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Economics course shifts Baca’s medical career plans

By Thao Nguyen ’15

Growing up with a chronic illness, Michael Baca ‘13 aspired to improve the U.S. healthcare system by becoming a physician. Once at Cornell, though, his vision was broadened by a newfound passion for economics, thanks to a macroeconomics class taught by Professor A’amer Farooqi.

Michael Baca '13

Michael Baca ’13

“The class showed me how different variables can affect the economy in different ways, and it made me wonder how those same factors can have an effect on healthcare as an industry”, Baca said.

Baca, from Albuquerque, N. M., completed a bachelor’s degree in economics and business and will begin graduate studies in healthcare administration at the University of Iowa next fall, complete with a full-ride research fellowship. His ultimate goal is to be the CEO of his own hospital.

“I am still following my dream, but in a different way,” he said.­

Two significant internships also bolstered his career decision. During the summer of 2011 he completed a two-month Cornell Fellowship with the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) in Washington, D.C., sponsored by NACDS President and CEO Steve Anderson ’75. At NACDS, Baca experienced a wide range of legislative and lobbying activity related to healthcare on Capitol Hill.

During the following summer he interned at the Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value in Appleton, Wis., working directly with the company’s CEO, John Toussaint ’78. At the center Baca conducted case studies to evaluate the application of a new healthcare management model, interviewing the CEOs of many hospitals in the process.

Baca values Cornell for the connections he made with professors and peers, and he appreciates the support he’s already received from the wider Cornell community.

“I have been able to network with a wide array of alumni who have been able to give me advice on where my next steps in terms of education and my career should be,” he said. “I feel it is important for me to give back to future Cornell students.”

Michael Baca’s highlights

  • Internship with Thedacare Center for Healthcare Value
  • Cornell Fellowship with National Association of Chain Drug Stores
  • Marketing coordinator for the Career Engagement Center
  • Omicron Delta Epsilon (Economics Honors Society)
  • Mortar Board
  • Health Professions Society