MSU-Meridian student, working mom earns 'hero' status in family

MERIDIAN, Miss.—  At 37, Casey May is the benefits analyst manager at Anderson Regional Medical Center and a mother of five in a blended family with husband Danny.

In August she added part-time student at Mississippi State University-Meridian to the mix. She had been working for Meridian's Meyer & Rosenbaum Insurance Agency for three years when company president Bruce Martin invited her to attend Morning Coffee, an East Mississippi Business Development Corp. program held downtown at the Riley Campus of MSU-Meridian.

Martin, a 1977 MSU insurance graduate, is a well-known advocate for education, as well as a die-hard Bulldog fan. Months before his invitation, May had begun considering the pursuit of a healthcare administration degree offered through MSU-Meridian's Business Division. Though she had earned an applied science degree in business and office technology years before at Meridian Community College, none of her technical credits would transfer. However, during the Morning Coffee session, she learned two things that made her very happy.

First, she found out that MSU-Meridian recently began offering a new Bachelor of Applied Technology degree in healthcare services in August 2013.

Secondly, she heard Carl Young explain the BAT degree was designed for individuals like her with applied science degrees who wanted to continue their education in the healthcare field. Young, MSU-Meridian associate professor of healthcare administration, also said the degree program would accept up to 28 health-related credits as pre-requisites. 

After the transcript from MCC had been evaluated, May learned she needed only three more classes before she could transfer to the university.

In March of this year, May changed jobs and began work at Anderson. In August, despite fears of being "the oldest in the class" and "unable to juggle everything," she began her advanced studies at MSU-Meridian.

May said the just-completed first semester went well and she was able to "focus better and stay on task."  She attributed the success to taking education more seriously this time around both for herself and her children. 

Recently, that new level of devotion was recognized when one of her 8-year-old twins was assigned the classroom task of writing about heroes. Guess who he chose for a subject? "He said I was his hero because I am in school, I'm real smart, I study all the time and I go to MSU," May said with a chuckle.

She also noted returning to school is providing a clear benefit at work since the material learned in class directly is applied to her day-to-day job responsibilities. Part of her duties involves benefit analysis "to make sure we are staying on top of the healthcare trends," May explained. For example, she recently employed a formula learned in a statistics class taught by biology instructor Jarrod Fogarty to determine "how many employees are utilizing our retail pharmacy." She then shared that information with supervisor Joel Windham, Anderson's vice president of human resources and organizational development.

"Education is the source of renewal in a successful organization," Windham observed.   "It's a tremendous asset for our department, as well as for the hospital, to have someone working for us as motivated to learn as Casey is. She is a real blessing and we are proud of what she is accomplishing!"

May said taking classes part-time helps minimize her overall work load and still leave time for the family. Her goal is to finish her degree in 2017 before her 14-year-old son graduates high school the following year.

After completing her first semester, May is able to confidently share an observation with others whose situations were similar to hers: taking the first step is the biggest hurdle to going back to school.

"I was worried about a lot of different factors, but I've had a great experience at MSU-Meridian," she said, adding that she readily encourages others thinking about returning to school to give it a try. 

"I'm so glad I did!" May said.

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