fb Aging Studies Alumni

Graduates from the Master of Arts in Aging Studies program are busy in their communities, serving with passion,
and making a difference in their respective fields and across the aging population.


Aging Studies Alumni

 

 

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Graduation


PHS Aging Studies Alumni Stories

AGE Graduate

Hannah Steele, MA, LNHA

"I currently work as the administrator at Belleville health care center. My job is to oversee the day-to-day operations of the facility and provide leadership to all department heads. Wichita State’s Master’s in Aging Studies program did a great job preparing me for my role. The program offers a diverse curriculum. Having a broad understanding of the aging population and the gerontology field has helped me improve the lives of my residents and be a better leader."

 

 
Hannah Steele
 

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AGE & Health Management GraduateGabrielle Owens, MA

"I’m currently serving as a community health worker for Sunflower Health Plan, a local MCO that distributes Medicaid for low-income, medically disadvantaged Kansans. As a CHW, I reach out to our members in long-term care and perform annual assessments. These assessments allow us to have that one-on-one interaction with our members, bridging the gap in any care they may not be receiving and serving as a liaison between the member and the health plan.

I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the MA in Aging Studies Program and feel it adequately prepared me for my current role. Being able to simultaneously obtain a specialization in public health has also allow me to broaden my career field to incorporate local government agencies and community programming. I encourage anyone interested to reach out to an advisor for more information."

 

 
Gabrielle Owens
 

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AGE & Health Management GraduateJoshua Villa, MA

“Currently, I serve as the Team Lead Supervisor for the Kansas Aging and Disability Resource Center, and the Central Plains Area Agency on Aging. My role allows me to assist older adults through Sedgwick, Butler, and Harvey County, we provide information, assistance, and support to seniors, caregivers, adults with disabilities and professionals. The Master's in Aging Studies program helped me get this position. The program allowed me to grow and learn about older adults not only on a professional level, but on a personal level as well."

 

 
Josh Villa
 

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AGE & Health Management GraduateRenee Elwood, MA, LNHA

As a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, I provide the overall leadership to the health care community. I ensure residents are provided quality care. I keep up-to-date on current state and federal regulations, policies and procedures. I provide the oversight with financial operations, staffing to budget and adjusting staffing levels based on census and acuity. I communicate daily with all departments of the community, and always ensure availability for staff support. I also communicate with residents and their family members.

The MA in Aging Studies program is an amazing program, designed to increase knowledge for aging adults. The MA in Aging Studies program prepared me for my success in Long Term Care Administration as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator, with the additional support in the Administrator-in-Training program, which provided me with the hands on experience in a licensed nursing community."

 

 
Renee Elwood
 

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AGE GraduateJill Cook, MA, LNHA

As an Executive Director, my main role and responsibility is to keep the ship afloat. I have 6 directors under me that I guide in all aspects of running an elder community.  These are the Business Office Manager, Sales and Marketing, Programming, Dining Services, and Plant Operations/Maintenance/Housekeeping, and Health and Wellness Directors.  As the saying goes, “You are only as strong as your weakest link.”  Each one of my directors is a strong link, which makes my job easier.  My residents are my most important responsibility and I take it very seriously.  I know them all on a personal level and most of their family members. That helps me understand their wants and needs better.  That’s my most important role.

The MA in Aging Studies at WSU prepared me very well for real world administrative duties.  The on-line format of learning is great because it allowed me to continue to work full-time while earning my master’s.  If you have the self-discipline, it’s the perfect program.  It’s not easy by any means, but the hard work definitely pays off in the end."

 

 
Jill Cook
 

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AGE GraduateSusan Bursch, MA

"I am a Volunteer Coordinator at Amedisys Hospice in Wichita, Kansas where I manage, recruit, and train volunteers for the terminally ill. I graduated from Wichita State University in 2015 with my Bachelor Degree in Aging Studies and went on to pursue my Masters of Aging Studies and graduated in December 2017. After graduation, I continue to live in Mulvane and work in Wichita. I have extensive knowledge in Hospice and I do speaking engagements with local Universities over Hospice Care. I am also former President of the Aging Studies Organization at Wichita State University and is still very involved with AGES."

