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Mari's Mid-Career Change: Finding Passion and Purpose in Worksite Wellness

Posted by Mari Ryan, MBA, MHP, CWP on Thursday, Jan. 30, 2020

NMC alumna Mari Ryan is the CEO and Founder of AdvancingWellness, LLC. She is a workplace well-being strategist, speaker and the author of "The Thriving Hive: How People-Centric Workplaces Ignite Engagement and Fuel Results," winner of the 2019 Axiom Business Book Award.

From a life of little meaning to one of passion and purpose, Mari Ryan describes the journey to the fulfilling career she gained with her Wellness and Health Promotion Management degree from Nebraska Methodist College (NMC).

At some point, we may reach a moment in our life when we recognize that things just aren’t working the way we want. That time came for me in June 2003 after nearly two years of continuous travel required for work.

I had just finished an 11-month project working for Hewlett-Packard that required traveling between 3,000-6,000 miles per week domestically and/or internationally for 11 months.

Commuting weekly from my home in Boston to these locations was just one aspect of how my life was out of whack. During my weekends at home, I felt like I had no connection with my community, and I barely had time to spend with my dog, before I dropped her off at my mother’s house to get on the next plane. 

As I was contemplating the many ways in which I knew my life was not shaping up the way I wanted, I realized I needed some help to figure out what was next for me. I hired a life coach to be my guide on this journey of exploration. Over the next two years, I would journal, contemplate, assess and research, as I explored how to create the life that I desired and deserved.

A clear message in my exploration was recognizing the joy I experienced when I followed my passions.

One of my passions was walking. I loved to walk. It had been a part of my daily routine for years. But who was going to pay me to walk?  I also wanted to leverage my decades of business experience. I have held positions in sales, marketing and operations management in companies from tiny start-ups to Fortune 500. How could I best leverage my experience, skills and MBA?

Mari Ryan is an alumna of NMC's Wellness and Health Promotion Management program.

My research led me to attend a national wellness conference that was offering certification programs in worksite wellness. Worksites - I know them well from my decades of business experience. Wellness – could that be all that hard to learn?

On the first day of the certification program, as I sat in the college lecture hall with 90 other professionals, I knew that this would be the work that I would do for the rest of my career.

But how was I going to come up to speed quickly in this field and be in a position where I was a credible professional?

One of the 90 people in that certification program answered that question for me. They told me about the NMC master’s program in Wellness and Health Promotion Management (WHPM). Within four weeks of completing that certification program, I applied to and was accepted into the WHPM program at NMC. No turning back now.

Over the next two years, I worked hard at my day job as a marketing consultant, all while reading, researching, writing papers and attending classes. The online format of the NMC program required much more personal discipline than the traditional show-up-in-a classroom MBA program I had done years earlier. 

By the time I had finished my capstone project and completed my NMC degree, I had an article published in the American Journal of Health Promotion - Art and Science of Health Promotion column, and I had been hired by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health as their worksite wellness expert. This was a role I would continue in for the next decade.

The degree I earned from NMC gave me the confidence and the credentials to become an expert in the field of worksite well-being. The curriculum was well-targeted to what I needed to fill the gaps in my knowledge. I couldn’t be where I am today, were it not for the NMC degree program.

Apply now to earn your credentials and become a leader in the Worksite & Community Wellness industry. NMC is currently accepting applications for the fall semester starting Aug. 2020. The program is 100% online and can be completed at part-time or full-time study.

For more information, contact Recruitment & Admissions Coordinator, Katie Stockdale at 402-354-7200 or Program Director, Jeannie Hannan at 402-354-7179.

Download the Wellness and Health Promotion Management Degree Guide - admissions criteria, plan of study and more

Topics: wellness, community wellness, Worksite Wellness, graduate programs

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