HPA Student Chris Seery attends class

Health-care management gives veteran student chance to help people, serve the public

Penn State Mont Alto's campus is a long way from Iraq and Afghanistan, but Chris Seery fell in love with the campus on his first visit and discovered the offerings would well establish him for his post-military career.

Seery enjoyed the relaxing atmosphere, small-community feel that allowed for deeper interactions with professors, wide range of events for various interests, and available facilities where he could study or relax.

Faculty and staff helped Seery use his GI benefits earned in the U.S. Air Force and guided him as he settled on health policy administration as his chosen bachelor's degree.

Seery hopes to work in human resources for a health care provider. It's a divergent pursuit from his time providing security for nuclear weapons and missiles first for the military and later for a defense contractor.

"My big thing is I want to help people. I needed to find a way I could help people and serve the public without carrying a weapon," Seery said.

Penn State Mont Alto's bachelor's degree in health policy administration is one of its newest offerings, having developed in advance of the 2016-17 academic year. The program prepares graduates for entry-level management jobs — whether in hospitals, health care systems, outpatient centers, long-term care facilities or insurance companies.

The program allows students to tailor their courses to an extensive number of jobs, and the degree can also be paired with minors in business, information sciences and technology, and human development, which are already being offered at Mont Alto.

"Health policy administration is essentially a business degree focused in health care. The policy component is there because health care is driven by state and federal mandates, so understanding that policy is important," said Michelle Pittman, a lecturer for the program.

Graduates will understand industry regulations and mandates as they prepare for management positions or master's degree studies.

Seery was still in Afghanistan when he started applying to universities in search of a career change. He described Penn State Mont Alto’s services for veterans as “exceptional.”

“I fell in love with the location and faculty, who are now my mentors,” he said.

Seery found in his past positions that he enjoyed being in a supervisory role and wants to tie that into a human resources career.

“I’d like to be the person guiding the organization and getting the right people in there,” Seery said.