 

 
Susan Bursch
 

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AGE GraduateLogan Holt, MA, LNHA

As a Licensed Home Administrator I ensure compliance with State and Federal Regulations for the 72 bed facility. I oversee and work with the Managers of the Nursing, Dietary, Environmental Services, Business Office, Activities, Admissions, and MDS departments. I also oversee a staff of 100+ ensuring that their payroll is accurate, PBJ reporting is accurate, and HR policies are followed. The financials are a significant part of my responsibilities: controlling expenses, managing therapy minutes, managing length of stay, and balancing the case mix of insurances is crucial. In addition, I find it important to create a positive building culture as this permeates every aspect of the facility and starts with a strong team. One of the qualities of healthcare this year has been to adapt quickly to changes, the COVID-19 Pandemic has especially affected the nursing home industry and I strive to ensure we stay afloat of the new guidance to ensure compliance.

I was inspired to become an administrator after attending a Health Economics Class in my MA Aging Studies degree. The instructor was a previous CEO of a few Hospitals and challenged us to believe we were capable. The MA Aging Studies program allowed me to obtain an emphasis in Administration and a Graduate Certificate in Public Health. I am thankful for that education and the department for working with me, as both have been uniquely useful being an Administrator in a Public Health Crisis. I also received opportunities for exposure to the Wichita Nursing Home industry with the partnerships they developed in the community -- my AIT specifically opened doors to the position I am in now."

 

 

Logan Holt
 

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AGE GraduateNatalie Shellito, PhDc, MS, MA

“After completing my MA in Aging Studies, I moved to Boston to pursue my PhD in Gerontology at the University of Massachusetts Boston. During my time at WSU, I completed the 480 hour Administrator-in-Training program which sparked my interest in working with older adults. I saw first hand how nursing homes function on a daily basis, and this experience motivated me to continue my studies at the doctoral level. I am currently working on my dissertation which focuses on how older adult health status influences social isolation and loneliness, and examines the role physical activity plays between health status, social isolation and loneliness. My career in aging started at WSU and I am so grateful for the education I received through the MA in Aging Studies."

 

 
Natalie Shellito
 

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AGE GraduateRyan Hollingshead, MA

Currently, I work as a Covid-19 Epidemiologist for the State of Delaware where I work on our Data Team. I create daily reports on Covid-19 clusters related to employment, schools, and I also calculate metrics for Covid-19. Some of these metrics include percentages of individuals in the population that are positive, demographics of Covid-19 cases, and Covid-19 related deaths. I also help update our website. Prior to this, I have been working in Environmental Health at health departments in Maryland and Philadelphia. I also just finished a fellowship with America Walks where I completed a Walking Action Plan where I am about to develop a website with the hope to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries.

I think the Aging Studies program at Wichita State was great and it definitely helped me get into the position I hold now. It helped me become an empathetic person towards aging related issues, benefits, and problems. At my current workplace, we actually have three people with aging studies backgrounds! The Public Health Concentration helped round me into the public health professional I am today and exposed me to epidemiology, environmental health, and health policy. I really enjoyed the staff including Drs. Nicole Rogers, Doug Parham, Ngoyi Bukonda, and Amy Drassen-Ham. Many of the students were already established professionals and it was really inspiring to collaborate with them. I was also able to travel to Haiti on a joint medical/public health mission during my last semester."

 

Ryan Hollingshead
 

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AGE GraduateMadison Shriner, MA, LNHA

"I received my MA in Aging Studies in 2014 with an emphasis in administration, as well as completed the Administrator-in-Training program and received my Adult Care Home Administrators license in 2015. Soon after graduating, I was lucky enough to accept the position of director at the Park City Senior Center and have enjoyed providing services there ever since. As director, I plan and coordinate various educational, social, and health related programs; counsel seniors on Medicare options; and act as a social service representative and advocate for the senior community among many other things.

My career path changed from long term care administration to social services for older adults after graduating, but the MA in Aging Studies program was comprehensive enough to provide the skills and knowledge needed for many areas in the aging field. Working with older adults has always been a passion of mine and the program was the perfect training and experience for that to evolve into a professional career."

