Meeting students where they are with Haga (MHA '10)

Prior to joining the Department in 2017, Rachel Haga led teams at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU.

Rachel F. Haga, MSHA Program Director, portrait image“In the field, my strength was in empowering the members of my team,” she says. “I supported their success and continued growth to be promoted off my team. That was my indicator of success: If I was helping prepare my team for whatever came next in their careers.”

Preparing Health Administration students for their next opportunity is the focus of her new role as Director of Professional Development. Formerly Masters Program Director, Rachel’s new effort presents students in both programs with timely and relevant tools, skills, and opportunities. 

“This is about equipping students to be excellent leaders,” she says. “They have challenged us to help them better understand professional norms and how professional norms are evolving. We want to expose students to executives who are multidimensional and embody that executive presence and leadership mindset in ways we think are great role models for students.”

One recent example is finding executives who were able to have authentic conversations around the Black Lives Matter movement and what it means to be inclusive. 

“What does it mean to bring your own beliefs to work?” Rachel says. “And how do you do that in a way that supports your organization? What’s the separation between you as the individual and the organization’s values, and how do you navigate waters that feel a lot more gray than they did 10 years ago? The best leaders are able to do that.”

In the MHA program, Rachel will lead the executive skills series — teaching executive presence, interviewing, resume writing, and other requirements as a lead-up to the third-year residency placement. For executive MSHA students, the Department is exploring ways to offer personalized executive coaching plus professional development activities to support their growth as leaders. Rachel completed an executive coaching certification class over the summer while on maternity leave. 

“Professional development is all about supporting our students in their quest to be leadership-ready upon graduation,” she says. “At VCU, we’re going to support development of those intangible leadership, communication, relationship, and reflection skills to help you connect with others, lead through relationships, and equip you to execute on meaningful work.”

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