April 14, 2020

Organization honors three SIU School of Health Sciences students

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. — Three students in Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s School of Health Sciences are being honored by the Mid-America Healthcare Executives Forum for their academic excellence, volunteerism and leadership. 

Akmal Asoev, a Fulbright graduate student pursuing his master’s degree in Health Administration (MHA), Puja Jha, a graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in Health Informatics (MHI) and Hannah Kohrs, a senior in Health Care Management (HCM) are the 2020 recipients representing the School of Health Sciences

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the awards will be mailed to each recipient. Faculty in health care management, administration and informatics selected the recipients. 

Longstanding award honoring SIU students 

This is the 10th year that Mid-America Healthcare Executives Forum has presented an undergraduate award and the second year for a graduate student award, said Sandra Collins, professor and program director. The organization’s involvement in educating and developing future healthcare leaders positively impacts students’ lives and careers, she said. 

“Students from our HCM, MHA, and MHI programs benefit greatly from MAHCEF’s support,” Collins said. “With MAHCEF’s ongoing contributions through these awards and their inclusion of our students in their leadership conferences, students continue to accomplishment great things both academically and in their careers after graduation.” 

Students have various goals 

Akmal-Asoev-sm.jpgAsoev, who is from Dushanbe, Tajikistan, lives in Carbondale and plans to graduate with his MHA degree in August 2021. He then plans to complete his post-academic internship/residency of 18 months in one of the best internationally known hospitals in the United States to gain more field experience before returning home. Asoev earned a bachelor’s degree in finance from Bellevue University and a bachelor of laws degree from Tajik State National University in Dushanbe. 

Asoev is the CEO and co-founder of the NURAFZO MEDICAL GROUP, a chain of innovative medical centers in Tajikistan and co-founder of Sharayon Varid Cardiac Cath Lab Centers. He was working on a multi-specialty American hospital project in Dushanbe when he decided to update his academic background and earn an MHA. The project’s aim is regional cooperation and connectivity in greater central Asia through healthcare, he said. 

The knowledge I gained here will help me to work better on my project and lead my team more efficiently,” he said. “The network which I have become part of here in the U.S. will be used for my future collaborations and partnerships.” 

Puja-Jha-sm.jpgJha, who is from Mahottari, Nepal, lives in Carbondale, and is in her second semester in the MHI program and will graduate in summer 2021. She earned a master’s degree in environmental science from Tribhuvan University in Nepal prior to starting classes at SIU in fall 2019. Before moving to the United States Jha worked for several national and international organizations in the environmental health, sanitation and environmental managements fields in Nepal. That included working as an environmental monitoring expert for a Finnish project in Nepal where she dealt with data in reporting environmental conditions and its impact on health and surrounding areas to assist local authorities in developing preventative and mitigation strategies for an environmentally safe community. 

The SIU program enabled Jha to follow her interest and passions “for translating data into meaningful results to serve the health care industry,” she said. Jha is an on-campus student and graduate assistant and had taken two online courses previously, so the transition to an online format for the remainder of this semester has been smooth. Jha notes that professors are “very supportive” with clear instructions and easily reached by email but that she misses the live interactions with her classmates. 

“Getting this award is very encouraging; it came like a morale booster to me,” she said. “It brought some recognition to the hard work I have been doing and motivated me to work harder.” 

Hannah-Kohrs-sm.jpgKohrs, who lives in Marseilles, Illinois, is originally from Moline. She will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in Healthcare Management in August and plans to begin work on a master’s degree in Health Administration in January. She will work as an intern at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton this summer. 

Kohrs said her experience in the online HCM program “has been nothing short of excellent” and as a non-traditional student provided the flexibility needed to complete her degree. She added that the instruction and resources provided by faculty has “always assured me that the education I’m receiving is undoubtedly preparing me for success in the healthcare field.” 

“The Healthcare Management program has sparked my interest in many potential careers in the health care industry, but I’m most interested in the areas of physician practice management, risk management and healthcare human resources,” she said. “I’m excited to explore different areas of healthcare during my internship to help guide me into the right path after graduation.”