|Dr. Mary Coleman of Children's Hospital Oakland demonstrates a solar suitcase during a visit to Holy Innocents Children's Hospital in Uganda.
No one needed to tell Roxana Damas and her fellow Saint Mary's College students how high the stakes were as they made their presentation to help Holy Innocents Children's Hospital in Uganda. The growing institution is the only children's hospital in the nation.
The Trans Global Executive MBA program had prepared her for the past 10 months, including an earlier trip to Holy Innocents. The presentation had been honed in front of volunteers, graduates who returned to the Moraga campus to help others prepare for the final project that could change the world.
But as they spoke to doctors, government representatives and other stakeholders, the travelers knew well their task: present a business plan to help the hospital develop a dependable income stream, and not worry whether donation envelopes from abroad hold enough to keep the doors open.
The students' mission was to present a plan to diversify grant opportunities and increase self-sustainability at Holy Innocents, the only hospital in Uganda dedicated to serving only young patients.
Some patients' families will be able to pay, Damas said, and the hospital could develop its own insurance plan.
Additionally, Holy Innocents needed to "build efficiency and visibility," Damas said. "If you look at the hospitals in the area, they are seen as the place to go. A children's hospital takes away some of the burden from local hospitals."
The plan also included building partnerships to help this happen. Holy Innocents has some strong partners locally in Children's Hospital Oakland, whose medical staff provides expertise and equipment. Doctors travel at their own expense.
The students also developed a sense of the importance of the Catholic Church in Uganda, spending time with the Archbishop of Mbarara, one of the hospital's founders and strongest supporters.
Donations to Holy Innocents Children's Hospital may be directed through Children's Hospital Oakland Foundation: online at www.chofoundation.org/give2HICH or checks may be made out to Children's Hospital Oakland Foundation-CHORI/HICH and mailed to CGHI, c/o Teresa Klask, Executive Administrator, 5700 Martin Luther King Jr. Way, Oakland CA 94609.
For more information on the program at Saint Mary's College: www.stmarys-ca.edu/trans-global-executive-mba
The three-week journey at the end of the executive MBA program, which was spent at two hospitals in Uganda and eco-tourism sites in Rwanda, offers the global MBA students a chance to put what they've learned in the classroom to work.
"This is a way for our students to see in the real world how they can make a difference," said Linda Herkenhoff, a professor in Saint Mary's graduate program, who accompanied the students.
They did not travel with earphones on the long bus rides. "They were hanging out windows, taking it all in, waving to people," Herkenhoff recalled. "I was proud to see how they interacted."
Upon their return, she had the students write a reflection paper in lieu of a traditional exam. "It's a spiritual journey," she said. Such papers often reflect how the students are thinking differently now.
Thinking differently is a hallmark of the global executive MBA program. "We want to fulfill the mission of Saint Mary's and Lasallian education," said Shyam Kamath, associate dean of the graduate school of business.
Each global executive MBA program cohort is assigned a task in a developing country. Students develop a business plan to assist an entity with its growth. Development of the plan involves travel to these remote areas.
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