Paying it Forward: Scholarships for Healthcare

Sheila Clough and her husband Chris are the first donors to create a scholarship for students in SOU’s new Healthcare Administration Program, which is designed to prepare students for occupations in healthcare administrative and ancillary services. Sheila is chief executive officer of Asante Ashland Community Hospital and a member of the university’s Governing Board of Trustees. She knows firsthand the transformative power of scholarships and is now paying it forward.

Sheila earned a bachelor’s degree in medical technology from the University of Minnesota Medical School and an MBA for healthcare executives from Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin. She said that if it weren’t for the scholarships she received she would not have been able to attend college. “My parents didn’t have a lot of money, but when I was in high school, I got a full-ride scholarship,” said Sheila. “Even with the scholarship, I was working nearly full-time while in school in order to make ends meet,” she said.

This experience left a lasting impression. “I recognize the gift that I got was incredible. I know that I wouldn’t have achieved what I have without scholarships,” she said.

Understanding the struggles of parents and students, the Cloughs decided to step up and help. “We are so happy that our family is able to help,” said Chris. “I feel like we have a responsibility to one another. If we can help someone, then we should.”

The Cloughs also recognize that SOU’s Healthcare Administration Program has communities throughout Oregon. “It is a national crisis in terms of having enough qualified individuals in healthcare.

Having a program here will definitely help our region, as we will be able to draw from the talent coming out of the university,” Sheila said.

The university approved the Healthcare Administration degree program in 2017 after consulting with regional healthcare providers to understand their employment needs. The degree offers a pathway for current healthcare workers from entry-level employment into management.

According to John King, Ph.D., Director of the Division of Health, Education and Leadership, the program was designed to prepare students for careers managing the daily operations of healthcare organizations, such as hospitals and clinics, community health centers, nursing homes, and hospices. The degree is interdisciplinary and structured so all graduates possess a solid foundation in healthcare systems, terminology, data management, ethics and safety, as well as communication and cultural competency. Students choose a concentration area depending upon their interest area and career path. These include personnel management, community health, and data analytics.

Enrollment in this degree program is expected to grow in the ensuing years. Now in its second year, the program has 46 students, an increase of 20 percent since the degree was first announced.

For the Cloughs, the scholarship also offers them a deeper connection with SOU. “We are personally looking forward to being connected to the program and seeing how our gift can impact the students firsthand,” said Chris. “I feel like we are getting more out of this than we are giving.”