Student Spotlights: TriHealth’s Adams, Kunze, and Ard

Text: 'A college degree is quite literally a gateway to my future.' Alyssa Adams

Three students, two organizations, one mission.

Since 2016, TriHealth has partnered with Southern New Hampshire University to offer the College for America programs to its employees. With the goal of helping working adults and their employers succeed, the set of competency-based degree programs was designed to be uniquely flexible, radically affordable, and immediately applicable at work.

We touched base with three TriHealth employees– Alyssa Adams, Beth Kunze, and Cori Ard– to learn more about their experiences as students enrolled in the College for America programs.

Alyssa’s Story

Alyssa Adams, a Patient Care Assistant and Unit Clerk, has worked at TriHealth for almost ten years. “I have been doing what I’ve been doing for ten years, and I love what I do,” she said.

But Alyssa is ready to take the next step toward advancing her career, and knows that a degree can help. “A college degree is quite literally a gateway to my future,” she stated. Through her College for America program, Alyssa has been able to apply what she’s learning in her degree directly on the job.

“I remember completing a project that dealt with LEAN processes, which was helpful when I was asked to take part in a LEAN here at work. I also am currently working on a project that deals with conflict resolution, and I believe that this information is helpful on a day-to-day basis here at the hospital. I deal with conflicts with coworkers, possible conflicts between different departments, and any other conflicts that may involve patients, nurses or even family members.”

Another factor that keeps Alyssa motivated is her large network of support. She said, “My family has been a huge support throughout this program so far. My sister has helped talk through some of my projects with me. My mom has given me lots of encouragement. They’re always checking up on me and my progress, which makes me want to keep going. I have also been able to speak with a few of my co-workers to help provide encouragement for each other.”

Alyssa has also appreciated the flexibility of the College for America model while working to complete her associate program in Healthcare Management. “I have had a few family challenges that have arisen,” she said.

“I have had to take some time away from school. This demonstrates the best part for me about College for America. I was able to put school on the backburner, and did not have to stress out about due dates and deadlines. It allowed me to focus on my family problems, and I am so grateful for that.”

Beth’s Story

Beth Kunze is currently an Associate Practice Manager for TriHealth, where her work includes running the office, determining work schedules, and ordering office and medical supplies within a set budget.

Beth is pursuing an Associate of Arts in Healthcare Management. Enrolling in the College for America program was Beth’s first step in continuing her education beyond high school. “I was not encouraged to attend college out of high school and then I had my family and was helping them through their college,” she stated.

But Beth always understood the value of education, and made sure to instill that in her children, as well. “While my children were growing up I told them that knowledge is power and they should all have a college education,” she said. “Well now it’s my turn and I’m honored that TriHealth has agreed and offered me this opportunity.”

Like many other students, Beth has also found her College for America projects to be relevant in her day-to-day work at TriHealth. “Many of the competencies that I have worked on are straight out of my life per se. I have used what I have learned almost immediately,” she explained.

Going back to school is a big decision, and now that it’s Beth’s time to earn her degree, her husband and children have been there to support her every step of the way. “I hear my own words coming back to me,” she said. “School work first before you can ‘play’.”

In addition to encouragement from her family, Beth has further felt supported through her employer. “I have a coworker who was accepted into the program at the same time which has helped to be able to talk her,” she stated. “I feel TriHealth supports education so they support me.”

Cori’s Story

As a Registered Respiratory Therapist with TriHealth, Cori Ard provides direct patient care across all areas of the hospital. “One day I might be in the ICU, and the next I’m in the Special Care Nursery,” she explained. “My job is both challenging and rewarding.”

Balancing work and life can be difficult, and for some, the idea of going back to school often takes a back seat to other priorities. “I could never find the time to fit in college and work a full-time job.” Cori said. But that’s not the case anymore; the College for America programs were constructed to be flexible for adult learners who are trying to manage multiple demands.

Cori also has a very good reason for prioritizing her education and pursuing her college degree. “I want to be able to move up at work and help provide the best life I can for my husband and me,” she said. Through the College for America programs, SNHU aims to help working adults advance their careers with workplace-relevant projects. “I use what I have learned every day at work,” Cori said. “Understanding the complexity of our healthcare system helps me be a better provider.”

Cori works on her College for America work a little bit each day. “By doing this I never feel overwhelmed or burnt out,” she stated. Plus, she has the support of her husband to keep her motivated. “He encourages me and understands that I must take time from our daily lives to work on things for my degree,” she explained. “He even brings me drinks and snacks when I am working.”

Cori has also said that the support of her employer has been helpful throughout her experience as a College for America student. “TriHealth has been fantastic! They created a special Google group of just the employees that are going through the degree program. That way we could find people to work with on group projects, and most importantly, be there to support each other.”

The College for America programs are offered exclusively to employees of Southern New Hampshire University’s partners. Ready to earn your degree? Find your employer to get started today: https://collegeforamerica.org/apply/

Workforce Development

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