At time of writing, Shauna Garner (EMBA 2023) is the Equal Opportunity Director of the Air National Guard and a registered diagnostic cardiac sonographer and vascular technologist for Frontera Strategies. She lives in Austin with her husband and gray pit bull mix, Smoke.
Depending on the day of the week, Baylor EMBA student, Air National Guardswoman, and traveling sonographer Shauna Garner may be at any one of a number of outpatient clinics around Central Texas, but her duties are pretty much the same: drive to the site, unload and set up her mobile ultrasound and sonogram equipment, and perform exams on patients to assist cardiologists in ruling out cardiovascular disease.
It’s a fascinating and essential line of work, but one that Shauna feels she has more or less mastered after several years in the healthcare field. She’s looking for her next “challenge,” the pivot that will allow this long-time military officer to finally retire from the service and assume a more leadership-oriented role in healthcare.
The key to that pivot? Baylor’s Executive MBA program.
“I’m in my nineteenth year with the National Guard,” Shauna explains, having enlisted in her home state of Oklahoma in 2002. “Twenty years is my retirement.” Midway through her military career, Shauna became an officer and then the Guard’s Equal Opportunity Director, a position that allows her to train units on unconscious bias and other human relations topics. She is also a trained mediator and handles discrimination cases related to race, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, and/or gender. As she looks to the future, Shauna envisions a civilian career that combines her healthcare background with her history as an officer and leader—something like a director of operations.
To gain the skills necessary for this transition, in 2019 Shauna began looking at graduate business programs. Right away she targeted Baylor University—known, Shauna says, for being “one of the top schools for veterans,” given its joint Army/Air Force physician assistant studies programs and other veteran accommodations that she says “generally make the transition for people in the military a lot easier.”
At first, Shauna looked into getting a master’s of healthcare administration at Baylor. Finding the program conflicted with her schedule, she ultimately enrolled in the in-person Executive MBA program once the COVID-19 vaccine became available.
The EMBA has been “great,” Shauna says, because “it offers both the social aspect of the classroom and more flexibility.” She cites the “different backgrounds“ of her cohort members, some of whom work for much larger companies or in totally different industries, as being especially inspiring, and she loves “listening to everyone’s stories” over Monday night dinners, when the group voluntarily meets to eat a meal together before class. “It’s been open, warm, and inviting,” she says.
As for the quality of education, Shauna feels Baylor is “definitely” preparing her for life after school and the military. The group projects students do “require a lot of teamwork and problem-solving, getting me ready for who-knows-what in the healthcare world right now with COVID.”
One of Shauna’s classes, called Leading with Integrity, taught her about the different types of leadership styles and helped her to understand her own operations manager’s style, in addition to those of leaders she may one day work with. “It’s really enhanced my communication with my manager,” Shauna says, a skill that will be increasingly important as she works toward a more people-facing position in healthcare management.
“I’m actually a little nervous about exiting the military,” Shauna admits, “because for so long it’s guided me and pushed me to do more.” With a soon-to-be MBA under her belt, though, Shauna thinks it’s “the perfect time to be considering the next chapter, and that,” she says, “is really exciting.”
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