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Grad Profile: Discovering Halifax during a life‑changing cruise

Posted by Terry Murray-Arnold on May 30, 2018 in News, Citizenship, Students, Teaching and Learning

Alejandro Gutierrez Ocampo, School of Health Administration

Alejandro Gutierrez Ocampo. (Nick Pearce photo)

Alejandro will cross the stage of the Rebecca Cohn Auditorium this week and receive a Master of Health Administration (MHA) with a Certificate in Strategic Decisions in Health Administration.

Alejandro has practiced as a medical doctor in Spain, the US, and in his home country of Mexico.

Alejandro discovered Halifax and the MHA program by chance when the cruise ship he was working on as a medical doctor made a stop in the city. "I decided to walk up to Dalhousie while we were in port," he explains. "At that time, I only knew that Dal offered an MBA program.” When he arrived on campus he was directed to the MHA program.

Halifax and Dal left a good impression.

“I selected Dalhousie because of the CA+HME accreditation—specifically, for being the only university that was granted a seven-year accreditation—the residency opportunity, and because I liked Halifax and its community," he says.

Alejandro says the MHA program exceeded his expectations. “If a student is anything like me they might think they are going to get all the answers from the MHA program but in reality you just get more questions " he explains.

“The professors emphasize the fact that there is no one solution to a problem. We need to evaluate every scenario and apply our knowledge and experience to come up with innovative solutions—I am realizing not everything is black and white,” he says.

Opportunities to Give Back

Alejandro volunteered a lot during his two years at Dal. He is founder and a board member of HOPES (Halifax Outreach Prevention Education Support) and president of the Association of Health Administration Students. He also volunteered with Student Health Promotion and Community Day.

Alejandro received the prestigious Malcolm Honour Award at the Dalhousie Impact Awards this Spring. "I was surprised. It was great, and I felt honored getting that award," he says. The Malcolm Honour Award is given to a "student for an elite level of involvement and achievement in campus life over the course of a university career."

"There were lots of opportunities at Dal to volunteer and contribute to the community and I feel really good about that," he says.

A desire to make ‘meaningful change’

To Alejandro the four-month residency component of the MHA program was particularly important. “It added Canadian experience to my resume, and being an international student, that’s extremely valuable. Apart from that, it’s a great opportunity to secure relationships that can build your career,” he says.

Alejandro will be staying in Halifax and already has secured a position in health administration management with a long-term care provider for seniors. “This will allow me to make meaningful changes to the way care is being delivered to our seniors,” he says.