Discovering an Unexpected Path

Learn how Morgan Rising discovered a career path in health policy and administration.

As a health professions major at the University of South Carolina, you have countless opportunities to explore your interests. However, as this industry evolves, future health professions majors must understand systems of care, populations health, and quality care in the United States and beyond. Where to start?

Public Health major and Political Science/Business Administration minor Morgan Rising found that exploring nontraditional careers in the health care field led her to her passion for public health policy.

Through programs like the University of South Carolina’s Galen Health Fellows, you can be a part of a program that intentionally facilitates your exploration of a wide spectrum of healthcare careers so that you can be confident that you’ve chosen the right path.

How did you decide to become a student at USC?

Because I knew that I wanted to pursue a graduate degree program after college, I searched for schools that would help me the most with scholarships and financial aid. USC offered the most merit-based scholarship opportunities for me, so that was a major factor in my decision process. However, as I learned more about USC, I realized that it had so much more to offer than financial aid.

“Carolina provides so many opportunities, like the Honors College, connections in the Columbia community, and out-of-classroom experiences. These opportunities, combined with its distinguished reputation, made USC my top choice for my undergraduate experience.”

How did you choose your major?

When I first started at USC, I was Pre-Med because I thought that was the best option for me. I wasn’t aware of all of the different career opportunities available in the field of health care.

“In my first semester of college, I was exposed to so many career paths in Public Health that I didn’t even know existed. Because I’ve always enjoyed studying political science and policy, I became really interested in health administration, a path I discovered during my freshman year at USC.”

I decided to combine my interests in health science and policy to pursue a degree in Public Health focusing on health administration.

What are your career goals after graduation?

After graduation, I hope to pursue a career in government relations for a major hospital system. Throughout my time at USC, I’ve had the opportunity to speak to several health professionals and administrators who have encouraged me to combine my interests through a career in this field. This semester, I’ve also had the opportunity to intern at the office of the Mayor of Columbia, which has really solidified my interest in a career in health policy and administration.

What has been a defining moment of your undergraduate experience that has led you to this path?

My internship with the Mayor’s Office has definitely changed the way I view health care as a whole. I work with the Mayor’s Policy Advisor, and we attend meetings with different community organizations in order to help create plans and programs for how to address community health needs. After we create an action plan, we help spread awareness in the Columbia area and get people involved with new health programs and events. Since I became an intern, we’ve organized summer lunch programs for impoverished children, mentorship programs for teenage boys, and so many others.

“The experience has completely changed my perspective of what public health really is. When most people hear the term “public health,” they think about hospitals and diseases. Many people don’t realize the importance of the other aspects of public heath, like food programs and prevention plans. This internship has shown me how comprehensive public health is and how important the role of the government is in impacting the health of communities across the nation.”

Are there any other ways the University has shaped your career goals?

During my first semester of college, I met with my advisor to discuss my interest in getting more involved in the Columbia community. Immediately, my advisor handed me a list of community locations and organizations with which USC has relationships and provides student volunteers. After we discussed my interests and career goals (I was still Pre-Med at the time), I decided to volunteer at the Free Medical Clinic in Columbia.

The experience was very eye-opening because it helped me realize the importance of public health at every socioeconomic level. It also connected me with other USC students who are also pursuing careers in health care. USC was instrumental in helping me find this opportunity, and I am so thankful that the university helped connect me to a community organization that helped me pursue my passions.

What’s the coolest thing about your major?

“The field of public health is constantly evolving, and it’s really cool to study the way government and policy influence health care in the United States. It has been fascinating to learn about the history of public health while experiencing firsthand the constant changes that take place in US healthcare reform.”

If you could give any advice to an incoming student interested in health sciences, what would it be?

Speaking from experience, I would say the best advice is to keep your mind open. I came into college very focused on Pre-Med, but by exploring other options, I found a path that interests me even more. I think it’s so important for college students to keep an open mind because at USC, there are countless opportunities to pursue your passions and ultimately discover a career path that’s right for you.

Learn more about the University of South Carolina.

The University of South Carolina is leading the way in health professions education. Aside from offering one of the most diverse and comprehensive selection of health-related majors, our Galen Health Fellows program ensures our graduates are among the most qualified and highly sought professionals to enter the healthcare workforce. Learn more about becoming a Galen Health Fellow.

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