Marley McCallister

MPA, 2016

Project Manager, Epic Systems

During her undergrad career at UConn, Marley majored in Healthcare Management in the School of Business. While she enjoyed the business prerequisite classes she was taking, she knew she wanted the chance to dive deeper into the system and policies that shaped our healthcare landscape. She also wanted find a way to distinguish herself from her fellow peers. As a result, she decided to get a minor in public policy.

While sitting in one of her first public policy courses her sophomore year, Professor Bill Simonsen presented to her class about a new opportunity the Department of Public Policy was offering called the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Fast-Track Program. This program allowed students to enroll in graduate level public policy courses while still in undergrad. Initially Marley thought the opportunity sounded too good to be true, so she emailed Professor Simonsen to further discuss the opportunity. The professor immediately responded and set up a meeting for her with an MPA Alumni, Jason Jakubowski. By the end of that meeting, she was convinced that this was the program for her.

“I was amazed by the design of the program,” says Marley. “It gives students ownership over their own education by offering different academic tracks, graduate certificate programs and internships.” “In addition to that,” she added, “I was excited to join a program that had such a strong alumni network that was genuinely invested in continuing the program’s excellence.”

This excitement pushed her to take full advantage of the program’s offerings. While pursuing her MPA degree, she worked to shape her academic experience around her professional goals. She completed a Graduate Certificate in Nonprofit Management, which helped her better understand the financing, organization and development of nonprofit organizations. The Nonprofit Management courses also sparked her interests in grant writing. Throughout the program, she completed several internships, including an internship (IPP) with Hospital for Special Care, which solidified her decision to pursue a goal in healthcare administration and leadership.

Marley is now a project manager for Epic Systems, a medical health records software firm. Her team works to solve problems and help healthcare organizations provide safer and more effective care. Epic is made up of nearly 10,000 employees, and its software is used across the globe. In her job today, Marley gets to create creative solutions to achieve one common goal – provide better health care to patients. As a project manager, she works side by side with customers to help them install Epic’s software, lead and manage change, and ultimately transform the way they provide healthcare for about 57% of Americans. Her favorite part about the job is knowing that her work is impacting the lives of others, including patients and healthcare professionals.

Marley found the skillsets she gained from the MPA program to be extremely helpful to her job performance. “Whether I’m reviewing report metrics for my customer, troubleshoot system issues, drafting emails or facilitating meetings, I am using the knowledge and skills I gained from the MPA program.” “What is more,” she said, “the work ethic I developed while enrolled in the program is something that I will always appreciate.” She recalls that a combination of things helped solidify her commitment to public service: the inspiration from her professors as role models, the incredible work done by the Hospital for Special Care (where she completed her IPP), and the passion exuded by her fellow peers to do good and implement change.

The biggest challenge at her current working situation is that there is no such thing as “best practices” in her field. “Every organization is unique, and as such, requires its own distinctive processes and solutions,” says Marley. “Every day, I must access the tools available to me and use them to the best of my ability to help healthcare organization achieve success. I must remember that what worked for one organization may not work for another, and push myself to think critically and ask questions to ensure a positive outcome for our community members.”

Her advice to incoming students? “Don’t be afraid of the challenges you will face. The MPA program is designed to foster your growth in all aspects of public administration, especially those areas you have yet to experience. While in the beginning, it may seem best to focus on those areas you are comfortable with so that you can become an “expert,” I recommend pushing yourself to dive deep in the curriculum that seems most foreign. These are the areas that will make you grow not just as a scholar, but as an individual.” In addition to that, she encourages students to ask questions, pursue answers and do their best to apply the material to what they do know. “This is what will make the difference in your experience as a UConn MPA candidate and in your career that follows.”

Marley’s ultimate goal is to run a hospital and help improve the healthcare system as a whole. She is dedicated to using the knowledge gained from this program, as well as her professional experiences, to help organizations provide effective and affordable healthcare and help increase preventative care utilization.

Marley McCallister
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