If you’d told American Sentinel student Cindy Martinez when she was 18 years old that one day she would hold an MBA Health Care degree and have an impressive nursing career under her belt, she wouldn’t have believed you.
“I was a latchkey kid growing up who had to learn street smarts at a young age,” says Cindy, who ended up dropping out of high school at the age of 17 and earning a GED diploma. It was a lifelong interest in the science of the human body that eventually led Cindy back to school—at the age of 30. While raising three young children, Cindy earned an associate degree in nursing and joined the University of New Mexico Hospital, a level 1 trauma center. She gravitated toward neuroscience and moved into the neurosciences intensive care unit. In 2003, Cindy earned a BSN and worked her way up to become director of the unit.
Back to School
In 2011, Cindy’s hospital—like so many others across the country—unveiled a new policy: all managers needed to have master’s degrees. So, Cindy considered the schools recommended by her hospital. Her first impression of and initial interactions with American Sentinel University made the decision easy. “I got a very good feeling from my first phone call with an admissions advisor and it just seemed like if I was going to go to an online university, American Sentinel was the place to go,” she says. “I could tell American Sentinel would take good care of me. With them, I felt like an individual, not a number.”
Cindy decided that an MBA Health Care combined with her nursing background would set her apart. “These days, health care is about pay for performance, and I knew how important it was for me to have the business knowledge to help improve health care. I know that a health-focused business degree will give me a lot of flexibility.” Cindy started her program in February 2011.
Allowing her Body to Heal
Not long after starting her online degree, Cindy made a big life decision: she left the hospital. After nearly two decades there working in a variety of on-her-feet, fast-paced nursing roles, Cindy needed a job that was less strenuous on her body. She joined United Healthcare as a senior clinical quality specialist, where she conducts quality-of-care and critical-incident investigations and gets to work with agencies like Child Protective Services and Human Services. “I am learning so much, and my degree is definitely helping me look at things from a different point of view,” Cindy says.
A Degree to Take Her Anywhere
In September 2013, Cindy completed her course work and capstone project at American Sentinel with a 4.0 GPA. And with her children now young adults, Cindy knows that her hard work and dedication hasn’t just bettered herself. It has set an example for her children, too. All three of her children attended (or are attending) college. “I’ve always showed them that education is worth the investment and the hard work,” she says.
With an MBA Health Care degree on her resume, Cindy has many interests for her future. “I am excited for the possibilities,” she says. “Awareness of behavioral health needs is growing across the nation, and I could see myself helping build some sort of program that will help prevent critical incidents, improve care and outcomes, and significantly help a vulnerable segment of the population. I feel I am in a place where I can make a difference.”