Online Student Returns to Southeast to Fulfill Lifetime Dream


Kathleen Ellison is graduating from Southeast with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management, informatics option.

It’s never too late to earn a college degree, and with time, often comes perspective and the understanding you’ve found your calling in life.

Such is the case for Southeast Missouri State University student Kathleen Ellison of Sikeston, Missouri. After graduating from high school in 2008, she attended Southeast for three years while pursuing an education degree. But when her first son came along, she put those plans on hold.

A decade later, she returned with a newfound goal. After landing a position as a centralized scheduler at Missouri Delta Medical Center, Ellison said, “I knew I had found my niche.”

She loved her new career field and her interest in healthcare information technology blossomed.

“I decided this was my path. I set my goal to graduate with a degree that could help further my passion. SEMO has allowed me to fulfill my dream,” she said.

Ellison is graduating this summer with a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management, informatics option, a degree she has earned fully online. In addition to being a full-time student, she works full time as a Clinical IT Analyst at MDMC. She assists companies that rely on electronic medical records navigate information technology processes.

“In IT (information technology), you work in the background. We are important to how the facility runs, but we are not seen all the time,” says Ellison, who took an interest in healthcare based on her family’s medical past. “My family deals with a lot of health conditions, so I have always been around healthcare organizations, but I could never be on the front lines of patient care. My job allows me to help those fighting something, but in a way that I am able to give 100%.”

Ellison with her husband and three sons.

She admits there have been times when juggling the roles of being a full-time online student, mother, wife and coworker have been difficult.

“There was a time when it was getting tough to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said, but thanks to her advisor, Leah, and her professors, Ellison says she is grateful to be completing what she started.

She particularly credits Dr. Dana Schweiger, professor of management, and Dr. Monica Kearney, assistant professor of exercise science.

“Between their kind words and feedback on all assignments and the amazing things I have learned in both classes, I have been able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. My experience at SEMO has been life-changing.”

Ellison thanks them for helping build her confidence in her career in Information Technology (IT) by exposing her to different workflows available in healthcare. In the future, she would like to work at streamlining provider workflows currently available at MDMC and assist companies that rely on electronic medical records navigate the available processes.

As she prepares to graduate, she reflected on her time as a Southeast student and expressed gratitude for the difference her education has made in her life. She says she’s fortunate to have Southeast close to home, the options it has offered and the opportunities it has afforded her to build her knowledge inside and outside of her workplace. She says she’s grateful for the time she spent on Southeast coursework as a high school student when she was given the opportunity to earn college credit prior to graduating.

“I started dual credit classes during my junior and senior years of high school through Southeast. The atmosphere of the college was great! The staff I worked with made me feel at home, and they were also by my side when I had questions or was unsure of what to do next. The amount of options that are available at Southeast for degrees, classes and furthering your education has been beyond wonderful,” she said.

“Thank you for the memories, experiences and knowledge I have gained from being a SEMO Redhawk,” she said.

Ellison and her husband are the parents of three sons.