In the Loop

News and views from across Mayo Clinic

November 1, 2022

Mabior Ayuen on being one of the Lost Boys of Sudan and finding a sense of family at Mayo Clinic

By In the Loop
Mabior Ayuen

Mabior Ayuen, an operations manager in Environmental Services at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan during the Second Sudanese Civil War. He shares his experience of coming to the U.S. and finding his way to Mayo Clinic, where Mayo's values have given him a sense of family and belonging.

"Voices of Mayo" highlights Mayo staff and their stories, exploring their diverse backgrounds, the challenges they face, the opportunities they have been given, and their experiences at Mayo Clinic.

Mabior Ayuen was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan — a group of more than 20,000 boys who were displaced or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War between 1987 and 2005. Two million people were killed, and others were severely affected by the conflict.

The boys set out on treacherous journeys to refugee camps in Ethiopia and Kenya where thousands were sheltered for several years. Some of them, like Ayuen, were offered new lives through resettlement programs in the U.S.

Ayuen, now an operations manager in Environmental Services at Mayo Clinic Hospital in Phoenix, shares his experiences of arriving in the U.S. and finding his way to Mayo Clinic where kindness and Mayo Clinic's values have made him feel at home.

I was born and raised in Bor District, South Sudan. The word "Sudan" in Arabic means "a land of Black people." My parents and relatives are farmers and hunters. They traveled with their livestock to find their grazing food during the summer season. I was a young boy who grew up with siblings on the outskirts of the Angakuei community. I began farming by milking goats and grazing cows which was considered a symbol of wealth in the village. I always focused on enhancing the community resources needed to empower and establish a solid foundation for the Angakuei community.

In the 1980s, the Sudanese civil war broke out between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People Liberation Army. It was largely based on political instability, food insecurity, tribalism and racial division. We lost 2 million people, and 4 million people in the neighboring countries were displaced. I left my parents at an early age to pursue a better life in neighboring countries such as Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia. Before the Sudanese civil war, I wanted to pursue a medical degree to improve the needs of our people through formal education, human kindness and clinical research.

In the 2000s, I was one of the 20,000 lost boys of South Sudan who received a privilege from Kenyan refugee camps to come to the U.S. I was struggling in the refugee camps without my parents, but God was there for me. Our first group of the Lost Boys of Sudan arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada at 10:45 p.m. This was a culture shock, and I was awe-struck by millions of bright colors and lights on every street.

I describe America as a land of opportunity to fulfill your dreams through self-determination, servant leadership, and formal education.

In September 2001, I began my hospitality career with the Venetian Resort in Las Vegas in housekeeping, environmental services and guest services. I spent more than 21 years in the hospitality industry to foster my skills, and knowledge and advance my career. During this time, I experienced intolerance based on my skin tone and accent. The term "intolerance" is not about having racial beliefs. It is about how your beliefs lead you to treat people who disagree with you.

I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, a Master of Business Administration from Regis University, and a Doctor of Philosophy in Business Administration from Northcentral University.

In August 2022, I came to Mayo Clinic. I am delighted to join an institution with an extraordinarily strong values-driven culture based on 150 years of dedication to our primary value: The needs of the patients come first. We have excellent positive, forward-thinking conversations as a Mayo Clinic family.

Mayo Clinic is a world-renowned destination medical center that is transforming the future of our patients, family and community. I feel that I belong as an insider within the Mayo Clinic family. I truly believe that I am a champion of change who embraces a culture of safety and delivers an unparalleled experience with patient needs. I feel that I am still learning and growing as a professional leader.

Mayo Clinic creates a culture of empathy and support for those who are minorities to connect and embrace a positive change with diversity interest groups such as Mayo Employee Resource Groups.

The people I have worked with at Mayo Clinic demonstrate a sense of family and belonging — of love. Scott Case, our director, and Todd Brown, our chair, are amazing leaders for their support to grow across Mayo Clinic Hospital. They have helped me to navigate employee resource groups or diversity interest groups as well as leadership conference meetings. I am still building positive changes and forming a culture of integrity.

As a servant leader, I lead collaborative employees, value effective communications, and demonstrate fundamental values through human kindness. I live out the needs of patients come first through Mayo Clinic's "RICH TIES" values of respect, integrity, compassion, healing, teamwork, innovation and stewardship.

Dr. William J. Mayo said, "I look through a half-opened door into the future, full of interest, intriguing beyond my power to describe, but with a full understanding that it is for each generation to solve its own problems and that no man has the wisdom to guide or control the next generation." It is beyond my power to describe what the Mayo Clinic family means to me.

Over the past years, many people and cultural traditions have enriched the life of Mayo Clinic hospital. Today, the Mayo Clinic values demonstrate living out the "RICH TIES" at every location and ensure the continuing Franciscan legacy.


Tags: Mabior Ayuen, Scott Case, Staff Stories, Todd Brown

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