First Santa Fe BAS Degree Recipients Graduate

College graduation represents a huge milestone for most students, but for eight seniors this December, their graduation is not only a cause of celebration for their family and friends but for Santa Fe College as a whole. Santa Fe will be awarding its first ever Bachelor of Applied Science (BAS) degrees to these eight students, who have completed all the requirements for a career in Health Services Administration (HSA).

“I’m very excited and full of awe and wonder for these students,” said Kezia Awadzi, director of the Health Services Administration BAS program. “I’m teaching the capstone course students have to take before they graduate, and I also had most of them in their first semester, so it’s exciting to see how much they’ve grown and how excited they are to be the first class graduating.”

In July 2009, Santa Fe officially received approval to start four-year, bachelor degree programs in the upcoming fall, and the BAS degree track in Health Services Administration, which had been in the works since 2008, was among the first bachelor’s programs to offer classes.

For 40-year-old CAT scan technologist and former Navy sailor Michael Miller, the opportunity to be part of this pioneering program was too good to pass up.

“When they first started this program, I actually thought, ‘Wow, I could be one of the first graduates here,'” said Miller, who received his associate’s degree at Santa Fe in 1996 and will be receiving his BAS this month. “In the Navy, we call someone a ‘plank owner’ when they’re the first crew on a ship, so I kind of feel like a ‘plank owner’ for this program. It is such an honor for me, because Santa Fe has been such a big chunk of my life.”

At Santa Fe, Health Services Administration is one of two BAS-awarding programs, with Clinical Laboratory Sciences (CLS) being the other.  Because of the number of courses required, the CLS program will not graduate its first class until next fall. While faculty expected the first BAS graduation to occur in 2011 or 2012 at earliest, these eight students from Health Services Administration blazed through the program’s mainly online curriculum, taking approximately three or more courses per semester, according to Awadzi.

“Most of the students were working in healthcare and wanted an opportunity for career change or promotion. They did not have the time for programs like UF’s, so Santa Fe opened doors for them to get this kind of degree,” said Awadzi. “They see this program, and it fits their needs and is flexible enough to fit into their other needs and obligations.”

This BAS track, however, is not exclusively aimed at those in the healthcare field. Students like 26-year-old graduating senior Egle “Ellie” Anusavice, a former assistant manager at a bank, are using the knowledge gained studying Health Services Administration to launch careers outside of healthcare. In Anusavice’s case, she hopes to use her degree to get a job in human resources.

“When I started, I didn’t know much about the healthcare field. However, I learned a lot about the industry while doing research for my classes,” said Anusavice. “A degree like this opens up a lot of doors to new jobs. Even though the focus is on health services administration, there are opportunities for overall resource management. It can fit everyone’s needs. You just need to know what to do with it.”

Another December graduate, Kathryn Hart, sees the BAS degree as her passport to affecting change in the global healthcare system. Hart, a 23-year-old full-time paramedic for Marion County Fire Rescue, participated in a year-long mission trip to India that first inspired her to look into careers that would help her to promote healthcare worldwide.

“The global health class they offer was a real eye-opener,” said Hart. “I was always focused on the need in India, but I wasn’t aware of the need globally. It’s a well-rounded program. It has a little finance, a little administration, and it covers global issues and teaches you leadership.”

With the exception of two courses, which require some physical presence, most of the 39 core credits needed for the program are available all year through online courses. This online curriculum lets students like Miller, who is on-call 40 hours a week at a hospital, and Hart, who works the night shift at Marion County Fire Rescue, to take classes at their own convenience. For others, like Anusavice who lives in Branford, online classes saves them a lengthy commute.

“I wanted to get a bachelor’s for so long, and the reason I could not is because of time constraints,” said Miller. “When I was in a traditional class, I was missing so much class time and couldn’t always get notes. Being on the internet, they offer all the courses all the time, so you can take any one you want, and you can take as many or as little as you like.”

Now that they are finally attaining a bachelor’s, December’s graduates are looking toward the future. Hart is contemplating pursuing a master’s in public health or even a medical degree, while Miller is already in the midst of applying to the University of Florida’s MBA programs for this spring.

“I see things a little differently now from a managerial perspective,” sayid Miller. “Before this program, I always thought I could manage, but what I realize now is that before I didn’t have the tools to be a good leader, and I think that’s what is missing in healthcare. You need the tools to be an effective leader.”

No matter what they use their newly minted BAS degree for, Awadzi perceives these eight graduates, who flew through the Health Services Administration Curriculum in barely a year, as role models for the 288 students in the program as a whole.

“I know students who are still in the program look up to them. These students show that there is a light at the end of the tunnel, that the degree is attainable,” she said.

For more information about Santa Fe College’s BAS in Health Services Administration, please contact Kezia Awadzi at 352-395-5355 or email to kezia.awadzi@sfcollege.edu.

Program website

~ This press release was written by Allison Griner, Communication Specialist, College Relations

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