Purdue online MHA grad lands prestigious fellowship at University of Iowa

Written By: Rachel Barton 

Kendra Lenth stands in her cap and gown

Kendra Lenth(Photo provided)

Health care professional Kendra Lenth was working 12-hour shifts as an emergency room financial services coordinator when she started thinking about going back to school. Though she enjoyed her job, she wanted to move up the ladder and take on more responsibilities. But all the new opportunities she was interested in had a condition she couldn’t yet meet: They required a master’s degree.  

“When I was thinking about future steps, it became clear not having a master’s could limit my opportunities.” Lenth said. “So, I started to look into programs that I could complete while still working.” 

Curious about what her options were, Lenth began exploring different graduate programs. She decided to look for a Master of Health Administration (MHA) program because it was the most applicable to her career goals. She did a quick search for top MHA programs, and Purdue’s online Master of Health Administration was one of the first to pop up.  

“I knew pretty immediately that the program had what I was looking for,” Lenth said.  

Since Lenth was working long shifts at a hospital, she needed a graduate program that would accommodate her busy schedule. At Purdue, she was able to quickly strike a balance between work and school. Since her classes were all online and offered asynchronously, she could schedule her schoolwork for when she had days off. And if she had a question, her professors were always available to answer it.  

“The professors in the program were amazing,” Lenth said. “They are so dedicated to helping their students. I never had to wait around for a response or email, they were always there, and they gave a lot of feedback on all my assignments.” 

Lenth was one of four students in the MHA’s first graduate cohort. As Purdue’s inaugural MHA class, Lenth and her colleagues — Karrah Teruya, Suesan Coleman and Lisa Sheeley — became quick friends, bonding over their shared experience as online graduate students. The group also bonded with their advisor, Cody Mullen, director of Purdue’s MHA program. According to Lenth, Mullen’s dedication to supporting online graduate studies — even from a distance — was one of the program’s best features.  

“Even though we were all studying online, I don’t think anyone felt like they were missing out on the grad school experience,” Lenth said. 

Going into the program, Lenth hoped to cast a wide net and learn a lot of new skills. She took classes in areas she wasn’t very familiar with, such as policy and law. Each class she took taught her something new about the health care field and challenged her to apply those skills directly in her career.  

“So much of what I learned in the program was eye-opening. I learned about what happens behind the scenes in health care, and the projects we did gave us proof that we could apply what we’d learned,” Lenth said. “I recommend the program to everyone I can.” 

Lenth graduated in August 2023. Afterward, she started applying for positions that would put her new skills to the test, and she ended up finding the perfect opportunity: a prestigious physician’s clinic fellowship at the University of Iowa, where she’ll be helping the university acquire a new hospital and build a new clinic from the ground up. 

“The clinic fellowship is a great opportunity for me to show what I can do,” Lenth said. “A few years ago, I never thought I’d be overseeing huge projects and playing such a pivotal role in a health care system, but my master’s has given me that opportunity.  

Lenth had to go through multiple rounds of interviews before she was offered her fellowship. In one of the rounds, the interviewer asked her to describe a time she overcame a big challenge in the health care field, and she immediately thought of her experience in Purdue’s MHA program.  

“The program’s capstone class has you build this huge project from scratch basically,” Lenth said. “You need to get the budget right and plan out all the logistics. I didn’t think I could do it at first, but seeing it come together was amazing.” 

Learn more about Purdue’s online MHA on the program’s website

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