Editor’s note: Individuals are asked to provide a personal statement when applying to Bryan School graduate programs. It’s a chance to add personality to an application, filling any gaps left by a resume. Below is a personal statement from MBA student Heather English. From a young age, English knew she wanted to be a respiratory therapist and have an impact on the lives of patients, their families, and the field of respiratory care overall. But her story isn’t exactly that simple. We are thrilled to have resilient problem-solvers like Heather at the Bryan School and are grateful she allowed us to use her personal statement on the blog.
While I would like to say that my journey to where I currently find myself in life was a straight and narrow path, with no hills and valleys along the way, stating this would be completely inaccurate and allow the absence of many other life-altering factors and moments that created the woman that you are meeting within this entry.
“I’m going to do this one day, to do what I can to help other kids not have to feel this way, to help them breathe. To feel better. This is such a horrible feeling…”
These are the words that I spoke to my respiratory therapist as a 10-year-old patient, while being rolled toward the step-down unit that would become my new home away from home, shortly after being released from the pediatric intensive care unit. Only a few weeks prior, doctors stated to my parents that my prognosis was extremely poor and there was a possibility that I would not make it to see another sunrise, due to complications related to the chronic lung issues I had unfortunately lived with since my premature birth. At that moment, while watching the colorful animals on the wall pass by, on the way to my new destination, I consciously internalized my current experiences and reflected on those of the past, of being an inpatient, confined within the four walls of a hospital room for at least one month out of a year, to almost passing away due to my lungs shutting down, time and time again. It was then I knew my calling in life (or one of which) was to work alongside a team of individuals caring for neonatal and pediatric patients who required the care of specialized respiratory support. I knew this so much so, yes, even as a 10-year-old child, that I even asked the nurses, respiratory therapists, and doctors tons of questions and took notes in my little blue notebook. I even asked them to bring me medical books and journals to read, so that I could learn as much as I could while passing the time until my anticipated discharge date arrived.
Fast forward 25 years and here I am, living proof that the fight, passion, and dreams of a 10-year-old girl can not only allow her to prove the prognosis wrong but can also bring her to a place where her goals and dreams become reality. Allow me to explain…
To whoever may find this letter in their hands with their eyes reading its words, may I introduce myself. My name is Heather English and the short story above is but only a glimpse into the story of my life, yet a significant moment where even as a child, my mindset was molded with regard to the fragility and value of time and life, the significance of dreaming and creating goals and a vision was realized and the understanding of what passion, desire and true fight, with a never giving up and no excuses mentality could achieve. Thankfully, the words that I spoke that day, as a 10-year-old child, became a reality and I now find myself as a neonatal/pediatric registered respiratory therapist, working clinically at the bedside, alongside a team of multidisciplinary practitioners, providing care to the tiniest of patients, children and teenagers alike, who are in need of respiratory support.
My arrival at this season of life, as mentioned previously, did not come as easily as one would imagine. Upon discharge from this admission, due to becoming extremely immunocompromised and weak from extended periods of inactivity, I was homeschooled for three years and learned that it would take self-motivation, sincere drive, and unrelenting focus in order to maintain the grades that I desired to achieve to not only learn but retain the information I was learning in less-than-desirable conditions. While the homeschool proctor that I was assigned attempted to teach most of the subjects from their respective years, it was not the same as physically being at school, on campus, playing, learning, and socially interacting with my classmates and making the memories that children at that age store into their long term memory, along with creating relationships that would potentially have a life-long impact. With only my parents to interact with and sometimes my grandparents for those three years, it gave me ample time to read, journal, and plan what my future may entail and those desired grades were met and those goals were planned out. This season of my life, unbeknownst to me, was preparation for my online studies for obtaining degrees later in life.
Fast forward two decades and I found myself as a military wife with three children and I knew it was finally the time in which those goals and dreams were to be acted upon and become reality. Up until this point, I had postponed my career aspirations due to supporting my husband as a military spouse, being a mother to my children, and the unavailability of respiratory care programs without waiting lists that would allow me to enter and complete their curriculum, before being sent to our next duty station. In the meantime, I enrolled in an emergency medical services program, studied, completed, and passed my national registry exam for emergency medical services. Once my husband received his honorable discharge from the military, the journey to becoming an official Respiratory Therapist began. From the day that I decided it was time, until this present moment, it has been a whirlwind, yet a journey that I wouldn’t trade for anything. Between the years of 2015 and 2020, I graduated Cum Laude with two degrees (AAS and BS in Respiratory Care), received Certified and Nationally Registered licensure as Respiratory Therapist, accepted a position at UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, North Carolina (one of my childhood goals), as a Neonatal/Pediatric Respiratory Therapist, as well as obtained specialty certifications/licensure as a Neonatal/Pediatric Specialist through the National Board for Respiratory Care.
Also, during this time, while practicing as a practitioner at the bedside and also participating in a mentorship with a member of our respiratory care leadership team, my interest has expanded into directions that are able to improve patient care and outcomes even in an indirect manner. Insert my desire to obtain my MBA here. This process of thinking has evolved into my participation in multiple committees within my career field and taking on tasks such as process improvement project team member, interview panel member, working alongside our team with a preceptorship program, planning and execution, in which I am responsible for training and educating new hire respiratory therapists, as well as students who find themselves within their clinical curriculum stages of school, policy review and writing for our department and organization, as well as planning and joining forces with fellow colleagues within the field for the development of a mentorship program that could impact many (this is still a work in progress).
This side of the coin is where I believe that receiving my MBA, through UNC Greensboro specifically, could prove extremely beneficial, not only for own career and personal gain but also ultimately for the organizations and teams that I work alongside as well as patients, family members, caregivers and the community at large. The UNC Greensboro MBA program offers many aspects that appeal to me and place it as my No. 1 choice when applying for programs. As a full-time working mother, who commutes four hours a day to her place of employment, the option of a fully online program that encompasses all of the information and curriculum that would be present in-person, the possibility to obtain this far afar, is priceless. The excellence and attentiveness that has been provided in speaking with multiple of the diverse members of the MBA recruitment team and other faculty members has already shown their genuine care and desire for greatness, the achievement of my goals, and the growth that I wish to acquire throughout this program and that speaks volumes, as I truly believe that a team should work together to take care of one another for the betterment of the individual, which ultimately leads to the improvement of the group and so on. Finally, the specifics of certification availability, such as business analytics, provides a more specified touch to the MBA program overall, allowing information to be gained in a much more detailed realm than just the MBA core material. This option I find extremely appealing and desire to take advantage of, as I believe that collectively working clinically within healthcare and obtaining the knowledge that the business analytics concentration provides, I would be allowed to, with more understanding, step into other roles that can also provide excellence for patient care in using medical data to generate helpful systems that could potentially improve many outcomes across the field.
In closing, I hope that while reading the expression of my thoughts found in this personal statement, it was felt that you were introduced to a dedicated, passionate, never-give-up woman who knows that anything can be accomplished in this life if your mindset and perseverance are held in place to dream greatly. I hold the desire that it is evident that my presence within your MBA program will not only allow for growth for myself as an individual, yet that this growth will pour over into the world around me and into the lives of others, in ways that they will be positively and profoundly impacted, in some way as well. I know that UNC Greensboro has the great potential to provide more than an adequate amount of knowledge and the ability to work alongside an amazing team to create lasting change and for these reasons, along with the many listed within this statement, I hope to join the ranks and bring what I have to the table to show others what is possible, even beyond our current circumstance and what a no-excuses mentality can achieve.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from your team.