Suzanne Rapoza

MS Healthcare Administration

"Knowing that SNHU would have the same kind of core values and beliefs just from being a nonprofit made a difference."

Suzanne Rapoza knew she wanted to be a nurse from the time she was in high school. What she didn't know was what path she'd choose in that field - so she reflected on all of the patients she cared for while earning her RN and decided that geriatric patients were the ones she best related to.

Intrigued by science and healthcare, anatomy and physiology, Rapoza also wanted to be involved in people's lives and take care of them. With a senior population, she said," You're not just a nurse; you're a family member to them, a friend, a confidant. You're a social worker. You're every piece of that as well as the clinical piece and the science of it."

Now the VP of health resources at Wentworth Senior Living in Portsmouth, N.H., Rapoza had spent well over a decade as a nurse there before moving into her current role. As her career and responsibilities grew, she realized she had extensive experience as a nurse but little knowledge of the business side of the facility. With the encouragement of the president and CEO, she pursued a master's degree in Healthcare Administration.

Rapoza said the program encompassed a lot of what she had lacked previously in her education; the management piece, the leadership, the finance, the marketing. "That whole other component was really covered in every part of the program," she said.

The online environment was all new to her, and she found "professors and advisors readily available, really put themselves out there, giving out their home numbers, cell numbers, email and you'd know that if you ever had any questions, they'd be there."

She found it especially interesting to be in courses with such a broad range of students and liked the opportunity group project gave to her to collaborate with people from all over the country. "To interact and work with them was very exciting and rewarding," Rapoza said. "It wasn't just nurses; it was people from all different backgrounds, still in the military, some in healthcare, some in business settings. We all learned from each other."

That SNHU is a nonprofit university meant a lot to her. "Coming from a nonprofit (organization) and appreciating the difference that it can make working for one, knowing that SNHU would have the same kind of core values and beliefs just from being a nonprofit made a difference," Rapoza said.

With her master's complete, she said it's nice to know she's now in a position to help others move toward their educational goals. As for the future, Rapoza said, "I'm ready for the next steps. I'm ready to take what I've learned and turn it into something great, that I can make a difference in the lives of the residents here, and in the families, and in my own personal growth."