 

 
Madison Shriner
 

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AGE GraduateCandace Cullors-Durley, MA

I am currently an employee at McKesson Pharmaceuticals. I work as a Regional back office account manager. I handle research, reconciliation and negotiations of account issues. Also working to provide feedback to improve, modify, and streamline processes to address inefficiencies, control gaps, that prevent an effortless customer experience.

I graduated from Wichita State Master in Arts AGE program in 2013. One of my favorite parts of the program was getting hands on and an up-close view of life in the aging communities. There are a lot of issues that affect the aging community and this programs drills down on those and ways to improve it all the way around. I would recommend this program to anyone looking to contribute to the improvement of the aging community."

 

 
Candace Cullors
 

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AGE GraduateKaren Austin, MA

"I had such a great experience studying gerontology at WSU. I built on my experience as a university English teacher, to immerse myself in reading and writing about aging as guided by Dr. Nicole Rogers, who at the time was the Aging Studies Program Director, now PHS Chair. By earning a master's in gerontology at WSU and subsequently teaching a handful of classes as an adjunct in the same program, I gained the knowledge and experience to participate in an array of activities as a gerontologist.  After moving to Evansville, Indiana, I found work as an adjunct teaching gerontology classes at both universities in town: University of Southern Indiana and University of Evansville. I also work as a volunteer for the Mid-American Institute on Aging and Wellness and attend local meetings of the Death Cafe. I also maintain my blog, The Generation above Me, and affiliated Twitter account. These virtual endeavors allow me to collaborate with people beyond her own zip code, people who are similarly dedicated to using a humanities approach to exploring aging issues."

 

 
Karen Austin
 

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AGE GraduateJennifer Benitez, MA

"In my position, I coordinate and supervise various projects to provide meaningful volunteer opportunities in Sedgwick County for individuals age 55 and over.

I very much enjoyed my time in the Aging Studies MA program. The instructors were so encouraging and helpful, and I really enjoyed the content of the courses. I learned many things that I have been able to use in my career. Because of the program I was really able to hit the ground running."

 

 
Jennifer Benitez
 

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AGE & Health Management GraduateLinda Watson, MA, LNHA

"I received my MA in Aging Studies in December 2013. While a student, I had the opportunity to work as a graduate assistant where I collaborated with faculty and published an article for the Kansas Journal of Medicine. I also completed the Administrator-in-Training Program, went on to pass boards, and have been working as a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator ever since, a position I absolutely love."

 

 
Linda Watson
 

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AGE GraduateCarnesha Tucker, MA

"I received my MA in Aging Studies December 2013. I am currently the Center Director for the Northeast Senior Center in Wichita. I have been in this position since graduation and have never viewed this position as “work”. I consider it as being among family, in the midst of so many individuals (older adults) with a rich life history. I appreciate the stories and knowledge that come from my many discussions with members of the center and for the many opportunities; I am blessed with today because of those before me who paved the way."

 

 
Carnesha Tucker
 

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AGE & Health Management GraduateDr. Samuel Ofei-Dodoo, Ph.D., MPA, MA, CPH

"I am an Education Assistant Professor and oversee the scholarly activities of medical residents, fellows, and faculty in the Family Medicine Residency program at Ascension Via Christi Hospitals Wichita, Inc. Specifically, my primary role at the University of Kansas School of Medicine is to facilitate quality improvement and research activities of faculty, fellows, residents, and medical students. I am a member the North American Primary Care Research Group, the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine, and the university of Kansas Medical Center’s Faculty Research Assembly Committee.

I received a Doctor of Philosophy degree from Wichita State University and hold degrees in cross-disciplinary fields including graduate certificates in public health and nonprofit management.

My research interests include translational research in professional burnout among physicians, residents, and medical students. I have done extensive work on burnout rates and is currently studying intervention approaches on prevention and management of burnout. My MA degree in Aging Studies and excellent mentorship from Dr. Nicole Rogers prepared me for doctoral work that centered on how effective social programs impact the needs and abilities of people of all ages."

 

 

 

Samuel Ofei-Dodoo
 

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AGE GraduateYour Name Here, MA

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