When Kaylie Castille arrived as a freshman to the University of Louisiana at Lafayette, she was smitten.
“I just fell in love with the campus because of how pretty it was,” she says.
Out of the gate, Castille didn't struggle to decide her major. She knew what she wanted to do within the College of Nursing & Health Sciences — earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing to become a registered nurse.
Yet, when Castille accepts her Bachelor of Science from the University this week, it will be in Health Services Administration, and she couldn't be happier about it.
Castille's journey through her undergraduate studies demanded she stop, change directions, adapt, and persevere, so she did.
In the Spring of 2018, Castille's mom suddenly became deathly ill. Priorities and goals changed immediately, as Castille went to work at her family's restaurant in Broussard and hoped for the best.
Castille says her mother is in good health now, but it was a bleak time.
“We actually didn’t think she was going to survive,” Castille says. “She was in a coma for three weeks.”
The lifelong New Iberia resident withdrew from her classes to help her father run their family-owned restaurant while the whole family coped with the uncertainty of her mom’s health.
When, in 2019, Kaylie felt like she could return to school, she didn’t feel like she could or should continue in nursing and she didn’t think she could return to in-person classes. There was still so much work to do for her family.
Before her mother’s illness, Castille had some doubts about her future as a bedside nurse. She was drawn to health care but had become interested in the administrative side of the field.
She started looking for online programs that would correspond with non-clinical health care careers. Health Services Administration turned out to be a perfect fit.
Rising to the occasion
Before enrolling in the Health Services Administration program, Castille had only taken one class online. However, she found the transition to 100% online an opportunity to grow.
“The biggest adjustment was trying to find the self-discipline,” she says.
At first, it felt intimidating to be wholly responsible for her schedule, for deciding when to study and complete assignments, but Castille quickly found herself more energized and engaged from rising to the challenge.
“Once I was in online classes, I felt like I was getting more done and getting more accomplished because I knew that I had to do it,” she said.
Seeing what she can do
As the pieces came together for Castille, she felt more confident in her future as a healthcare manager, and faculty took note.
"Her strengths in problem solving, time management, communication skills, and leadership abilities have excelled over the past two years," says associate professor and program coordinator Dr. Rachel Ellison.
"Not only from the curriculum, but the HSA internship experience over the past semester has given her a boost in confidence that will help her succeed in the health care field."
Castille says she feels drawn to operations management type roles, partly because of her personality, partly from her work experience, and from her parents’ example.
"Whenever we had the restaurant, I was more on the managerial side of things, and both my parents were managers," she says. "I have a strong sense of HR and just having a little bit of everything to work with."
Health Services Administration seniors complete a capstone internship. Castille's capstone assignment took her into a discipline she hadn’t considered.
Working under UL Lafayette alum Maria-Teresa King at Acadiana Computer Systems, Inc., Castille learned how their Quality Incentives program helps providers use patient experience feedback and other metrics to improve effectiveness and revenue.
“I knew before the internship that Health Services Administration had several career opportunities, but it allowed me to see more on the side of quality of care and reimbursement, an area that I was not as familiar with, and doesn’t seem to be as common.”
Castille’s internship gave her a chance to apply what she had learned in her coursework while seeing the scope of the Health Services Administrations’ applications through King’s mentorship.
Castille completed her internship more confident in her abilities and in the opportunities awaiting her. She was also certain she would continue her education.
“I was almost sure that I wanted to pursue my MBA with UL Lafayette, but after speaking to Ms. Teresa about how she was currently enrolled in the program, it secured my decision to apply,” Castille says.
Castille was admitted and will begin classes for the University’s MBA in Health Care Administration program online in the Spring of 2022.
Completing her degree online made it possible for Kaylie Castille to fit her education into her life and now she feels like her education will help her fill a need in the state’s health care system.
“Since this area has so many opportunities for health care, more specifically healthcare administration, I will get to stay in Southern Louisiana,” she says. “I love the Louisiana culture too much to even think about leaving.”
The B.S. in Health Services Administration at UL Lafayette Online may be exactly the degree you've been looking for to grow your career and reach new opportunities. Learn more today.