Catherine Murtagh-Schaffer

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I didn't choose Norwich; it chose me. I liked Norwich's unique military history, which I thought would provide a different perspective on world views.

Q: “Tell us about yourself.” 
A: “I am a mother of three children and grandmother of four. I have worked in healthcare for over thirty years. I have had multiple hobbies throughout my life, including scuba diving, sailing, and raising Egyptian Arabian horses. For the last ten years, I have been a competitive ballroom dancer with numerous national and world titles in the pro/am divisions. I graduated from Baylor College of Medicine as a Physician Assistant thirty-one years ago. I have worked in various healthcare fields, but my prime focus has been in general and cardiac surgery. As a PA, I currently work for a large health system in Fort Myers.”

Q: “What was your motivation for pursuing your degree?” 
A: “After thirty-plus years of healthcare, I realized I knew very little about anything else. My ballroom dancing has brought me into contact with many people from Eastern Europe and the cultures of that area, and I wanted to know more about our shared history. I also wanted to open up another area within my brain that had nothing to do with healthcare and expand my knowledge base always with a humanitarian outlook in mind. So, I chose the diplomacy program as a means to this end.”

Q: “What are your future professional plans?” 
A: “Good question. I firmly believe in doors opening at the right time, and when they do, I am always willing to walk through; I have never been disappointed with that philosophy. So I guess we will see what happens. Ultimately I would like to find a position that would allow me to travel and interact with different cultures and have the ability to provide help (in whatever form that might take) to people in need.”

Q: “Why did you choose Norwich?”
A: “Honestly, I didn't choose Norwich; it chose me. Another example of a door opening and me walking through. Norwich showed up in an internet search, and the more I explored it, the more I felt it was the right school for me. I liked Norwich's unique military history, which I thought would provide a different perspective on world views.”

Q: “What is one piece of advice you would give to future students enrolling in one of Norwich's online programs?” 
A: “Be prepared for the amount of reading that is required. It is a gargantuan task to complete every week, and then to be able to process it in order to write about it takes up time. It's all worth it, however! I am so glad I stuck it out!”

Q: “How do you plan to use your degree in your career?”
A: “Currently, I am applying for a system director position within the health system I work in. This position requires a master's degree, so I finally feel I can advance my career. In the near future, I hope to find a job with USAID or another government institution.”

Q: “What has been your biggest personal or professional success since starting your degree?”
A: “I must admit there is a certain level of confidence that has been elevated as I complete my degree. Am I holding my head up just a little higher? Maybe. Am I thinking differently? Absolutely! The world has suddenly become much bigger, and my role within it has the potential to expand.”

Q: “Please tell us about a time in which you could put your knowledge gained in the classroom to work immediately at your job.”
A: “Conflict resolution. Always, always, a necessary tool when you work with others. While this particular conflict resolution was about world affairs, some aspects of it boil down to individuals and managing my own and their expectations in differences of opinion.”