Alumna earns prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship honor

May 04, 2022

Stephanie Baiyasi-Kozicki ’15 has had many different research passions during a long career as an educator and veterinarian. But it was a course that she took earning her Health Services Administration certificate from University of Detroit Mercy that helped push her in a new direction.

Now, Baiyasi-Kozicki is among 1,100 people nationally who have been selected recipients of the prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship.

Baiyasi-Kozicki took a class in population health from Detroit Mercy while earning her HSA certificate and shortly after receiving her degree, she pursued a Master of Public Health from Central Michigan University, graduating in 2020.

Photo of Stephanie Baiyasi-Kozicki, smiling and with arms folded across her chest.Detroit Mercy’s Jesuit and Mercy vision inspired her to find new ways to provide service others.

“It was the first course outside of my veterinarian degree — that led me into more of the side of the human perspective, and I think that kind of changed my path to a certain extent. It was pivotal,” Baiyasi-Kozicki said.

With her Detroit Mercy schooling, it also made the process of earning her MPH quicker, with some of the courses in the Health Services Administration track being similar.

The Presidential Management Fellows (PMF) Program is a prestigious two-year fellowship at a federal agency. Bearing the Presidential Seal, the program is the federal government’s flagship leadership development program at the entry level for advanced degree holders.

For more than 40 years, the mission of the PMF Program has been to recruit and develop a cadre of future government leaders from all segments of society.

Baiyasi-Kozicki is excited to represent Detroit Mercy as well as make a difference with the opportunity.

As a finalist, she has 12 months to secure a full-time position with a federal agency and has been applying to jobs through different government agencies, such as the CDC, USDA and others.

I’m hoping to promote the importance of public health, zoonotic disease prevention and just trying to make the world, or at least the United States, safer, better and a healthier place for people as they live their lives,” she said.

Baiyasi-Kozicki’s recent research has centered around the One Health Initiative, which is a collaborative effort between physicians, veterinarians, nurses and other health and environmental related disciplines to achieve optimal health outcomes, recognizing the interconnectivity between people, animals, plants and their shared environment.

A licensed veterinarian for more than three decades, Baiyasi-Kozicki says it’s an important research topic.

Baiyasi-Kozicki surveyed veterinarians in Michigan in regards to how they have encountered zoonotic diseases, ones that are transmitted from animals to humans, whether by themselves or by talking to their clients.

“Sixty-plus percent of diseases that humans get are originally from animals, so preventing animal transmission of diseases from animals to humans would decrease the disease and pain and suffering of humans,” she said.

Her research was pivotal at the start of COVID-19 in early 2020 because it led to a conclusion that the promotion of the One Health would help bring human, veterinary and environmental science experts together to help prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

Along with Detroit Mercy Associate Professor Zigmond Kozicki and two HSA students, Baiyasi-Kozicki helped provide important data of Michigan hospitals and public health agencies through an extensive study during the first year of COVID-19.

A public health documentary on the COVID-19 pandemic co-produced by Baiyasi-Kozicki was presented at the American Public Health Association’s Film Festival in October 2021. It is a documentary that has been used in Detroit Mercy’s College of Health Professions & McAuley School of Nursing courses to provide insight into how public health is important to health services.

Baiyasi-Kozicki’s research interests extend far beyond zoonotic disease prevention, however.

She co-produced a movie called Saginaw Rising, which examined the rising violence in Saginaw and offered solutions that led to federal Department of Justice grants to the city. A movie she co-produced with Kozicki, Great Lakes: One Water for Life, premiered at Detroit Mercy on April 21, during World Health Week.

She has worked on programs regarding motor vehicle accident survivors and has participated in neuroscience research with Alzheimer’s disease, Huntington’s disease and stroke at Central Michigan. Baiyasi-Kozicki has also been an advocate for improving drinking water quality in the United States.

“I have a wide variety of interests,” she said. “I started working for Dow Corning in research areas since I was in high school and just enjoyed that work. To be on the cutting edge of molecular biology, it was phenomenal, and I just remember loving that.”

Her research prowess in many different areas and topics is something she brings to the table as she looks to land a position through the Presidential Management Fellowship.

“Feeling like you are on the cutting edge and making a difference and discovering something new, it’s always been so fascinating and interesting to me,” Baiyasi-Kozicki said.

Detroit Mercy’s HSA program helped push her to be selected for the Presidential Management Fellowship.

“The Health Services Administration certificate really piqued my interest in getting back to furthering my degree,” she said. “I got a veterinarian degree in 1991 and was always taking courses in various things of interest, but not really leading up to something like a certificate that I got at Detroit Mercy.

“I’d like to thank the Detroit Mercy community for helping give me this opportunity to advance in this area leading me towards my end goal that I’m hoping for through this PMF.”

— By Adam Bouton. Follow Detroit Mercy on FacebookLinkedInTwitter and Instagram. Have a story idea? Let us know by submitting your idea.