With a passion for helping people, Annabelle Howat knows the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire’s health care administration program — with its “a head for business and a heart for caring” slogan — is perfect for her.
“I want to help people but in more of a business manner,” says Howat of Aurora, Illinois. “It’s the perfect mix of caring for others in a ‘hands-off’ manner but still seeing how my decisions impact those I’m serving. I want to be an advocate for people who are underserved, like the aging population, who often are overlooked yet deserve fulfilling lives.”
Howat, who will graduate in May 2024 with a health care administration major, minors in management and Spanish for health professionals, and a certificate in leadership studies, credits “supportive and knowledgeable” professors with providing meaningful experiences in and out of the classroom.
Dr. Lindsey Creapeau, an assistant professor of management who Howat says is “passionate about everything she does,” is among those who encourage Howat to “apply my knowledge and dive deeper into the field.”
Creapeau describes Howat as “incredibly passionate and engaged” with a “strong desire and ability to serve her residents with compassion and quality care.” Given her “positive and optimistic outlook,” Howat’s peers “gravitate toward her and look to her as a leader, which is crucial in our field,” Creapeau says, adding that Howat’s skillset and demeanor are a “perfect fit” for long-term health care.
Howat’s management classes teach her about healthcare-related business models, she’s developing her language skills and learning about diverse cultures in her Spanish program, and she’s becoming a better leader and team member thanks to her leadership courses. Together, they’ll help her meet the needs of even more people who need care as they age.
As a student researcher, Howat helped low-income people access fresh fruits and vegetables, research she calls “eye-opening and fulfilling.” She says helping people access healthy foods and reduce their food insecurity makes her “feel like I’m part of something bigger than myself, which is amazing.”
In another project, Howat measured the quality of care in nursing homes. That research — which Howat presented at a national conference — made her even “more passionate about becoming an administrator to serve and advocate for the aging population.”
Howat says studying abroad in Spain, where she lived with a host parent and interacted with native Spaniards, “opened my eyes to differences in cultural norms such as food, schooling, work-life balance and healthcare,” giving her “a new perspective and respect for different cultures.”
In June, Howat will begin a yearlong administrative residency — required of all HCAD majors — at an Oregon facility that has a continuum of care, including skilled-nursing, assisted and independent living.
“I want to learn how each part of this community functions, apply my leadership skills and provide quality care to the residents,” Howat says. “I want to learn everything I can so I can become the best administrator possible.”
Howat hopes to then work as an administrator at a skilled nursing facility or nursing home.
Written by Judy Berthiaume