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Public Health Management Essays

Richard J. Stull Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management

The American College of Healthcare Executives is pleased to sponsor the annual Richard J. Stull Student Essay Competition in Healthcare Management. The purpose of the competition is to stimulate and demonstrate the ability of future healthcare executives to identify and describe important issues and developments in their chosen profession.


ACHE invites eligible students to submit high-quality essays with a focus on health management topics such as:

  • strategic planning and policy
  • accountability of and/or relationships among board, medical staff and executive management
  • financial management
  • human resources management
  • systems management
  • plant and facility management
  • comprehensive systems of services
  • quality assessment and assurance
  • professional, public, community or interorganization relations
  • governmental relations or regulation
  • marketing
  • education
  • research
  • law and ethics


  • The competition is open to students currently enrolled in either a graduate or undergraduate U.S. or Canadian health administration program that is a participant in the ACHE Higher Education Network. To be eligible, entrants must be either an ACHE Student Associate or be an active member of ACHE in another status (Member or Fellow).
  • Essays must be the product of one individual. Joint efforts are not acceptable.
  • Essays must not have been published previously.
  • Individuals completing a residency or other postgraduate experience are not eligible. Individuals enrolled in an Executive Program are eligible to represent their program provided their essays are the product of one individual.

Instructions for Essayists

Program faculty must select and submit one essay to represent their program in the competition. Essays may be up to 15 pages, excluding executive summary, endnotes and bibliography. The executive summary should be 100 to 150 words and follow the title page.

The student's name should appear only on the title page; the title of the essay should appear on the executive summary and on the first page of the text.

All essays must be typed, double-spaced (including references) and have margins 11/4 inches all around.

View Sample Essays:


Essays selected to be submitted to ACHE will be subjected to a thorough review by panels composed of practitioners and faculty. The panels employ five equally-weighted criteria:

  1. Significance of the subject to healthcare management
  2. Innovativeness in approach to the topic
  3. Thoroughness and precision in developing the subject
  4. Practical usefulness for guiding management action
  5. Clarity and conciseness of expression (including correct grammar and overall quality of writing)

Entries and Awards

Only one entry per program will be accepted. Program faculty must select and submit the student essay entered into the competition. Schools with both graduate and undergraduate degree programs may submit separate entries for each.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the first-place, second-place, and third-place essayists in both the graduate and undergraduate divisions. Each student who has his/her essay submitted to ACHE will receive a certificate and keepsake in recognition of being selected to represent his/her program.

The graduate and undergraduate students whose essays are judged the winning entries will each receive $3,000; their programs will receive $1,000. The second and third place graduate and undergraduate finalists will receive $2,000 and $1,000, respectively.

All six finalists will be invited to attend the Congress on Healthcare Leadership, March 26 – 29, 2018 in Chicago, as guests of ACHE with transportation and accommodations expenses for two nights paid by ACHE. Awards will be presented at the Leon I. Gintzig Commemorative Lecture and Luncheon.


The two first-place entries will be published in future issues of the Journal of Healthcare Management. These two essays will become the permanent property of the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives and may not be published elsewhere without written permission from the editor.

Where to Send Entries and Inquiries

Entries are due by December 1, 2017. Entries can be submitted electronically by following these instructions. For more information, please contact Sheila Brown, Division of Regional Services, at (312) 424-9316 or sbrown@ache.org.

Elia Salazar

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, "Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane." Growing up in southeast Los Angeles, I experienced this inhumanity. My parents worked in hazardous factory settings in jobs that involved repetitive motions, heavy machinery and chemical exposures. They labored long hours with short breaks in stressful occupations, constantly worrying about becoming injured or ill.

Translating for them in medical clinics, I saw the disconnect between doctor and patient in the form of language barriers and cultural insensitivity. When I was sick, lack of health insurance meant that we depended on the services of a local clinic, or on homemade remedies.

I was the first person in my family to go to college, and now I am pursuing a masters degree. In the community in which I grew up, many of my peers have seen their hopes for a college education derailed by issues such as teen pregnancy, drugs, and incarceration. As a role model and ally for my community, I strive to be a voice for those who are unable to speak up. With my MPH, I want to fight to make sure people in all underserved communities have equal opportunities to prosper, and to be part of eliminating the shocking and inhumane injustices I have seen. 

Ejiro Ntekume

Prior to attending UCLA, I worked extensively with youth in underserved communities throughout Northern California. My experiences varied, from mentoring and providing academic support to serving the community as a health educator. But I saw something similar wherever I went: high rates of adolescent obesity. This realization ignited a fire in me to create change.

In 2011, I took my first step in addressing the issue as a health educator in East Oakland. I created Healthy Kids on the Move, an after-school enrichment program designed to encourage healthy eating and physical activity among school-aged children. In facilitating academic classes that engaged, educated, and empowered children to make healthier choices, I witnessed the power of public health. I saw the extent to which children are products of their environment, and how growing up in resource-poor neighborhoods had shaped their ideas on nutrition and exercise. 

These experiences solidified my decision to pursue an MPH at UCLA. I want to help make the world a place in which a child's health status is not a reflection of his or her socioeconomic status, race, gender or neighborhood. Public health gives me an opportunity to address the issue of adolescent obesity on a grand scale. 

