May 2020
Shaquana Divers

(BS, Community Health, ’98; MHA, ’01)

Q & A:

  • What was your favorite class, who was your favorite professor, or what is your fondest memory of Hofstra?
    I met and cultivated relationships with some incredible, talented, and highly driven people from across various backgrounds, and that is something about my time at Hofstra that I continue to be grateful for. It really prepared me to succeed in any environment. I think that it has to do with the geography of the University, how Hofstra recruited students from various channels, and the programs they had in place to support education for diverse students from a wide range of socioeconomic, racial, political, and religious backgrounds. I started in New College because the whole idea of designing a degree that was interdisciplinary intrigued me, but then I learned about the BS in Community Health program and fell in love with it, so I switched majors.
  • What was your first job after graduating from Hofstra, and what was the most valuable thing you learned in that position?
    I started networking throughout my undergraduate and graduate years at Hofstra, which allowed me to have great opportunities even before graduating. I was selected for the Greater New York Hospital Association’s Summer Enrichment Program, a competitive internship program designed to increase diversity in healthcare leadership. I ended up doing so well that I was offered a job by the VP of New York Hospital Medical Center of Queens. I also had a lucrative paid internship at Pfizer that gave me early experience in building successful health and wellness programs for businesses. The offers kept rolling in from there. I decided to relocate to Maryland and became the assistant to the executive director for a community health center, the Greater Baltimore Medical Center. That job taught me the importance of politics, power, treating people well, and comprehensive community healthcare delivery. I was living and working in Baltimore, MD, a tough but great city to work in as an early community health leader.
  • What is your field of specialty, and how did you come to work in the industry?
    In the simplest terms, my specialty is the design and implementation of community health programs and policies. Areas of expertise include worksite wellness, chronic disease prevention, and health equity. I have worked in health and wellness for 20 years in sectors ranging from corporate such as Excellus BCBS, Harris Interactive, and Pfizer, to academic medical centers, such as the University of Rochester Medical Center and the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.
  • What advice would you give Hofstra students?
    While an incredible accomplishment, a college degree is a document; to get ahead, you have to breathe life into it! The oxygen is the relationships you develop, the internships (paid and unpaid), the risks you take to learn about who you are, and how you maximize your strengths to contribute to your field and pursue a successful life. So bring that degree to life and keep breathing!
  • In one word, how would you describe Hofstra?
  • What is a day like for the executive program manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield?
    I am on the senior leadership team for the Health Care Network Management Division for Excellus BCBS. We are the largest health plan in Upstate Western New York, serving 1 million members. I help to launch executive-sponsored programs, projects that our board, CEO, and C-Suite leaders request. A large part of my time is spent fostering relationships to move programs forward and leading different work streams related to the programs, such as funding, communication, community relations, and contracting.
  • What is the toughest part about your job?
    Health care is the most complex industry of all. So it’s tough making something so complicated simple. One of the biggest challenges I have faced is helping our industry come together and realize we are on the same side regardless of what sector we are in; we are helping to improve the health and well-being of the people in our communities. But I have 17 solid years of building impactful partnerships for health improvement in two major American states, New York and Maryland!
  • Who was the person who most influenced you, and how?
    I had some amazing mentors and role models. When I lived in Baltimore, my boss was Dr. Yvonne Bronner, and she was in charge of the Public Health Program at Morgan State University, a premier HBCU that at the time was developing from the ground up an accredited doctoral program to address the problems for urban health and communities of color. Difficult and complex work! Dr. Bronner hired me and taught me so much about public health – from scientific writing, to how to show up for funders. She was a wife, mother, and great leader! A warrior! She was generous, socially conscious, hardworking, bold, physically fit. She was my Michelle Obama! By the time I was 25, I had my master’s degree and was the mother of two children, so I was very focused and we were a great match. She was highly respected. Something I learned from watching her as a leader is that not everyone is going to want you to succeed. But Dr. Bronner dealt with her friends and enemies with grace and class.
  • How has your degree from Hofstra University helped you in your career?
    I graduated on the verge of a new millennium as a young black woman with a degree from a prominent university. I was very aware of how fortunate I was and didn’t take it for granted. During the past 20 years, so much has changed in our country and world; technology has accelerated our expectations and opportunities. Yet we had the recessions and there is still so much inequity. I had to live and adjust through all of this with resilience. During the late ’90s when I was at Hofstra, its slogan was to teach “success.” I kept the focus of success, for myself, my family, my community, as a cornerstone throughout my personal and professional journey. A friend of mine once said that I always land on my feet. I attribute that, in part, to the lessons I learned from Hofstra, from my professors, fellow classmates, and friends.
Shaquana Divers

Shaquana P. Divers is a dedicated and vibrant leader with 20 years of service in the healthcare sector. As executive program manager at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield, she leads the planning and implementation of innovative health programming for the largest health plan in Upstate Western New York, affecting the lives of 1.6 million people. Through her strong partnership and program development skills, Shaquana has spearheaded successful health and wellness programs and policies to improve health equity in chronic disease prevention in Maryland and New York and has created award-winning worksite wellness programs for companies within Monroe County, including the University of Rochester Medical Center, where she worked for a decade.

Shaquana received the prestigious 2019 Athena International Young Professional Award for her demonstrated excellence, creativity, and initiative in her profession, investing in the development of others and serving as a role model for young women, both personally and professionally. She is the current chapter president of the Rochester NY Chapter of Jack and Jill of America and has held board and advisory positions for Greater Rochester Chamber of Commerce, A Princess for A Day (founded by a fellow Hofstra University alumni and dear friend Tamika Blaize), Leadership Rochester, East High, the YWCA, and Memorial Art Gallery. Shaquana received Rochester Business Journal’s 2015 “40 Under 40” award and 2013 “Rising Star” award.

Shaquana earned a Bachelor of Science in Community Health and a Master of Health Administration from Hofstra University and was inducted in the Eta Sigma Gamma National Health Education Honorary in 1996.

Shaquana is a proud mom of two sons, Tai and Kary, who are both living their dreams as collegiate Division I scholar athletes, and a daughter, Dajania James, who was crowned National Junior Miss for International United Miss in July 2019