Success Stories

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Daffodil Baez

SEP 2006
Age: 23
Pursuing MPH in health management at Columbia University
Lives in Houston
Assigned to corporate headquarters of Texas Health Resources (THR) in Arlington, TX


The SEP really gave me an eagle's-eye view of the corporation. It was a huge benefit to be exposed to senior leadership-and I mean senior, senior leadership-because I got to see not only how such a large system is run, but the mindset that is necessary in order to run it capably. THR is huge, the third largest employer in the state of Texas, the fifth largest market in the US, over 180,000 employees, 13 hospitals, assorted clinics and joint ventures-they're huge.


I learned so much even just going to meetings and hearing the interactions between the people who are steering the institution. What you have to take care of in the here and now as well as what we need to be looking at five, 10 years into the future.


I really have to plug THR. Everyone I met was so supportive and so helpful. My mentor in particular, Steve Hanson, who is executive vice president of operations, welcomed me with more than open arms. Sometimes he was the one pushing me, saying "You need to go talk to this person and this person and this person." He sent out an e-mail on my behalf so that I could go to the different hospitals in the system and sit in on meetings.  Other people as well were so welcoming.


One thing that struck me with THR was their commitment to their mission and their vision, and their commitment to quality. There is such a concentrated effort to do things in a transparent, caring and nurturing way.


By the time that I finish my schooling and I need to go out and look for a job, I'll be able to say that not only can I look at an Excel spreadsheet and tell you what the numbers mean, I can also take those numbers and say, "This what they're saying now, but if you look at the trend, this is what the behavior of the company should look like, for now and for in the future." So it's really the value of interpretation, of guidance for such a large system. I learned a lot.


It's been a fantastic experience.


Leslie A. Rosario

SEP 2007
Age 22
Graduated from the University of Central Florida with a Master of Health Administrative Services
Assigned to Stratton Veterans Affairs Medical Center, Albany, NY


My internship at the Stratton Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center in Albany, NY was a truly rewarding experience. Fresh out of college I was able to interact with the senior level management team on a daily basis and witness the day-to-day functions of the medical center. One of the many benefits associated with this program was the exposure to a distinct health care setting. T


he VA is leading health care into the 21st century with advances in computerized patient records and traumatic brain injury services just to name a few. I am so grateful to have been exposed to a health system that is setting industry standards. Douglas Erikson, the medical center’s Associate Director, and Mary Ann Witt, a VA Health Systems Specialist with thirty years experience, served as my main preceptors. It was refreshing to interact with these distinguished members of the facility’s executive leadership. They were especially helpful in acquainting me with the VA health system as well as what their facility is doing at a local level. As an aspiring health care executive I made sure to maximize my time with these seasoned professionals and absorb their analytical, decision-making skills.


As I further myself academically and professionally I will certainly develop the learned approaches and skills acquired at the Stratton VA. One of the highlights of my internship was attending meetings and while that may sound like another day at the office, within a medical center it is anything but ordinary. These meetings opened my eyes to the many individuals, specialties and disciplines that are all interconnected for the purpose of delivering quality health care to our nation’s veterans. Their individual efforts come together for the well being of the facility as a whole. As an early careerist it was great to witness these interactions and understand their effects on the medical center.


As my fellow SEP intern, Brian M. Wofford, mentioned in his success story, the enrichment program submerges you in an environment that for others can take years to experience. It serves as a wonderful tool for academic and professional development as well as an opportunity to advance diverse individuals into the exciting field of health care management. I am so grateful for this opportunity. It was truly an enriching experience!

Brian Michael Wofford

SEP 2007
Age: 24
Completed Bachelor of Science at Florida State University
Assigned to
Fayetteville VA Medical Center


Thanks to the Summer Enrichment Program I have experienced 360 degrees of health care under the tutelage of my Preceptor and the Veterans Affairs’s  (VA) Senior Leadership. The level of exposure received is unbelievable; I started attending executive meetings my first day in the program! This gave me a chance to put a tangible face on the day to day operations of positions I aspire to obtain. The Institute’s conference calls and abundance of resources allowed me to maximize my experience on a plethora of levels. There was literally never a dull moment.


In Fayetteville, we were constantly preparing for visits from the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the VA Advisory Committee, and numerous political dignitaries. My father would call me and say, “Brian turn on the news, they are doing a report on this or that in the VA.” Thanks to the SEP, my response was always, “yes, I worked with that person” or “I sat in with that committee.” I really have to thank my Preceptor, Rosalyn Cole. She accepted me with open arms and high expectations the moment I arrived in Fayetteville, NC. I was given a number of projects to complete for the various Services of the Hospital. The opportunity to apply my skills and abilities to help the Medical Center while receiving additional knowledge inside the world of health care created a win-win situation. In addition to adding value to the VA, the VA has added value to me and my career path. I met individually with each Service Chief to learn about their path to success and share my passion for healthcare. I also attended a regional conference where I met and worked with VISN 6 leadership. This led to the opportunity to work at the Central Office for a couple of days and attend a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C., WOW!


This summer has been the best career experience through the Institute for Diversity in Healthcare Management and the VA. I have received more exposure in a couple of months than some employees obtain in their whole career. The VA is the largest health care system in the United States with over 150 Medical Centers nationwide. Unfortunately, only a fraction of these facilities have an African American, like me, as Director (CEO). This statistic alone shows the veracity of the Institute’s mission and vision. Through the Summer Enrichment Program, students like my colleagues and I have received unprecedented exposure and experience to help the future leadership in healthcare mirror the diversity of the communities in which it serves. It has been an outstanding program; I am truly thankful!


If you have questions, please e-mail Education Specialist, Chris O. Biddle at  or call 312-422-2658.