Student Spotlight: Fatima Niakate


Tell us about yourself.

I am a Clinical Social Worker and program coordinator for the Marlene and Paolo Fresco Institute for Parkinson’s and Movement Disorders at NYU Langone Health (NYULH). I was born and raised in New York City. I have experience working with a variety of populations including children in the child welfare system, children under the age of three with a diagnosis of autism, patients admitted inpatient to sub-acute rehab and nursing facilities. Through my experience working with military veterans at the Albany Stratton VA Medical center,  I realized my passion for the healthcare sector with a focus on behavioral health. 

In 2017, I joined the Parkinson’s and Movement Disorder team at NYU, where I established a strong relationship with the NYU Silver School of Social Work. I am currently pursuing my second master’s degree in Health Administration at NYU’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. 

Why did you choose to come to graduate school, and specifically, why did you choose NYU Wagner’s Online MHA Program?

Since I was a child, my mother embedded in me the value of education. My first master’s degree set the foundation for my clinical experience within the healthcare field. However, I soon realized to make organizational and policy changes, I need to be in a leadership position. 

I came across NYU Wagner’s MHA program and automatically knew that this was the program for me. I was drawn to the idea of being in a program with other working professionals, and being taught by distinguished faculty. I also valued NYU’s #2 ranking in health policy and management on U.S. News & World Report Rankings Best Grad Schools-Public Affairs.

What is one meaningful experience you have had in the program?

One aspect of the program that I really appreciate is networking with my classmates. I’ve had the opportunity to be in classes with healthcare professionals from all different sectors. My classmates bring their real-life experiences into our classroom discussions, making the overall learning experience much more enriching.

What inspired you to go into the field of social work?

My inspiration to go into the field of Social Work stems from my positive interactions with Social Workers growing up as a child. However, I never had a social worker that looked like me. I wanted to become a change agent for my community and help low-income families navigate the system with the proper resources and support.

What is your favorite part of working at NYU Langone Health?

My favorite part of working at NYULH has been my ability to grow professionally. In the last 3.5 years at the organization, I have expanded my professional credentials, mentored graduate students, coordinated community and national events, and interacted with thousands of patients and family members.

What are your career goals moving forward? Where do you want to go next?

My goal is to become a healthcare administrator for New York City Health and Hospitals. This will allow me to work with a vulnerable population that has been traditionally medically underserved in an effort to expand access to care. This is essential as the current pandemic, hospital closures, and Medicaid shifts affect NYC’s public health. The privatization and consolidation of the medical sector in low-income neighborhoods had huge implications on healthcare delivery, employment, and even small businesses within the same neighborhoods. 

As a future healthcare leader, it is imperative to advocate for safety-net hospitals to protect the overall public health systems and communities that are affected.


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