Aryana Velez was meeting with the Associate Dean of the School of Business and Computer Science Virginia Rich, J.D., her freshman year, listening to her explain the field of healthcare administration, and a “light bulb went off.” Instantly Velez knew she wanted to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration.
Today Velez is a senior and over the last three years she has immersed herself in the program, becoming president of the Healthcare Administration Club (she is now the VP) and speaking at admissions open houses and accepted students days. She tells incoming students the program is a “hidden gem … a wonderful mix of healthcare and business.”
“I’m a big advocate,” said Velez, a commuter from Belleville, New Jersey who has done two internships and sees how Caldwell professors and the coursework have readied her for the marketplace. This past summer she worked at the occupational health service company Concentra in Secaucus, New Jersey, where she shadowed professionals in the physical therapy, managerial, and medical assessments areas, and visited different sites in New Jersey. Now she is working at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey as a receptionist. Both internships “pulled from each academic course” she took at Caldwell in the School of Business and Computer Science, especially Professor Jeffrey Egnatovich’s Introduction to Health Care Administration class and her Sociology of Medicine and Ethics in Healthcare Administration classes.
Students in the program are prepared for careers in hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation centers, life-care residential facilities, clinics, health insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and medical practices. They take a variety of business, health and communications courses and the program is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Business Schools and Programs.
As Velez looks to her professional future, she knows she would like to incorporate her perspectives and insights on culture as a Hispanic woman into her career work; she is interested in pursuing the diversity and inclusion aspect of health care and educating people about equal access. “I’m hoping I can change the healthcare system.” Raising awareness of bias in the workplace is important to her. “It is such an inspiring field to be a part of.”
She is extremely grateful to Caldwell, especially the business faculty, for their support, for providing “some amazing resources” and for sharing their backgrounds as health care professionals.
An alumna of Paramus Catholic High School, Velez was thankful that she benefited from the Catholic High School Scholarship and New Jersey Tuition Aid and Federal Pell Grants to help her afford her university education.
Velez has engaged in other campus activities including holding the vice presidency of the sorority Kappa Beta Gamma. She cherishes the friendships she has made with other members, the focus on women’s empowerment and the charities the sorority supports, including the Special Olympics.
She is happy to be celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month, honoring her Puerto Rican and Argentinian backgrounds. “I love to express my Hispanic heritage,” including playing Hispanic music in the car with her friends and eating ethnic foods like arroz con gandules con pollo, which is rice and beans with chicken. “I visit Puerto Rico once a year. It is a big part of my life.” Most important to her is her family. She grew up with her father, mother, grandmother and aunt in the same household. They encouraged her to learn Spanish and her grandma and aunt taught her to cook the delicious Puerto Rican dishes. These are gifts she wants to pass on. “I want to carry them to others or my children.”
Rich says Aryana’s story inspires her and her team to continue on with the good work they are doing in the department. “I believe that Caldwell University is preparing our students well for today’s workplace. Besides the substantive knowledge the students gain, they incorporate the spirit of service and compassion that is at Caldwell’s core. I’m pleased and grateful that Aryana has done so well and taken advantage of the many opportunities that are here for our students.”