Philosophy major uses social media to boost revenue for healthcare foundation

July 23, 2013
Sandra Matsevilo
Sandra Matsevilo ’14

Healthcare is the fastest growing industry in the U.S. But why would this matter to a philosophy major?

“I’ve always been interested in healthcare and medicine,” said Sandra Matsevilo ’14, who this summer is working as a social media intern for Providence St. Mary Foundation, a non-profit that provides healthcare services to Southeast Washington and Northeast Oregon.

“I’m helping Providence St. Mary Foundation accomplish its goals.”

Matsevilo is using social media to build an online audience in order to raise money for the non-profit.

“Most hospitals have a foundation, so I think there’s an important role for social media. Online donations are growing, and social media is the front where that is happening,” Matsevilo said.

Part of the philosophy major’s job is to make the foundation stand out from other organizations that solicit donations online. She does this by using social media to form relationships built on trust and mutual interests.

“Traditional advertisements don’t really work anymore,” Matsevilo said. “We take an interest in our audience, and we try to be a hub of information.”

The foundation is currently in the process of generating content from providers and members of the staff, content like patient testimonials instead of information on a new medical device. Matsevilo will then use social media to drive users to this content.
“We make it personal. We will link this personal information to our users in order to give them something instead of just asking for something.

“We want our social media users to engage with us.”

About the Whitman Internship Program

Sandra Matsevilo ’14 is one of 125 Whitman students who apply the skills they’ve learned in their classes to create pragmatic solutions for companies and non-profits across the country. Eighteen Whitman students are interning in Walla Walla in a variety of fields and organizations.

“For many college students, internships are the first step toward finding jobs after graduation,” said Noah Leavitt, Assistant Dean for Student Engagement.

“Internships provide opportunity for Whitman students to apply their academic skills and knowledge to problems that demand creative solutions. Students experience the professional world and work through challenges that push them beyond their comfort zones. They network, learn about new parts of the country, and have fun."

Money raised during the Now Is The Time Campaign supports the Whitman Internship Program. A targeted funding effort by the Parents Leadership Committee, support for the David Stevens Internship Endowment and gifts from individual donors have transformed the internship program and increased the opportunities for Whitman students. In addition, Trustee Andy Ferrari ’68 and his wife, Barbara Quagliata Ferrari, provided funding for summer environmental studies internships. In 2012-13, the newly established Don and Virginia Sherwood Trust Internships Endowment provided students with additional opportunities with local nonprofits.

Christ Garratt '00
Chris Garratt ’00

At first, it might seem odd that Chris Garratt ’00, the executive director of Providence St. Mary Foundation, added a philosophy major to his summer staff to help drive social media users to the foundation’s website. But healthcare is obviously about more than doctors and nurses. And Whitman students, Garratt said, bring value-added skills.
“Whitman teaches you how to think – not what to know,” Garratt said.

“That’s valuable because we are looking for interns, or any employee, to be able to come in and absorb information quickly and take that information to develop best practices.”

Matsevilo admitted that she is no social media wizard. Plus, while she’s interested in non-profits, she plans on pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy. Did this give Garratt pause before hiring Matsevilo?

“I think philosophy is one of the most valuable Whitman degrees you can have,” Garratt said.

“You’re literally studying logic and thought. That is applicable in any industry. Healthcare is no exception. It has a significant amount of proprietary information. It’s filled with jargon, processes and mechanisms that are unique to it. It’s a very complicated industry.”

The business guru Peter Drucker once said that healthcare is the most complex human organization ever devised. If this is true, perhaps healthcare leaders should hire more philosophy majors. While Matsevilo hopes to get both a Ph.D. and an MD, as well as possibly be an emergency medical technician right after graduation, she’s right now gaining a deeper understanding about how organizations work, and giving back to the local community.

“I’m learning how to make Providence St. Mary Foundation appeal to community members. But the best part about the job is having a role in the Walla Walla community. Even though I’m only here for four years while going to Whitman, this gives me a chance to do something great for Walla Walla.”