Name: Joseph Howell
Hometown: Waukegan, IL
Currently Resides: West Plains, MO
Occupation: Patient Accounts Representative, Air Medical Group Holdings, West Plains
All Degrees Received: Associate of Applied Science in Health Information Technology, Missouri State University-West Plains
“I had a very positive experience at Missouri State University-West Plains.”
Imagine going to work one day and finding out that your job for the past 17 years was being sent overseas. That’s what happened to Joseph Howell in 2014 when the RobertShaw plant in West Plains shut its doors. But thanks to the federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Program, Howell found new career opportunities at Missouri State University-West Plains.
“I wanted to stay close to home, and my degree would be paid for,” he said of his decision to enroll at the University.
“When I first enrolled, I had the mindset of not being able to succeed.”
Howell hadn’t been in a classroom for 28 years, but the support he received from faculty and staff helped the transition.
“I had a lot of great instructors at Missouri State-West Plains,” he said. “Thora Broyles really helped me with my most difficult subject, math. Carla Neff also was a great instructor who really gave me insight with all the basics of HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, which safeguards medical information). I had a wonderful experience during my internship at Baxter Regional under the direction of Dana Henderson and my instructor Tresa Ryan.
“I would say all of my instructors really helped me accomplish my goals,” he added. “The reading and math labs were fantastic in helping me with my difficult subjects, and the support I received from the tutors was excellent.”
“The education has really helped me with training and has made me more confident in my daily duties.”
In May 2018, Howell completed his degree and was quickly hired at Air Medical Group Holdings. Graduating with a degree and finding a full-time job close to home has been among his greatest professional accomplishments, he said.
“I believe, if I were to go for my bachelor’s degree I would have even more confidence,” he added.
“You are never too old to get your degree.”
Howell encourages anyone of any age who is reluctant to enroll in college to try Missouri State-West Plains. “The faculty, the advisors and the fellow students I encountered were never negative,” he explained.
“Just don’t miss any classes, utilize the math and reading labs, and if you do not understand what is being taught, always ask your instructors questions. They are there to help you. They want you to succeed!”