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First Generation Student's Winning Essay Seeks Diversity in Healthcare Leadership

Governors State University’s (GSU) Health Administration students are writing themselves into the ranks of the best in the nation.

Aleksandra Pawlikowska-Czaja placed second in an essay contest sponsored by the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE), which seeks to stimulate conversations around topics in healthcare management and leadership.

“Importance of Diversity Among Leadership and Governing Boards,” focused on key issues in the field that Pawlikowska-Czaja has experienced herself. 

“Being a woman and soon entering the workforce, I have to be cognizant of the fact that the healthcare field is male dominated, especially in the leadership roles. Writing the essay helped me see the many obstacles in leadership and healthcare,” she said.

 To Pawlikowska-Czaja, a first-generation college student, diversifying healthcare leadership and staff in general, with minorities, women, and millennials, will improve health outcomes and the patient experience. In her essay she describes the benefits of diverse governing boards (GB).

“A diverse healthcare team can achieve patient satisfaction and improve patient outcomes by understanding and embracing the community demographics, hiring a diverse staff, providing patients with appropriate resources that align with their cultural beliefs, and working closely with the GB to create knowledge of the diverse community,” she wrote.

Pawlikowska-Czaja entered the Richard J. Stull Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management on the advice of Ning Lu, Governors State's Chair of the Department of Health Administration and Program.

Dr. Lu, also Director of the Master of Health Administration program, said Pawlikowska-Czaja’s essay called attention to important work on the need for diversity in healthcare management and leadership in a thoughtful and creative way.

“She wrote it beautifully,” she said.

Governors State has been entering the Stull Student Essay Competition for many years, though this is the first win for the university. Lu said it's the inspiration she needs to continue the tradition of having future leaders explore the field. 

“It’s a good time and place for students to showcase their talents,” she said.

For Pawlikowska-Czaja, who  immigrated to the United States when she was eight years old, a second-place win exceeded all expectations.

“I honestly was happy with just having the paper submitted. I have always sought out more to add to my learning experience, and I thank Dr. Caren Rossow for helping me choose and edit my paper and Dr. Lu for submitting it,” she said.

Pawlikowska-Czaja, who is set to graduate in May with a Bachelor of Health Administrationwill be presenting her essay at the ACHE's Congress on Healthcare Leadership luncheon Chicago on Wednesday, March 25.