Claudia Vargas

Working at the Feminist Majority Foundation in Los Angeles after college opened my eyes to the importance of access to reproductive health services, especially in underserved communities. I was outraged to learn about women who had to drive many miles to get a legal abortion, and about legislation that would force women to have ultrasounds or to wait 24 hours before having an abortion. I applied to the Fielding School with the goal of working in the Latino immigrant community to increase access to reproductive health services, but I now realize that the underlying problem is broader - it is lack of access to basic health care. 

Coming from a Mexican immigrant family and knowing people who are undocumented, I have seen the effects of not having health insurance. Without primary care doctors and regular check-ups, my family and my community relied on free clinics for health needs as they came up. In the absence of such basic access, people can't be expected to be knowledgeable about reproductive health, or to seek important reproductive health services. As the Affordable Care Act goes into effect, millions will gain access to health insurance, but many will remain without it. With an MPH I plan to work to ensure that immigrants, including those who are undocumented, receive basic health care services.

Natalie Sanchez

For the last 12 years I have dedicated my career to transforming the way HIV prevention is delivered and perceived. As the HIV prevention manager at AltaMed, I created and led some of the largest and most successful HIV campaigns, and implemented a combination of public health strategies to reduce HIV infections in Southern California. I was writer and creator of the telenovela web series "Sin Verguenza (Without Shame)," an Imagen Award-winning campaign aimed at reducing HIV shame and stigma in the Latino community; and the Top, Bottom, Vers condom campaign, aimed at empowering gay men to engage in safer sex.

Having been a terrified young adult who was pregnant in my first year as a college undergraduate, I can relate to life-changing events and empathize with people at vulnerable points in their lives. Being in this field has taught me compassion, tolerance, acceptance, and how best to work with and understand marginalized populations. My personal experience and lessons learned from persons living with HIV have shaped me into a strong and resilient woman and public health advocate. Having a leadership and management role in public health has enabled me to shape and develop regional programs delivered by dedicated teams of skilled and passionate employees. With the Affordable Care Act bringing dramatic changes to the health care industry, I want to equip myself with the policy and leadership skills to continue leading HIV efforts in this evolving environment. Enrolling in the Fielding School's EMPH Program in Health Policy and Management was the step I needed to elevate and expand my public health career.

Stephania Olamendi

I want to better understand how the community in which we live can so profoundly affect our health behaviors and outcomes - and to use that understanding to address Latin American issues around poverty, health, and inequality. Public health will provide me with that knowledge, along with the ability to participate in reducing and eliminating health disparities. Through a focus on the social and environmental factors that play such an important role in health - including food access policies, community structures, climate change, and pollution regulations - I hope to help create and cultivate healthy communities.

I am at the Fielding School to learn from and collaborate with faculty members toward an all-inclusive culture of health - in particular, one that addresses the health needs of the undocumented Latino population. I want to contribute to a paradigm shift that will recognize undocumented immigrants' health needs. Documented or not, all people are entitled to live in conditions that will facilitate positive health outcomes. I am passionate in my belief that health is a human right - and committed to a future of promoting that right for all as a public health professional.

Gabriel Pimentel

As a Native American growing up in Los Angeles, I experienced many challenges. Like many Native American families, mine was looked down upon. It was assumed because of my racial category that I would never amount to anything. This type of discrimination, all too familiar to Native Americans, creates barriers to academic success, which is a key predictor of health. Individuals with a college degree eat better and are less likely to involve themselves in risky behaviors. They are more likely to be able to afford quality food and health care. 

For the past several years, I have been fortunate to be able to work for Riverside-San Bernardino County Indian Health, Inc., a consortium of 10 tribes that promotes wellness and healthy lifestyles for my people. I have instituted programs to support academic success, prevent disease and risky behaviors, and reduce obesity and depression through exercise. I have seen firsthand how these exercise and movement programs can help teens lose weight, regain self-confidence, and increase academic achievement. Now the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health gives me the opportunity to learn from the nation's best experts in the field of public health. I am pursuing an MPH as a means of addressing the significant health disparities in my Native American community, in particular those that result from the risky behaviors of our youth. As a Fielding School graduate, I can be a facilitator of change for my people.

Marcie Lee

I am at the Fielding School because of my mother. For as long as I can remember, she struggled with a health system that failed to provide the type of culturally competent care that could have prevented the chronic medical conditions she now suffers from. Although I tried to help, I had a difficult time describing her symptoms to medical providers through translation. I also witnessed insensitivity among these providers to her needs. Doctors laughed at my mother's concerns over medical premonitions that she took from our cultural shamanistic practices. 

My mother raised me to value our Hmong culture. It was her unpleasant experiences that inspired me to go into public health - not only for her, but to address the linguistic barriers and lack of cultural competency in the health care system that work against many in the Hmong community, as well as other misunderstood communities. Through public health I hope to improve the strategies for disseminating culturally competent health information and programs to communities that experience health disparities, particularly when they are geographically spread out or in rural areas. At FSPH I can gain the skills I need to alleviate the health informational shortages and barriers that afflict marginalized communities like my own.

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