Making Their Mark in Healthcare, Tech, and Finance
Moving the Needle on Health Equity: Dr. Fatima Watt, MPA ’23
Dr. Fatima Watt spent more than a decade establishing an impressive career as a child and adolescent psychologist, specializing in underserved populations and complex cases of pediatric psychiatric illness. As vice president and director of behavioral health services at Franciscan Children’s Hospital in Brighton, she was working every day with some of Boston’s most vulnerable young people.
“I had been working one-on-one with patients for a long time, and I realized that I needed to think about changing the system, not just helping a single person in a dysfunctional system,” says Watt, 39, a mother of two. “My passion is health equity, and I needed a program that would teach me the questions I should be asking as a leader to move the needle on the problems we have.”
Suffolk’s Master of Public Administration degree at the Sawyer Business School gave Watt “so much more than I was hoping for,” she says. “It was transformative, increasing my confidence and expanding my network of connections. Suffolk is full of people doing things in the real world—living what they are teaching.”
Gaining a big picture view of the challenges facing children and families in the system from her professors and fellow students was the impetus to move from her patient-facing roles into a leadership position in the public sector and so she could have more influence on policy moving forward, she says. “Suffolk helped me achieve that next step.”
Watt was recently appointed CEO of the Massachusetts Department of Public Health’s pediatric hospital in Canton, which serves children with complex medical, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Her focus there is helping patients and their families recover from the mental health and social ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, which drove up need for services but also greatly strained existing resources in Massachusetts.
“It really highlighted the problems in the system. I want my role in DPH going forward to focus on the kids who really need the extra support.”
The Student CEO: Matheus Fonseca, BSBA ’23
Unlike some Sawyer Business School students who start a company while they’re in college, Matheus Fonseca, Class of 2023, came to Suffolk with a global business already up and running.
As a high school senior in 2018, he and three friends co-founded Moonsworth, a software development company that operates Lunar Client, which lets people who play the popular video game Minecraft customize and augment their user experience. In fact, Lunar Client is now the No. 1 Minecraft third-party launcher, with over 10 million downloads. The company employs 24 software engineers as well as a staff of two dozen and works with more than 100 content creators.
Fonseca says the company’s success was a mix of good luck, good software, deep relationships with the gaming community ... and the pandemic. People were forced to stay at home and find ways to entertain themselves: Minecraft was one of those ways.
“The end of 2020 was when we first started seeing things picking up,” says Fonseca. “And it really took off at the start of 2021 when we launched a new update that made Lunar Client accessible to more players.” Indeed, Moonsworth strives to make Minecraft and gaming more accessible to people around the world, by translating Lunar Client into 12 different languages and hiring moderators who speak Spanish, Polish, Spanish, and Hindi so those communities can interact with each other on the social platform Discord.
Fonseca’s success was not exactly preordained: He arrived in the US at the age of 5 as an undocumented immigrant from Brazil. Through the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, he was able to work and obtain an ID, and eventually to enroll at Suffolk. While it’s true that he was already a CEO as a college freshman, he credits many of his Suffolk professors and classes with giving him the additional tools he needs to manage the company.
“I already knew a lot about how to run a business,” Fonseca says. “But courses like Business Writing and Organizational Behavior and working with my professors really rounded out my skillset.”
One way Fonseca was able to combine his CEO experience with his classroom learning was during his capstone course senior year. His team was tasked with coming up with a social media and search engine optimization strategy for a small cardiology company in Boston. “This was right up my alley way since I've been developing social media strategies for the past four years for Moonsworth,” he says. “Our client knew close to nothing about social media, so they were definitely very appreciative of our research and recommendations.”
Last fall, Moonsworth’s remarkable rise earned Fonseca and his co-founders a spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 list, where they were recognized as “young leaders and entrepreneurs.”
Since completing his BSBA in December 2022, Fonseca’s been able to focus full time on the company and attend more gaming community events like TwitchCon, a convention that focuses on the general culture of live-streaming and video gaming. Fonseca says experiences like that make him realize the success of Lunar Client is 100% real.
“We hosted a game with the top Minecraft streamers live on their computers in front of a live audience playing on our game,” he says. “We were up on the big screen with professional broadcasters and lights. It was a real production. We kept saying to ourselves, ‘This is pretty legit.’”
A Go-Getter Who Gets the Job Done: Ernesto Perez, BSBA ’23
Most people go to the movies to find their superheroes. Ernesto Perez is not one of them.
“My mom is my superhero,” says the finance major. Not only did Ana Perez raise Ernesto as a single mother, she also earned three degrees from Suffolk and now serves as director of Online Graduate Programs at the Sawyer Business School. Ernesto says she taught him to take responsibility and to take chances—to focus on what he wanted “and then go out and get it.”
And that’s exactly what he did. Last summer Perez secured a prestigious internship in New York with JPMorgan Chase’s wealth management division, where he compiled and analyzed data, made presentations, and made a point of helping other employees with projects every chance he got, asking about their roles with the company and the path they took got get there. That diligence paid off when the firm offered him a full-time job as a financial analyst with the Chase Leadership Development Program, a position he’ll start in July.
“I loved it right away,” Perez says. “Suffolk gave me the confidence to go out on my own. My professors taught me to be precise and professional, and gave me information that I could apply to the real world.” Particularly influential, he says, was Robert “Chad” Huemme of the Department of Strategy and International Business, who helped him get his first internship while still a sophomore, as a marketing research analyst at CoCo Goods Co.
Abraham Peña, executive director of Suffolk’s Center for Academic Access & Opportunity calls Perez “a student leader who took advantage of almost everything Suffolk has to offer.”
That includes his work with the RAM Supporter Program, where he served as an advisor and mentor to nearly 40 first-year students, helping them make the transition from high school to college. He also studied at Suffolk’s Madrid campus—a “life-changing” experience, he says, that introduced him to a wider circle of friends and to the wider world, including visits to five other European countries.
This spring, he made another significant trip as part of Suffolk’s 2023 Alternative Spring Break program: He was the only male student to travel to Washington, DC as part of a social justice service trip to advocate for women’s reproductive rights. His group met with organizations like Planned Parenthood and Catholics for Choice, and toured the home of Mary McLeod Bethune, an early civil rights activist and organizer who spoke out against both racial and gender discrimination.
“I chose to do this because I was raised by a single mom,” he says. “I wanted to learn how to be proactive and lobby for women’s reproductive rights, which are such a focal point in our politics today.”