Alexanndra Fitzgerald knew she wanted to return to college for an advanced degree, but she wasn’t sure how she would pay for tuition.
“I still have a lot of student debt from my undergrad degree,” she said. “I couldn’t go back for a program that would take a lot of time or wouldn’t allow me to work at the same time, so I started working to pay off my debt and thought I would try to look for a program that would allow me to manage a class here or there.”
Then, fate intervened. Fitzgerald became the second recipient of the Academic Partnerships Joseph McAloon Memorial Scholarship at Fitchburg State University. As a result, she will enroll in the online Master of Business Administration in Healthcare Management program in October 2021.
“I saw that the Joseph McAloon Scholarship was an option, and I fit all of the criteria, which was incredible,” she said. “I only had a week to apply, so I scrambled to get it together and in on time.”
Alexanndra was the third winner of the scholarship, which covers tuition for the MBA program. It is named for a business professor who taught at the university for over 35 years before his passing in 2019.
McAloon developed and ran the online MBA program for the university. He also served as faculty president, department chair, MBA director and union president.
To receive the scholarship, Fitzgerald must be consecutively enrolled in the program. She views this requirement as a plus.
“I will finish sooner than I would have before,” she said. “It’s very appealing and motivating. I can’t back out now.”
Filling a Void
Fitzgerald is the technical director of interventional cardiology at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in the Boston area. She started the job in March 2020 in the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak.
She soon realized that business expertise was as important as a clinical background to succeed in the role. Budget decisions and supply chain management issues made her aware of the gaps in her knowledge.
“I didn’t feel as confident as I probably should have. It started as the need for this type of degree because I wanted to stick with it, which is why I chose healthcare management,” she said.
Life promises to be busy for Fitzgerald in the months to come. Alongside earning a master’s degree, she’ll be planning her wedding to Ryan Murphy in May 2022. She investigated Fitchburg State for an MBA because her future brother-in-law, Brendan, is already an online student at the university.
“He told me that it is reasonable, and that he’s able to still work and chip away at classes and that I should check it out,” she said. “The program gives you five years to finish, which was appealing, in case I couldn’t manage to pay for the classes all at once. It was a no-brainer at that point. I didn’t even apply anywhere else.”
Growing up in Mansfield, Massachusetts, Fitzgerald had a keen interest in healthcare from an early age. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in diagnostic imaging from Quinnipiac University in 2014.
“I remember being a little kid and watching the Discovery Channel with my grandfather and begging him to put on those emergency room trauma shows,” she said. “Now that I am working in cardiology, I have found my niche. It’s where I will probably end my career in some capacity.”
Ready to Roll
Fitzgerald looks forward to enhancing her knowledge and skill set in the online MBA in Healthcare Management program.
“Being in the role I am in now, you need to have the clinical skills, the management skills and the business skills, which I need more formal learning on,” she said.
Even as Fitzgerald waits to start the program, she believes that having an MBA will help open career opportunities.
“With this degree, someday I would like to run a whole cardiac catheterization lab instead of the subdivision,” she said. “I want to be able to make higher-level decisions. I want to move up into a higher-level leadership role within our cardiac catheterization lab.”
Now, thanks to the Joseph McAloon Memorial Scholarship, Fitzgerald no longer has to worry about how to pay for school.
“When I applied for the scholarship that I ended up getting, I was waiting to find out about it and working through my tuition reimbursement through my job, which wouldn’t be in play until the start of Fall ‘B,'” she said. “Getting this scholarship is huge.”
Learn more about Fitchburg State’s online MBA in Healthcare Management program.