Although a nursing career wasn't meant to be for Rhonda Winbush, a healthcare calling of another kind was.
Now, Winbush is on track to graduate from LSU Shreveport's Master of Science in Nonprofit Administration online program in May 2018.
"I am a community outreach specialist, so I work closely with a lot of nonprofit organizations," Winbush said. "The major goal with the master's degree was to get a better understanding of the nonprofit sector. It's a passion of mine. Now, it's opened my eyes to trying to start my own nonprofit organization."
Winbush has worked for United Healthcare in Shreveport for almost six years. In addition to dealing with nonprofit organizations on a regular basis, she works to educate the community about the importance of and different ways to achieve a healthy lifestyle.
And that upcoming venture? She already has a partner in mind.
"The awesome part of it is my daughter [Raveen Mourning] is graduating from the LSUS Science Center with her Master of Public Health in May, so we'll graduate together," she said. "We want to combine our skills together and start a nonprofit together. We want it to be in the healthcare field, a consultant for people to become more educated on healthcare and how we can make it more accessible to low-income families."
Change of Scenery
Winbush grew up in Carson, California, in the Los Angeles area. She moved to Shreveport in 2003 to be close to her parents.
"At that point, I really wasn't interested in doing much of anything," she said. "I decided to go back to school for nursing. I reached a point of going into my clinicals and found out that I just wasn't interested. That was when I went to LSUS and got into the major that I'm in now."
Winbush graduated from Bossier Parish Community College with an Associate of Nursing with a 3.7 GPA in 2007. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Health Services from LSUS three years later with a 3.8 GPA before going to work as a project coordinator for Northwest Area Health Education Center.
"The job was as a project coordinator for a nonprofit," she said. "It built on my interest in healthcare. It's been a constant building process, starting with school and nursing. I wanted to work in the healthcare field, but I didn't know what part. This is the part."
Raveen gained interest in following in her mother's footsteps while still in high school and works for United Healthcare in community outreach.
"She also works with a lot of nonprofits," Winbush said. "We kind of go hand in hand. We are very close."
Morning, Noon or Night
The online format of the MS in Nonprofit Management is ideal for Winbush to balance school with her busy schedule.
"It's very fast-paced, but it's also very exciting," she said. "Those seven weeks go by so fast, but you learn so much. It allows me to go to work and school."
Winbush had a little bit of online education experience before enrolling in the master's program. The ability to work on school at any time of the day is one of the things she enjoys most about LSUS online. She spends an average of about six hours per week on school.
"When I have downtime, I can go work on my classes," she said. "It gives me the ability to get up early and work on something that I have to do, or to work on it late at night. It's very flexible."
The curriculum is helping Winbush prepare to take that giant leap into running her own nonprofit organization. So far, NPA 761: Nonprofit Financial Management and NPA 762: Nonprofit Resource Development are her two favorite courses.
"I have really enjoyed the whole curriculum," Winbush said. "I have learned a lot that I can apply to my career."
Bold, New World
Although Winbush already participated in one graduation ceremony at LSUS, she is very excited to have her only child join her for the second one with her granddaughter in the crowd watching.
"That is amazing," Winbush said. "God works in mysterious ways. LSUS is a very good school. It was beneficial to me for my bachelor's, and it's been beneficial for my master's degree. I am very satisfied with what I got out of the master's program."
Winbush, who enjoys spending time with her granddaughter, watching movies and reading, is glad she moved to Shreveport. Although she doesn't get back to California to visit much, she enjoyed growing up there.
"L.A. was awesome," she said. "It was fast-paced and easy to get into a lot of things. It's a little more laid back here."
She is especially glad the move helped guide her to LSUS and her career path. Although Winbush recommends the online MS in Nonprofit Administration program, she said it takes a lot of hard work to be successful.
"It's not a program for you to relax and not do anything," she said. "You have to put the work into it, but it pays off and is something you will value the rest of your life."
Learn more about the LSUS online MS in Nonprofit Administration program.
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