MPA in Health Policy & Management - 2018
Focusing his MPA studies on health policy and management, Malik Dent (MPA 2018) is committed to ensuring the wellness of all people. His dedication to public service is reflected in the initiatives and institutions he leads, including the NYC Mayor's Office of Management and Budget, NYC Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice, and now, NYC Mayor's Office to End Domestic and Gender-Based Violence.
In 2021, Dent was selected as Chief of Staff for the NYC Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence. Previously, he supported city government in essential health and safety initiatives including efforts to prevent gun violence and ensure neighborhood safety. Read as he reflects on his graduate student journey at Wagner.
What was your time like as a Wagner student?
I went to Wagner right out of undergrad, and my very first course at Wagner focused heavily on past work experience. As someone coming straight from undergrad without that work experience, being in that class I remember realizing that I was in the minority of students who went directly to grad school. My first impression in making that realization was, “I’m around some very motivating and inspiring people!” My classmates were doing great things and have had these great experiences--being in class with these people encouraged me to gain as many different experiences as I could while I was a student. I held five (5) internships while at Wagner, one (1) of which turned into a full-time job!
Why did you choose Wagner, especially coming right out of an undergraduate program?
I was actually pre-med throughout undergrad, and I remember the summer where I changed my mind about that path. I was abroad in Uganda doing a study abroad program centered around implementing Asset Based Community Development (i.e. identifying resources within the community and identifying/providing sustainable resources for the work to continue) with a local clinic. The clinic wanted to increase their outreach in the local community and implement programs that would best support their needs. This experience is when I realized my passions around wanting to ensure vulnerable communities are appropriately supported by institutions. I knew that I wanted to make positive multigenerational changes within vulnerable communities around the world and chose Wagner as a beacon for me to do so given its emphasis around impactful public service.
What shape do you hope that your career path takes?
I hope to always be able to provide resources to underserved communities. I hope to always be that voice that holds entities accountable for supporting all marginalized groups. The voice that works across communities and institutions to uplift all. That's something that is very important for me--that's why I went to graduate school. This allows me to have the formalized structures to really show up for individuals in spaces that were not built for a significant majority of us. As a queer Black male from Chicago Southside, it’s very important and critical for me to always, no matter where my career leads, use my background and expertise to support vulnerable community members.