People who enroll in the Executive Master of Health Administration program at the USC Price School of Public Policy aren’t the typical graduate-level students. They are generally clinical or management healthcare professionals with a decade or more of experience, and their full-time work in the field – in places all around the country – necessitates that much of the coursework be taken online.
But they still value opportunities to more closely connect with the broader Trojan family, and perhaps nothing signifies that experience more than coming together for a USC football game.
Photo by Jennifer Harrington
Showcasing how the sense of community at USC Price crosses geographic borders, EMHA students Caroline Chellamy and Angie Simpson coordinated a major gathering for their classmates from around the nation at USC’s homecoming weekend and football game on Nov. 7.
“We all have diverse roles in healthcare, and we love to pick each other’s brains in discussion,” Simpson said. “We might not be seeing each other every day sitting in a class but we work on group projects and take the time to call, text and email so that even though we’re learning through a virtual environment, we do build relationships. I think the experience in these classrooms was strong enough for people to want to make USC homecoming weekend a destination weekend for their families.”
The idea started with Chellamy, who earned a Doctor of Pharmacy degree at USC, sending out a mass email to EMHA students asking if anyone wanted to meet for the game. She heard back from Simpson, another student from the L.A.-area who, through her role with the Upsilon Phi Delta health administration honor society, had been trying to figure out ways to create networking opportunities between EMHA and traditional MHA students.
From left, Price students Caroline Chellamy, Angie Simpson and Joshua MacFawn (Photo by Jennifer Harrington)
They partnered with the MHA student organization – the Student Health Council – to arrange a tailgate for the more than 100 EMHA students, alumni and family members who made the trip. More than 75 on-campus MHA students joined the celebration that afternoon.
“It was a unique opportunity for our program to collaborate on such a big event on campus,” Joshua MacFawn said. “As the university welcomed back alumni, we had the chance to welcome not just our alumni but EMHA and MHA colleagues alike.”
The EMHA students got the full Trojan treatment and then some, by marching to the Coliseum behind the Spirit of Troy band, getting to high-five football players as they entered the stadium, and even going onto the field to have their picture taken. They then sat all together for the game to enjoy USC’s victory over Arizona.
“It was really quite something,” said Ava Lovell, who is going through EMHA while serving as senior executive officer of finance and administration at the University of New Mexico’s Health Sciences Center. “I think there were more people on campus and in the stadium than the entire state I’m from. It was interesting and fun to see how much spirit there really is at USC.”
The students had been on campus before for the intensive week-long residency, but homecoming weekend offered a new social experience.
“During the residency, you come in and have lectures and classes,” said Roger Farahmand, who flew in from Texas. “Tailgating and the whole weekend solidified our bond with the university, and seeing everyone in a social setting brought us closer together.”
Professor Mike Nichol at the tailgate celebration (Photo by Jennifer Harrington)
The students also got to spend some informal time with USC Price Professor and Interim Vice Dean Mike Nichol, who is the director of graduate programs in health.
“It was gratifying to see so many of our out-of-state students and alums join the homecoming celebration,” Nichol said. “I enjoyed the opportunity to congratulate many EMHA students in person for recent promotions and successes. The health management Trojan family truly is national and inspiring.”
Chellamy and Simpson hope this tailgate will be the start of an annual tradition.
“In the EMHA program, you’ve got a career and family, so that full entrenchment into the USC life is not always a focus,” Chellamy said. “I didn’t think there would be this much interest for people to come, but it shows that people want to be part of that Trojan Family in this way. I think it would be fantastic if it continues.”
This article originally appeared in Price News.