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Arnold School of Public Health

Master’s student Kara Keiper wins national scholarship from American College of Healthcare Executives

August 27, 2020 | Erin Bluvas,

Kara Keiper, a second year Master of Health Administration (MHA) student in the Department of Health Services Policy and Management, is one of just 14 recipients nationwide (and the only student from South Carolina) to receive a graduate student scholarship from the Foundation of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE) in 2020. Keiper won the Foster G. McGaw Award, which provides $5,000 to students pursuing careers in healthcare management and was created to honor the founder of the American Hospital Supply Corporation.

A native of Maryland and graduate of the University of South Florida (B.S. in Health Sciences), Keiper was drawn to the southern appeal of UofSC and the variety of health systems and opportunities in the area. “Columbia provides a great mix of professional and recreational activities, and I am really thankful I chose UofSC for my graduate education,” she says.

The Arnold School’s MHA program stood out during her graduate school search because of its unique partnership with local health organizations. Each student has a graduate assistantship; for example, Keiper has already held positions in two different areas of Prisma Health – applying course concepts ranging from financial analysis to data collection to project implementation.

“Many other programs I considered did not provide any sort of practical working experience while taking classes, so this was a really valuable aspect of the program,” Keiper says. “I also liked that most of our professors are also working healthcare executives with years of experience. This allows them to share their own professional knowledge and what they have learned throughout their career, which really adds value to our education.”

One of those faculty members is Kolby Redd, a clinical assistant professor and a two-time alumna of the HSPM department. Redd, who was a 2009 Foster G. McGaw recipient and the 2017 winner of ACHE’s Early Career Healthcare Executive’s Regents Award for her role as the director of community health for the Mid-Atlantic Affiliate of the American Heart Association, has been a mentor for Keiper both within ACHE and at the Arnold School. Bankole Olatosi, an assistant professor and the program director for the MHA program, has also been a great resource – sharing his knowledge and passion for the field and supporting students with their applications and other concerns.

Keiper has held multiple leadership roles in ACHE’s local chapters during her two years as a member. She also serves as vice president for the MHA program’s student organization, Health Executives Student Association. Involvement in these groups provide educational and networking opportunities and a way to give back to the field and the surrounding area through a mentorship program for incoming students and community service activities.

“Pursuing an advanced degree is becoming increasingly important, and my experience with the MHA program has proved to be one of the best learning and growth opportunities I have had,” Keiper says to prospective students. “Investing in yourself is one of the best things you can do.”

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