Q: What is the field of health administration?
A: People who work in health administration don’t give care to patients; they work in all kinds of business or management roles. I had thought about going into emergency department medicine but when I talked with people on campus about this master’s program I got excited. I like the emphasis on leadership skills and being a people person. As a health administrator you have to be sensitive to the needs of the people you are serving — you’re finding a common denominator between the business needs of the hospital, the needs of the doctors and nurses and the needs of the patients. A lot of ethic issues are brought up and there is a lot of gray instead of black and white.
Q: How did you become interested in health care?
A: My family is bilingual — we speak Spanish and English. When I was growing up in Texas we served as translators at hospitals. My parents always showed us that if we were blessed to be bilingual we should use this talent to serve other people.
Q: You say you have learned a lot from other students in your classes. What have they taught you?
A: I don’t have any business background at all, so I am taking those prerequisites and there are undergraduates and other students my age in those classes. But in my health administration classes, I am one of youngest students — I am one of few who entered the program right after getting a bachelor’s degree. The majority of them have had professional experience in health care. This is great for me because I can learn so much during classroom discussions or group projects. I like that my professors can teach me the theories and the other students can tell me how they have seen those theories applied in the real world. Networking with them is opening a lot of doors and showing me a lot of possible career paths.
Q: What is your career goal?
A: I would like to work in human resources at a hospital or be a liaison between hospital administrators and doctors. My ultimate goal would be to implement a program to break down the barriers between the Hispanic community and medical-care providers. Often the Hispanic population has a fear of seeking medical assistance. It’s not just language; there are also cultural things — in our culture, if someone is a familiar face you’ll trust them more. It’s important for Hispanics to get to know care providers before they actually need them for medical assistance.
Q: You received a graduate assistantship that covers your tuition. What do you do in this job?
A: Because of scholarships I had as an undergraduate and this assistantship, Missouri State has been a tremendous value for my family. I work with Juan Meraz, who is a diversity outreach and recruitment coordinator. He helps recruit Latino and Hispanic students and teaches a class for first-year students. Also, anyone who needs to chat can just drop by the office and see him. I work with the students to make sure they have everything they need and help Juan with anything he needs for his class. The students really energize me and help me deal with the stress of work from my classes.
Q: How is graduate school different than undergraduate?
A: Graduate school is more like a profession — you are focused entirely on your career and many of the students are coming from the business world. Also, graduate students get more one-on-one time with their professors and get to know them on a more personal level, which is something I am glad for because it is easy to approach them if I need help.
Q: What do you do to relax?
A: I like to go out salsa dancing with one of my friends who is also a graduate student — so it’s rare we have time to go, but when we do it is a reward for us. We get exercise and don’t have to think about anything else. We just let loose!