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Staff Snapshot: Haleemat Fa-Yusuf, lifelong learner, immigrant and mom

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Haleemat Fa-Yusuf and her children

“Health care accessibility is dear to me, as an immigrant who has seen both sides of the coin,” says Haleemat Fa-Yusuf. A project manager in the UCSF Health Experience Excellence Division, her passion for identifying and addressing disparities began in her homeland of Nigeria. 

“While health care should be a human right, in reality, it isn’t. And some of us, by virtue of where we are born or live, bear the brunt of this inequality,” Haleemat says. “In many places around the world, families save for months or years to afford essential medical devices like cochlear implants, which are easily accessible in the United States. Affordability and accessibility issues like this tug at my heart and fuel my desire to level the field.” 

Haleemat received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics. While she enjoyed exploring theoretical principles, she was drawn towards behavioral and applied economics, and the relatable insights learned through studying their findings. “A lot can be said of how psychological, cognitive and social factors influence the decisions we make on all levels,” she says. When envisioning her career, she “yearned for a connection to tangible problems” — those that she could understand and impact. 

After completing graduate school in the United Kingdom in 2010, Haleemat applied for the U.S. Department of State’s Diversity Immigrant Visa Program, which supports people from counties with low U.S. immigration rates. She was selected two years later and spent another year proving her eligibility. Once she reached California, she received a fellowship at Upwardly Global — a nonprofit focused on workforce development for immigrants and refugees. She also held roles in San Francisco city government.

Haleemat hadn’t seriously considered entering the health care field until the birth of her first child at Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital (then simply San Francisco General Hospital), when she gained a deep respect for UCSF health care providers. Years later, when she saw a UCSF job on her LinkedIn feed, she felt compelled to apply.

Since then, Haleemat has been realizing her career goals at UCSF. She uses her cross-cultural experiences of living in three continents to bring a global perspective to the university and the clients she serves. And, as she does so, she is always keenly aware of the disparities in global health. “As I raise a child on the autism spectrum, I am sometimes struck by how different the picture could look if we had not diagnosed this condition early enough, as well as how limited, and perhaps unaffordable, interventions may have been in my home country,” she says.

At the same time, she is proud of her heritage and works to explore and celebrate it with her growing family. “As a Nigerian in the diaspora, I miss home a lot and am eager to teach my little nuggets everything about ‘the motherland,’” says Haleemat. “I am an aspiring culinary student and have taken a few credits at my local college. I cook Jollof rice (a West African staple) and bake meat pies. I also whip homemade shea body butter that I store in re-purposed butter containers or Danish butter cookie tins — as it is always done back home — all with a great sense of nostalgic satisfaction.”

haleemat-pies.jpg

Meet Haleemat

Name: Haleemat Fa-Yusuf

Title: Project manager, experience intelligence & analytics

Department/Unit: UCSF Health Experience Excellence Division

Location: UCSF Parnassus (remote role)

When did you start working for UC? July 29, 2021

In five words or less, what do you do for UC? Patient experience, data literacy and consultation

Why do you love working for UC? I’m surrounded with an intelligent, incredibly passionate and collegial group of people. I am constantly inspired to give in my best in furthering UCSF’s mission of advancing health worldwide. My work on the patient experience team is focal and well-appreciated, and it translates into both little and lofty improvement efforts in our health system. That’s something to love!

What’s something people don’t know about you?  I am a wanna-be birth educator and doula, and am looking into taking classes soon.

Who’s your dream dinner guest (living or dead) and why? If wishes were horses, I’d like to dine with Dr. Qaali Hussein, whose story I happened upon on Twitter. She is a super mom (of six) and a trauma surgeon. I have three children and a fairly predictable job which I manage to juggle. I want her to share her cheat sheet with me!

What’s the best career advice you’ve ever received? When I worked at Upwardly Global — a nonprofit focused on workforce development for immigrants and refugees — my manager told me something along the lines of “leadership starts with leading oneself” or “you can’t lead others if you can’t lead yourself.” I took this to mean that I didn’t need to wait until I reached a point in my career with a leadership title to take ownership of my work and hold myself accountable to myself first and foremost. I have carried this advice with me and it has served me well.

 

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