Paolo Linao’s professional and educational journey in healthcare began nearly 20 years ago when he arrived in the United States from the Philippines.
It actually began a bit before his arrival in the U.S. – he’d already completed three years of college in the Philippines – but when he arrived here, he began studying vocational nursing and then became an LVN (Licensed Vocational Nurse) working in home health and hospice care in 2006.
After establishing himself professionally, like many LVN’s, he always thought about getting his BSN (Bachelor of Science in Nursing) and knew he wanted to go back to school, but over time his focus shifted from nursing to administration and compliance and so he began researching schools with Health Administration degrees.
Another influence on his decision to return to school was the change in Medicare regulations that, beginning in 2017, required Home Health Administrators to have an undergraduate degree.
“I was researching schools and when I got to West Coast University, I spoke to admissions and Dr. (Justin) Ako (Dean of the Online BSHA and MHA programs) and got a real sense of the culture of the university. I felt like Dr. Ako was really genuine – as was everyone,” Linao said. “From the beginning, I felt like they wanted me to succeed.”
And succeed he certainly did. He completed his BSHA in May 2021 with a 4.0, earning Summa Cum Laude recognition.
“My intuition (about the culture at West Coast University) was validated, everyone made sure that I succeeded,” Linao said. “Even when COVID hit, everyone was there for me. Even though they were going through the same scary event, they asked if I was okay, if I needed anything.
“Once you begin, they will give you all the assistance because once you succeed, they will feel like they’re successful as well,” he said.
The ink had barely dried on his BSHA diploma before Linao began thinking about what was next, and with a head start on an MHA degree – thanks to the alignment of WCU’s BSHA and MHA programs that allows for some BSHA classes to be counted toward your MHA degree – he jumped right back in and began an accelerated one-year Online MHA Public Health track at WCU.
“Some of my classes carried over so that was a big plus in my decision-making process in addition to saving money (through the Alumni Pathway Grant),” Linao said.
He recently graduated with his MHA degree and will be going through the full ceremony with fellow West Coast University graduates in Anaheim, Ca. on July 9th. In the meantime, he’ll be busy performing his duties as the Chief Operating Officer at a Certified Home Health Facility in Koreatown, in downtown Los Angeles.
Having completed three years of college in a classroom and three and a half years online, Linao has as good a perspective as anyone in terms of what the similarities and differences are, and what it takes to be successful when enrolling in an exclusively online program.
“If I was going to give one piece of advice to new online students, it’d be to establish a routine and stick to it. That routine will make or break you,” he said.
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WCU Distance education programs are delivered out of the California and Texas campuses and may not be available to residents in all states.