Landing a Dream Job

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When Robert Cruz BGS ’08 enrolled in UConn’s Bachelor of General Studies (BGS) program his goal was to become a healthcare administrator at a hospital or healthcare setting. With his BGS degree as a stepping stone, Cruz continued making inroads towards his dream by earning a Master’s of Public Health (MPH) degree at the UConn Health Center in 2010. Cruz achieved his dream in September 2012 when he landed the position of Vice President of Corporate Compliance for Metro Healthcare Management System, Inc. in his native Puerto Rico.

“My academic background from UConn, which includes my Bachelor of General Studies and Master of Public Health degrees, helped a lot in getting this position, because I had a solid healthcare management and public health foundation, in addition to experience in the insurance, healthcare and public health areas,” Cruz explains. “Both degrees exposed me to different experiences in the healthcare field, and gave me the opportunity to be supported by and collaborate with an excellent group of faculty and academic advisors who guided me along the way, taking into consideration the demands of a working adult and my professional goals.”

When Cruz moved from his native Puerto Rico to New York City in 1988, he was accepted to the Pre-Med program at NYU. Family finances put an end to that dream, but he never gave up. In 1991, he attended Kingsborough Community College (CUNY). Financial demands made him take another hiatus from his education, until he earned a Certificate in Healthcare Administration at NYU in 2001.

Cruz returned to college as a full time student in 2005 at Borough of Manhattan Community College (CUNY) where he made the Dean’s List each semester while working full time. He also volunteered as an English as a Second Language instructor at the United Senior Center in Brooklyn, teaching senior citizens the basics of English.

Cruz never gave up on his goal of earning a Bachelor’s degree. When he moved to Connecticut in 2006, he enrolled in UConn’s Bachelor of General Studies program.

“After meeting with an advisor at UConn and witnessing its diversity, I had a pretty good idea that this was the place for me,” Cruz says. “The BGS program gave me the opportunity to combine my prior college credits into a program that allowed me to pursue an individualized focus in Healthcare and Urban Studies.”

Cruz took classes days, evenings and weekends so he could continue to work full time as a Client Services Account Manager at United Health Group. “The courses at UConn have all been optimal and challenging,” he says. “Classes made me analyze the information learned and apply it to my daily life. I wasn’t just learning concepts; I was finding functionality to what I learned. I met great individuals and professionals and became more knowledgeable of the healthcare and urban issues affecting our communities.”

During Cruz’s academic career as a BGS student, the University Continuing Education Association (UCEA) named him Outstanding Continuing Education Student for New England, an award based on: academic excellence; student activities; university involvement; community contributions; employment; and personal and career goals. Cruz carried a challenging academic course load, while maintaining a 3.856 GPA, working full time, and conducting volunteer work.

Adept at multi-tasking, Cruz is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Public Health at Walden University. He credits his UConn education for the discipline and academic foundation needed to earn his doctorate degree.

“The Bachelor of General Studies program gave me the necessary tools to start a new career path with a strong and solid platform,” he says. “The UConn Master in Public Health degree provided a solid public health foundation, both academically and professionally, and prepared me for the rigorous academic demands of a Ph.D. program. Without my UConn Bachelor of General Studies and Master of Public Health degrees, I wouldn’t be where I am professionally.”