In the DeLeon household, this spring’s Barry Graduation called for twice the celebrations. Father-daughter pair Ronald DeLeon and Cheska DeLeon both donned their black-and-red robes as official graduates of the College of Nursing and Health Sciences Administration program. Ronald and Cheska each earned their bachelor’s degree and specialized in Health Services Administration, a longtime passion for Ronald and one that Cheska discovered for herself after first pursuing a clinical career in nursing.
As a retired military veteran with a background in logistics, supplies, and human resources administration, Ronald brought a wealth of experience to the HSA program. Health care had always intrigued him, so combining it with his professional expertise was an ideal way to earn his bachelor’s degree and take his career to exciting new heights.
As Ronald was diving into Barry’s HSA program, Cheska was trying her hand at nursing, a field she’d wanted to pursue since childhood. Upon discovering that she loved health care but wanted to move away from a clinical career, she asked her dad for advice. Ronald was quick to recommend Barry’s HSA program to his daughter and, soon, Cheska was enrolled alongside him.
Though Cheska began her Barry journey after her father, she was able to enter the HSA program at his level thanks to the transfer credits she’d earned through her prior nursing study. All in all, the pair took five classes with each other, which allowed them each to encourage and support the other in their academic goals.
At Barry’s first in-person graduation since the onset of the pandemic, Ronald and Cheska were a shining example of our many multi-generational BarryU families. In fact, their story inspired South Florida’s NBC 6 to feature them in a recent newscast. We also asked Ronald and Cheska to tell us more about what it was like to earn their degrees together and what the future holds for each of them. (Hint: we see two master’s degrees in the very near future!)
What drew you to the field of Health Services Administration and Barry’s program specifically?
Cheska: I was originally a nursing major at another school, and after two semesters of the program, I learned that I didn’t want to pursue a clinical career. I was heartbroken to discover this because nursing was all I ever thought I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to stay within the medical field, but I didn’t know what route to take. My dad was already a Barry student studying Health Administration, so he encouraged me to apply. Parents know best, and I’m glad I listened to mine!
Ronald: I have a background in logistics, supplies, and human resources administration, and I am always fascinated in the medical field and health services profession. So, I combined them all and came up with Health Services Administration. I am a practicing Roman Catholic, and I picked Barry because of their affiliation with the Catholic religion. A few of our priests, including our Bishop, went to Barry University. With the encouragement of my wife and I, my daughter ended up enrolling in the same major at the same school.
What was the most memorable part of pursuing the program together?
Cheska: Bringing credits in from another school and being able to start the same classes my dad was in resulted in us graduating at the same time. This is my dad’s first degree, as well as mine, so graduating was the most memorable part of pursuing the program together.
Ronald: With me, after dealing with all the assignments, projects, tests, essays, and all the professors, I think it was the day when my daughter and I graduated together with the same major. I never thought that it could happen.
What are your ultimate aspirations in your field, and how do you feel Barry helped prepare you to achieve them?
Cheska: Ultimately, I would like to become CEO of a hospital one day. Completing my bachelor’s brings me one step closer to that goal; I plan to complete my master’s and doctorate at Barry as well.
Ronald: I have always wanted to be part of Health Services, and hopefully to switch the table around and become a teacher for HSA. I hope to achieve this by finishing my master’s at Barry.
Now that you've both graduated, how are you continuing to support each other in your career goals?
Cheska: I know we both want to be administrators in a hospital, but since I have less experience, my dad is supporting me by guiding me on the right path to start my career. We both will be doing our master’s at Barry next year, so we will continue supporting each other academically.
Ronald: We might end up pursuing the same careers, but I will give my daughter full support to get her the job that she wanted first before me. I am a retired military veteran, and I can wait for my turn.