Mackenzie Hayden’s connections to Radford University are very well established, span roughly a generation and involve multiple members of her family.
Her mother is a Radford alumna from the class of ’95, and her father earned undergraduate and graduate degrees from Radford in ’93 and ’95, respectively. In fact, Hayden says her parents met during their time attending Radford, so without their Highlander experience, she might not be here at all!
That’s not all, however. Hayden’s Radford roots go even deeper, with her brother graduating in ’21 and her father returning to Radford five years ago as an employee, currently working in the Dean of Students office.
“When it came to where I would go to school,” Hayden says, “Radford University just felt right.”
Hayden says she did spend some time looking at various schools when she was making her college decision, and that the choice was difficult, but that she ultimately knew she wanted something small that catered to students. Enter Radford University Carilion (RUC).
“I was really attracted to RUC’s size and the student-focused approach,” she recalls. “I also was drawn to RUC because of the 100% online programs in the public health and healthcare leadership department. That structure suited me better.”
While Hayden had considered a career as a physician when she was in high school, she soon learned that path wasn’t right for her. But she still wanted to be involved in healthcare somehow. As she explored her options, she discovered healthcare administration.
The four-year Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Administration program at RUC provides a broad base of knowledge and skills to prepare students with general analytical, communication and management competencies for professional roles in healthcare management. This program prepares graduates to work within the fundamental “business” aspects of healthcare.
“Through this degree, I’m able to combine my love for the medical field and my intrinsic need to be a leader,” Hayden says. “What I love most about healthcare administration is the ability to improve patient care without being directly involved in it. I also respect the level of teamwork needed to have a successful organization and to achieve patient care initiatives.”
As part of her curriculum, Hayden is currently participating in a medical practice internship with Carilion Children’s, shadowing Rachel Smith, the practice manager at Carilion Children’s Professional Network.
“The ability to experience the teamwork and communication that is needed on a daily basis to run a medical practice is unmatched,” she says of the experience. “I enjoy meeting new patients and creating relationships with the staff. Every day is new and exciting.”
While Hayden’s enthusiasm for her program is routinely recognized at Radford, she is now beginning to earn accolades externally. Recently, the Association of University Programs in Health Administration (AUPHA) named her a 2023 Upsilon Phi Delta Society Scholarship recipient.
The goal of the Upsilon Phi Delta Honor Society is to encourage interest in academic preparation, promote activity that will elevate the standards, ideals, competence and ethics of inductees, and recognize academic achievement and outstanding contributions to the profession. The UPD Scholarship Program was established in 2014 to further the goals and mission of the honor society and recognize students for academic excellence.
AUPHA, the organization that administers the scholarship, supports the education of emerging leaders in the healthcare field — a description that fits Hayden perfectly.
“Over the course of my professional education at RUC, I have worked incredibly hard,” she says. “Each semester, class and assignment is an opportunity for me to prove to myself that I am capable of achieving my goals. When I received the scholarship, I felt as though my hard work was being acknowledged, and it will help me achieve everything I dream of!”
Mark Lambert for Radford University