21-year-old earns masters degree, becomes Double Eagle this May
Rolling with the punches is something that Georgia Southern University student Arianna Archer learned at a young age. Her positive attitude while facing challenges head-on and adapting to succeed has helped garner her the title of Double Eagle at just 21 years old.
Archer, a Cuthbert, Georgia, native, came to Georgia Southern at age 17 after overcoming many adversities throughout her childhood. Archer’s mother experienced numerous pregnancy and birthing complications, leading many doctors to believe Archer would be developmentally delayed. Later, her father was murdered and the case went cold, and she and her family decided to move to a new town.
With a fresh start, Archer’s new teachers discovered she was academically ahead of her peers, and she began taking gifted classes. She went on to dual enroll while in high school and came to Georgia Southern, again ahead of her peers.
At just 19, Archer earned her bachelor’s in public health from Georgia Southern and soon enrolled in the Master of Health Administration (MHA) program with aspirations of one day becoming the CEO of a hospital. However, “So much has changed in two years,” she said.
“Basically, the first semester of the MHA program really opened my eyes to understanding that there are literally a thousand ways you can go with this degree,” said Archer. “The program really gave us the opportunity to take it upon ourselves to find what do we enjoy doing within the field, and the opportunity to do something that doesn’t necessarily feel like work.”
She credits the program with helping her develop a passion for process and quality improvement, which she plans to combine with another passion of hers: working with new mothers and babies to help them overcome hurdles like breastfeeding, labor pregnancy and delivery complications, and etc. Even more specifically, she’s passionate about helping those of various racial or ethnic backgrounds in low-income or less advantaged communities.
“I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research to look at the maternal mortality rates of black and Hispanic women, and there are just a lot of inconsistencies in the levels of care they are receiving that go completely unnoticed,” Archer said. “A lot of research hasn’t been done, and it’s a touchy subject that people somewhat look over.”
Archer spent time researching and reading about the topic, and specifically became interested in helping new mothers learn to breastfeed. This interest was increased after landing an internship with a lactation consultant in Savannah and seeing the experiences of family members.
“I feel like there aren’t many improved processes available in facilities in which lots of new moms decide to labor and deliver,” Archer said. “Unfortunately, processes inside hospitals and facilities often get overlooked and rarely changes from patient to patient. A lot of doctors and nurses are really skilled, but sometimes they look at patients as numbers rather than a case-by-case basis to cater to them and what’s going to work.”
With her internship continuing into the summer, Archer plans to get as much experience under her belt in this area of expertise. Her goal is to become a director of a birthing center, or possibly opening her own.
“I want to make sure moms and babies are having the best experience that they can,” she said. “Of course, I probably can’t save the world, but if I can help as many moms and babies get in and out of the hospital as safely as possible, that would be my dream.”
As Archer reflects on her journey at Georgia Southern, she’s proud she has been able to maintain a 4.0 GPA in the MHA program despite working two part-time jobs. She is grateful to the faculty in her program for their flexibility and dedication to making sure her cohort succeeded.
“With all the professors I’ve had, in graduate and undergraduate, I can always reach out to them and they’ll sit and talk through things with me, with anyone,” she said. “It’s really great to have not only trained and knowledgeable professors, but to have those that are also open-minded to help students in their time of need.”
While her college career has been “amazing, kind of scary and way too fast,” Archer feels adequately prepared for her future.
“I’m honestly just grateful to have been able to come here to have the opportunity to receive these two degrees,” she said. “Even if I’m not able to start my birthing center tomorrow, I feel Georgia Southern has prepared me to do anything in the field of public health and health administration.”
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