MHA Alum Blazes Path in SEC Country
MHA Alum Blazes Path in SEC Country
By Dan Silvia, Communications Manager
Up through the ranks at Vanderbilt University, on to the University of Georgia, and now at a new position at the University of Tennessee, Tokesha Warner has blazed a path at some of the top schools in the Southeast.
Warner, a 2009 graduate of the Bellevue University Master of Healthcare Administration program, began a new position in December as the Director of the Research Development Team in the Office of Research and Engagement at the University of Tennessee. In that position, Warner will be responsible for the coordination of a conception to submission, team approach for major strategic and /or large-scale research proposals.
Warner spent the previous two years at the University of Georgia as the Manager of the Grant$MART Office for Proposal Development. She had worked at Vanderbilt for 16 years in a variety of research administration positons prior to that.
“I enjoy the variety and social impact that working in higher education offers. Particularly health services and health research,” Warner said. “Over the years, I assisted with research studies that will one day improve medical care or alter how services are offered, which will improve access and use of medical services. Reducing childhood obesity or decreasing infant mortality -- those are real results in real communities!”
Prior to enrolling at Bellevue University, Warner had been searching for a master’s degree that matched her needs.
“I tried at least two other Master’s degree programs (with other universities over a 2-year period) that were Public Administration, but they were not relevant to higher education and especially not health research or sponsored research,” she said. “I finally just started searching for Master’s degrees with the word ‘health’ or ‘research’ in them. The MHA course list was perfect for the kind of work I had already done and what I hoped to do more of in the future.”
A hands-on approach and some engaged classmates helped make the MHA a standout experience for Warner.
“I learned more about the university I worked for during the MHA program than I had in almost eight years of working there,” she said. “We were assigned to interview senior leadership or to call certain offices and request information. Then sharing that with other classmates, I learned about what their institutions were doing that was unique to that field.”
Like many Bellevue University students, Warner had to juggle work and family responsibilities while taking classes.
“As a single parent of a 3- and a 12-year-old, with a full-time job, I often struggled with time management,” she said. “I forced myself to take a lunch break at work so I could study. I had reading material on my person at all times, waiting room, sports practice, sitting in the carpool line. I used to cook dinner while dictating a paper into the laptop on the kitchen table, tethered with a headset and microphone.”
Support from her family was a key factor in enabling her to complete the MHA program.
“My mother would sometimes cook dinner and bring it over, so I could catch up on sleep after pulling an all-nighter. And my children understood why I was distracted and the sacrifice we were all making so I could better provide for us,” she said. “My brother sometimes took the kids to a movie so I could work on a paper or catch a nap.”
Warner advises potential students to hone in on what they’re looking for when searching for the right school and the right degree program.
“Find your strengths, weaknesses, passions and pitfalls so you can identify the best program to help you achieve your dream job,” she said. “Be willing to take the risk of short-term sacrifices for long-term rewards.”