Ria Menon, a second-year student in the MPH in Healthcare Management program, has been selected for a competitive administrative fellowship at The Harris Center for Mental Health and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD). She will join the largest provider of high-quality and cost-effective services for persons with behavioral health and developmental needs in Texas in July 2024.
Menon serves as the public relations director for The Board, a student organization focused on leadership and management at the Department of Management, Policy and Community Health. This engagement paid off since she learned about the administrative fellowship through her work at the organization. “The president of The Board went to our school as well – he graduated last year. So we’re keeping it in the UTHealth Houston family.”
Following her graduation in spring 2024, Menon will gain invaluable management experience through the fellowship, helping provide safety net care to a diverse patient population and working closely with C-Suite executives. Only one recent graduate is selected each year for the program, which consists of a one-year rotational curriculum where fellows learn about leadership and management in a community-based regional authority.
Menon credits the MPH in Healthcare Management program for helping her make direct connections between the concepts she is studying and their real-world application and impact. “I've seen first-hand how all of our classes really help in internships and different aspects of healthcare,” she said when speaking about her current role as a system optimization and performance intern at The University of Texas Medical Branch. For one of her class projects, she used Lean 6 Sigma fundamentals to develop an evaluation and improvement project in partnership with a healthcare organization. “It was such an important class and I didn't realize how important it would be because I took it as a first semester student. But right now, a year later, I'm actually using those things in the day-to-day of my internship. And that's also another reason why I got the internship, because I did have some previous experience,” she added.
Menon grew up in Houston, and being around the Texas Medical Center inspired her to pursue a career in healthcare. She spent much of her teenage years participating in hospital rotations and volunteer opportunities through the DeBakey High School for Health Professions. After high school, she completed a bachelor’s degree in psychology with minors in biology and health from the University of Houston.
As she made progress to become a medical student, the COVID-19 pandemic shifted her perspective. “I just realized the broader impact that public health can have,” she said. “In management and policy, you can do a lot of widespread work.”
This realization motivated her to apply to the MPH program at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health. After starting in fall 2022, she was quickly surprised about how much she enjoyed it. “For me school was always something I was required to do whereas this was more of my decision. I took the initiative to apply for the MPH and I haven’t liked school this much before,” said Menon.