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SXU Alum Excels in Community Healthcare


Saint Xavier University (SXU) alum Moïse-Denis Jean '10, MPH has been immersed in a world of research and analysis since he first began his education in clinical psychology at SXU. An accomplished business owner, research scientist and scholar, Jean has been published as first author in an academic journal, conceptualized a successful educational series and is determined to implement change in community healthcare through his study of psychiatric epidemiology. He believes SXU cultivated his academic pathway to career success.

After graduating from SXU, Jean began to pursue a Master of Public Health in community health science at the University of Illinois at Chicago. During his fellowship at Access Community Health Network, Jean came up with the idea of starting a youth learning series. Eventually, it blossomed into his creation of Elephant in the Room, a health-education firm that provides interactive youth learning programs on a variety of topics like substance abuse, healthy hygiene, sexual misconduct, bullying and mental health. The culturally-sensitive, high-quality programming is presented to schools and youth programs and promotes adolescent development. The program allowed Jean to develop a strong network with healthcare providers and other organizations within the community, and it helps students identify resources for healthcare.

In addition to running Elephant in the Room, Jean is also a research scientist at The Museum of Science and Industry. He is currently leading a National Science Foundation grant, and his team is researching chronic illness and ethnic–racial identity using the mixed method approach. At the completion of the grant, Jean hopes to be able to provide more theoretical framework within their research to help them implement more public health initiatives. Jean continues to integrate the subjects he learned at SXU in his work. "At SXU, I learned how to use the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), software that's used to perform quantitative analysis, and I'm so glad I did, because I still use it in the papers I publish today," said Jean.

Jean was incredibly involved during his time at SXU. He was a student ambassador for the Office of Admission, a freshman orientation leader, commuter advisor, a peer mentor and president of Barrier Breakers, a campus organization that encouraged students from different socio-economic, political, racial and religious backgrounds to come together and exchange cultural ideas and appreciate the diversity within SXU. His involvement in the on-campus organizations required him to design several  events, including one for breast cancer awareness and another for alcohol awareness, which is one he still uses today in Elephant in the Room. "As a commuter advisor, one of the events I created involved wearing drunk goggles while playing Mario Kart, a simulation of drunk driving. Students see how it impairs their abilities and truly understand the type of negative impact drunk driving has," said Jean.

When asked what advice he had for current SXU students, Jean said, "It's important to learn to take constructive criticism well and understand it's meant to help you, not tear you down. Don't be heartbroken if you don't get accepted or your work doesn't get published. It just may not be the right time. Don't let it crush your motivation. It's also important to develop communication skills and create healthy relationships with your professors, advisors and peers.”

Jean fluently speaks Haitian Creole and is also well-traveled. He recently returned from a trip to Nigeria and Mexico. He consistently travels for work to enhance his skills in research, such as statistical analysis, mixed methods approach and meta-analysis.

Looking to the future, Jean plans to pursue a doctoral program in psychiatric epidemiology, the study of patterns and causes of mental and behavioral disorders in humans. "I want to continue making positive healthcare changes in community populations and honing my abilities in psychiatric epidemiology," said Jean, who will use his studies to develop more effective intervention strategies to treat and prevent the disorders. Until then, Jean continues to make strides and contributions to community healthcare research, including publishing research on cognition in diabetes.

Jean fondly remembers his time at SXU and is especially grateful for psychology professor Julie Deisinger, Ph.D., who sparked some of his career interests and helped during his pursuit of graduate school.

"Moïse is one of the most accomplished scholars to have graduated from SXU's Psychology department. Also, he's clearly taken to heart the University mission statement with its emphases on thinking critically and serving compassionately in support of the common good. He exemplifies the best of SXU!" said Deisinger.

He's also appreciative of the entire music department, especially saxophone instructor Lara Ochoa Regan. As a saxophone minor, he believes his artistic abilities helped him to become a more well-rounded and unique professional. The professors and mentors at SXU truly made a difference in his life and are illustrative of enriched and supportive learning environment SXU provides.

His memories, accomplishments and campus and community involvement continue to inspire and motivate Jean. "I'll be a Cougar for life," said Jean.