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MHA Student Moustapha Mbaye Leans on Empathy, Experience to Give Back

Second-year MHA student Moustapha Mbaye (2023) is focused on giving back.

Upon graduating this spring with a Master of Health Administration degree, Mbaye will start an administrative fellowship at the University of Chicago-Medicine.

Originally from the Southside of Chicago, Mbaye credits his own adversity and experiences for the ability to empathize with the populations he wishes to advocate for.

Moustapha Mbaye
Moustapha Mbaye (MHA 2023).

“I can relate with so many struggles, with so many different people, and I think from the beginning I have always pushed for treating people the way they want to be treated and making sure that I understand where other people are coming from,” he said.

After some time spent deliberating the best path forward toward learning academic medicine, and public health advocacy work, he found SLU.

Mbaye comes from a background of thoughtful and helpful leaders. Combining his leadership qualities with a love for math and science, he saw a fit in healthcare management.

Before finding the Saint Louis University MHA program, Mbaye dabbled in the worlds of public health, pharmacy and molecular biology but found a home in health care management because of its proximity to patient care.

“MHA was more of what I wanted to do as far as the leadership, the executive leadership…less government and policy work, and more direct helping patients get access to care and making sure they’re getting quality care,” he said. “Really hands on and seeing the patients directly is really what I wanted to do.”

Two years went by quickly for Mbaye but that time was filled with career-shaping opportunities and a quick immersion into health care.

Upon entry to SLU’s MHA program, he had little management background and admittedly struggled in public speaking settings. However, with the help of faculty and staff, he quickly blossomed into the leader he knew he could be.

“I’m extremely proud of what I was able to accomplish in the MHA program, and the path that it has led me on because, honestly, I did not see myself developing this much in this short amount of time.”

During the first year in the program Dr. Kimberly Enard approached Mbaye with the opportunity to help lead a team in the prestigious 2021 National Association of Health Services Executives (NAHSE) Case Competition. Mbaye and his team not only finished in second place but that was his first major accomplishment in the MHA space.

 “That was the first step in me pushing myself into doing things that are very uncomfortable for me,” Mbaye said. “You grow the most when you put yourself in those positions.”

The case competition opened many doors for Mbaye after feeling more comfortable in the field.

Mbaye says that from the student perspective new opportunities may seem scary at first but the drive to push through that is the drive you’ll need to help patients fulfill their own potentials.

At SLU he worked with professors and a local health department to develop dashboards for training that help promote workforce competencies. Mbaye has also been highly involved in the Student Association for Health Management and Policy (SAHMP), including for the 2022-23 school year as he currently is fulfilling a term as president.

SAHMP is a student-led organization that seeks to improve and impact student engagement and the student experience during students’ studies within CPHSJ.

“Most of us students come into this program because we want to give back to the community, we are drawn to the social justice aspect of the College, and SAHMP puts a huge focus on that aspect as well,” Mbaye said in an earlier interview about the organization.

In between his first and second year in the program Mbaye completed an internship with Hartford Healthcare in Connecticut. There he was able to work in facilities, real estate, construction, and emergency management while thinking about how to redesign buildings to promote better public health in a cost-effective way.

Over the next several years Mbaye hopes to build off those experiences while learning how academic medicine works, how to maintain revenue while putting the patient first, and supporting the community.

His advice for fellow students on a similar path is to understand the ‘why’ behind actions.

“Really know your ‘why’ because that will really be the (driving) factor for you to go through all these challenging moments,” he said. “Go out into the community and really learn about what people are going through. That will help shape your decision making, and perspective.”

College for Public Health and Social Justice

The Saint Louis University College for Public Health and Social Justice is the only academic unit of its kind, studying social, environmental and physical influences that together determine the health and well-being of people and communities. It also is the only accredited school or college of public health among nearly 250 Catholic institutions of higher education in the United States. Guided by a mission of social justice and focus on finding innovative and collaborative solutions for complex health problems, the college offers nationally recognized programs in public health and health administration.