Student Spotlight: Aetna’s Sarah Fey


Posted In: Case Studies, Students

Mar • 14 • 2017

Aetna Student Success

Meet Aetna’s first College for America graduate

Fifteen years ago, Sarah Fey began working at a healthcare company as an administrative assistant and has worked in the healthcare industry ever since. Sarah has been a Care Management Associate at Aetna, Inc. for the past two years and is passionate about helping both Aetna’s members and her team of coworkers.

Having held a variety of jobs over the course of her career, Sarah has always understood the impact a college degree can have on job security in an industry that experiences ups and downs. Sarah had taken college courses in the past, both online and in-person, but the rigid structure of traditional programs held her back from earning her degree. “It just seemed almost impossible,” she said. “It’s something I always wanted, I just didn’t think it was attainable for me before.”

College for America Student, Sarah Fey

Sarah Fey, College for America Student

Then one of Sarah’s coworkers told her about Aetna’s partnership with College for America, a nonprofit, fully accredited college degree program built specifically around the needs of working adults. When Sarah heard about College for America’s flexible format, affordable cost, and project-based curriculum, the idea of earning her degree began to feel more achievable. “Well, that seems very doable for me,” she thought, adding, “I was excited about all of that.”

With a renewed drive to earn her degree, Sarah began pursuing her Associate of Arts in Healthcare Management through College for America (CfA). CfA students work on creative, real world projects to master competencies which translate into relevant skills and knowledge that can be applied directly in the workplace. “I really enjoy getting through a project and going through the process of it,” Sarah said. “Some things I have experience with and others are completely new to me. As I’m going through and mastering things, it keeps me motivated to keep going.”

She added, “It’s this big feeling of accomplishment.” Sarah channeled that feeling and was able to excel through the program at an incredibly rapid pace. The average College for America student earning an associate degree is on pace to complete the program in 2.1 years. Sarah finished the program in three months, making her Aetna’s first College for America graduate. Sarah is now enrolled in the Bachelor of Arts in Healthcare Management with a concentration in Global Perspectives at CfA. “I never in my wildest dreams thought I would have a bachelor’s degree—even an associate degree—so it’s all kind of new to me,” she stated.

“The structure of this is just perfect for people who are working adults.”

A key detail in College for America’s design is our convenient and flexible model which enables students to balance work and life. Sarah was able to take advantage of this flexibility while pursuing her degree. “I got sick about a month ago,” she said, “and when I was sick I kept thinking, ‘What if I had to be in school right now? What if I had a paper that had to be in?’ With this structure, that stress is completely eliminated. The structure of this is just perfect for people who are working adults.”

Another defining factor of College for America is our commitment to student success. Throughout a degree program, students at College for America receive support from both dedicated advisors and other students in the learning community. “My biggest support system would be my friends and family, other students at the school, my coach, and coworkers that are in the program. I have a lot of that support,” Sarah said.

Sarah additionally feels supported by her employer, Aetna. “My own personal supervisor is very supportive of us continuing education, and Aetna’s done a really good job at focusing on us pursuing education,” she stated. “I’m very grateful to the company for having that partnership with CfA.”

Through her experience with College for America, Sarah is getting “a very good education for a very reasonable amount of money,” she said. “I guess we’re so trained to believe that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. You would think that there would be a downside of it. With this program, there really is not.”

Aetna helps to make a college degree achievable for employees through its partnership with College for America