MERIDIAN — Special to The Star
When Mississippi State University-Meridian began offering the Bachelor of Applied Technology (BAT) in Healthcare Services in the fall of 2013, Stephanie Felton of Meridian was the first student to enroll.
This unique degree allows students who may have earned healthcare related technical credits while at a community college, to use up to 28 of those credits toward a bachelor's degree.
"This is important because all too often students who earn an Associate Degree in Applied Sciences and later decide they would like to earn a Bachelor's degree often find themselves having to start over from scratch and not able to receive credit for any of their prior college work.
Along with the up to 28 healthcare related technical credits, students must also have earned 24 credits in core classes. Felton earned an Associate's Degree in Nursing from Meridian Community College in 2012, and is currently employed as a RN with Rush Health Systems.
"Initially I planned on going back to school to become a nurse anesthetist and you need to have a Bachelor's degree in either nursing or a science. But that is a long process and several years down the road," Felton said. "I was looking into doing something for the short term, preferably close by that would give me an edge and make me more marketable right now."
That's when Felton spoke with Regena Clark, coordinator of academic advising at MSU-Meridian.
"After looking over my transcripts, Ms. Clark suggested the new BAT in Healthcare Services offered here in Meridian. I googled it and after reading about the degree and seeing that I could possibly use this for a future administrative position like nursing supervisor or something similar I was ready to enroll," Felton said. "I can still pursue a degree as a nurse anesthetist later on but I'm excited that I have this opportunity right now."
Attending Mississippi State appears to be a family affair. Felton's older sister attended Mississippi State and her younger brother has announced his plans to transfer to MSU-Meridian and pursue a degree in Criminology.
For Felton, who was used to a smaller campus and class size first at Clarkdale and then MCC, MSU-Meridian was a perfect fit.
"The campus feels like home, which made it easier for me to adjust. I've loved all my professors so far — they've been very helpful. And I really like that going here allows me to stay home with my family and work, while still earning a degree from Mississippi State."
For more information on the BAT in Healthcare Services go to www.meridian.msstate.edu and click on Academics - then Division of Arts and Sciences or contact Regena Clark at 601-484-0153.