Ask A Student

Do you have questions about what it’s like being a studentin the MHA, MPH in Policy, or MS in Health Policy program? These current HMP students will be happy to help.

Please visit our Meet Our PhD Students page if you are interested in our PhD in Health Services and Policy.

Marisa PolonskyName:  Marisa Polonsky
Graduation Year: 2019
Degrees:  Masters in Health Administration

Hometown:  Portland, OR
Undergraduate: Human Physiology (Minor in Business Administration), University of Oregon

What interested you in health care: A personal struggle with a chronic illness originally attracted me to health care. It wasn’t until  I spent a summer interning at Oregon Health and Science University in college that I realized my affinity was for health administration. While there I became fascinated with the complexity of change management in a large organization, loved the variation in daily work that administration provides, and found clear purpose in supporting the mission of organizations who are focused on improving the lives of others. 

Favorite grad school moment thus far: Hearing about everyone’s experiences in their summer internships. It was exciting and inspiring to see how my peer’s interests had shifted as a result of this experience, and the relationships they were able to build with mentors in the field.

Hobbies: Barre3 (yoga/pilates workout), spending time with friends and family, and attempting to make the perfect cup of coffee.

Advice for potential applicants: Do your homework about the program before applying by reaching out to current students. We remember being in your shoes and are more than happy to talk with you. Don’t let the location of a program deter you. Being from Portland, I never envisioned myself moving to Iowa – but it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made!

Loralyn WerkmeisterName:  Loralyn Werkmeister
Graduation Year: December 2019
Degrees:  Master of Healthcare Administration and Master of Business Administration

Hometown:  Ames, Iowa
Undergraduate: Oklahoma State University- 2014, B.S. Business Administration

What interested you in health care: Healthcare is complicated. Each day there is a new challenge to be solved, yet it’s these challenges that excited me most to serve as a healthcare administrator. Being able to serve the community I love in a way that best suits my professional strengths is truly a win-win for me.

Favorite grad school moment thus far: Each fall the Iowa Student Association of Healthcare Leaders (ISAHL) plans an annual alumni golf tournament. Last year I had the pleasure of meeting many great Iowa MHA alumni at the event, and I enjoyed teeing-it-up with my fellow MHA peers. This year, as an ISAHL board member, I have the pleasure of helping plan the event. I’m excited to welcome our alumni back to Iowa City in October for a great day of golf!

Hobbies: I love to cook and visit my friends and family in Charlotte, Saint Louis, and Des Moines! I also serve as the Vice President of Civic Engagement for ISAHL, so I’ve enjoyed setting up group volunteer opportunities for the first and second year MHA cohorts this year.

Advice for potential applicants: Reach out to current students to ask questions! We were in your position not too long ago, and we are happy to answer any questions you have about the Iowa MHA program, Iowa City, healthcare administration, etc.

Jonathan OrtegaName:  Jonathan Ortega
Graduation Year: 2019
Degrees: MHA

Hometown:  Bartlett, Illinois
Undergraduate: Illinois State University, Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science

What interested you in health care: My experience with healthcare started when I was a patient at a local hospital. Doctors, nurses, and other staff members became friends rather than just employees. This fantastic patient experience influenced my decision to pursue a career in healthcare. The opportunity to impact the lives of others on a large-scale is exciting and rewarding.

Favorite grad school moment thus far: The alumni golf outing and participating at The Ohio State University Case Competition have been the most memorable moments so far.

Hobbies: My hobbies include watching documentaries, spending time with family and friends, and cheering on the Chicago Bears and Chicago White Sox.

Advice for potential applicants: My advice for prospective students is to reach out to current MHA students. We were in your shoes before, and we understand the questions and stress that the application process can bring. We are more than happy to help.


Name: Aaron Morse
Graduation Year: 2019
Degrees: MHA, MBA

Hometown: Mason City, Iowa
Undergraduate: B.B.A. Marketing B.B.A. Management (Human Resource Track) from University of Iowa

What interested you in health care:  I became interested in healthcare because of my desire to help patients receive high quality care and better outcomes.  I enjoy the management aspects and relationship building that comes with administration.

Favorite grad school moment thus far: My favorite grad school moment has been the MHA formal at Blackstone.

Hobbies: My hobbies include reading in my recliner, nature hiking, and playing cards.

Advice for potential applicants: My advice for potential students is to take advantage of networking opportunities. Also, eagerly seek any opportunity for new experience.


Name: Winnie Uluocha
Graduation Year: 2019
Degrees: MHA, JD

Hometown: Nigeria and Chicago, Illinois
Undergraduate: Public Relations and Advertising, DePaul University

What interested you in health care: My experience with the healthcare system began at a young age as my mother, who was a nurse, told us stories about the patients she cared for in hospitals and those she nursed in their homes. My mother’s selfless compassion and warmth for her patients was inspirational and shaped my perception of the profound impact hospital staff can have on the patient’s experience and their family members. My aspiration to work in a complex, but rewarding environment has led me to pursue a degree in Health administration. Providing quality healthcare – while encountering financial challenges, upholding accountability, complying with legal mandates, and addressing personnel and patient concerns – I believe is an exciting and worthwhile career.

Favorite grad school moment thus far: Executive presentation workshop and visiting health systems throughout Iowa with my fellow classmates.

Hobbies: International and domestic traveling, fine dining, reading non-fiction and biography books, philanthropy, and cheering on my Chicago Bulls.

Advice for potential applicants: The best advice I would give potential students is to start networking early. The greatest strength of the Iowa MHA program is its alumni base and the continuous support they provide to current students and early careerists. Health administration is a small field and learning from the experiences of alumni and having the opportunity to get sage advice early on will be invaluable. Take advantage of all the networking opportunities, events, seminars, shadow and volunteer opportunities, and lectures you can while you are here as this will help you gain a competitive advantage.

Name: Ryan Callahan
Graduation Year: 2019
Degrees: MHA, MS in Health Policy

Hometown: Beaver Dam, Wisconsin
Undergraduate: The University of Iowa

What interested you in health care: I became interested in healthcare because my dad is a surgeon so I was exposed to it. When I was in undergrad I got really involved with volunteering and realized I wanted to follow a career in which I could help people but specifically in the medical field. I quickly realized I didn’t want to be a doctor so I looked into other ways and found my way into the MHA program.

Favorite grad school moment thus far: It’s hard to choose. There have been so many great moments already. I think one of my favorites was the orientation week. It was a lot of fun getting to know everyone and doing the ropes course together.

Hobbies: I really enjoy running as well as volunteering on the weekends for different organizations such as Special Olympics.

Advice for potential applicants:I think the best advice I can give is just to do your best to relax. It can be easy to get stressed out and feel overwhelmed by things. But the fortunate thing is your classmates are in the same boat. Definitely reach out to them. I can’t tell you how many times I did only to realize we were all in the same place.

Are you interested in our PhD in Health Services and Policy? Meet our PhD Students!