June 2016 Student Spotlight
June Student Spotlight with Javier Santiago, MPA ’16
Students like Javier Santiago do what they do because they’ve developed a taste for helping others. His work has shown that it’s not a passing phase, but just the beginning of a lifelong dedication to philanthropic pursuits. Mr. Santiago gives us an inside look at the focus of his MPA, his role in helping Latinos get better health care treatment, and his “transformative” experience interning at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency.
What was the focus of your MPA at Baruch College?
After volunteering for a nonprofit organization that specialized in building houses for rural, impoverished communities in Nicaragua, I realized that I wanted a career that would allow me to make an impact and help others. As a result, I enrolled at Baruch College’s School of Public Affairs because of its outstanding reputation in offering a well-rounded education taught by expert faculty, as well as having a diverse student body for which I was fortunate to join. I decided to take a more general track to gain exposure to the different areas of study within the field of Public Administration which included classes in nonprofit management, communications, and political dynamics. Thus far, I have gained a wealth of knowledge and skills that have prepared me to be a successful leader in the world of public affairs.
How has it aided you as a Clinical Research Associate at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine?
I work for an epidemiological health study at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine with the goal of exploring the relationship between the social/cultural elements and the risk factors, such as heart disease, asthma, diabetes, that affect Latinos/Hispanics living in the United States. Despite the fact that Latinos are a growing ethnic minority in this country, they are surprisingly underrepresented in health research. Moreover, when they go to the doctor, they are given a diagnosis that is based on a standard that most likely does not apply to them. Therefore, my job as a research associate is to interview participants regarding their health status and to collect and submit for analysis those data which will be used to create a clinical guideline to help physicians devise an effective treatment strategy for their patients.
My Research and Analysis class with Professor Na Yin was superb because it helped me develop the ability to critically interpret and navigate the “data-driven” field of statistics and apply it to real world examples such as policy reports, newspaper articles, as well as in the work I do in health research.
And did it aid you as an Intergovernmental Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Dept. of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency?
Working for the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) at the U.S. Department of Commerce in Washington D.C. was a transformative experience. The knowledge I gained in my Political Dynamics class with Professor Sonia Jarvis helped me adapt quickly to the fast-paced environment of the federal government. I had the privilege of working directly with the national director of the agency, who challenged and inspired me to work hard and exceed my goals. At MBDA, I was entrusted with several projects that gave me the opportunity to see how the public and private sectors come together to provide support for business development initiatives to create jobs and ultimately lift communities out of poverty.
What is the most critical aspect of helping minorities gain a better foothold in business development that people tend to be unaware of?
The demographics of this country are changing and many people may not be aware of the fact that there are over 8 million minority-owned businesses in the United States which have employed about 7.2 million people. Minority-owned businesses play a transformative role in helping their communities in creating jobs and contributing to the economic growth of the United States, both domestically and internationally. Through social media, MBDA is getting the message across that the federal government has a wide range of resources for minority-owned firms that will assist them in gaining access to contracts, markets, and capital in order to grow in size and scale, which is the key to helping them advance in business development.