Skip to main content

Alumna Casey Harden Finds New Niche in Online Master’s Degree Program

NKU MS Health Informatics student Casey Harden

Casey Harden got more than she bargained for when she returned to college to increase her earning potential and broaden her healthcare horizons.

“I was working at a hospital, and I wasn’t satisfied with where I was with income and other aspects of my job,” she said. “I knew that I didn’t want to get into management. I am interested in the technology side, but I don’t have any experience in it. I had a lot to learn.”

Harden is doing so in the online Master of Science in Health Informatics program at Northern Kentucky University (NKU). She is on track to graduate in December 2022.

“I have enjoyed working with Dr. Rupesh Agrawal so much,” she said. “I found a love for research that I didn’t know I had.

“When he asked us to figure out what project we’re going to work on for the capstone and what we’re passionate about, I had no answer. It made me contemplate and figure out what I am passionate about.”

In addition to working full time as a personal care assistant for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities at the Northern Kentucky Area Development District, Harden is busy at home. She and her husband, Richard, have four sons — Cooper (9), Liam (5), Vance (2) and Phoenix (1).

“The online format works great for me,” she said. “It’s a little harder with the accelerated courses only lasting seven weeks.

“That’s another reason I have taken my time and kept it at pretty much one class at a time. It makes it extremely manageable for me. With four kids at home, that flexibility is important.”

Blessing and a Curse

Harden is from Pendleton County, Kentucky. She planned to earn an associate degree from NKU, but her plans took a fortunate turn that foreshadowed her return to higher education.

“I wanted to get into radiation therapy,” she said. “I found an X-ray technology program at NKU, which was for an associate degree at the time.

“I was in the program the first year it moved to a bachelor’s degree, so I was already accepted. I’m glad I did it because now I’ll have my master’s degree. It all worked out.”

While becoming the first person in her immediate family to earn a college degree, Harden’s career pathway hit especially close to home when her mother, Tracy Mullins, was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011.

“I did three years of clinicals with radiological technology,” she said. “Then, I did CT scans at the hospital for three years before I went back for my master’s degree.

“This is my mom’s second bout of breast cancer. I started the M.S. in Health Informatics program in August 2020. I took a semester off while she was going through chemotherapy.”

Harden completed some online courses during her undergraduate program in radiologic technology, so the decision to return to NKU was easy. She completed her bachelor’s degree in 2017.

“I looked at some other programs, but I was already so familiar with NKU,” she said. “It was also all online, which I had to have to earn a master’s degree.”

The extent to which Harden enjoys the research element of the online M.S. in Health Informatics program caught her by surprise. She’s wasted no time indulging in research close to her heart.

“My sister has intellectual and developmental disabilities [IDD],” she said. She actually just submitted the abstract of a proposal for IDD research along with a fellow NKU professor to the AHIS summit in Cincinnati.

Norse Power

Now that Harden has found a new calling within the healthcare profession, she is eager to move her career in a new direction.

“I love research, and I want to take the things that I care about — like cancer and IDD — and do something with them,” she said. “It seems like research is more of an area for Ph.D. people.

“I want to get a job for an organization doing some innovations and to make healthcare better.”

Harden, who enjoys camping with her family in her free time, plans to put the exclamation point on her big accomplishment by walking in the commencement ceremony at NKU later this year.

“It would be good for my 9-year-old to see,” she said. “My dad, Dwayne, joked and said, ‘Pretty soon you’ll be a Ph.D. We’ll have to call you doctor.’ I don’t know about that.”

Whichever trajectory her future takes, Harden knows she is more marketable and knowledgeable because of the return to her alma mater.

“The online M.S. in Health Informatics online program is very valuable,” she said. “You have to prepare to work hard. It’s time-consuming but worth it. It will open up a lot of career opportunities in a lot of different directions for you.”

Learn more about NKU’s online M.S. in Health Informatics program.

Request Information

Submit this form, and an Enrollment Specialist will contact you to answer your questions.

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Or call 800-985-7215

Ready to Begin?

Start your application today!

Or call 800-985-7215 800-985-7215
for help with any questions you may have.

Related Articles