Name: Jacob Petrus
Hometown: West Plains, MO
Currently Resides: Springfield, MO
Occupation: Clinic Support Manager for Cox Medical Group at CoxHealth
All Degrees Received: AA General Studies, Missouri State University-West Plains; BS in Administrative Management with a minor in Healthcare Management, Missouri State University; and Masters of Healthcare Administration (MHA), Saint Louis University (In progress)
“I knew what I wanted to do, but I wasn’t quite sure how to get there.”
When Jacob Petrus graduated from West Plains High School, he had a clear vision for his future career. Charting a path toward that goal wasn’t quite as clear.
“I don’t think I was quite ready to jump into a new town, new school and new friends,” he explained. “Staying in West Plains and benefitting from A+ made the most sense at the time and is a decision I would make again if given the opportunity,” he said.
Jacob liked Missouri State-West Plains’ small campus and the hometown feeling it provided, and he credits that atmosphere for making the transition from high school to college much easier.
“So much was changing at the time, and having something that was close to home meant a lot to me,” he explained. “Being a smaller campus and having everything within walking distance, Missouri State-West Plains eased me into the college life in a way that helped me adapt and prepare for my next steps in higher education.
“I don’t know how different my life would be had I not attended Missouri State-West Plains, but I can say the campus and its feelings of safety and ‘home’ helped me plan for what was coming next in life,” he said.
“Being a Student Ambassador taught me a lot. ”
Learning didn’t just come from the classroom for Jacob at Missouri State-West Plains. His participation in the Student Ambassador program also gave him life skills he uses to this day.
“The skills of communication and responsibility I developed in the program continue to help me in almost every aspect of life,” he said. “I remember how intimidated I was getting up on stage and speaking to the large groups of high school students during Red Carpet Days and how I prayed it would get easier as time went on. I can’t say I ever became comfortable with speaking on stage, but I did learn to manage my nerves in ways I used throughout my undergrad, in my current master’s program, and in the hospital on almost a daily basis.”
“My degree gave me the knowledge and skill to work for a health system that touches thousands of people each day.”
Although Jacob moved on to earn additional degrees that prepared him for his previous position at Burrell Behavioral Health and his current position at CoxHealth, he believes his education at Missouri State-West Plains was just as vital.
“My professional goal since starting my healthcare management journey was to make it to a place like CoxHealth. Even though these accomplishments took place after graduating from Missouri State-West Plains, the things I learned while there have carried through to where I’m at today,” he explained.
“The skills of communication and dependability I gained have helped me immensely at both Burrell and CoxHealth. While I still may be a little nervous when speaking to large groups, I can use my experience as an Ambassador to turn my nerves into confidence and excitement to get me through my day,” he said.
“The skills I learned at Missouri State-West Plains and throughout my education have allowed me to play a part in the care provided to the communities we serve and change so many lives for the better,” he said.
“I would sum up my experience at Missouri State-West Plains as formative.”
Jacob said his two years at Missouri State-West Plains gave him a firm foundation for his future endeavors.
“With the help of Missouri State-West Plains and its faculty and staff, I was given the tools I needed to decide where my life would lead. From getting me ready for my future career to helping me navigate life in general, I am grateful for the start Missouri State-West Plains gave me and proud to say that is where it all began,” he said.
“Start your journey with a clear expectation.”
Jacob also put on his Student Ambassador hat to offer current and prospective students some advice.
“I was told so many times that I had plenty of time to figure out what I really wanted to do in life. The only problem with this is that, by not having a clear expectation and goal, you risk living through experiences and situations that could have done wonders in moving you toward your goal. You never know how someone or something will affect your life, but having a clear expectation and goal will ensure you benefit from whatever is thrown your way,” he said.
“And I’m not saying have a solid expectation and goal on day one,” he added. “I’m just saying don’t take too much time and risk missing out on an opportunity or experience that you would have benefitted from if you would have given your future more thought rather than waiting for it to fall in your lap.”