When Robert Duval Del Rosario enrolled in Ashford University’s* Master of Arts in Health Care Administration program in 2018, he felt like he was going to college for the very first time. He wasn’t, but after 20 years out of school, taking classes again (and this time online) felt like an all-new experience.
The last time he attended school was in the Philippines, where he graduated with his Bachelor of Science in Nursing** in 1997.
“It had been more than 20 years since I opened a book,” he laughs.
Before classes started, Robert admits he was nervous about being able to succeed in the graduate program. He knew he’d have to balance family life, two jobs, and classes while trying to fit in time to play basketball in the Fil-American league he joined.
However, Robert knew he wanted to expand on his healthcare experience in the ER and management and best of all, he was hoping to take advantage of the tuition fee reimbursement that his employer Dignity Health offered through their Education Partnership with the university.
As fate would have it, he got an email about the Full Tuition Grant (FTG) and gave the University a call.
“The person I talked to [at Ashford] guided me and explained everything,” Robert says. “After that call, I leaped to start the program.”
Robert says he chose to get his Master’s in Health Care Administration because he knew he wanted to have a better understanding of the U.S. health system to help enhance his career.
“I had an idea based on my experience, but I wanted to learn the theories, history, and strategies behind successful organizations and process,” he explains.
With flexible weekly start dates*** and an online class schedule that Robert knew he could accommodate, he was quickly on the path to achieving his master’s degree.
“The Full Tuition Grant was terrific,” Robert says. “It took me a lot of effort, determination, and perseverance to finish. The best part is that I did not incur ANY student loans!”
However, he discovered the U.S. educational system was different than his experience in the Philippines. “Here in the U.S., almost everything is analysis, discussions, and papers,” Robert explains. “I had to double my efforts to learn how to write a thesis properly.”
Fortunately, he found his Ashford academic advisor and his professors to be excellent resources in getting through his classes successfully.
Now a Golden Key International Honour Society member, Robert already sees ways his outlook has changed from attending Ashford.
“Ashford has challenged me to think of ways to innovate for the better,” he says. “Going back to school opened my eyes to more significant concepts such as healthcare costs, quality, and safety. Before, I was only concerned about my department, but now, my mindset is more on ‘systems thinking’ and thinking as a whole.”
Robert acknowledges that he had to change his priorities to fit in time for grad work, even if the path was not “easy.” However, he learned to manage his time better as an online student.
“You have to sacrifice some things because learning, reading, and writing can be time-consuming,” he explains.
He even had to take a short hiatus from one of his favorite pastimes to ensure he had time for all his responsibilities.
“I love playing basketball with friends, but I had to give that up to focus on school,” he explains. “And family gatherings needed to be more planned so I could finish my schoolwork,” he explains.
Through it all, Robert says he is grateful to Dignity Health and Ashford for the opportunity to get his master’s degree without incurring any debt, while also setting an example for his son.
“Graduating from Ashford has created a sense of fulfillment,” Robert says. “I want to inspire my son to strive for higher education and know that anything is possible.”
Certain degree programs may not be available in all states.
*Ashford University is now the University of Arizona Global Campus.
**Successful completion of an Ashford University degree program by itself does not lead to licensure or certification in any state, regardless of concentration or specialization.
***Availability of start dates is based on program selection.