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Students/Faculty News Jessica Jernigan January 04, 2022

Paige Bates, UAB MSHA Class 57 President, constantly asks herself: “How can I leave a positive impact on my community?”

Raised in Memphis, Tennessee, Bates found her passion for health care during her undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee. As a premed student majoring in psychology, she began to understand the intersection of human behavior and the health care system. Before graduating, she spent a summer in London, immersed in an environment unknown to her. She experienced first-hand the cultural differences outside of where she grew up.  

"When it comes to my studies and career, I look for that bigger picture and try to understand how this resonates worldwide and how can we integrate this knowledge with what we know and what we can learn," said Bates. "Just knowing that there will always be a different perspective presents an opportunity to learn and grow in whatever we are doing."

During her post-undergrad service work at AmeriCorp, Bates realized the importance of community. As a team lead for AmeriCorp's partnership organization, Impact America, she spearheaded an initiative giving low-income areas access to eye care. 

"The opportunity to shape underserved communities' access to health necessities and make a meaningful impact on the system itself has changed my perspective on how health care can be and how it should be," said Bates. 

That shift she experienced led her to pursue a dual master's degree in health administration and public health at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. For her, UAB was a natural fit.

"The MSHA program at UAB shares my passion for bridging the gaps within the health care system from a worldwide perspective," said Bates. "I also appreciate the heavy presence of extremely accomplished women in the department."

Bates carried the tools she gained as a leader in her post-grad work into the master’s program, and was elected class president for the program, making her the first woman of color to assume the role. 

"I'm incredibly thankful to be elected class president," said Bates. "I am able to be my true, authentic self and share that."

Bates' values as class president are rooted in her belief of 'better together, than apart.' Her leadership efforts have been geared toward listening to the opinions and needs of her peers to help shape and build each other's visions, not only for themselves, but for the future of the program.

"I wouldn't be in this position without my classmates," said Bates. "I see something shining and bright in all of them—they are all amazing, talented individuals. As a cohort, we understand how our strengths suit each other and that only makes us stronger."

Focused on the importance of consistent community efforts, Bates and her executive leadership team strive to cultivate strong traditions within the program by partnering with target organizations and developing fundraisers to support them. 

"By developing traditions across what we do socially, in philanthropy, and how we celebrate diversity, equity, and inclusion, we will begin to see the long-term impact of our hard work." 

Bates added that her drive to make a difference is supported by the strong support system around her – her peers, mentors, professors, family, and especially her mother. She often looks to her mother's phenomenal strength as a woman in the engineering world to guide her own aspirations.

"My desire to impact the health care community is a reflection of how I saw my mother extend her heart to those around her," said Bates. "I want to see that in myself—someone who always perseveres and cares."

Bates is currently in the Office of Patient Experience and Engagement within the MSHA program and will be applying for internships this summer.

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