Grit, gumption and a game plan. It’s a solid recipe for success in most endeavors, and Angie Moran – wife, mom of three and human resources professional – had all the ingredients covered when she decided to pursue a graduate degree.
Growing up on a dairy farm in central Iowa, where the average high – the high! – in January is several ticks of the thermometer below freezing, Moran learned the value of a strong work ethic from her parents.
So, grit and gumption: Check.
Moran also had a clear-eyed view of what she needed and what she wanted.
“After pursuing my career, it became evident a master’s degree would be necessary to equip myself and to be set apart to advance into a leadership position,” she said.
“I wanted a [Master of Science in Healthcare Administration] degree to specialize in healthcare and there wasn’t a program near,” said Moran, who lives in Pierre, South Dakota, population 14,000. “Other programs were structured for traditional students who could live on campus or people with more flexibility who could participate in a blended program.
“Working full time, I didn’t want to spend more evenings and weeks away from my family.”
So, game plan: Check.
Moran enrolled in the MS in Healthcare Administration: Strategic Leadership program offered 100% online by Valparaiso University, ranked a top regional university in the Midwest by U.S. News & World Report, Forbes and The Princeton Review.
In May 2018, she will make the 850-mile trip from Pierre to northern Indiana, where she will join campus-based and online students for Valpo’s commencement ceremonies at the Chapel of the Resurrection. It will be her first visit to the 350-acre campus.
“The online program at Valparaiso University allowed me to finish my degree in two years by taking one class at a time,” Moran said. “This allowed me to continue to work full time and swiftly complete a degree. Also, the electronic delivery of the program and expanded access to IT support were key for supporting my work-life-school balance.”
There was another factor in her choice of university.
“Valparaiso University is faith-based,” she said. “As a Christian, I desire professors with respect for Christian values in ethical decision-making in healthcare.”
Moran began her career in the HR field about 20 years ago with Archer Daniels Midland, a global agricultural processor and food ingredient provider headquartered in Illinois. She helped recruit grain terminal operations managers, commodity traders, elevator managers and barge captains.
Within a few years, she was hired by Catholic Health Initiatives, an integrated healthcare system.
Moran stepped away from the corporate world for about a decade to raise her kids and volunteer in the community (“Best job ever!” notes her LinkedIn page). In 2013, she joined Avera, an integrated health system serving the Upper Midwest, as a human resources partner. Since then, she has attained industry credentials including Professional in Human Resources (PHR®) and Society for Human Resource Management-Certified Professional (SHRM-CP).
Nationwide, occupations that require at least a master’s degree will experience the fastest job growth over the next few years, with many of the jobs in the healthcare industry, federal projections show. Moran said her MS in Healthcare Administration: Strategic Leadership will position her for career advancement opportunities across disciplines.
“This degree has exposed me to so many areas in healthcare that I find intriguing and desirable!”
We spoke with Moran about her experiences in Valpo’s 100% online program, her advice for prospective students, and how she finds motivation and inspiration in her faith.
Q. Can you tell us about your background?
I earned a Bachelor of Arts, with a major in psychology and minor in biology, from Simpson College in Indianola, Iowa. Throughout college and afterwards, I worked in the human resources field. I have a love of science, holistic healthcare and business. These interests lend themselves well to the MS in Healthcare Administration degree.
Q. What did you most enjoy learning about while enrolled in the 100% online program?
I truly enjoyed everything that I learned in each class and value each of the professors. I was always pleasantly surprised how interesting and engaging the professors were at making what seemed like mundane topics relevant and applicable. I learned more about world health than I anticipated I would, and it is impactful. I enjoyed having the experience of being challenged by professors to research and critically think about all healthcare policy, cultural, financial, ethical, stakeholder and patient viewpoints, and apply that learning in every situation. Being able to apply the content of learning to case studies and provide a product like a lean project or project management process as expected in the real world was insightful, challenging and rewarding.
Q. What skills or tools were important to your success in this program?
Eight weeks is an aggressive time frame to take a class, so I learned to take a little longer to read, study and retain the information the first time through. This is different than how I studied when I was an undergraduate with a traditional semester. I also think that I succeeded in this program because of my diligence in going above and beyond in assignment requirements and by leveraging my writing skills at every opportunity, from discussion board posts to papers. Probably the most vital tools to my success were my laptop and a Wi-Fi hotspot so I could still do homework while traveling or when I was on the go with my kids and their activities.
Q. What are your career goals and how will your degree help you achieve them?
The logical step would be to advance in my field of human resources. However, I’m taking advice from a healthcare executive and the counsel is to be open to whatever opportunities might become available, as there are jobs that might be available in the future that are not even in existence today due to how swiftly healthcare is changing. I do have an affinity for ethics, process improvement and strategic planning, a concern for rural healthcare, and excitement for integration and utilization of electronic technology in the support, diagnosis and delivery of evidence-based, high-quality healthcare.
Q. What advice would you give other students who are considering enrolling in the program?
Reviewing the course descriptions for different programs at various universities was helpful for me to decide which program to select. You need to be mindful about what will change in your life for two years to allow you to have adequate time to devote to homework. For me, this meant discussing with my husband and kids what would change in our daily lives and how they could help me succeed.
Life is short; just do it.
Q. Who or what inspires you to succeed?
My faith in Jesus Christ inspires and motivates me to glorify God in all that I do. There is no greater calling for me than to serve Him in all I do.
Q. What is one fun fact about you?
I love to travel the U.S. and I have visited Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland and France.