Hilary Valenova Dayag, a Master of Public Administration (MPA) student at California State University, Dominguez Hills (CSUDH), believes there are opportunities to make “serious advancements” in the field of health care policy, and hopes being named a 2016-17 California State University (CSU) Sally Casanova Pre-Doctoral Scholar will enable him to play a role in that.
As a Sally Casanova scholar, Dayag will receive a $3,000 grant and have a variety of advantages and unique opportunities to do research and prepare to succeed in a doctoral program after earning his MPA at CSUDH. The scholarship is available to CSU students with exceptional academic records who come from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“Getting the Casanova scholarship is a humbling experience. I am passionate about making a difference in my community with this opportunity by showing other people the potential to expand in the field [of health care policy], and possibly to help move the field forward,” said Dayag, a Buena Park resident, who already has a background in clinical, biomedical, and translational research, much of which was done while he was an undergraduate at UC Irvine.
Dayag and the other Sally Casanova scholars throughout the CSU system will also receive funding to visit doctoral-granting institutions where they are considering applying; to travel to a national symposium or professional meeting in their chosen fields; membership in professional organizations; and free graduate school applications, test fees, and journal subscriptions.
Each scholar also must have a faculty sponsor who works with the student during the academic year to implement a plan for admission to a doctoral program. Dayag’s faculty sponsor is Fynnwin Prager, assistant professor of Public Administration at CSUDH. Prior to Dayag receiving the scholarship, the two conducted research together on counterfeit pharmaceuticals and their economic impact in the United States, and they are currently drafting a paper about their findings for submission to conferences. Their research was funded by CSUDH’s Graduate Writing Institute for Excellence.
“Hilary is very keen to pursue a Ph.D., and this [scholarship] will be a great opportunity for him to learn more about the process,” said Prager. “He has already demonstrated impressive initiative and talent as a researcher.”
Prager and the MPA program have had a significant influence on Dayag’s success at CSUDH.
“Dr. Prager is very engaging and a great mentor. He really challenges me, especially when developing papers,” said Dayag. “Overall, I really like the program that I’m in here at Cal State Dominguez Hills, particularly its feeling of community. Not only do I get to connect with my cohort often, but also engage with the community, which you don’t often get to do at other universities.”
Along with Prager’s guidance, Dayag will also have the opportunity to work with a faculty member from a doctoral-granting institution through the scholarship’s summer research program. Dayag has been accepted to do his research program in the summer of 2017 at the prestigious USC Leonard D. Schaeffer Center for Health Policy and Economics where he will receive hands-on experience and the chance to work with world-class researchers.
“I’ve been speaking with the professor [at USC} who I might be doing research with and I’m confident that it’s going to be a very enriching learning experience,” said Dayag, who is also a student fellow for the new Economics Institute at CSUDH. “I’m still looking into where I would like to pursue my doctorate, but my passion is serving local and international communities through the improvement of healthcare policy and accessibility to health services.”