networked heavily, sought out new adventures and consumed information to become the best scholar I could – however, I was not where I wanted to be. I continued my education at CUNY Medgar Evers, in a Biology post-baccalaureate before matriculating at Hofstra University MPH Program.
What are your long-term professional goals?
My long-term career objective is to impact health outcomes and continue to serve underrepresented communities as an effective public health advocate and physician. I want to be able to create and influence health policies that allow underserved populations to have access to adequate health care. Even more specifically, I want to be able to use my passion for health and technology to develop effective ways of delivering to the families the preventive health services needed to live healthy lives and have more promising futures.
What made you choose Hofstra University's Master of Public Health?
The Hofstra University Master of Public Health program is a perfect fit for me. It is a rigorous curriculum based on the most current programmatic, statistical and analytical public health practices. What makes the MPH program even more dynamic is its inter-disciplinary approach, as it allows students to take courses in the Master of Health Administration and Community Health programs. I believe that this allows the public health professional in training to approach the field in a holistic, yet unique perspective.
How have you collaborated with peers in the program so far?
Collaborating with students in the public health program is refreshing and exciting. The MPH cohort is a very diverse group from many different cultural and professional backgrounds. We all have very unique perspectives but all share the same passion and love for the field of public health and the people we wish to serve. Collaboration with students comes easily because we all share the same passion; moreover, collaboration with students is a bonus that is inherent in becoming a citizen of the world.
Tell us about the work you do for the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island.
Currently, I work for the Health and Welfare Council of Long Island (HWCLI). HWCLI is a Long Island based health and human service non-profit that serves as a planning and advocacy agency for Long Island’s poor and vulnerable populations. My responsibilities are to support the organizational activities of the CEO and COO in enhancing agency operations and providing services to families, such as enrollment for NYS sponsored health insurance and supplemental nutrition benefits; consumer health advocacy; college access; free tax preparation and disaster recovery relief efforts.
Congratulations on your recent recognition by the National Hispanic Health Foundation! Tell us more about this organization and award.
I received the National Hispanic Health Foundation (NHHF) Award for Student Professionals. The Hispanic Health Professional Student Scholarship Program is the only national scholarship program targeted at Hispanic students who are committed to careers in health care - medicine, nursing, dentistry, public health, health management and policy analysis, health research, and allied health. NHHF is the 501c3 section of the National Hispanic Medical Association. NHMA's mission is to empower Hispanic physicians and other healthcare professionals to improve the health of Hispanic populations with Hispanic medical societies, resident and medical student organizations, and its public and private sector partners.
Have you found mentors in the Department of Health Professions thus far?
The faculty and staff at the Department of Health Professions are like a second family. They are welcoming, accessible and very friendly. The professors are experts in the field and have always shown a high level of care and interest in their students. I have found mentors in Dr. Corinne Kyriacou, Director of the MPH Program and Dr. Martine Hackett, Associate Professor.
Dr. Kyriacou and Dr. Hackett were the first people I met at Hofstra University. I had many questions, many concerns and many ideas and they were there and remain there for me – to help and guide me. As professors, they have pushed me to explore new academic fields and have challenged the way I think, analyze and present the information. As mentors, they have broadened my scope of interests, and my network - connecting me to important community players.
What is your advice to prospective students looking for a degree in health?
The health field is very broad; the issues are challenging and the rewards are great. My suggestion for prospective students is to have a very open mind, network vastly, and to be “hungry for knowledge.” That is, to always look for new ways of meeting people, solving problems, creating solutions, and learning as much as possible from many sectors of the health field. As Steve Jobs quoted from the final edition of The Whole Earth Catalog in his 2005 Stanford University commencement speech: Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.